Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can you eat healthy when eating fast food? Probably not!

Don't trust the fast food marketing

Prevention Magazine has a really nice piece on McDonald's new 400 calorie of less campaign. It breaks down each item billed as 400 calories or less and analyzes the nutritional content. Don't let the very highly paid and adept marketing of fast food catch  you. The amounts of sodium, sugars, fats and added ingredients are startling. Here are a couple of examples, but I highly recommend you follow the below links and read the entire content, so you don't get caught in their marketing traps. Stay healthy!

Premium Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich, grilled: 380 cal

McDonalds' website calls this one "Refined and real, all on the same bun." We're not sure if they meant refined as in "elegant," or refined as in "processed"—but it's more the latter, according to the ingredient list. The chicken contains rib meat, maltodextrin, and sodium phosphates and the "bakery style bun" has high fructose corn syrup, dough conditioners, and ammonium sulfate. This sandwich gives you a quarter of your daily cholesterol, 10 g of fat, 9 grams of sugar, and 1,000 mg of sodium. 
Swap it for: A whole dinner of grilled chicken slathered in barbecue sauce, with a buttered ear of corn—for the same amount of calories. 

Read more:

Mango Pineapple Real Fruit Smoothie (large): 350 cal

McDonald's boasts that every size of their "real fruit smoothie" is under 400 calories. But a large mango pineapple smoothie has a whopping 77 g of sugar—which is the equivalent of eating almost three Snickers bars, in terms of the sugar content. And just in case you're wondering, the "real fruit" includes "clarified demineralized pineapple juice concentrate," which is a sweetener, not a chunk of vitamin-C-packed raw pineapple.
Swap it for: Some whole real fruit, plus filling peanut butter and soy milk, in our Peanut Butter Soy Smoothie instead.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stress and Tools to Cope

Ways to help you cope with family stress

When you get overwhelmed by the stresses that life throws at you how do you cope? Many people find they just don’t have good coping skills. They tend to obsess on the problem,  let it effect their mood and interactions for the entire day, or turn to alcohol or tobacco as a coping mechanism.
Stress is normal we will all encounter major stress. What I teach is to plan for how you are going to respond.  Will you let this stress effect your health? Will you allow it the ability to raise your blood pressure, to give you waves of anxiety? Will you breathe short and shallow?   Will your heart race?  Will you carry emotional burden all day?
Stress management is something many don’t give enough time or thought to. I like to look at it as a tool box full of different tools. If you never have used the tools in this box the chances are you won’t know how to use them when you really need them. For that reason stress management is something that is practiced. Kind of like child birth and Lamaze in order for that to work you need to practice.
Some of the initial tools to learn include:
Being in the present - if you are reflecting on past events – take a time out and be in the present. What around you is positive, is it the sunshine, the breeze, family, friends, a flower, a pet, a companion, a song…take the time to be in the present. Sure the past comes back, but if it is too much to bear and you can tell it is effecting your health be in the present.
Breathe - sounds like a cliche right? Well it isn’t. When we experience a major stress we often breath short and shallow only filling the top most portion of our lungs. Take a few deep cleansing breathes. Make your belly extend out when you breath in.  This is a great one to practice and use when you experience a health stress. If you are lying in the ER freaking out about what is happening and feeling powerless, use the breath. Focus on nothing more than taking a breathe in through your nose, feel the air as it travels down into your chest. Try and make it feel like you are bringing the breathe right down to your pelvis.Then slowly exhale out through your mouth. Listen to the sound, feel the cool air go in, and the warm air come out                                                                                    
Imaging  - This one is my favorite for when those stressors haunt me at night and I can’t sleep. Where are you peaceful? For me it’s at the beach. What do you see? What do you feel – warm, cold, a breeze, the warm sand, the cool sand below? What do you smell? What do you hear – the waves lapping the shore, the birds, children laughing.  Sure at first you hear the clock ticking and the voices in your head pulling you away from your peaceful place, but the more you practice this the better you are at tuning them out. Initially just stop and acknowledge the things breaking you away, but then go back to your peaceful spot. This is a great one to practice during medical procedures, it helps to keep your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate lower, and gives you a sense of control.  
Exercise -  This is a great form of stress management if you go about it right. Some people feel the need to work out like a mad man. This isn’t so good. When you do this the exercise creates a physical stress response, chances are your body already is responding physically to the other stress. Examples are your blood pressure tends to run higher, your heart rate and respirations are higher. Then you are going to exercise and drive these up even further.  This means you could be burning the candle at both ends. It is far better to take it a little easier than you would for a normal workout, maybe go a little longer, but keep the intensity backed down just slightly. Hit the weights afterwards, try some yoga stretches after – the yoga breath would be quite helpful as well. And while you exercise don’t focus on the stress or finding a solution. Be in the present, focus on the positives.
.   The following table lists some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.   
Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive SymptomsEmotional Symptoms
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical SymptomsBehavioral Symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eat your Veggies!!!

How do you get people to eat veggies?

 I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say they don't like to eat vegetables. Funny how often I would hear this while working in Cardiac Rehabilitation. Coincidence? I don't think so. A healthy diet includes 5 servings a day of fruit and veggies, many people are ok with the fruit but entirely skip the veggies. Women are instructed to get 4 1/2 cups a day of vegetables for heart health. Children are picky and it can take years to get them to eat a variety of vegetables. Don't give up!!! Keep trying new vegetables, new textures, new recipes.

Get your servings each day 

One way to get your veggies in each day is to join a CSA. This is community supported agriculture. You essentially purchase a share of a farm and each week you get your vegetable share. This week my share was 22 lbs of vegetables and included eggplant, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, tomatillos, squash - zuchinni, yellow and patty pan, dill, cilantro, garlic, onions, bean - green and purple, peppers, cucumbers, and beets. Last week we had similar but added turnips, cabbage and radishes. It is an experiment finding what recipes we will have repeatedly and what ones we will avoid. Tonight's dinner included camelized turnips - these went over well -suprizingly.

Be creative with vegetables

Get away from the traditional boiled or steamed veggies. Try to get creative. Google recipes for vegetables. Turn carrots or asparagus into ribbons, combine unusual flavors, grill veggies, sneak them into meals - chop them small. Combine strong flavors with sweet, try flavored vinegar's with veggies. Recently I made cole slaw with lemon infused vinegar and very little mayo - the whole family commented on how it was the best cole slaw they ever had while not knowing how basic the recipe was - cabbage, carrots, vinegar, sugar, lemon peppes,  and a tiny bit of mayo.

With all these vegetables they become the food which the meal is built around, rather than the typical American diet which builds it's meal around the meat source. Which leaves me with how will I prepare eggplant this week? Baba Ganoush or Eggplant Parmasean?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Walking for health

 Walking is a great family health activity. 

If you feel your family isn't active enough try to add in a walk each day. A great time to do it is after the evening meal. Gather the family, don't forget to include the grandparents. Stroll around the block or a local path, don't make it hard, just make it enjoyable. This is a time to talk, the relax, to stretch your legs, to enjoy the sights. Exercise doesn't have to always be high intensity either. Make a goal to get your family to walk 3-5 times a week. 

Be patient

If your children are young, you may be tempted to just push them in the stroller, but if they can walk get them out and let them walk part of it. When my daughter was young a normal 15-20 minute walk for me could take 45 minutes or more for her to dawdle, explore and partake in the walk. I found if I pushed her in the stroller she slept, and then I didn't get the down time necessary, but if I moved her then she would sleep on return...bonus!

As the children get older it becomes a time to chat about the days events, about concerns, strengths and challenges. It is hard to get teens out, but if you make it into a regular activity they just might surprise you and engage in it regularly. Try not to put too much pressure on them. If they don't then it is time for you and your spouse to reconnect and enjoy each others company.

Include family and friends in the walking activity

Bring the grandparents along, or a neighbour. Again adjust the pace and route according to their abilities. Keep it fun and light, don't start in to politics or issues that are stressful. Take time to watch the wildlife, enjoy nature, watch the sun set, view the clouds, smell the air, and relax. 

By establishing routine exercise in the family studies show children more likely to be more physically active in adulthood.

Start your family off with healthy lifestyle sooner rather than later. Your family will likely maintain healthy lifestyles throughout their lives. Be the role model!