Your Family’s Guide to Hassle-Free Healthy Eating

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By Karen Weeks

Please check out

Elderwellness.net and contact her via karen@elderwellness.net

These days, we’re surrounded by sodas, ice cream, and fast food restaurants. Those things can be fun and convenient. However, it’s also good to get into the habit of eating healthy foods, especially if you’re a budding entrepreneur and dealing with the potential for burnout of managing your business and employees. So if you want to help your kids and yourself eat better and feel better, here are some tips from Dr. Stacey Naito to help.

What Is Healthy, Whole Food?

You may be wondering what “healthy” really means when it comes to your family’s food choices. Most health professionals agree that the healthiest foods contain adequate micronutrients and are unprocessed. A better way to think about this is to aim to choose whole foods or natural foods that have not been processed.

For example, chicken breast, spinach, quinoa, yams, and nuts are all whole foods because they have not been processed. On the other hand, cereal, white bread and french fries are not whole foods. Try to incorporate more whole foods into your family’s diet and try to get more gut-healthy probiotics from surprising sources like garlic and onions in order to boost your family’s digestive and mental health, as well as their immune system. Also, make sure to fuel your family for the day with a nutritious breakfast.

Why Eat Whole Foods?

By eating foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats, your family will be getting the energy they need to survive and thrive. By avoiding processed food that is high in sodium, sugar, trans fat, and saturated fats, your family will also be protecting themselves from the dangers of obesity, heart disease, and even tooth decay. In addition to the physical ramifications of a poor diet, eating highly processed foods can impact your family’s mental health and make them feel more stressed, depressed and anxious. 

In essence, what we eat affects brain function, biochemical pathways and even the size of certain areas of the brain that regulate mood and emotion. Foods high in unhealthy fats and sugars are also highly addictive; the more we eat, the more we want. If you want your family to be healthy (both physically and mentally), you can counteract these effects by encouraging a diet that is rich in whole foods. 

In addition to health benefits, eating foods in their natural or whole state cuts down on the environmental impact of plastic food packaging. When you eat a banana, there is no waste. The peel decomposes, leaving no trace behind. Adversely, the plastic bag carrying banana chips adds to the problem of packaging waste pollution.

How Can Families Get Started? 

One of the easiest ways to ensure your family is getting enough healthy whole foods is to prepare food at home. Get your entire family involved in cooking – not only is there an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in season, but you likely also have more time to spend preparing meals. Plus, kids who cook tend to eat healthier as adults. 

Another way to ease your family into healthier habits is to add veggies to your favorite comfort foods. Avoid trying to trick your children into eating veggies and take the time to explain to your children why having zucchini with macaroni or spinach on pizza is good for them. Smoothies can also be an easy way to get kids into eating more fruits and veggies. Blend up bananas with leafy greens or even pineapple with cabbage. 

If you plan on taking a road trip, you have an extra chance to get your kids to eat healthy. Instead of stopping for fast food, try bringing some healthy snack options, like dried fruit, popcorn or low-sugar cereals. 

Finally, be patient as your kids pick up new healthy food habits. You may need to serve veggies alongside old favorites for a while, and don’t get discouraged if your loved ones go after the occasional indulgence. The process may be gradual but eventually, your entire family will begin to see the benefits of eating those healthy foods. 

Dr. Stacey Naito is a board-certified family practice physician, artist, and fitness model. Check out her blog for fitness and wellness tips, inspirational stories, and product reviews. 

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5 Healthy Habits Seniors Can Adopt in the New Year

Please check out this excellent article written by Karen Weeks, which covers healthy habits which seniors can adopt in 2021.

Image via Pexels

By Karen Weeks of elderwellness.net

A brand new year is ahead of us, making it the perfect time to adopt healthy habits like eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and spending time with loved ones (whether in-person or virtually). Below, Dr. Stacey Naito offers five senior-friendly habits that can be adopted in the new year — and how seniors can go about incorporating them in their lives.

1. Eat Nutritiously

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, seniors need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, B12, dietary fiber, healthy fats, and potassium in order to lead long and healthy lives. And fortunately, seniors can get all the nutrients they need by consuming plenty of fresh leafy greens, lean meats, beans, and healthy fats like avocados and fish. Supplementation may also be necessary if calcium, B12, B6, or vitamin D levels are low.

 

If you’re looking for some ways to eat better this year, try buying a new cookbook or two, purchasing a grocery delivery service, or visiting your local health foods store to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, healthy grains, and lean proteins. If you’re thinking of paying for a grocery delivery service, some of the best options for produce include Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, and Farmbox.

2. Exercise Often

Like good nutrition, seniors need plenty of physical activity — including strength training activities, exercises for balance and flexibility, and aerobic activities such as walking, biking, swimming, or dancing. And fortunately, there are several things seniors can do to increase their physical activity in the year ahead:

 

  • Following along to exercise DVDs or online fitness classes.

  • Walking or biking alone or with friends (while practicing social distancing, of course).

  • Parking further away from store entrances when shopping.

  • Purchasing an elliptical machine, exercise bike, or treadmill.

  • Starting and maintaining a garden.

 

If you have a medical condition or you’re experiencing body aches or pains, a physical therapist can help you to select the best exercises for you. Plus, many physical therapists are offering virtual services amidst COVID-19.

3. Socialize With Loved Ones

Socializing is tough in the age of the coronavirus, but it isn’t impossible! With senior-friendly video chat software, online multiplayer games and apps, and safe in-person gatherings (like outdoor activities and walks with loved ones), seniors can safely spend more time with their friends and family members in the new year. Regular socialization keeps seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally well — and reduces their risk of cognitive decline and depression.

4. Keep the Mind Sharp

Speaking of cognitive decline, seniors should also make time for brain games and activities in the new year. Brain games keep the mind young and healthy, fight boredom, and improve overall mental well-being. A few brain training activities for seniors include:

 

  • Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and word finds.

  • Classes on cooking, foreign languages, dance, or music.

  • Arts and crafts like knitting, scrapbooking, and upcycling.

  • Reading, coloring, and drawing.

5. Clean and Declutter

Clutter is harmful for a number of reasons. Not only does it create tripping hazards at home, but excess clutter often triggers anxiety, concentration issues, irritability, and even depression. So, if you’ve been feeling especially negative or depressed as of late, the new year is the perfect time to freshen up your living space by cleaning, decluttering, and letting in as much fresh air as possible. Redfin shares a checklist with some ideas for cleansing your home and creating a happier and healthier living space.

New Year, New You

It’s never too late to adopt healthier habits and take steps to improve your life, and these five tips will help you to tackle everything from changing your diet to eliminating excess clutter at home. No matter your age, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and improve various areas of your life.

 

Looking for more health tips and advice? Visit Dr. Stacey Naito’s blog at staceynaitoblog.com.

Diet Myths = Diet Lies

I wrote the following article in 2013, and it was published on RXGirl.com 

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Image ID : 68123600
Copyright : Nipon Temsakun

MYTH: You should avoid eating fat.

FACT: Despite the fact that fat carries more than twice the amount of calories per gram when compared with carbohydrates and protein, fat takes longer to empty from the stomach and thus keeps you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Fat also adds flavor to foods and heightens the dining experience. In addition, you must consume some fat in order to maintain proper cellular health. Omega fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, all of which are healthy forms of dietary fat, actually lower LDL cholesterols in the blood.

 

MYTH: Healthy foods are more expensive.

FACT: Many unprocessed foods such as grains, fresh vegetables and fruit are extremely cheap. Think about it. You can purchase a five pound bag of potatoes for a couple of dollars, or you can buy a bag of potato chips for $3.49 or more. And I don’t need to tell you that the bag of potatoes will provide sound nutrition and far more food bulk than the chips. I am not a big fan of certain natural food markets because they are grossly overpriced, so I visit other markets which have very reasonable prices on their unprocessed foods. Processed and fast foods may be more convenient, but they are more costly over time, especially if you eat them frequently.

 

MYTH: Late night meals will make you fat.

FACT: Your body doesn’t process food differently once the sun comes down. The problem that many people have is that they restrict their caloric intake too much during the day, usually by skipping meals. By the time they get home from a busy day, they are starving, and will eat an excessive amount of calories to satisfy their hunger. Another issue is the mindless munching on snack foods which people often do while watching TV or sitting at the computer.
As long as you eat a reasonably sized, healthy meal, nighttime eating shouldn’t result in weight gain.

 

MYTH: You can eat any foods you want as long as you do it in moderation.

FACT: It’s okay to indulge in a calorie dense or unhealthy food item once in a while, but if you make it a regular practice to eat junk foods every day, you are doing your body and your health a huge disservice. Trust me, a chiseled physique can never be built on a pizza diet (I know, wishful thinking, right?). Your body requires high quality protein, healthy fats, and unprocessed or minimally processed carbohydrates to function optimally and to support a healthy metabolism.

 

MYTH: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

FACT: Spacing your meals throughout the day will keep your metabolism running in high gear. It is true that breakfast is an important meal because it provides essential nourishment, regulates mood and energy levels and boosts mental clarity. People who skip meals are notorious for eating excessive amounts of food when they actually do eat, and those meals are usually unhealthy and of poor nutritional value. If you are prone to skipping meals, try keeping a food journal to monitor your meal consumption throughout the day.

 

MYTH: Carbohydrates will make you fat.

The truth is, carbohydrates are usually consumed in excess by many people. What this does is cause a sharp increase in blood glucose, which triggers insulin release so that the glucose can be converted to glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles. Only a certain amount of this glycogen can be stored, with the excess being stored as body fat. Once the blood glucose level falls below normal, carbohydrate cravings are triggered which many individuals succumb to.

When you cut carbohydrate intake, you will experience a rapid weight loss initially as the body drains glycogen stores for energy. What also occurs is that water is released as the glycogen is utilized, resulting in weight loss from the increased urination which results. But after about two weeks, the increased urination ends, and along with it, the rapid weight loss.

Sparkling Water: The Hottest Beverage Trend

What’s refreshing, comes in a wide assortment of fruit flavors, and is the hottest beverage to hit grocery store shelves in recent years?

Sparkling water.

If you visit any grocery store canned beverage section, you will see numerous brands and varieties of sparkling water.  The new drink trend reveals the changing American palate, with a step away from corn-syrup laden sugary sodas and artificially sweetened diet sodas to calorie-free, sodium free effervescent water with a splash of essential fruit oils.  This trend has exploded into a 1.2 billion dollar industry.

Two of the biggest soft drink companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo,  have jumped into the ring, vying for the title of best selling sparkling water brand with AHA and bubly, respectively.   However, the clear category leader is National Beverage, with its LaCroix line, which commands about 80% of the sparkling water market.

Admittedly, I have become a huge fan of AHA and bubly, and have determined the best flavors after trying the majority of the ones which appealed to me.  Apparently, the flavors which captured me the most (AHA Orange-Grapefruit, AHA Blueberry-Pomegranate, bubly Mango and bubly Pineapple) have also appealed to others, because I keep having a devil of a time finding those particular flavors. I’m definitely tempted to check out LaCroix varieties since I have also sampled Spindrift, Waterloo, Perrier, and S. Pellegrino, but have yet to do so.  According to some sparkling water aficionados, LaCroix reigns supreme in the flavor department.

Now that summer has hit in all its blazing glory, this is a perfect time to try some of the sparkling water brands if you haven’t yet done so.