All posts filed under “Diet

diet and nutrition tips and challenges

blog-bento
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Think inside the bento box for healthy lunches

What is Bento?  The official definition is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.  A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer ware.  Although bento lunches are readily available in many places throughout Japan many Japanese homemakers often spend time and energy on a carefully prepared lunch box for their spouse, child, or themselves.

Why bento?  Portion sizes can be the stumbling block for adults and children when it comes to eating healthy.  The pre-formed size of the food spaces in the bento boxes make it easy to keep the portions small and within the USDA MyPlate.gov standards.

Be careful not to stress portion sizes to kids. Just pack their lunches and let them enjoy their new bento box.

Building a bento – don’t confuse bento with a box of snacks. 

  • Protein (eggs, yogurt, low fat cheese, low sodium deli meat, chick peas, edamame, chicken, turkey,)
  • Grain (muffin, pita bread, crackers, pasta salad, quinoa, tortilla)
  • Vegetables (baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumbers, celery, peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes)
  • Fruit (grapes, apple, water melon, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, orange slices – mandarin oranges, pear slices)
  • Snack (dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, small cookie, chocolate covered raisins, gold fish crackers, nuts, seeds, fig newtons, bunny grahams)
  • Olives, pickle

Enjoy the process and have fun thinking inside the box.

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A mother and child fast asleep.
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The connection between sleep and sickness

Sleep leading to sickness

Recent studies have confirmed what most people kind of already knew; sleep is good for you. Too little sleep can be directly related to cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune function as well as a lot of other health issues related to a lack of sleep. In a long term sleep study, over 22,000 participants reported their sleeping patterns in parallel with their health from 2005 to 2012. This study found that getting six or less hours of sleep per day had a direct correlation with experiencing sickness of flu-like symptoms and that the more sleep people got, the less they faced these negative health outcomes.

Sleep should be on the agenda

A lack of sleep isn’t just important to bodily functions, it also sets the tone for the rest of the day and many people don’t realize how much sleep may determine their plans and activities. As mentioned earlier sleep can cause a plethora of negative health issues but even more so is the lifestyle that usually comes with not sleeping enough. Turns out, short sleepers are also more likely to have negative health behaviors like not exercising and poor nutrition which in the long run can be detrimental to health. Creating good sleeping habits can translate into other positive health behaviors because of the increased energy and productivity that accompanies being well-rested.

Sleep is serious business

An interesting point Dr. Sanjay R. Patel of the Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes at the University of Pittsburgh makes is that “society does not stigmatize the person getting in their car and driving after only four hours of sleep the way it does the person driving after drinking, even though the risk to others on the road may be the same.” Meaning that a lack of sleep can be just as detrimental to motor function and cognitive skills as drinking, but is largely overlooked and the seriousness of the matter is rarely emphasized. He goes more in depth about just how neglected the science of sleep is by mentioning how little physicians usually discuss sleep with their patients due to the lack of training and attention given to sleep in medical school.

While sleep may still be a little bit of a mystery it is clear that adequate sleep is closely related to good health. Not getting enough sleep is not only bad for the body, but also makes it harder to create and sustain other healthy habits, so get those Z’s!

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Sima Dimitric

 

Erase Stress
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Stress: how to cope better with life’s challenges

What causes stress

Imagine you are walking down a beautiful trail, taking in the scenery, smelling the flowers and enjoying your day. Your brain is having a positive response to the relaxing environment, serotonin is released, and you feel happy, at ease. Now imagine, around the next turn you are face to face with a brown bear. In an instant the chemicals in your brain change drastically, digestion in halted, your heart beat speeds and blood flow to your muscles increases. These chemical changes are your body’s instinct to defend itself, your fight or flight response. These changes are also called stress.

Stress can be a good thing in moderation, or when you need that boost to dive out of harm’s way. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when it goes on for too long. Stress in everyday life can negatively impact physical and mental health. Most often, there is no fight or flight response needed, yet your body prepares to run, working overtime. This can cause you to feel anxious, worried, afraid or uptight.

What changes may be stressful

Simply, any change can lead to stress. This can be good change or bad change. Although, it may not be the change itself causing stress, rather how you react to it. It is also important to remember that stress is different for everyone. Going to the grocery store might be stressful for one individual and therapeutic for another.

Can stress hurt my health

Stress can cause or complicate health problems. A few possible signs of stress can include

  • Anxiety
  • Neck and back pain/tightness
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression

How can stress be managed

Firstly, try and recognize the common signs of stress. Shoulder and neck tension, as well as clenched fists are often early warning signs of stress. The next step is to select a method to deal with your stress. Ideally, avoiding the thing that causes your stress is best, but that is not always an option. Here are some tips for dealing with stress,

  • Choose a hobby – something you love, or want to get better at
  • Try not to worry about the things out of your control
  • Take care of your little problems first – this can help you to feel more in control
  • Try to prepare for the stressful things in advance
  • View change as a positive challenge, forward momentum
  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthier food options

Why Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy, as well as release your “happy” brain chemicals. For example, serotonin production is increased during exercise. Serotonin increase has been shown to improve mood and increase energy.

The silver lining

If you are feeling stressed, you get to choose your hobby, something you love. These hobbies can include music, puzzles, walking, yoga, and video games; the list is infinite, because there isn’t a correct answer.  Get lost in the things you enjoy, and remember to take a deep breath.

Contact your doctor if you want help or advice on how you can tackle stress.

Sources:

FamilyDoctor.org

For the full article, follow the link here.

  Feature photo by  Alan Cleaver

diabetes
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Type 1 and type 2 diabetes – what’s the difference?

Diabetes occurs in two forms: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 usually develops at a young age. It’s caused by a damaged pancreas that produces very little or no insulin – the hormone your body needs to carry glucose to your cells. Only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.

Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed later in life. With this type, it becomes harder and harder for your body to use the insulin it produces. Type 2 is much more common than type 1 – at least 90 percent of people with diabetes have this form.

Prevention and treatment

Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented or cured. Genetics most likely play a role – its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin and follow other measures to manager their blood sugar.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented or delayed through a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. For some people with type 2, these practices may be enough to keep their blood sugar under control. Others may need to take medication or insulin.

Sources: American Diabetes Association

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by : Alden Chadwick

Brain
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4 types of foods to help boost your memory

Do you sometimes feel forgetful? There could be a number of factors causing forgetfulness, but according to a recent study, certain food choices might improve brain function. A healthy diet may lead to a sharper brain by improving cognitive function, alertness and memory.

Strengthen your brain by adding more of these foods to your diet

More vegetables please: Vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens can help improve your memory. If you struggle finding ideas to increase vegetable intake, these suggestions might work for you.

  • Stir fry – add onions, broccoli or any other vegetable of your choosing. Make it fun and celebrate “Stir-Fryday” with the entire family!
  • Get rid of the bun – choose to eat your favorite sandwich wrapped in collard greens, cabbage or kale.
  • Dip it – hummus and veggies can be quick, easy and delicious. Some popular choices include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.

Don’t forget to be sweet: Berries contain high amounts of flavonoids and other potential brain boosters. Darker berries, like blackberries, blue berries and cherries, are high in flavonoids. Add berries to your cereal, or yogurt for a little extra.  If that doesn’t work, a handful of berries on the fly might be just what you need.

Fishing for answers: Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve memory as well. To increase your omega-3, look for seafood including salmon, bluefin tuna, herring and sardines. If you find it difficult to get seafood in the mix, try to replace a few meat dishes with a seafood alternative.  Fish tacos and tuna fish can be a good option when pressed for time.

Go nuts: Walnuts are known for making a positive impact on health. Keep a sandwich bag full at work, and enjoy an easy snack while refueling your brain. If you are looking for a little extra, add chopped walnuts to your morning oatmeal.

 

For the full article, please click Here

 

  Feature photo by NIH Image Gallery

Healthy Snack
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Five myths about colorectal cancer

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. It’s easy to forget which cause is associated with each color awareness ribbon . In fact, you may have never seen the blue awareness ribbon at all. The blue ribbon raises awareness and supports individuals with colorectal cancer.

blueribbon

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women in the United States. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related death in the United States. Even with thousands diagnosed, there are still a number of myths surrounding colorectal cancer. Test your knowledge with the 5 myths below.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.

Truth: Women are almost as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer as men. Each year approximately 71,000 men and 64,000 women are diagnosed.

 

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.

Truth: Colorectal cancer almost always begins with a small growth called a polyp. Early polyp detection and removal can help prevent colorectal cancer. Common detection tests include: colonoscopy, Flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, or CT colonography.

Other ways to lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer include:

  • Healthy weight can lower chances of colorectal cancer.
  • Engage in physical activities; Walk, hike, sports swim, etc.
  • Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Avoid refined grains. Choose grains that are whole wheat.
  • Limit your red meat and processed meat intake.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit the amount to 1 drink per day for women, 2 per day for men.
  • Avoid Tobacco use.

Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer.

Truth: In the US more African American men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. At this time the cause is unknown.

 

Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is more prominent in individuals over 50.

 

Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is often treatable. However, only 4 in 10 people are diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is most effective.

So, remember the blue. To find out if you’re at an increased risk for colorectal cancer and what you can do to help decrease your chances of getting this disease, please read Colorectal Cancer Early Detection.

For the full article Visit: Five Myths About Colorectal Cancer

 

 caption-arrow  Feature photo by : Matteo Paciotti

man
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Exercise for men’s health

Men, they bear the social burden of having to be strong both mentally and physically. Yet the highest rate of depression is in men who are 40-59 years old, and 41% of men who live in high-income countries do not exercise enough. Being aware of these conditions might not change these numbers but it can help those who are affected by them. Here are ten facts about how physical activity helps improve mental health as well as overall health.

  1. Exercise releases feel good chemicals in the brain, this can ease depression
  2. Exercise can improve sleep
  3. Exercise can increase energy and stamina
  4. Weight loss may be achieved
  5. Self-confidence may be improved
  6. Reduce your risk of chronic disease
  7. Improve learning skills
  8. Helps boost decision making skills
  9. Decreases stress
  10. Strengthens heart as well as muscles

It is suggested that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Exercise is a great way to boost mental and physical health but it is important that you check with your doctor before you being your mood improving journey. Physical activity is also a great way to get involved in the community, and build connections and support within families. If you or somebody you know is suffering from physical inactivity or mental health issues, there is no better way to show your support than by getting out there and exercising with them. How will you being your journey?

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Nick Page

 

diabetes
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National Diabetes Awareness Month – Are you at risk?

Not only is November men’s health month, but it is also National Diabetes Awareness Month. There are currently 29.1 million people who have diabetes and another 8.1 million people who are unaware of their condition. The American Diabetes Associations uses November to help spread awareness and raise funds to help find a cure. Here is what you need to know.

Facts

  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Insulin is naturally produced in the body and is used for energy.
  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body no longer makes insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance where the body cannot use insulin to produce energy.
  • Pre-diabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal and is a sign of type 2 diabetes.
  • 37% of adults (20+ years old) in the U.S have  pre-diabetes.
  • Having diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.

Risk of Developing Diabetes

  • 45 years or older
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Diagnosed with gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Unquenchable thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Being tired all of the time
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Fruity odor to the breath
  • Headache
  • Shaking, and weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Slow healing
  • Hunger
  • Pain or numbness in the hands or feet

It is important to understand your risk of developing diabetes. Even if you have the signs and symptoms that are listed above it does not automatically mean you have diabetes. These signs and symptoms may be caused by other medical conditions.  If you have any concerns it is important to get them looked at by your doctor. This November do your part and help spread awareness, it could help find a cure, save a life, and extend support.

Found out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking a simple risk test provided by the American Diabetes Association. Follow the link below.

American Diabetes Association Risk Test

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Victor

5944073211_8b58ba5379_o
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What is manlier than a well groomed moustache?

November is Movember, a month long campaign focused around men’s health. The Movember Foundation is an international non-profit organization that is all about spreading awareness and raising funds for men’s health issues. Their main areas of focus are on are prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity in men. Their cause is represented by growing a moustache (mo), getting active, or donating during the month of November. The Movember Foundation uses the funds that are raised to improve programs that save lives. Ladies are welcome to take part in the events as well, sign up and take the pledge to move  or donate during the 30 days of Movember. Below are facts about men’s health as well moustache facts, do your part and help spread awareness.

Men’s Health Facts

  1. 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
  2. Men 65 years and older are at a higher risk for prostate cancer
  3. 1 man out of 38 diagnosed will die of prostate cancer
  4. Half of testicular cancer cases are in men 20-34 years of age
  5. Most cases of testicular cancer can be treated and cured
  6. The highest rate of depression is in men 40-59 years of age
  7. 41% of men do not exercise enough

Weird Moustache Facts

  1. Mo is Australian slang for moustache
  2. There is a World Beard and Moustache Championship competition
  3. The average moustache has 600 hairs
  4. Albert Einstein had a moustache for over 50 years
  5. A man touches his moustache an average of 760 times a day
  6. Facial hair grows half an inch a month
  7. The world’s longest moustache is 14 feet long

There are lots of ways to grow, give and move for men’s health in November. Help raise awareness about conditions like prostate cancer, mental health and physical inactivity. Since 2003, Movember has raised $650 million and funded more than 1,000 men’s health programs around the world. Let us know in the comments below how will you grow, give, or move this Movember.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Anna Gearhart

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The hidden health benefits of pumpkins

Oh October, the spiciest month of them all. Did you know that pumpkin spice is actually cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves? These are the ingredients that give your pumpkin spice lattes that lovely aroma and taste.  They are staple ingredients in your pumpkin pies and pumpkin breads. But what about the actual pumpkin? Surely they are for more than just carving. Below are 5 surprising facts about pumpkins and 5 ways to incorporate pumpkin into your diet.

5 facts about pumpkins

  1. Pumpkins are one of the lowest calorie vegetables, one cup of cooked pumpkin is only 49 calories.
  2. Pumpkins are rich with vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin  provides over 100% of your daily need of vitamin A; vitamin A is essential for healthy vision.
  3. Cooked pumpkin seeds are a great dose of daily fiber.
  4. Pumpkins are packed with vitamin C, helping boost the immune system.
  5.  The beta-carotene compound which gives pumpkin their orange color can help in disease prevention.

5 ways to add pumpkin to your diet

  1. Stir pumpkin puree into soup, stew or chili, it won’t change the taste much but will increase the nutrients in your meal.
  2. Stir pumpkin puree into yogurt.
  3. Add pumpkin puree to pancake batter.
  4. Add chopped and roasted pumpkins to  salads.
  5. Try adding pumpkin to a protein shake to boost its nutrients

Also note, there are edible pumpkins for eating and decorative pumpkins for carving.  You may eat either but the pumpkins labeled for eating taste better. Let us know in the comments below how you will add this low calorie, disease preventing, and vitamin rich vegetable (actually it is a fruit) to your diet.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by John Morgan