Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Well, it’s that time of year again! With all the food, traveling, parties, and everything fun that comes with the holidays, it can be difficult to keep up with eating healthy and exercising.  Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy during the holiday season!

  1. Make time for physical activity. Whether it’s taking a family walk around the park or fitting in a half hour workout in the morning before preparing for that Thanksgiving dinner, it’s always good to get some physical activity in! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and you don’t have to hit the gym to get in a workout. The important thing is to make exercise a priority, regardless of what it is, or you may forget it altogether.
  2. HYDRATE. Drinking water is so important. Your body needs water! It can be really difficult to drink water when there are other drinks available, such as alcohol, soda, juice, etc. It’s also hard when you’re traveling, as you may have less access to water when you’re on the road. Travel with a water bottle! Remember to empty the water  before going through TSA. You can always refill your water bottle at a water fountain after passing through TSA.
  3. Have good hygiene! This is something that is sometimes overlooked but nothing ruins the holidays than getting sick. It makes the holidays much less enjoyable, especially if you miss out on a party just because you weren’t feeling well. Wash your hands, have hand sanitizer with you, bundle up appropriately, etc.
  4. Indulge but don’t indulge too much. This means watch your portions of the delicious food you’re eating. Enjoy the food. There’s always a lot of food during the holidays. People bring in cookies, candy, etc to the office and there’s plenty of food at parties. However, it’s not a free-for-all to eat huge portions of everything. If anything, choose specific foods you want to indulge in, such as your grandma’s favorite pecan pie or that delicious pot roast that your aunt makes for Christmas every year. You don’t eat this stuff normally and it’s okay to indulge and enjoy the occasion! Everything in moderation is the key.
  5. Eat slower and enjoy your food! This will make sure you don’t choke on your food. Choking hazard joke aside, savor your food and enjoy it. It takes a while for your stomach to register that you’re eating and starting to get full. Giving this more time to set in can prevent you from eating more than you intend to.  Plus, you really get to enjoy the flavors of the meal you have and you get to catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while since you’re eating slowly and enjoying time with them.

At the end, just enjoy the holidays and try not to stress about eating. After all, the most important thing is that you are spending time with your family and friends. Go ahead and indulge!

How do you stay healthy during the holidays? 

What’s your favorite holiday treat? 

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Simple Ways to Start Eating Healthy

What is healthy eating? There are articles online, blogs, magazines, and even posts from people you follow on social media. Some say you have to eat organic, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) foods. It has to be “grass-fed” beef or even local.

You know what? That apple you’re eating does not have to be organic. That beef you’re eating does not have to be grass-fed. And you know what? Bananas are already genetically modified. You can think of genetically modified organism  as selective breeding. It’s called choosing certain characteristics of an organism and breeding it together.  Let’s take that banana for example. They used to be small, weird shaped, and had hard seeds in them. Now, they have much smaller seeds, easy to hold, and very tasty!

Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. My point is, you can go ahead and eat the regular apple that’s not organic. You can eat that GMO banana. It’s hard for some people to eat healthy and seeing these labels such as “organic” and “non-GMO” can steer people away from eating healthy, especially since these products also tend to cost more than regular food.

To start eating healthy, here are some tips:

  1. Start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  For example, instead of snacking on chips and soda, try snacking on grapes, apples, carrots, red bell peppers, nuts, or roasted seasoned chickpeas.
    • Pro tip if you have children: Have your children pick a new fruit and vegetable to try each week. They are more likely to eat it when they choose it.
  2. Meatless Mondays!
  3. Start making half of your grains whole grains (if you haven’t been eating whole grain). For example, if you have regular toast as part of your breakfast, you can use whole wheat bread for your sandwich or use brown rice instead of white rice for lunch.
  4. Use smaller plates/bowls to reduce portion sizes without feeling like you’re eating less.
  5. Bring lunch to work everyday (this also saves money!). One easy way is to cook an extra portion when you cook dinner and bring the leftovers for lunch.
  6. Make a meal plan for the week. This advice is something I am hesitant to give since I like to eat something different everyday. However, having a plan can help you save money and reduce food waste. You know what you’ll be eating so you won’t be buying extra groceries and you won’t be wasting extra food if it doesn’t get eaten.
  7. Eat until you are 80% full. The Japanese call it “hara hachi bu”. There will be a separate post about this since I feel like this is important!

As you can see, you don’t have to go on a “Whole 30 Diet” or go to any extremes to eat healthy. Small things you do everyday will add up.

I hope this post steers you in the right direction into eating healthy.

What type of nutrition posts would you guys want to read about? 

Vegetarian Health

More and more people are becoming vegetarian. Whether it be for health reasons or personal beliefs, it’s not a terrible thing. It’s a health trend and people wonder, is eating vegetarian healthy? To answer your question, yes, eating vegetarian can be healthy as long as you are eating a balanced diet and getting the nutrients you need.

To explain this, here are two examples of eating a vegetarian diet: one, which is healthy, and the other, not so healthy.

Example 1: Samantha decided to go vegetarian because she loves animals. Her diet consists of waffles or cereal with soymilk in the morning, snacking on chips during the day, and eating a frozen cheese pizza for some of her meals. She also eats a lot of frozen vegan products.

Example 2: Mikayla decided to go vegetarian for health reasons. She was never fond of the texture of meat, so it’s something she won’t miss. Her diet consists of eggs, avocado, and whole wheat toast in the morning along with soymilk in her coffee; tofu or beans (pinto or black) with vegetables and brown rice, or whole wheat pasta with roasted veggies for lunch/dinner; and snacks on nuts and fruits or fruit/veggie (from the spinach) smoothies with protein powder when she’s hungry.

Which diet is healthier?…… Example 2!

  • Mikayla is eating a variety of foods that are fresh and NOT processed and is getting a lot of nutrients from eating those foods.
  • Samantha is eating a lot of processed foods that may be high in sodium. The frozen vegan products she consumes could be ready to go frozen meals, which include vegetables, but it looks like she is not consuming a variety of foods to get the nutrients she needs.

There are a few concerns when it comes to going vegetarian.

  1. If the diet is not balanced or the person is not eating the right foods, they could become deficient in some nutrients, including: protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, ω-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are high in meat products but not in fruits and vegetables.
  2. Some people use a vegetarian diet to mask disordered eating to limit the foods they eat (I was guilty of doing this for a period of time in high school. My diet is 100% different than what it was in high school. I’ll write about that in another post).

So, what can you do to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need if you decide to go vegetarian? Here are a few foods that can help address some of the nutrient concerns:

  • Protein: tofu, soy products such as soy burgers/sausages, beans (pinto, black, garbanzo, etc.), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You can make black bean burgers or falafels if you want to change it up!
  • Vitamin B12: This is only found in animal products. If you are vegan, you may want to consider consuming fortified products or taking supplements.
  • Vitamin D: egg yolks, cheese, fortified orange juice/soy milk, mushrooms treated with UV light (look for vitamin D on the mushroom packaging), and of course, being out in the SUN!
  • ω-3 fatty acids: eggs, canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans. You may want to eat foods fortified with the omega-3 fatty acids as plant based ones are not readily available to use in the human body.
  • Calcium: milk and dairy products (if you choose to consume dairy), dark greens (broccoli, spinach), tofu, calcium enriched/fortified food products (cereal, soy milk/yogurt, etc.)
  • Iron: Not easily absorbed from plant sources. Some foods include beans, lentils, iron fortified foods, and darky leafy green vegetables. Eat vitamin C rich foods with these iron sources as vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron. Think strawberries and oranges.
  • Zinc: Not easily absorbed from plant sources. Cheese is a good option if you eat dairy products. Plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.

In my next post, I will be posting some meal ideas that you can incorporate into a vegetarian diet. I will also include vegan options! And remember, always consult with your physician or a Registered Dietitian.

What are some of your favorite vegetarian foods? 

2017 – Fitness Friday 37 (on a Saturday)

Happy Saturday everyone. How are you guys doing today? I hope you guys are doing well! Anyway, this week has been crazy busy for me and I didn’t have a chance to write a post not is not about my workouts. I really want to start writing more nutrition posts. My goal is to post one once a week. We’ll see how that goes!

Anyway, my workouts was pretty much the same as last week’s workouts. The only thing different about this week was that I upped the intensity of the elliptical and lifted heavier this week. I’m getting stronger!

Fitness Friday 10-27-17

Lifting weights was something that I thought I would never do when I was younger since I thought it was a “guy” thing. However, that is not that case. It is something that is good for your body! If anything, body weight exercises is the least you can do for weight training. You need to maintain your muscle mass if you want to keep your metabolism running. I used to be the cardio queen but now, I try to balance weight lifting and cardio.

So, that’s it for this post. What type of general nutrition posts would you guys like to read about?

How were your workouts this week? 

Bone Health

So, I mentioned last week that I broke my foot. I actually broke my 5th metatarsal. It is a good thing that my bone didn’t get displaced though. It just cracked. I probably would have needed surgery if it was displaced. I broke it from running in heels and my foot just twisted in. Ladies (and some guys), please be careful when wearing heels!

Anyway, having broken my foot got me thinking about bone health. What caused my bone to be more susceptible to breaking? After all, my foot has turned in like that before and it didn’t break. However, it did this time. Is it because I haven’t been taking care of my bone health? Or is it because that particular bone is easier to break?

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To give a brief overview of my diet, I ate whatever I wanted until I was in high school. Once I was in high school, I wanted to lose weight and I severely restricted my eating. I wasn’t even drinking as much milk (which contains calcium and is fortified with Vitamin D) since I didn’t want to gain any weight. I thought milk was fattening. Imagine a growing adolescent body, needing more energy, and only getting about 1,200 calories. Of course I would be deficient in many vitamins and minerals. I did, however, exercise and did a lot of weight bearing exercises.

Anyway, let’s get back to the real nutrition of having healthy bones.

The first thing I want to say is, think of your bone as a savings account for calcium. You reach your peak bone density before age 30. After that, your body tends to break down bone faster than body is building bone. The most optimal time to build your savings account is during the adolescent years, when calcium absorption is at one of the highest, besides during infancy and childhood. After that, the body absorbs calcium less efficiently. I emphasize this because adolescents tend to become more independent during this time and make more of their own food choices.

This is important because adolescents are still growing at this time and are still trying to reach their optimal height. If they don’t consume enough calcium during this time, it may affect their skeletal (bone) health in the future and make bones more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis is a possibility in the future, especially if one is maintaining poor bone health.

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What is the most important function of calcium in the body besides maintaining skeletal health? Conducting nerve impulses! If your blood calcium levels are very low, Vitamin D (a hormone/vitamin) senses it and will tell your bones to break down and release calcium into the blood stream. It also tells your small intestine and kidneys to absorb (or reabsorb from the kidneys) more calcium. Your CNS (Central Nervous System) is your top priority when calcium levels are extremely low. Although 99% of calcium’s function is to maintain skeletal health, the 1% (nerve impulses, making sure your heart beats, etc) takes priority.

Adolescents should be consuming 1,300 mg of calcium (the RDA, Recommended Dietary Allowance). Females tend to consume less than the RDA (948 mg) while males tend to be pretty close to the RDA (1260 mg) for calcium. The RDA for Vitamin D (hormone/vitamin) is 15 micrograms (mcg) or 600 International Units (IU). The RDA for calcium for adults is 1,000 mg. The RDA for Vitamin D is the same for adults. Vitamin D is important for blood calcium homeostasis, as mentioned earlier.

There are other vitamins that play a role in bone health, including Vitamin C (for development of bone collagen) and Vitamin K (assists osteoblast cells in building bone). However, Vitamin D and Calcium are very important for bone health. Also, weight bearing exercises are also great for your bone health.

Remember that I am not a medical professional and it is best to speak with a Registered Dietitian or doctor to assess whether or not you are consuming enough calcium and to assess your bone health. I do, however, have a Bachelor’s of Science in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Nutrition and Food. I am able to give general nutrition advice. 

That is it for now!

What is your favorite sources of food for calcium?