Category Archives: healthy eating

Dining hall intervention helped students’ choices

As I have written in some of my blog posts on the brain. It is our frontal lobes that separate us from the rest of the creatures on this earth. That’s where our conscience resides and our decision-making takes place – our impulse control. It is a fact that the frontal lobes are the last to develop, often times this part of the brain is not developed until the individual reaches age 25. Personally, I found this fact to be an excellent explanation of why I made some of the really dangerous choices I did as a teen. It is well to keep this slow development fact in mind when thinking about freshmen in college living away from home for the first time in their lives.

As students transition from high school to college, they enter a critical period for weight gain. Although eating in a buffet-style dining hall offers freedom and flexibility in food choice, many students cite the abundance of food available as a cause for weight gain. As most college students’ diets are low in fruits and vegetables and high in calories, sugar, fat, and sodium, researchers from the University of Toronto and Memorial University of Newfoundland created a cross-sectional study to examine whether messaging encouraging fruit, vegetable, and water intake could influence the habits of university students.

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“Our labeling, focused on beverages and fruits and vegetables, may have been useful to decrease students’ consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increase consumption of , fruits, and vegetables,” said lead author Mary Scourboutakos, PhD, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto. Continue reading

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You Are What You Eat, and Who You Know -Study

When it comes to trends in body weight, there are no easy answers.

A new study by by Vanderbilt University researchers reveals new nuances in the links between a person’s weight and the socioeconomic status of the people close to them, and suggests that gender plays a significant role in that relationship. The study, Does Your Body Know Who You Know? Multiple Roles of Network Members’ Socioeconomic Status for Body Weight Ratings, appears online in the Journal of Sociological Perspectives. (my emphasis)

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Though in the West high socioeconomic status is associated with slenderness, the relationship between status and weight is actually more nuanced than that. Using nationally representative data from the 2004 U.S. General Social Survey, Lijun Song, professor of sociology, and graduate students Philip Pettis and Bhumika PiyaSong analyzed the relationship between an individual’s weight as measured by a visual evaluation, the socioeconomic status of the people they’re close to as measured by their educational attainment, lifestyle as measured by self-reported athleticism, and gender.

While Song and her colleagues found no direct link between an individual’s weight and the socioeconomic status of their personal network, they did find an indirect one through lifestyle. Continue reading

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Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh wait, I did.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I hope this edible Christmas tree will give you healthy ideas about your eating this holiday season and in the coming year.

While you are thinking about it, don’t forget that you need to exercise, too. You won’t be exercising just to burn calories. Exercise benefits your brain and body in many ways. Check out the exercise tags at the right to read further on this.

I hope you will enjoy all the benefits of good food and exercise! Eat less; move more; live longer. Healthy eating is healthy aging and we all want that. Okay, we seniors are more aware of it than you younger folk, but keep at it and you will come realize and appreciate it too.

Best wishes for this holiday season!

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Tony

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CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter Grades the Changing American Diet

Cheese Consumption hits All-Time High; Americans Still Consuming Too Much Beef & Soda Despite Declines, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to regular readers that the CSPI gives a barely passing grade to the quantity and quality of food we are consuming.

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Americans are eating too much of everything, and it’s not just how much, but what we eat, that needs work, according to a report card on the changing American diet published today in Nutrition Action Healthletter.  The average American consumes about 2,500 calories per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.  That’s up from about 2,000 calories a day in the 1970s. (my emphasis)

(Ed. note:  CSPI is hosting a quiz about America’s Changing Diet. Take it now, if you like, since spoilers follow.)

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Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, eat healthier

What we eat for lunch in the cafeteria and buy in the supermarket for dinner depends on the order in which the dishes are presented to us, and how easy it is to get to the products. This is the conclusion of a collaborative review of existing research at the Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen.

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Is it possible to change our behavior when it comes to food choices only by presenting the food to the guests in a cafeteria in a different order, or by making it more difficult to reach the less healthy food? Yes, a review of existing research in this area concludes. The review shows that manipulation of food product order or proximity can influence food choice and that healthy food nudging seems promising. Eighteen studies were included in the review. Sixteen of the studies showed nudging made a positive impact. Continue reading

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Foods for a Leaner Body – Infographic

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Some folks don’t advocate avocados because of calories and fat considerations. I think that is a mistake. Check out my post – Are avocados good for you for much more info.

Also, while olive oil is healthy, I prefer the much-maligned coconut oil. You can read my Page – Why you should include coconut oil in your diet to find out why.

Tony

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Can Food Be Both Delicious and Nutritious?

On its face the answer appears to be affirmative. Of course there is delicious and nutritious food. But not all food. I think food both delicious and nutritious is in the minority. For the most part food is a greater or lesser amount of either quality.

For me, a good example is apples. A while back I posted a suggestion to add blue cheese crumbles to a fresh apple to really spark up the taste. Delicious and nutritious. The cheese makes it more so, but the apples taste great on their own.

The dark side of apples that is, apple pastries, like apple turnovers, apple pie and apple cobbler are also delicious, but not very nutritious. They are packed with a lot of empty calories and bad fats for those few seconds of taste delight.

On a personal basis, I eat apples every day, but I don’t have an apple turnover every day. If I haven’t ridden my bike 20 miles, I don’t even consider eating an apple turnover. That way, at least I have put some calories ‘in the bank’ so I don’t exceed my calorie budget for the day. I also limit myself to half an apple turnover.

But what about other popular taste treats like cheeseburgers, french fries and pizza, that are also delicious, but not nearly as nutritious as other foods less tasty.

I think it is a balancing act. I indulge in all of the above foods, but sparingly. I try for the most part to get my protein from nuts and seeds rather than animal sources. This slashes the amount of bad fats going into my blood stream.

I can give you an example from my own experience. Normally, I start the day with a smoothie from my Vita-Mix machine. But sometimes, I will buy a scone and consume it instead for my breakfast. The smoothie is around 400 calories, but mostly carbs with a lot of protein. The scone has only 190 calories, but they are empty ones compared with the smoothie. One morning that I had a scone instead of a smoothie, I took the bike out for a ride. I managed 20 miles, but found that I was wiped out at the end. I often ride 20 miles after a smoothie breakfast and feel fine. I attribute my lack of energy to having put bad fuel in my tank in the form of the scone. I chose delicious over nutritious.

I have posted a number of my ‘Mr. Lazy Cook’ recipes that are very simply prepared, but offer good nutrients along with the calories. You can click on the lazy cook tags at the right or just search lazy cook and you will find a number of tasty and nutritious items.

When I was writing the blog items on the brain I was particularly impressed with the function of the frontal lobes. They make up our conscience – our director – our impulse control. We need to exercise our frontal lobes when confronted with these tasty treats that are just empty calories. French fries is a good example. They taste great, but are cooked in fat and have lots of empty calories. A small handful of peanuts is a healthier snack.

I talk a lot about exercise here in the blog. I think exercising the frontal lobes is an especially good one. Decide in favor of nutritious over delicious even if you have to give up something in terms of taste. At least you can feel good about the fact that the food isn’t going to waist (yours).

Tony

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Health and Fitness Ideas

Instead of health and fitness funnies, I thought I would pass on some of these graphic ideas that impressed me recently. Hopefully, this week the laugh isn’t on me.

 

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In conclusion, I wish more people would focus on living a healthy life than just dropping some unwanted pounds. The first way is positive and long lasting. The second is superficial and most of the time doesn’t result in permanent weight loss.

Seems a simple choice to me.

Tony

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Don’t OutEat Your Exercise

The item yesterday on mall-walking presented a really clear example of a well-intentioned exercise outing possibly resulting in going overboard on calorie consumption. Since it all happened within an hour or so, it was very straight forward.

Consider this a variation on that theme.

A couple of years ago, I was counting up my bike riding miles. On November 28 I had a total of 3493 miles. I figured I was a cinch to reach my goal of 3500 miles for the year. There were two days left of November and the entire month of December. How could I miss getting another 7 miles?

Benefits of bike riding

Then came the snow and the ice and the freeze and winter’s winds. Chicago became Narnia under the spell of the White Witch. I looked out my window each morning and felt like a little kid who couldn’t go out and play.

At that point I was only weighing myself weekly so I didn’t catch on to what was happening for a while. The first week went by and I was unable to ride my bike. I gained 3 lbs. I didn’t take it too seriously because I know that water retention and elimination can through your weight off by a couple of pounds.
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Creating Health Bite by Bite: The Wonders of Diet and Digestion

Let’s think about what happens when we eat. We take in vegetables, grains, and animal products and we transmute those materials into their fundamental components in a form that our cells can assimilate. From that we create tissues, organs, bones, and fluids. We eat a tomato and turn it into a heart. We are recreating ourselves everyday through a process to which we give little to no thought or attention.

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STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

The process of eating and digesting is a wondrous thing. It is magic. It is alchemy. Ayurveda acknowledges this. In our Western culture the process of eating has become mindless or at best, a form of entertainment. Too often as we eat we watch TV, have meetings or socialize or, worse, we eat standing or on the run. The consequences of this disconnection to the process of eating and digestion are seen in the growing prevalence of problems such as malabsorption, irritable bowel, food sensitivities, bloating, gastritis, indigestion/heartburn, and excess gas. It also leads to lowered immunity. Before opting for a flu shot this winter, think about fine-tuning your eating habits.

There is an ancient Ayurvedic proverb: “Without proper diet, medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need.” When we think of proper diet we need to think not just of what we eat but…

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25 Ridiculously Healthy Foods – Infographic

This is a Women’s Health infographic. Thought it was especially interesting.

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Buon Appetito!

Tony

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6 Tricks to Eat Healthier – Harvard

I happened upon this from Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat. It happens to be six of the best ideas that I have written about or heard about for eating healthier and smarter.

1. Ditch whole milk
Not only does this reduce saturated fat in your diet, it also shaves off calories.
How: Switch to 1% or nonfat milk, and nonfat versions of other dairy products like yogurt and ice cream. Can’t bear to go cold turkey? Step down more slowly to 2% milk, then 1% en route to nonfat, if possible.

Most of the people I know have been drinking skimmed or soymilk for years.

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2. Harness the power of nuts (and seeds)
Almonds, cashews, filberts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios pack plenty of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Although many nuts are high in fat, the fat is mainly unsaturated — a healthy choice.
How: First, put nuts on the grocery list. Nuts are high in calories, so it’s best to enjoy them in place of other snacks, not in addition to them, and to keep serving sizes small.

Amen, brother. To read further on the benefits of nuts and seeds, check out my posts:
6 Reasons You Should Eat Pumpkin Seeds Year-Round
The Super Seeds: Which is Healthier
What are the Top Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Are Chia Seeds Good for You?
Are Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) Good For You?

3. Taste food before you salt it
Break the autopilot habit of reaching for the salt shaker.
How: For two days, don’t put any salt on your food at all. A short break can help reset your taste buds. Then, leave the salt shaker in the cabinet, so it becomes a bit of an effort to reach for it. Make a ritual out of truly tasting your food before you decide if it needs tweaking.

Great idea, but the fact is that most people get overdosed on the salt that is in their processed foods. The more natural food you eat, the better off you will be.

4. Pack lunch once a week
This makes healthy food choices readily available to you at work or on an outing. And since you are controlling portion sizes, you can make sure that you’re not supersizing your meal. Plus, it saves you money.
How: Once a week, before you shop for groceries, write out a meal plan that leaves enough leftovers for one or two lunches.

I love this. I suggested it back five years ago when we first started the blog.  Here are my exact words: “I think if I were still working I would seriously consider bringing lunch from home a day or two each week to keep a handle on my intake. With a fridge and microwave where you work, you are good to go,” I wrote in the About Me Page.

5. Eat five (or more) vegetables and fruits a day
It’s a nutrient-packed way to fill your plate, and is generally low in calories.
How: First, for one week, keep track of how often you eat fruits and vegetables. One serving equals one-half cup of chopped fruit or most vegetables; for raw leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, a serving is one cup. Once you have your baseline, try adding one fruit or vegetable serving a day.

6. Plan meals that are delightful, delicious, and healthy
In an ideal world, food delights all our senses: it looks beautiful, smells heavenly, and tastes delicious, and its textures feel and even sound satisfying. Start thinking about food as something to really savor and enjoy. How: Pencil in time to prepare and savor one or two special meals a week. Once you’ve assembled great ingredients, set a gorgeous table. Take a moment to truly take in scents, companions, and surroundings, and if you like, give thanks.
For 42 simple changes to help you exercise more, eat healthier, stress less, and live a happier, more fulfilling life, buy Simple Changes, Big Rewards from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

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How Various Foods Benefit Your Body – Infographic

I put this in the category of one picture is worth a thousand words. I like the idea of connecting various parts of the body with individual foods and showing a relationship. It is also interesting to note that there is no place for junk food on this chart. Not a lot of benefits there. It might be worth keeping in mind when you are tempted by a Ho Ho. I posted A Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s – NOT a while back. It has a good explanation of how certain nutrients impact your body.

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Tony

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Super Bowl Sunday Snacking

What are you going to be snacking on during the big game?

According to The Supermarket Guru, “It’s estimated that on Super Bowl Sunday, Americans will consume more than double their average daily snack amount; and the average “armchair quarterback” will consume nearly 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat from snacks alone- not counting meals. To burn that off, you’d have to run for about an hour and 45 minutes!”

Pigs in a blanket – One of the top five fan snack choices

Bing.com says the top five game day snacks are Buffalo wings, pizza, nachos, chili, and pigs in a blanket. I hope for your sake that you are not going this high calorie count empty nutritional value route.

I have written about snacking here before. There was Targeted Snacking in June and Smart Snacking in March. Click on the links for some positive ideas on snacks for the big game.

WeightWatchers suggests, “You can still enjoy some football fare: a chicken wing or two, some chips and dip, a slice of pizza and a cold one. Just don’t overindulge — eat and drink reasonably, keep track of what you chow down on ….

“Consider parking a few blocks from the party or heading outside for a walk instead of watching for the next wardrobe malfunction at halftime (that’s what DVRs are for anyway).”

Tony

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10 Foods to Eat at Least Once a Week – Infographic

In case you didn’t know it. Here are 10 really great foods that you should include in your diet. Luckily, they happen to taste great, too. So, we aren’t taking hardship of any kind here.

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Tony

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5 Healthy Eating Habits to Adopt This Year

If taking them all on at once seems overwhelming, try a “step-ladder” approach—focus on one change until it feels like a normal part of your daily routine, then add another, and another. Sometimes taking it slow ups the chances that behaviors will stick, so come December 2015, you’ll be celebrating a year of accomplishments.

Our Better Health

January 1, 2015    By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition is a hot topic these days, yet many of my clients still struggle with consistently following through with “the basics,” and the stats show that missing the mark on many healthy habits is the norm. For example, the median daily intake of produce for U.S. adults is 1.1 servings of fruit and 1.6 servings of veggies, far below the minimum recommended five daily servings.

If you’re going to set just one goal for 2015, I think eating more produce should be it, but I’ve also listed four others below. I know you’ve heard them before, but they are without a doubt the most tried-and-true, impactful eating habits you can foster—both for your waistline and your health. And despite knowing them, you may not be achieving them, so they’re worth considering as you choose your resolutions.

If taking them all on…

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