5 Tips to Sleep Better

27 Apr

Research indicates that lack of proper sleep and poor sleep quality can contribute to weight gain and obesity, and slow weight loss while following a diet.

Try these 5 tips to help you achieve the right amount of sleep.

1. Cut the caffeine!  Stick to 2 cups or less of caffeinated coffee and tea per day.  Even small amounts of caffeine in the afternoon or evening can make it harder to rest when it’s time for bed.

2.  Clear your mind!  Have too much on your mind?  Practice meditation, jot down your thoughts in a notebook next to bed, or listen to calming music to put aside your worries from the day.

3.  Get comfortable!  Make your bedroom an ideal place to fall asleep.  Avoid computers, cell phones, and TVs an hour before bed, and dim any night lights.  Make your bed comfortable, get the room temperature how you like it, and relax.

4.  Stick to a schedule!  Set a time to go to bed and wake up each day, and stick to those scheduled times.  Move your alarm clock across the room if you have trouble passing up the snooze button.  This helps get your body’s internal clock get on a  healthy routine.

5.  Get active!  Exercise daily – but finish up your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.  Research* has found that regular exercise can improve sleep quality.

More Information About Sleep and Obesity Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632337/

*Source:  http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/09/aerobic-exercise-relieves-insomnia.html

Spice Up Your Kitchen

26 Apr

There are many fresh foods that are delicious enough on their own, but when it comes to modifying recipes to lighten them up, it’s important to understand how to retain flavor when reducing fat, sugar or sodium.

Adding spices, herbs or other flavorings such as lemon or lime juice are great ways to accomplish this. Some recipes utilize aromatic vegetables such as garlic, onions or celery while others will add herbs and spices to season up the dish. Here are 3 tips for storing and using your spices.

  1. Dry vs. Fresh: Dried herbs do not always taste like their fresh counterparts, so sometimes they are not always interchangeable in a recipe. Substituting one part dry herb for three parts fresh will work in a pinch.
  2. Shelf Life: Dry herbs and spices have a shelf life, and most should not be kept for more than a few years, especially if they have been opened. Store your dried herbs and spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark place like your cupboard or pantry – not your counter.
  3. Seasoning: It’s much better to under-season and add more spices than over-season. Taste and season your recipe throughout the cooking process.

Pre-made blends can be nice to have on hand, but check the ingredient label, as you will want to avoid the blends that are filled with sodium.  Some recipes may call for specific herbs and spices but the list below is a great place to start outfitting your spice rack.

 Dried Herbs and Spices2

 

 

5 Ways to Lower Stress Levels

24 Apr

Did you know that depression, anxiety, mood disorders, as a group are ranked number one among the top five national health conditions that contribute to poor health in nearly every state in the US?

Stress can make these chronic conditions worse, but you can manage everyday stress by setting realistic and manageable goals in honor of April, National Stress Month.

  1. A Healthy Diet: Some foods have been shown to lower stress by decreasing blood pressure and boosting mood. Examples include:  blueberries, crisp vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers, etc.), salmon and sweet potatoes.
  2. Good Sleep: According to the National Sleep Foundation, Americans today get 40 percent less sleep than the body needs to function at its best. Adequate rest allows the body and mind to recharge, which both help in the fight against stress. The benefits of adequate rest include: muscle repair, improved memory and heightened focus.
  3. Regular, Moderate Exercise: Physical activity is beneficial in managing stress so it may come as no surprise that the body and mind work together. Releasing endorphins works to boost energy, endorse positive thinking and improve overall cognitive function.
  4. Positive Psychology: Work on spreading positivity in your own life to combat everyday stressors by considering the following writing exercises: Gratitude Journal: Write down three new things you are grateful for each day. • Experience Journal: Spend five minutes journaling about a meaningful experience from the past 24 hours. • Thank You Notes: Dedicate two minutes to write an e-mail or thank a person in your social support network.
  5. Cognitive Restructuring: Train the brain to practice positive by actively replacing stressful thoughts with more positive, “glass half full” thoughts.

Read more tips on reducing stress in the original article: https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2017/04/12/tips-to-reduce-stress/

Easy Foods Kids Can Grow in the Garden

22 Apr

March was National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating, and now Earth Day is April 22nd.  Celebrate by growing your own produce with your family.  Enjoy the fruits of your harvest all season long!

Gardening may help your kids eat enough fruits and vegetables because when they lend a hand in the process, research shows they are likely to eat more produce and try different varieties as well. Gardening is a great way to spend time with your family outdoors and can also build self-confidence and provide a sense of responsibility.

Kids Gardening

Make Kids Part of the Planting Process

Allow your kids to choose the fruits and vegetables they enjoy eating and add other reliable plants suitable for your region and climate.

Go Herbal

Herbs are easy to grow and excess can be frozen in ice cube trays to be stored in the freezer or even dried for later use.

Dig What Grows Below Ground

Digging for vegetables like Beets can be a great way to introduce a new colorful vegetable to your child.

Click here to read more tips on gardening with your family.

Link to original article: Easy Foods Kids Can Grow In the Garden

Starting Plants Indoors – April

21 Apr

Did you know that it’s still not too late to start some plants indoors for this year? It’s easy to do and a fun activity you can do with your family.  You can usually find seed starter kits complete with seeds, pots and dirt anywhere gardening supplies are sold.

  1. Basil. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors around May 20th
  2. Tomatoes. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors around May 20th
  3. Melon. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors near June 1st
  4. Corn. Start indoors around April 15th and transplant outdoors near May 15th

Image result for seedlings

Make a Fresh Start with Spring Foods

18 Apr

Spring is here!  It’s the perfect time to hit the reset button and reintroduce fresh foods into your family’s diet.  Involving your children in the snack or meal prep process can also make them more likely to try new foods.

Spinach: This superfood is packed with vitamins A, C and K, essential for eye health, immunity, strong bones and other body processes. Spinach also contains enough folate and iron to help prevent anemia while magnesium and potassium are important for muscle development and growth.

Yogurt: At 8 grams of protein per 6 ounce container, Yogurt is a great source of protein. This calcium-rich food is also important for building strong bones and teeth and is a great source of probiotic bacteria which helps promote digestion.

Strawberries: One cup of this sweet and colorful vitamin C packed seasonal fruit also provides 3 grams of fiber. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Asparagus: Available in green, purple and white varieties, asparagus spears can accompany all kinds of foods. Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, iron and vitamins A and K.

Why to Avoid Bananas While Losing Weight

4 Apr

Bananas may come to mind when we think of healthy food choices, but this fruit may not be the best option when trying to lose weight.  Here’s why you should avoid eating bananas while following a weight loss plan. 

Calories

Caloric balance is key when it comes to losing and gaining weight. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn.  One cup of sliced banana contains 134 calories. Compared to other fruits such as strawberries, which only have 49 calories per cup, or watermelon, which has 46 calories per cup, bananas rank pretty high in terms of calories.

Carbohydrates

Most of the calories in bananas come from carbohydrate, with 34 grams per cup.  Because of this higher carbohydrate content compared to other fruits, bananas do not fit well in a weight loss plan.

Potassium

If you are looking for the potassium benefit found in bananas, there are other options that are a part of a healthy low-carbohyrdrate diet!

Some other fruits high in potassium are:

1/2 cup Cantaloupe:  215 mg

1/2 cup Strawberries:  220 mg

1 small Orange:  237 mg

Original Article Here:  http://livehealthy.chron.com/people-say-bananas-arent-good-eat-diet-2657.html

How to Start Walking

4 Apr

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise, because you can do it just about anytime, anywhere.  Check out these quick and simple tips for how to fit walking into your daily schedule. 

1. Before you go to bed, get your walking clothes and shoes ready so it’s easy to put them on quickly and head out the door.

2. Listen to your favorite work out music to get you moving.

3. Schedule your lunchtime walk in your work calendar.

4. Keep everything you need for walking in your car. This way you won’t have excuses like “I forgot my shoes so I can’t go.”

5. Encourage coworkers to join you and create a walking group.

6. Take the dog out for more walks.

7. Walk your kids to the park or playground.

8. Park farther from the entrance at work or the store.

9. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Every Step Counts!

7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out

3 Apr

Eating out at restaurants doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel on your healthy diet. With the smart tips below, you can easily plan out your strategy without feeling like you sabotaged all of your hard work.  Prepare to dine out with confidence!

Dining Restaurant

Preparation

Plan ahead. If you had a bigger lunch earlier in the day, plan on eating a light dinner in the evening. Familiarize yourself with cooking terms, as this will make ordering easier if you have a special dietary need.

Choosing a Restaurant

Think ahead. Visit restaurant websites to see if the menu is posted. You will be able to see see the wide range of menu items in advance or in some cases, nutritional information too.

Ordering

Be deliberate when ordering. Ask your server questions. Balance your meal by including healthier selections from all food groups such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables. For salads, ask for your dressing on the side or lean protein that is not fried.  For any sandwich toppings, veggie options and condiments low in sugar and salt are best.

Substitute. Are you afraid to make a request to meet your nutritional needs? Don’t be.  Many restaurants will honor nutritional requests, so go ahead and ask for a side salad to replace fries.

Control portions. Order an appetizer with a small broth-based soup or side salad in place of an entrée. Many restaurant portions are so large, they are enough to feed two to three people!  Eat a smaller portion and take the leftovers home.

Eating

Eat slowly. Did you know it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you aren’t hungry any longer? Fast eaters usually tend to be overeaters, while slow eaters tend to be satisfied with less food.

Eating Out with Kids

Choose a restaurant that caters to children. It is likely that a restaurant that caters to children will have smaller portion sizes, healthier options and meals designed to satisfy the nourishment and palate of little bodies.

Offer your child a few bites from your plate to introduce new foods, otherwise, let kids order their favorites. Select two or three suitable menu items and let them choose. Healthier sides like carrots or fruit can often be substituted in favor of high fat sides.

Original Article:  http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/eating-out/eating-out

Blue, Purple and White Foods

31 Mar

Although National Nutrition Month was only in March, eating the rainbow is something you can do all year long to obtain the right nutrients.  You’ve learned about red, green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, so let’s discuss blue, purple and white produce too! 

Blue and purple produce contains many nutrients including lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid and quercetin.  These nutrients can help with the following:

1. Helps fight inflammation
2. Improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium and other nutriends
3.Helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
4. Supports eye health (retinas)
5. Helps boost the immune system
6. Supports healthy digestion for the GI tract
7. Reduces tumor growth
8. Limits the activity of cancer cells throughout the body
9. Acts as anticarcinogens (battles cancer causing cells) especially throughout the digestive tract

Try adding some of these blue and purple colored fruits and vegetables to your meals such as:  Eggplant, Cabbages, Asparagus, Carrots, Plums, Blackberries, Blueberries and Grapes.

White fruits and vegetables have many nutrients including beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG and lignins, which help balance hormones which can reduce the risk of many cancers relating to hormones. They also have the ability to activate B and T cells which help battle cancers of the prostate, colon and breast.

Try these white vegetables in your meals:  Mushrooms, Bean Sprouts, Onions, Cauliflower and Garlic.

Try this “White Vegetable” Recipe!

Cauliflower Soup with Scallops

Servings: 
1 Protein
1 Vegetable
1 Nutrient

Ingredients:
1 serving Scallops, cleaned
1/2 cup Cauliflower
1/4 medium Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 MWLC Chicken Bouillon Nutritional Supplement
1 tsp. Yellow Curry Paste
1/2 Tbs. Extra Light Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Preparation:
In a saucepan on medium heat, pour olive oil into the pan. When hot, add cauliflower, onion, garlic, and curry paste. Cook for 10 minutes until onions are soft. Add chicken bouillon, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until cauliflower is soft. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and blend with an immersion blender while in the saucepan. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. To serve, add scallops to soup and heat for 2 to 3 minutes to heat through the scallops.

Original Article Here: http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2011/04/02/what-purple-and-blue-foods-can-do-for-you/