Things to do today to improve your tomorrow

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When a person has no aches and pains and no major health concerns, it’s easy to forget that such luxury is not forever. For most of us, there will come a day when our bones are not as strong, our muscles not as flexible, and our joints not as pain free. However, taking care of yourself early can really improve how you feel in the future. Staying healthy later in life starts early, and there are many small habits and routines you can develop to keep your body running it’s best as you age. In addition to eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, here are some easy things you can do now, for a better tomorrow.

 

Weight Bearing Exercise

Most exercises are beneficial long and short term, however weight bearing exercises in particular can help in strengthening your bone for the future. Bone fractures are very prominent in older individuals because as a person ages, bones naturally begin to weaken and deteriorate. This process can be slowed down by reaching a higher bone density peak. Exercises involving weight and resistance maintains and builds bone density. In addition, it improves strength and muscle mass for better balance.

 

Find Time to De-stress

Stress is clearly not a positive emotion but it also has negative long term effects. Studies have shown a link between stress and heart disease. This is largely due to the short term effects of stress; stress often causes people to overeat, smoke, and be involved in other health depreciating activities.

 

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Though alcohol has been known to have heart protective properties, more often than not, people misunderstand other implications. Drinking to excess can raise blood pressure, weaken the heart’s ability to circulate blood, and increase cancer and stroke risks. In addition, long term alcohol use can lead to the risk of brain damage and neurobehavioral defects. This is because alcohol affects the sensitive chemical balance in the brain, which also can have negative effects on emotional state.

 

Regular Visits to the Doctor

It may not seem like you need to visit the doctor if you are not experiencing any medical concerns, but problems can sometimes surface without detectable warning. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are virtually undetectable without medical screening. Keep yourself in check by making sure your body is as healthy on the inside as you feel on the outside.

 

Protect Your Skin

As the weather gets warmer, tanning and sunbathing tends to become a go to activity for many people. While sun-kissed skin may be highly desirable, sun exposure is linked with skin cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States. Effects of skin cancer are also undetectable until years down the line. Keep your skin protected now and limit your sun exposure, wear sunscreen, and cover up as much as you comfortably can.

 

Remember that preventing one is more effective than trying to fix a health problem. Though everything seems fine right now, as you age you may realize that many health concerns could have been prevented if you had developed good habits earlier in life. Look out for your future and aim to live a long and healthy life.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9927006

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/LifeAfteraHeartAttack/Lifestyle-Changes-for-Heart-Attack-Prevention_UCM_303934_Article.jsp#.WQvEqhLyu9Y

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502?pg=1

http://alcohol.addictionblog.org/alcohol-long-term-effects/

https://familydoctor.org/what-you-can-do-to-maintain-your-health/

 

 

National Nutrition Month

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National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education campaign sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Association. This month’s campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits. It also focuses on how to create meals that can be enjoyed and also promote good health. The 2014 National Nutrition Month theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Research confirms that taste is the determining factor for the foods that consumers choose on a daily basis. Though social, emotional, and health factors also play a role, people are likely to choose foods based on what they enjoy the most. This means that nutritional considerations often fall by the wayside. This year’s National Nutrition Month focuses on how to create meals that can be enjoyed and also promote good health.

Looking for a way to practice choosing foods that are both healthy and enjoyable? Try this optional week-long healthy eating challenge. Alternatively, you can try just a few meals or snack ideas from the list as another option!

Healthy Aggies Challenge

 Day 1

Breakfast

  • 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal with ½ cup berries, 2 T chopped walnuts
  • 1 medium banana

Lunch

  • 2 cups spring green salad with ½ garbanzo beans, ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, ½ cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup diced cucumber, 2 T olive oil vinaigrette

Snack

  • 1 apple and 2 T peanut butter

Dinner

  • 4 oz oven roasted pork with fennel
  • 1 roasted sweet potato
  • ¾ cup steamed chard with 2 T olive oil
  • 8 oz lowfat milk
  • 1 small brownie

Day 2

Breakfast

  • 2–egg spinach and mushroom omelet
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast
  • 1 medium banana

Lunch

  • 1 cup lentil soup
  • 1 cornbread muffin with 1 T honey

Snack

  • 3 whole wheat crackers with 1 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 apple

Dinner

  • 4 oz grilled salmon
  • 8 asparagus spears with olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 small handful chocolate covered almonds

Day 3

Breakfast

  • 1 whole wheat English muffin with 2T almond butter
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt ½ of a grapefruit

Lunch

  • 2 cups spinach tossed with 3 oz chicken, ½ cup shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, 1 T dressing

Snack

  • ½ cup trail mix (almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds)
  • 8 oz low-fat milk

Dinner

  • 3 oz. grilled tri–tip
  • 1 small baked potato topped with ½ cup sautéed mushrooms and onions
  • 2 cups spring greens with olive oil vinaigrette

Day 4

Breakfast

  • 1 cup raisin bran cereal
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • 1 orange

Lunch

  • Quesadilla with 3 oz. shredded pork and 1½ oz. shredded jack cheese on 8″ whole wheat tortilla
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 cup cabbage slaw with 1 T. avocado salad dressing

Snack

  • ½ cup plain yogurt with herb seasoning as dip for 1 cup total baby carrots and celery

Dinner

  • 4 oz. pan seared pork chop with 1 cup sautéed chard, shallots and mushrooms served over 3 small roasted red potatoes

Day 5

Breakfast

  • 1 whole wheat English muffin
  • 1 cup greek yogurt with ¼ cup almonds , drizzle of honey

Lunch

  • 2 slices whole grain bread and 3 oz. canned tuna with fresh parsley, celery and scallions ½ cup sliced cucumber
  • 1 banana

Snack

  • 2 cups of popcorn sprinkled with parmesan cheese
  • 1 mandarin orange

Dinner

  • 1 roasted chicken breast
  • 1 cup whole grain rice medley
  • 1 cup steamed green beans with sautéed shallots
  • 1 cup arugula and spinach with red onion and tomato slices and 1 T light dressing

 Day 6

Breakfast

  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 T jam
  • 2 poached eggs
  • ½ grapefruit

Lunch

  • 1½ cups chicken noodle soup
  • Celery and carrots dipped with 3 T hummus
  • Small handful chocolate–covered almonds

Snack

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 T almond butter

Dinner

  • 4 oz. grilled salmon
  • 1 cup steamed chard
  • 1 cup brown rice with fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts
  • 1 oz. dark chocolate and ½ cup strawberries

 Day 7

Breakfast

  • 2 poached eggs on 2 slices whole wheat toast
  • 1 chopped apple with cinnamon

Lunch

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread and 3 oz. roasted turkey and 1 oz. cheddar cheese with greens and sliced tomato
  • 1 kiwi

Snack

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with small handful trail mix and honey
  • 1 mandarin orange

Dinner

  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta topped with lean ground beef–tomato sauce (fresh herbs, diced tomatoes, mushrooms)
  • 2 cups chopped kale salad with 1 T olive oil vinaigrette

Look for National Nutrition Month events going on at the UC Davis Dining Commons all month long!

Healthy Tips for Eating Out

eatinghealthyout-PROOFWhether you are eating out at a restaurant or at the UC Davis Dining Commons, there are many options for good tasting foods; often including foods you may never make at home and in quantities you would not usually prepare for yourself. Sometimes this can make it challenging to create a healthy meal. There are also positives to eating out. Visiting a new restaurant presents the exciting opportunity to try new meals that may even inspire you in your own kitchen. Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your restaurant meal will be both enjoyable and healthy.

Remember MyPlate to balance your choices:

  • If possible, try a taste of the meal first before choosing an entrée.
  • If your options are pasta, potatoes, rice, and bread, choose one from this group. The foods you didn’t choose today will most likely be offered again tomorrow.
  • Include a source of protein in every meal. Make a salad into a meal by adding beans, cottage cheese, or tofu. Consider pairing grilled chicken breast with some veggies or grains, or as a lean protein addition to a salad.
  • Opt for low-fat condiments such as mustard, tomato sauce, seasoned vinegar, low fat salad dressing, and fat free cream cheese. Use high fat condiments (like mayo, gravy, creamy sauces, salad dressing, and cream cheese) sparingly.
  • Balance is key! If you choose a high fat main dish, choose something light (like fruit) for dessert. If you choose a lighter entree (like grilled chicken breast salad with low fat dressing), enjoy a higher fat dessert. If you had dessert at lunch, skip it at dinner.

Ask the waiter or server how items are prepared or served. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, the staff is happy to provide them for you.

  • Substitute egg whites into your omelet or scramble at breakfast and use plain yogurt instead of sour cream on breakfast potatoes. Top with salsa for added flavor.
  • Ask for light salad dressings such as lemon juice or olive oil and vinegar.
  • Ask the server to “hold the mayo” and ask to put sauces, salad dressings, and other extras on the side. If you choose to use them, apply sparingly or dip your fork in the dressing/sauce to get a tiny flavor boost with each bite.
  • Ask for a side green salad, steamed vegetable, or fruit cup in place of the cole slaw, potato salad, or fries that normally comes with it.

Most restaurant meals come in larger portions than you would normally eat if you made a meal at home. Ask for smaller portions, or take steps to control portions on your own.

  • Have a light snack before you go, such as a piece of fruit, a small carton of yogurt, or a small handful of nuts.
  • Remove your plate as soon as you feel full. Remember that it takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full.
  • Share a large entree or dessert, or consider putting half of the portion in a to-go box for later.
  • Drink a tall glass of water before you start eating and/or several glasses during your meal.
  • Enjoy a cup of herbal tea at the end of your meal as a substitute for dessert.

Do you have any strategies to improve the health of your meal when you eat at the dining commons, or visit your favorite restaurants? Share by leaving a reply below!

Healthy Snacks 101

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Snacks can boost your energy between meals and supply essential vitamins and minerals. Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-rich foods. The key to delicious snacking is to be creative with what you make so that you are always coming up with new combinations. These recipes are high in nutrients while also being more imaginative than your standard snack.

Have a busy week ahead of you? Prepare and store your snacks on Sunday so that you have them ready to go during the week.

Greek Yogurt Bowl 

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photo by 101 Cookbooks

Start with 1 cup of Greek yogurt and add in your choice of nuts, seeds, fruit, and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.

Benefits: Greek yogurt has double the protein of most regular yogurts. Greek yogurt contains probiotics that not only improve your digestive health and keep the bacteria in your gut healthy, they boost your immune system to keep you well. All nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps keep your skin healthy.

Vegetable Hummus

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photo by Martha Stewart

Hummus is a great way to sneak veggies into your meal if you don’t enjoy eating them whole. Enjoy this recipe, which incorporates kale, as a dip for raw veggies or crackers, as a spread in a sandwich or wrap or use a dollop on top of a fresh salad.

Benefits:  Kale is high in Vitamin K, which can help protect against various cancers. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Chickpeas are high in protein and also known to be effective in preventing build up of cholesterol in the blood vessels.

Blueberry-Pecan Bars 

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photo by Our Family Eats

This recipe is perfect for breakfast on the go or a snack between meals.

Benefits: Oats are a slow digesting carbohydrate that will keep you full for longer because of their high fiber content. Dried blueberries provide vitamins and antioxidants. Coconut oil provides some healthy fat: the medium chain fatty acids in coconut have been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Bananas supply potassium and B6. These bars earn even more points because they have no refined sugar, and can be made gluten free!

Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

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photo by Fit Sugar

Make this smoothie for a quick breakfast on the go, or post workout to get protein to your muscles for recovery. Find the recipe here.

Benefits: Whey protein is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. One half cup of pumpkin contains 400% of your daily needed vitamin A, as well as vitamin C and fiber. Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices it is high in antioxidants, which play an important role in keeping the body healthy.

What are some of your favorite snacks? Do you like to get creative while snacking? Leave a reply below! 

Inexpensive Meals and Ideas on a Budget

Inexpensive-Meals-PhotoAs a college student, I am always on a budget when it comes to grocery shopping. After all, less money spent on food equals more money to spend on fun. However I also value eating healthy, which rules out subsisting on ramen noodles. As a result I have found that with a little creativity and smart shopping, it’s possible to create meals that keep both my stomach and my wallet happy. Here are a few to try:

  • Make a wrap! Grill chicken and wrap it in a whole wheat tortilla with your choice of extras such as avocado, lettuce, and tomato. Or try this recipe for Fajita Ranch Chicken Wraps (pictured above), which are only $2.05 per serving. Alternatively, create a breakfast wrap by substituting scrambled eggs as the protein source.
  • Oatmeal is high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol, protect against heart disease, and strengthen the immune system. If you’re still not convinced you should run out and buy oatmeal this second, you will be after you read more about its health benefits here. Instead of purchasing prepackaged oatmeal that is already flavored, opt for plain oats. From here the options for oatmeal additions are endless. For autumn themed oatmeal, add canned pumpkin, pecans, cinnamon, and honey.
  • Make a hummus dipping platter with pita bread and raw vegetables such as snap peas, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, or cauliflower florets. Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in fiber and protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. Trader Joes sells hummus for less then $2, or create your own using the recipe here!
  • Make a tuna or egg salad. Canned tuna and hard-boiled eggs serve as an inexpensive base. This recipe for Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad is a fun twist on classic tuna salad, incorporating beans and eliminating the traditional mayonnaise. Spread on whole wheat bread or crackers.
  • Instead of spending money on juice or soda, slice fresh fruit and add it to water. This is a cheap and easy way to create a flavored beverage that doesn’t contain lots of added sugar, and you can eat the fruit that’s left over! If you want to get creative, try mixing and matching fruits with various herbs and spices such as watermelon and cilantro or pineapple and ginger.

As you can now see, eating well does not always require spending a lot of money. There are so many options that are both healthy and affordable. The best way to eat healthy on a budget is with a little planning and a lot of imagination. Happy saving!