Tips to get your Kids to eat more Fruits and Vegetables

how-to-get-kids-to-eat-vegetables__

Spring is here, and you will start to see more fresh produce at your local grocery store and farmer’s market. This is the perfect time to talk to your kids about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with the nutrients your kids need to grow and to be healthy. Here are some ideas to get your kids excited about incorporating fruits and vegetables into their meals.

1. Fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables. Include fruits and veggies that your kids enjoy at every meal and offer generous helpings.
2. Be a positive role model. Be sure to include lots of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet. If your kids see you model positive behaviors, they are more likely to follow them.
3. Mix it up. Eating the same old plate of steamed veggies can be boring, so offer a variety of options. Try different cooking methods, such as roasting with herbs or sautéing with garlic.
4. Include veggies at breakfast. Make a breakfast smoothie with spinach or carrots, fill omelets with a rainbow of diced veggies, or serve toast topped with avocado.
5. Make caterpillar kabobs. Let your kids assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange and pear on skewers. For a vegetable version, use zucchini, cucumber, peppers or tomatoes.
6. Pack fruit in lunchboxes. Fruit is a good way to add a natural sweetness to the lunch meal. Include an apple, tangerine, orange, kiwi, grapes, banana, plum or berries to your child’s lunch. Fruit is “nature’s candy.”
7. Add vegetables to sandwiches. Serve your kids a healthy sandwich with whole-grain breads, lean meats, cheese and plenty of vegetables. Good ideas are tomato, onion, spinach, shredded carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, lettuce, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, or avocado slices.
8. Make “delicious dippers.” Kids love to dip their foods. Cut up some broccoli, carrots or broccoli and let kids dip them into yogurt or hummus.
9. Try personal pizzas for dinner. Set up a pizza-making station and let kids assemble their own pizzas. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels or pita bread for the crust. Let kids top the pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese, and a variety of cut-up vegetables. Pop in the oven or microwave to warm.
10. Fire up the grill. Try grilling yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes on a kabob. Brush them with olive oil to prevent them from drying out. You can also grill fruits such as peaches, pineapple or mango for a fun dessert.
11. Incorporate veggies into other foods. Add mushrooms to your favorite meatloaf recipe, shred carrots into spaghetti sauce, mix tomatoes into a casserole, or fold butternut squash into mac and cheese.
12. Encourage your kids to try new flavors. Ask your kids to try one new fruit or vegetable this week. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try at the grocery store or farmers market.

If these efforts don’t immediately change your children’s eating habits, don’t be discouraged. It can take several times of being exposed to a new food before many kids will try it. Don’t force your kids to eat something, because that generally backfires and leads to negative feelings about food. Continue to make fruits and vegetables a part of every meal and be sure to eat them yourself. Eventually your kids will start to try them and will learn to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.

Try the recipe below as an alternative to popsicles in the upcoming summer months:

Frozen Fruit Cups
Ingredients
16 ounces strawberries
12 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple, undrained
2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, undrained
6 bananas, diced
1/3 cup lemon juice
16 ounces blueberries

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
Portion in 1-cup increments, and allow to freeze overnight.
Place in lunch box in the morning, and will be a slushy consistency by lunch time

10 Tips for Weight Loss Success

UHH Nutrition For Life

Medical Health

  • It is important for the Registered Dietitian and other health care providers to know your medical history before you begin a weight-loss program. A medical examination and possibly laboratory tests can be helpful to determine if there is any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your weight.
  • Your health assessment includes the medications you take along with your sleep patterns. Some medications may alter your ability to lose weight. Consistent and adequate sleep contribute to your ability to lose weight.

Behavioral Health

  • Set and track realistic goals. Start with goals that are reasonable and build from there. Stay on track by recording your food and activity. Try apps on your smartphone or computer and use a fitness tracker. Ask a friend, co-worker or family member to follow along with you to help you to reach your goals.
  • Develop healthy ways to deal with stress. This may help to prevent emotional eating and keep you motivated to continue to reach your goals. To keep your life in balance, try yoga, tai chi, meditation, walking, hobbies or support groups.
  • Before you eat, use a hunger scale (1-10) to determine if you are hungry or eating for other reasons.

Nutrition

  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so that you will have healthy food choices available when you are busy.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Local farmers markets are a great place to find fresh produce in season. Limit processed foods, fast food and dining out.

Fitness 

  • Design and schedule a fitness program that fits your lifestyle. Meet with a personal trainer to develop a plan that works for you.
  • Move as much as possible. Take the stairs, park farther away, play with your kids in the yard or walk with a co-worker. Vary your activities to keep them fun and enjoyable.

Best for Last

  • Make sustainable lifestyle change to achieve your goals and be as healthy as possible.

If you are ready to make lifestyle changes to promote a healthy weight, the Upland Hills Healthy Living Program may be for you! It is a 3 month intensive weight management program which provides weekly appointments with a registered dietitian or personal trainer (6 dietitian visits and 6 personal trainer visits.) and a free membership to Upland Hills Health Wellness Center while in the program. We will work with you to provide individualized consultation to promote healthy nutrition and exercise. The goal of this program is to help you to adopt positive lifestyle behaviors that you will be able to maintain. To participate in the program, a patient can call our Wellness Center to make an appointment (608) 930-7147. You will need a medical release from your physician to participate in the program. The first 10 patients to sign up will receive a free Fitbit! The details of the program are below:

Comprehensive 3 Month Program:

Require medical clearance from PCP

RD: 60 minute appointment every other week (6 visits.)

Personal trainer: 60 minute appointment every other week (6 visits.) Includes 3 month membership to Wellness Center.

Cost: $600 ($50 per visit) or $540 if paying entire cost upfront ($45 each visit.) Payment is due at the time of service.

 

Additional 3 Month Program (after completion of comprehensive 3 month program)

RD: 60 minute appointment monthly for 3 months.

Personal trainer: 60 minute appointment monthly for 3 months. Includes 3 month membership to Wellness Center.

Cost: $300 ($50 per visit) or $270 if paying entire cost upfront ($45 each visit.) Payment is due at the time of service.

 

A La Carte Services:

UHH Wellness Center Membership: $200 per year

60 minute Nutrition Guidance appointment with Registered Dietitian: $60

1 hour personal trainer session: $40

It’s All in Your Gut

gut microbiome

Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates stated that “all disease begins in the gut.” The primary function of your GI tract is to break down food and to absorb nutrients, but it does so much more than that. In order to have a true appreciation for the digestive system and why it is so important, let’s review some important facts. First, if you were to take your entire small intestine and stretch it out, it would cover the surface of a basketball court. The digestive tract has 10 times the number of cells found in the rest of the body. In addition, the lining of the GI tract contains 70-80% of the immune system to protect against the many potential pathogens that pass through your gut every day. Your gut contains 100 trillion bacteria made up of 500 different species, and research shows that optimizing gut function helps to improve overall well-being. Gut function is connected to and influences the health of the entire body.

Although some microbes are harmful, many positively impact your health. The microbes help with digestion of fiber, production of some vitamins such as vitamins K and B12, regulation of metabolism, detoxification of chemicals, regulation of the immune system, and prevention of the growth of dangerous pathogens. The proper balance and diversity of these microbes is essential for health.

We know that the number of digestive complaints and diseases are increasing. According to the National Institutes of Health, 60-70 million people are affective by digestive diseases resulting in over 200,000 deaths annually. The imbalance of gut microbes, called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, occurs when there is a reduction in beneficial microbes, increased harmful microorganisms, or loss of overall diversity. Many conditions have been linked to this disruption in microbial balance including allergies, eczema, acne, celiac disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, asthma, autism, cancers, cystic fibrosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, mental disorders, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The real question seems to be, “Is there any condition not associated with the balance of gut microbes?”

The gut microbiota varies from person to person, but depends on many factors, including your age, genes, your mother’s microbiota, environment, exercise, sleep, stress, and your diet. Microbial colonization of the gut begins at birth. Interestingly, diet during the first three years of life likely has the biggest impact on the gut microbiome.

Your gut is sometimes referred to as your “second brain” and is involved in many important functions. It has its own nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system, containing 50-100 million nerve cells. In fact, there are more neurons in the gut than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. This “second brain” controls peristalsis and enzyme secretion that fuels the digestive process. It can also influence the way we feel. For example the feeling of having “butterflies” in your stomach is the gut’s signaling during a stress response. There is an emerging understanding of how the gut can influence mood and psychiatric disorders due to the fact that 75% of your body’s neurotransmitters and 95% of your body’s serotonin are produced there. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger released by a nerve. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in sleep, appetite, pain sensitivity, and mood. Oftentimes, people with depression who have inadequate levels of serotonin often have gastrointestinal issues. On the other hand, irritable bowel syndrome can arise in part from too much serotonin in the intestines. The connection between the gut and the brain is truly integrated and complex and is called the brain-gut axis. Research is demonstrating the important role of the gut microbiota and the microbe’s ability to communicate with the gut to influence anxiety, pain, cognition and mood.

Engaging in activities that will improve the ability to handle stress can have a significant impact not only on the quality of life, but also helps to reduce inflammation caused by the stress response. There are many ways to help to control stress, including meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.

There are several things you can do to promote a healthy gut microbiome. First, switch from an animal-based to plant-based diet. Regular intake of a diet high in animal fat can trigger persistent low-grade inflammation. Inflammation is a defense mechanism triggered by your immune system that helps your body to heal. When you have an infection or wound, the inflammatory response is beneficial and necessary to help to heal tissue. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is harmful and can cause damage to your body. In order to manage inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet, including lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (beans and nuts,) plant-based fats (olive oil, canola oil and avocado,) and fatty fish is helpful. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods, such as processed foods and excessive amounts of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 tsp of sugar per day, or 25 g. The top anti-inflammatory foods are: fiber, turmeric, green and black tea, omega-3 fatty acids (fish), onions, apples, citrus fruits, berries, and purple grapes/red wine.

You’ve probably heard of The Mediterranean Diet, which incorporates the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is a heart healthy diet and is very similar to the anti-inflammatory diet. The Mediterranean Diet incorporates fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant based proteins and fats. This diet recommends that you consume fish (which is anti-inflammatory) 2-4 times/week and red meat (which is pro-inflammatory) no more than once/week. Furthermore, this diet encourages a moderate intake of red wine if desired, enjoying meals with family and friends, and getting plenty of exercise. Physical activity is a wonderful way to reduce stress and to reduce inflammation.

Include a diet high in prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods to maintain gut microbial diversity. Prebiotics are a non-digestible fiber that promote the growth of beneficial gut microorganisms. They essentially act as food for probiotics. Foods that contain prebiotics include: artichokes, greens, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, wheat bran, wheat flour, and banana. Probiotics are good bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Fermented foods contain probiotics. Kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso soup, kefir, and yogurt are examples of probiotic containing foods to include. Look for live and active cultures on the label of your yogurt.

There are other lifestyle changes you can besides your diet to decrease inflammation and to promote a healthy gut microbiome. In order to decrease stress, practice mindfulness, which is a “non-judgmental attention to experiences in the present moment.” This technique helps you to gain control over your eating habits and to develop a healthy and satisfying relationship with food. In our culture, we often eat mindlessly while being distracted by televisions, computers and smartphones. This is problematic and can lead to overeating, especially since it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize that you are full. By eating mindfully, you intentionally slow down and will learn to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. Mindful eating includes:

  1. Before eating, ask: “Am I hungry? Am I thirsty?” It is important to distinguish between hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating, such as stress, boredom, sadness and anger.
  2. Eating slowing without distraction. Eat at a table and not in front of the TV or computer.
  3. Take 3 deep breaths. Be in the present.
  4. Engage your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, texture and tastes of the food you are eating.
  5. Check your hunger cues every few minutes and stop eating when you feel full.
  6. Focus on how food makes you feel
  7. Enjoy your meal!You can incorporate mindfulness by practicing mindful eating. At the beginning of each meal, practice taking a mindful bite by following the steps below:
  1. Close your eyes
  2. Imagine you are holding a piece of food (orange, raisin, chocolate.)
  3. Imagine what the food looks like. Examine the shape, color, texture.
  4. Imagine bringing the food to your nose and smelling it.
  5. Imagine placing the food on your tongue. Notice the response of your salivary glands.
  6. Imagine taking a bite. Pay attention to the sounds in your mouth and the texture on your tongue. Notice how the texture changes as you chew.
  7. Imagine swallowing the food. Pay attention as the food travels down your throat to your stomach.
  8. Say the name of the food silently to yourself.
  9. Practice taking a mindful bite once each meal.

To sum things up, science is rapidly evolving and we are gaining a greater understanding of the complex relationship between the gut microbiome and your overall health and well-being. Your diet is one of the most modifiable determinants of your health. Start incorporating some of these nutritional modifications, and you will soon notice a difference in your overall health.

Check out the video below for more information:

https://youtu.be/_ofGkFB1oOY

Almond Crusted Orange Chicken

Ingredients:almond crusted chicken
1 orange
2 egg whites
¾ cup sliced almonds coarsely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. In a separate shallow bowl, combine orange zest, almonds, salt and pepper.
5. Put the flour on a large plate.
6. Dip the chicken breast first in the flour, then into the egg whites, and then into the almond mixture.
7. Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn and bake for 6 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

National Almond Day

almonds

February 16th is National Almond Day. Did you know that this nutritious snack has been popular for the past 6,000 years? Originally from Asia, 80% of the world’s almonds are now grown in California.

Packed with Vitamin E, protein, magnesium and fiber, almonds are a heart healthy food. Studies suggest that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds per day may help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that people who have a diet high in almonds and other nuts reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by 2-3 times. In addition, almonds are a good source of magnesium and may help to keep blood sugar under better control. Almonds are low in carbohydrates and are packed with protein and fiber, which helps you to feel fuller for longer and can help to manage weight. A one ounce serving, or about a handful, contains 160 calories, so be mindful of your portions.

Almonds are the perfect mid-day snack. They are available in many forms, including raw, toasted, flour, oil, and even as almond milk. You can also use crushed almonds as a crust on chicken or fish, in baked goods, on top of salads, or in cereal or yogurt.

Check out this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio to learn more about the health benefits of including nuts in your diet:
https://www.wpr.org/listen/397726

Try this healthy recipe to incorporate more almonds into your diet:

Almond Crusted Orange Chicken
Ingredients:
1 orange
2 egg whites
¾ cup sliced almonds coarsely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. In a separate shallow bowl, combine orange zest, almonds, salt and pepper.
5. Put the flour on a large plate.
6. Dip the chicken breast first in the flour, then into the egg whites, and then into the almond mixture.
7. Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn and bake for 6 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting

You may have heard of intermittent fasting, which essentially is starvation done in a strategic manner. People who follow this practice take periodic breaks from eating, for up to 24 hours, once or twice a week. This popular diet touts intermittent fasting as an effective way to lose weight and to improve health. But is it for you?

Proponents of intermittent fasting suggest that you eat sensibly most of the time, fast for an extended period of time, and indulge on a designated cheat day. A common method is the 5:2 diet, in which one restricts calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eats normally the other five days. Another method is to eat every day, but only during a specific six or eight hour time window. The research that has been done on intermittent fasting has been conducted on animals rather than humans. Some results are promising, including reduction in oxidative stress, inflammation, and LDL (bad) cholesterol. While your body is fasting, cells are under mild stress. The cells respond to stress by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to possibly resist disease. Other possible benefits include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, protection of memory, and lower risk of chronic disease. The long-term effects of intermittent fasting are not well understood, and more studies need to be done before it can be widely recommended.

Intermittent fasting may help to promote weight loss because it could result in an overall reduction in calorie intake as long as one does not overeat on non-fasting days. The problem is that when people go for long periods without eating, they often crave high-calorie, high-fat foods, which may result in binge eating on non-fasting days. For many people, it may be more effective to cut back on food intake slightly seven days per week rather than fasting for two days and then eating normally for five days.

Intermittent fasting is not practical or sustainable for everyone. It may not be safe if you have diabetes because prolonged fasting could result in low blood sugar. Before you try intermittent fasting, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider to see if it is something that is safe for you to incorporate into your lifestyle. A healthcare provider can help to be sure that you are including the right foods in your diet. Remember that what you eat is probably more important than when you are eating.

Should I be taking a Dietary Supplement?

dietary-supplements

Americans spend billions of dollars on vitamins and dietary supplements annually, but are they good for you? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that your nutrition needs should be met primarily through a well-balanced diet. Some people, however, may need to take a supplement in order to get nutrients they may otherwise lack if they do not follow a healthy diet. Before you start to take a dietary supplement, get the facts on what they will and won’t do for your health.

Dietary supplements aren’t intended to be a substitute for healthy food. They cannot replicate the benefits and variety of nutrients found in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Whole foods are complex and contain a multitude of micronutrients your body needs, along with dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. If you eat a well-balanced diet, chances are that a dietary supplement may not be worth the added expense. Unlike supplements, a balanced diet contains the appropriate balance of nutrients that can help to prevent certain diseases and promote a healthy weight. Dietary supplements are not drugs, and are not intended to treat, prevent, or cure diseases.

Nutritional supplements might be helpful if you don’t eat a balanced diet, are a vegetarian or vegan, are pregnant or may become pregnant, or if you are over the age of 50. If you have a restrictive diet that eliminates entire food groups, it is likely that you are not receiving sufficient nutrients in your diet. Certain instances when a supplement is likely beneficial include:

  • Women who may become pregnant should get 400 micrograms per day of folic acid in order to prevent neural tube defects.
  • Women who are pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin that contains iron.
  • Adults age 65 or older should take 800 International Units of Vitamin D daily to promote healthy bones and to prevent falls.
  • Adults age 50 and older may need to take a vitamin B-12 supplement.

If you think you may benefit from a dietary supplement, talk to your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist. Remember that there are risks associated with taking dietary supplements. Some supplements and herbals can be harmful if taken with certain prescription medications. Be sure to check the label and avoid taking mega-doses, which can cause dangerous side effects. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in your fat and liver cells, and excessive amounts can accumulate and have toxic effects. Remember that just because something is labeled “natural,” doesn’t mean that it is always safe. Before taking a dietary supplement, ask your healthcare provider these questions:

  • What are the potential health benefits of taking this supplement?
  • Are there any risk associated with taking this supplement?
  • What is the appropriate dose to take?
  • How often, when and how long should I take this?

The bottom line is that if you are eating a balanced diet, you probably do not need to take a dietary supplement. If you think that your diet is lacking, a daily multivitamin can assure that you are getting the essential vitamins and minerals you need. If you are concerned about a specific nutrient, be sure to talk with your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist before taking a specific dietary supplement. Your healthcare provider can help you to make an informed decision about which supplements may be appropriate for you.

National Popcorn Day

popcorn

January 19th is National Popcorn Day! Did you know that Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn annually? Packed with whole grains, fiber and antioxidants, this delicious treat can also be healthy and low in calories.

Plain, natural popcorn is full of health benefits, but be careful of added butter and sugar. A large sized popcorn from the movie theater has about 1200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat. Microwave popcorn is often loaded with unhealthy oils, while kettle corn and caramel corn add hefty doses of sugar. If you do choose microwave popcorn, be sure to look for a light microwave option, which has less fat, fewer calories, and often less sodium than regular varieties.

To get the most health benefits, choose air popped popcorn, which has only about 30 calories per cup. If you don’t have a hot air popper, put 3-4 tablespoons of kernels in a brown paper bag, fold the top of the bag twice to be sure it’s closed, and then microwave for two minutes, or until there’s only a few seconds between pops.

Try these healthy popcorn recipes to celebrate National Popcorn Day:

Mediterranean Popcornmediterranean-spiced-popcorn
Ingredients:
9 cups popped popcorn
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning blend
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Drizzle olive oil evenly over the top of the popcorn, followed by Italian herbs and grated Parmesan. Toss well. Store in a seal-able plastic bag.

Serving size: 3 cups
Nutrition facts per serving: 121calories, 3 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 2.5 g fiber, 125 mg sodium

Popcorn Trail Mixpopcorn trail mix
Ingredients:
9 cups popped popcorn
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup roasted unsalted almonds

Directions:
Combine popcorn, cranberries and almonds and toss together. Store in a seal-able plastic bag.

Serving size: 2.5 cups
Nutrition facts per serving: 200 calories, 5 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 4 g fiber, 68 mg sodium

Dietary Fats 101

fats

For years, fats have gotten a bad rap, but fats are essential for your health. Fat is a concentrated source of energy and helps your body to absorb some vitamins and minerals. They help to build cell membranes and are necessary for blood clotting and muscle movement. Some fats are better than others, so it’s important to know which types of fats you should eat and how much you need in your diet so that you can make good food choices. For overall health, good fats include unsaturated fats, bad ones include trans-fats, and saturated fats fall somewhere in between.

Trans-fats are the worst type of dietary fat and should be minimized in your diet. They are vegetable oils that have been chemically modified into a solid. They have a long shelf life and can be found in margarine, shortening, packaged cookies, chips, crackers, and baked goods. On a food label, trans-fats are usually listed as “partially hydrogenated oil.” Trans-fats have no known health benefits and increase the amount of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce the amount of “good” HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. They also result in inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, they contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even a small amount of trans-fats have found to be harmful to your health.

Saturated fats are common in the American diet. They are solid at room temperature and come from animal products. Dietary sources include red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, eggs and coconut oil. A diet high in saturated fats can increase LDL cholesterol and lead to heart disease and blocked arteries. It is recommended to limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake.

Unsaturated fats are good fats. They are liquid at room temperature and come from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are two different types of unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are also called Omega-9 fatty acids. They are not considered essential in your diet because your body can make them. These types of fats are found in canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, almonds, avocados and olive oil. Eating Omega-9s instead of saturated fat can help to lower your cholesterol and may reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. There is no recommended daily intake of monounsaturated fat, but they are a good alternative to saturated and trans-fats.

Polyunsaturated fats are considered essential fats. They cannot be made by your body, so you must get them from the foods that you eat. Eating these types of fats instead of saturated fats helps to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The main types of polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3 fatty acids and Omga-6 fatty acids.

There are three kinds of Omega-3 fatty acids: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), EPA, and DHA. ALA is found in plant foods such as walnuts, olive oil, chia seed, flaxseed, and in some eggs. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout, striped bass, and herring. EPA is anti-inflammatory and is associated with a reduction in heart disease, stroke, blood pressure, triglycerides, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It also helps to raise HDL cholesterol. DHA plays an important role in brain health. Most Americans are not getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. The American Heart Associate recommends that you eat at least two servings of fatty fish per week in order to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer and improve mental health. Alternatively, you could talk to your physician or dietitian about taking a fish oil supplement.

Unlike Omega-3 fatty acids, most people are receiving plenty of Omega-6 fatty acids in their diets. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, and soy oil. It is important to have an appropriate ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Too little omega-3s and too much omega-6s can result in inflammation and can be problematic for your heart, blood pressure, joints, liver and pancreas. An ideal ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids is about 4:1, however, most people are getting 15 to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. The bottom line is that omega-6s are better for you than saturated fats, but most people are eating too much. Focus on increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and to bring your ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s close to 4:1.

Knowing the difference between these types of fats can be confusing. Remember to avoid trans-fats from shortening, margarine and processed foods. Reduce your intake from saturated fats, which come from animals and are solid at room temperature. Focus on increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, from fatty fish, olive oil, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight During the Winter Months

Active-Family-in-Winter

During the month of January, many of us are working on keeping the extra pounds off. You may have gained a bit of weight after the overindulgence of the holidays, and it can be challenging to get back to a healthy routine. Shorter days and cooler temperatures tend to make us more likely to eat more and exercise less.

Follow these tips to maintain a healthy weight during the winter:

  1. Stay active. Physical activity helps you to burn calories, build muscle and boost your metabolism. Try out winter sports such as snowshoeing, ice skating or cross country skiing. Go for a winter hike in a local state park. Take part in a yoga class or go bowling with a friend. By staying active during the winter months, you’ll feel better both mentally and physically.
  2. Eat balanced meals at regular times. Include breakfast, which helps to boost your metabolism and provides energy to sustain you throughout the day. Include small snacks so that you are eating something healthy about every 3 to 4 hours. Skipping meals often leads to overeating later in the day.
  3. Watch your portion sizes. Divide your plate into four equal parts and fill one with lean protein, one with a whole grain, one with a fruit and the other with a non-starchy vegetable. Use smaller plates, glasses, bowls and serving spoons to keep portion sizes in check. If eating out, split an entrée with a friend or save half for later.
  4. Eat mindfully. Eat more slowly and try to make the meal last for at least 20 minutes. Listen to your internal hunger cues and eat when hungry rather than when bored or stressed. Stop eating when you feel full. If you practice this enough, it’s likely that you will feel satisfied after eating less food.
  5. Choose fiber-rich foods. Fiber is a non-digestible plant component found in foods such as brown rice, whole grain breads, beans, bran and oat cereals, fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps with digestion and fills you up without adding excessive calories. Avoid low fiber foods such as white rice, white potatoes, sugar and sweets.
  6. Choose healthy fats. Don’t cut out fat completely as many low-fat or nonfat foods are loaded with sugar. Healthy fats eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet help to keep you feeling full and can have beneficial effects on your heart. Include foods high in heart healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, salmon, or walnuts.
  7. Stay hydrated with water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so fill up on some water when you are feeling hungry. Avoid sugary beverages, which add extra calories without filling you up. A 12-ouce can of soda typically has around 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of added sugar. Drinking 300 calories per day from sugary beverages could easily lead to a 12 pound weight gain over one year! Aim to drink at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
  8. Lift your mood. Short days can lead some people to feel depressed and fatigued due to lower levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical in your brain. It is easy to use food, especially sweets, to make you feel better. Carbohydrate rich foods result in a serotonin rush, which may be why you crave sweets when you are feeling down or tired. Find an alternative method to lift your mood, such as going to a movie, reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music, participating in a hobby, or talking with a friend. Exercise boosts the feel good chemicals serotonin and endorphins, so rather than grabbing candy, be physically active. If you are tempted to find comfort with food, try a steaming mug of hot tea.
  9. Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep often results in overeating and poor food choices due to fatigue. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  10. Start a food journal. Write down what you eat and how often you exercise to increase your awareness. You can use an app such as My Fitness Pal.

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. It can be challenging to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan during the winter months, but with a little planning, determination and encouragement, you can meet your goals.