All posts filed under “Health

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Four tips to a healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! This means it is time to bring on the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and don’t forget the pies! We have four tips that will help you stay healthy throughout your thanksgiving feast.

The first tip is to…eat breakfast! This may seem like a shocker because most people save themselves for the big thanksgiving feast but this can have negative effects on your body. You become more tired and you tend to eat more than what your body actually wants. Eating breakfast gives you more energy throughout the day and allows your stomach to have a capability of letting you know when you are full.

Our second tip is listening to yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. Listen to yourself when you think you are full. There is no shame if you do not participate in 3rd or 5th servings.

Our third tip is to savor every bite. The more you enjoy your individual bites, the slower you will eat which will allow your stomach to catch up to your mind. This can help you establish the full feeling better.

Our fourth tip is stay active. Take your family and friends on a walk before and the meal. Play a game of football in the backyard or enjoy a game of tag. Stay active throughout the day will help you digest your food better, especially the slightly heavier foods such as your mom’s favorite stuffing recipe. Not only will this help you but it will also keep the little ones active and out of the kitchen!

The most important tip though is to enjoy yourself. No one loves counting calories or worrying about dieting on a big holiday. Listening to yourself and including a few more physical activities throughout the day are the two most important tips that you can add into your holiday routine. Enjoy the day and the time you spend with your loved ones!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by kristin :: thekitchensink

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Healthy substitutions to add to your Thanksgiving meal

It is not difficult to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal while having it semi-healthy. Thanksgiving meals are often high in fats, sodium and sugars.  A few substitutions here and there can help provide a healthier alternative to a Thanksgiving meal as well as give you and your guests all your favorite food items!

Let’s start with the biggest part of the meal, the turkey. Buying a turkey breast instead of the whole bird can help cut down on calories as the breast has more white meat. However, the turkey is the center piece to the whole meal. If you want the whole bird, try sticking to the white meat or if you want the dark meat, make it half the portion you normally would have. This way cuts down on some of the sodium and calories that come from the darker parts of the meat. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper and use olive oil or spray oil instead of butter.

Everyone loves stuffing! Try stuffing the bird with:

  • onions
  • lemon or apples
  • thyme, rosemary, sage and other fresh herbs

Then bake the rest of the stuffing (i.e. the bread pieces, sausage and celery) in the oven. This way the stuffing doesn’t absorb the extra fats from the turkey and you can make a slightly smaller serving.

Gravy is a must a have! But instead of using the turkey drippings, use vegetable oil. This will cut down on the saturated fats and make the gravy cholesterol free. You can also look for low-fat broth based gravy or even vegetarian gravy. All these taste great and are slightly healthier options to the original gravy.

Don’t forget the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter or cream to add to make a creamy texture to the potatoes, save the boiled water from boiling the potatoes or add chicken brother or fat-free sour cream. These substitutions can help cut down on fats and calories and still make the mashed potatoes taste great.

Now time for arguably the best part of the whole day, dessert. Pies are a huge part of the Thanksgiving. Most of the fat and sugar in pie come from the crust. Try a reduced fat graham cracker crust or go crust free. These are delicious alternatives to our traditional and loved pies.

These are just some of the substitutions that you can use in your Thanksgiving Day meal preparation. Check here for full recipes and more ideas on how to put a creative and healthy spin on your Thanksgiving Day meal.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by David McSpadden

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National eating healthy day!

Today is National Eating Healthy Day! The goal of today is to try and eat healthy. However, that does not necessarily mean eating vegetables and fruits all day. A new movement in the nutrition world is a concept called intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is being aware of what your body is telling you.

There is a campaign called Healthy at Every Size (HAES).  This campaign utilizes intuitive eating to help promote a better body image and a better mindset. One problem that many people in the United States struggle with is overeating. Intuitive eating is an approach to help combat this. By being more in tune with your body, your mind and body will find a harmonized approach to food.  The HAES movement is aimed to help support everyone from every size to race. The social, behavioral and biological factors that make you who you are, all influence your quality of life, this includes your eating habits.

Becoming more aware of when you eat, how often you eat and how full you are from one food item can help lead you down a different road to a relationship with food. You don’t have to change who you are and your eating habits, you simply become more conscious of the food that you are eating. This will allow your mind and body to fall into a better rhythm, which consequently can help change you eating habits further down the road.

Here are some steps on how to start the process and where to go next:

  • First step to eating healthy is to become more aware of when you are eating and how full you are.
  • Second step is allowing this process to take time and finding peace with food.
  • Third step is to be able to respect when you are full. No shame in not finishing everything on your plate! Use a smaller plate, bowl or container and to help you feel and think you are full.
  • Fourth step is to respect your body. Your body is your personal temple and you are the only one who knows how to keep it at peace. Listen to your body when it tries and tells you things!
  • Finally, the last step is once you feel that you have a good grasp on intuitive eating, try become more aware of when you are moving. Exercise can help maintain a better metabolism as well as make you feel more awake. This will help you to have a better feeling of when to eat as well as when you are hungry and full. It also can eliminate extra food and drinks you digest to keep you awake.
  • Important note: stop thinking about going on a diet! Everyone has their one treat that they can’t stay away from and you shouldn’t have to. Dieting can be hard on your body and mind which throws them out of sync completely. You don’t need to go on a diet to start or enhance your eating healthy habits.

Below is more information on HAES and intuitive eating:

Intuitive Eating

HAES

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Garry Knight

pumpkins
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Happy Healthy Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and candy has been flying off the shelves for weeks now. However, even though candy is a huge part of Halloween these days, we have some tips on how to create a healthier Halloween for you and your family.

Planning on hosting a Halloween party? Try integrating fruits and veggies into your snack list. People can’t resist eating something that is creative and cute. Use a sharpie and draw faces on clementines’ to make yourself some little Jack o lanterns.  Take some pretzel sticks and place them into half a cheese stick. Then pull some of the cheese stick apart at the ends and now you have tiny broomsticks! Dip some strawberries in white chocolate and use tiny chocolate chips to create a face. Now you have ghosts for dessert! There are such easy and creative tricks to have some healthier snacks at your party. See some more creations that will bring a smile to both adults and kids faces here.

Trick or treaters do not just have to walk away with a bag full of candy. Nowadays there are several kids that have severe food allergies so not only will these ideas be food allergy safe but they will also be a healthy alternative to all the other candy they will be getting.

Here are some ideas of non-food items that could make a great alternative to candy on Halloween:

  • Sunglasses with animal print on them
  • Disguises/glasses
  • Bubbles
  • Glow in the dark bracelets
  • Bouncy balls
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Mini containers of play-dough
  • Fake teeth
  • Check out more ideas here

Make it a challenge to provide at least one healthy option for you trick or treaters this Halloween. Even if the kids may not love it over candy, their parents will sure thank you for it later!

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Thad Zajdowicz

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Welcome to cold and flu season!

It is that time of the year again to break out the tissues and cold and flu medicine. It is the start of cold and flu season! This year, there a few new changes as well as important reminders to keep in mind as we enter into this new season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just came out with a new 2016-2017 recommendations to not get the nasal flu vaccination, which was a very popular method of vaccinating last year.  The flu, or influenza virus, has a tendency to change its viral structure. Some people believe that once you have had the flu you become immune from contracting the flu in the future. However, even if this was somewhat true, the viral structure or strain of the flu changes so frequently it is unlikely that anyone is immune from the flu at all. Some of this year’s flu viruses have been assessed and based off the assessments, flu shots (compared to nasal vaccination) will be more accurate and a stronger source of flu prevention this season.

There has been talk in the past about individuals with egg allergies getting the flu shot, since some flu vaccines have eggs within their ingredients. This year the CDC is saying that individuals who have had mild reactions to the flu shot (i.e. hives) should get the recommended flu shot. Individuals who have more serious reactions to the shot (i.e.  angioedema, becoming dizzy/lightheaded or the need for an epinephrine) should still receive the flu shot but they should receive it in an inpatient or outpatient (i.e. hospital, clinic, local doctor’s office) medical environment. That way if serious reactions occur, medical professionals can deal with it right then and there. However, whether or not you have mild or serious allergic reactions to eggs, it is important to notify the individual who is giving you your vaccine of your egg allergy. Have an egg allergy? Read more about this change here.

Last year (2015) the flu season started later than usual and did not peak until December. This year we have already entered the flu season and it is the second week of October. It is recommended for everyone to get a flu shot, especially children and the elderly before the end of October. If you need to know where you can get one, check out this link to find a flu vaccine near you.

Besides getting a flu shot, make sure to wash your hands regularly and stay home when you are feeling sick. The common cold is one of the biggest gateways for contracting the flu. The cold may seem like no big deal but colds can suppress your immune system greatly making it easy for other viruses, such as the flu, to enter your body. If you are a supervisor at work encourage employees to stay home when they don’t feel well. Colds can last up to two weeks without proper care. This is two weeks where a cold can spread to other individuals and weaken your immune system for longer. Don’t be afraid to call out of work for the cold, everyone will thank you for it later!

Want to learn more about preventing colds and flu? Check out these links:

CDC – Common Colds

CDC – Flu

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission

hiit
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Short workouts are in!

Most people do not like to work out because it does not fit into their schedule. However, what about working out for 30 minutes at a higher intensity? Thirty minute, high intensity workouts are just as intense as working out for a longer period of time. In fact, they might even be more efficient as you are likely to take more breaks or not work out at such high intensity for a longer period of time. A high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine is the perfect way to fit workout in your schedule as well as help get your fitness level up.

Studies have shown that interval training can help burn more fat and increase your fitness level. HIIT is a combination of short bursts of energy, to get your heart rate going, and periods of rest (10-30 seconds) or low intensity (30 seconds -1 minute). HIIT is perfect for all individuals. It is easy to modify any routine to fit any fitness level. The most important thing to remember when doing a HIIT is to keep moving! If you feel that you won’t last the remaining 30 seconds of your jumping jack set, that’s okay just do a modification of a jumping jack or jog in place. The point of the routine is to keep moving for 30 minutes.

Check out this great article for getting started with making your own HIIT routine.  Remember, modifications of exercises are okay! How do you find them? Write modification in front of any exercise name in google or YouTube for videos and articles on a variety of modifications. Don’t forget to change up your routine once in a while. Once you are used to adding a 30 minute HIIT into your schedule, change the routine every other day so you can really reach your full potential!

If you just can’t find 30 minutes in your day, try getting in three 10 minute workouts or walks throughout your day. This will be the perfect way to take your breaks at work as well. Walking after you eat can help your digestion and sugar levels as well as burn some calories. Try and take a walk after breakfast, after lunch and dinner. No one likes working right after they eat so a quick walk will help clear the mind, get your exercise in and help you digest. It is a win-win situation.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Tony Alter

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Get cozy with butternut squash

One fall vegetable that people love to eat but hardly ever like to make on their own, because it can be difficult, is Butternut Squash. The skin on the butternut squash can be difficult to peel and the seeds and strings can be stubborn when you try to scoop them out. However, preparing butternut squash by yourself is rewarding in several ways. The meal becomes healthier, you enjoy it more since you put more hard work into making it and it saves you money!

Buying a butternut squash can save you a few dollars. A whole butternut squash can range from 23 cents to $1 per pound while the pre-cut butternut squash can be $3 to $5 per bag (usually 1 to 1.5 pounds in a bag). Sometimes the bags can add extra preservatives to make the squash last longer. Buying a whole, fresh butternut squash can eliminate some of those unwanted ingredients.

To help save you money and encourage you to make a homemade butternut squash meal, we have found a helpful trick! In two steps, the peel becomes easier to remove and the seeds and strong slip right out! All you have to do is stab the squash with a fork and then microwave it!  Click here for more instructions.

To get you into the kitchen and working with butternut squash, here are some delicious recipes for you to try out:

  1. Love chickpeas? Try out this Curry-Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Recipe.
  2. Crispy Butternut Squash Spinach Salsa with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette can be the perfect side dish or meal!
  3. Soup tastes even better when it is homemade and not out of a can! Try this Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup.
  4. Need something a little hardier? Try this Butternut Squash Risotto with Parmesan. It is super easy to make, delicious and quick!

Since the rain is here it is the perfect time to stay in your kitchen and try out some of the recipes!  Enjoy!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by bea & txema & alan

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Bring the “home” to home games with your homemade snacks!

Fall is upon us, which means we have officially entered into football and tailgating season! Tailgating is a great time to catch up with friends, eat snacks and have fun before and during the game. However, just because you are in the middle of a parking lot or near the football stadium with your friends does not mean your food choices have to become unhealthy! It just means you have to become a little bit more creative. Not only does healthier snacks at a tailgate fuel your energy more but it will also make your snacks more original and “gourmet”.

Everybody loves dip during any event. The traditional Five Layer Dip is delicious but can be unhealthy especially if you buy it from the store. But if you switch out the ground beef layer in the traditional Five Layer Dip with some whole kernel corn, the dip becomes low fat and low calorie! This dip is easier to make and is just as tasty the well-loved Five Layer Dip! Want to try it? Click here for the recipe. Sour cream and onion dip is also a crowd favorite. The crowd might love you more if you offer them a fresher and healthier version of it. Mix together a yellow onion, fresh garlic, reduced-fat sour cream, plain Greek yogurt (instead of mayonnaise) and seasoning and create your favorite dip within in your kitchen! See the full recipe here.

Eating out or picking up packaged food will increase your sodium intake by almost two thirds of what your sodium intake would be if you made your food at home. Home cooked meals on average have less calories than meals that are purchased outside of the home. When you eat at home, you are more likely to eat less than you would out. This is because restaurants tend to go over the recommended portion sizes. This may appear to be the better deal,  ”more for your money”, but it’s not! Home cooked snacks and meals give you more control over your food which can allow you to create healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Want healthier tailgate snack recipes? Click here.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Shari’s Berries

 

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Bring your dog to work day, week or indefinitely

Who could possibly have a bad day when a dog is sitting by your desk? Recent studies have shown that bringing your dog to work has lowered stress levels of both dog owner and non-dog owner employees. Not only does the dog’s presence in the workplace cause a sense of calm but it also increases the likelihood of employees taking their breaks. Employee breaks will tend to be more active as they will need to walk their dog allowing the employee to go outside and get some fresh air. This helps employee’s stay away from less healthy habits they might indulge in on their break such as smoking, remaining sedentary or eating even if they aren’t hungry. Not only will it increase the physical activity for dog owners but it will also increase the physical activity of non-dog owners at work. Who could resist denying an animal some attention?

Having dogs in the workplace does not only benefit the employee but it also benefits the employer. Allowing dogs in the workplace has become a huge factor and incentive when deciding to interview for a job or take a job. This service attracts a younger population which consequently,  makes the company more compelling and even more competitive . Having dogs in the workplace also creates a better sense of morale and bonding between employees and upper level management. These benefits create a more comfortable and responsive work environment which will allow employees to be more productive. Thus, the employer can show that they provide a healthy and enjoyable work environment.   Replacement LTD is an example of a company who has successfully integrated having dogs in their workplace. They have allowed dogs in the workplace for over 15 years and the majority of their employees have worked for the company for over 10 years! Did you know that Moda Health’s location in Milwaukie, OR also allows dogs in their workplace?

People might be asking what about employees with allergies? Even though that is a serious factor to consider, the service can be modified. Maybe dogs can be in the workplace on certain days of the week, once a month or quarter. This could allow employees to still be able to receive the healthy benefits from this service as well as being mindful of the other health situations.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mike Spasoff

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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.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by buzzymelibee