Wellness Wednesday: Making Healthy Resolutions that Work

So you made a resolution, right? To lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier? Maybe you pinned an old photo to the fridge to motivate you.

All time ready to runYou were totally onboard on January 2, keeping that food diary, going to the gym, packing a lunch, eating only high protein, low fat, low carb foods.

Now it’s almost two weeks in and maybe you’re wondering what you were thinking. You’re tired, a little cranky, the gym is too far and let’s face it … you’re hungry!

You may have tried to bite off more than you can chew (oops … sorry!).

Instead of completely giving up, go a bit easier on yourself. You can change your eating habits and increase your activity and become healthier without starving yourself.

January 16-22 is Healthy Weight Week. About this time, people are realizing they may have been kidding themselves with unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. You don’t have to make big unreachable New Year’s resolutions to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In fact, some small changes in your eating habits can help make a big difference in your health.

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Eat Healthfully and Enjoy It!

A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—

  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits—don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables—try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish—just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods—you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite—if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories—you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish! 

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

Funny dieting woman housewife choosing between healthy food  fast food.No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  • Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often.
  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size. For more ideas on how to cut back on calories, see Eat More Weigh Less.

The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Watermelon: A healthy, refreshing treat

WatermelonToday is National Watermelon Day! So here are some interesting facts about this healthy, delicious treat!

Watermelon is both a fruit AND a vegetable.

It is a fruit because it’s sweet and grows from a seed. But it’s also a vegetable because it is harvested and cleared from the field like other vegetables and is a member of the gourd family.

Watermelon helps relieve inflammation.

Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes. One cup of watermelon has 1 ½ times the lycopene as a tomato. Lycopene is an inhibitor for inflammatory processes and works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.

Watermelon juice helps with muscle soreness.

Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid, which helps protect against muscle pain. Research shows that citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress.

Watermelon rind is edible.

Watermelon rind contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh. Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat.

Watermelon is about 92 percent water.

Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.

Watermelon is good for the brain.

Watermelon is a mind booster because of its richness in Vitamin B6 which has high influence for proper functioning of brain.

Wellness Wednesday: Make a Healthful Plate

myplate_yellowMarch is National Nutrition Month and eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This means not just watching what you eat, but how much of it you eat. Portion control is the key to a healthy plate. The type of calories you consume can either give you energy or take it away. So before you ‘super size’ your next meal, here are some tips on how to keep your plate healthful.


The Vegetable Group

Fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eat something from the five veggie groups every day. A diet rich in vegetables helps reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers.vegetables-variety

  • Dark green
  • Red and orange
  • Peas and beans
  • Starches
  • Other

 


The Fruit Group

Eat whole fruit more often than you drink 100% fruit juice. Fruits are an excellent source of fiber, water, vitamins and phytochemicals. Most fruits are low in sodium, fat and calories, and all of them have no cholesterol whatsoever.
berriesTry a variety of different fruits every day!

  • Stone fruits
  • Berries
  • Fleshy fruits
  • Pome fruits
  • Melons

 


The Grain Group

Make sure half the grains you eat are whole grains. Processed grains aren’t nearly as good for you. pasta

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal

 


The Protein Group

Keep your portions lean and on just a quarter of your plate. All these foods are part of the protein group. Protein is a macronutrient that your body needs in order to function.Protein-foods-770x472

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans and peas
  • Processed soy
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

The Dairy Group

Keep your portions small and low in fat. There really can be too much of a good thing, especially with the dairy group. All foods in the dairy group are good sources of calcium, which helps build and maintain bone health.

iStock_000016506648SmallThe dairy group includes…

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Milk-based desserts
  • Natural cheeses
  • American cheese

 


More Information:

ChooseMyPlate.gov

MyPlate, My Wins Tipsheet

MyPlate Daily Checklist

10 Tips to a Great Plate

Sample Menus for a 2,000 Calorie Meal Plan

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Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthier, Getting Regular Screenings and Knowing Your Numbers Are Keys to Wellness

vegetablesMom was right when she told us to eat all of our veggies and listen to what our doctors tell us to do to maintain our good health. But, according to recent studies Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it seems that many of us are not taking mom’s advice to heart.

According to the CDC, at least 88 percent of Americans failed to meet daily intake recommendations for total vegetables (this includes dark green and orange veggies) and three-quarters of Americans don’t eat the two to four recommended daily servings of fruit.

That’s why, during National Nutrition Month, Mercy Health System would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of eating healthier and getting regular health screenings.

The federal government has published recommended dietary guidelines. These guidelines are designed to promote general health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and obesity.

You can start following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by making changes in three key areas:

  • Balancing Calories – Eat smaller portions
  • Increasing Healthier Foods – Make half your plate fruits and veggies; make half of your grains whole grains and switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Reducing Sodium and Sugar – Choose foods with lower sodium content (check and compare the labels) and drink water instead of sugary beverages

Making these changes can help you keep your biometric numbers (like blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, etc.) in a healthy range.

The best way to find out if your numbers are within a healthy range for your gender, height and age is to have your annual screenings with your Primary Care Physician (PCP). Annual health screenings are 100 percent covered by your health insurance as preventive care.

Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions. To find a Mercy Health System physician go to www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.