Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Lunchtime and Fast Food

Lunch is the forgotten stepchild of the meal day unless you work everyday or work off-hours, (Swing Shift or Night Shift) and usually we spend a fair amount of energy planning dinner, and we (sometimes begrudgingly) spend some energy making sure we eat breakfast. Have you ever looked up at the clock at noon, realized we are hungry and then scarfed down whatever was available and easy?

Too often, lunch, means fast food, vending machine food or – for some people – nothing at all. And this is truly unfortunate. Nutrition experts tell us again and again that eating three meals and two snacks a day is the surest path to good nutrition and a balanced diet. Even the fast-food places are catching on to people being more health-conscious and are introducing more healthy choices, like a veggie burger that tasted like meat. A hamburger and fries don’t get you very far on the path to good nutrition, however.

So, how do you change this? Lunch is a tough one for people who work outside the home. Sure, you can pack leftovers from dinner, but what if there aren’t any or you didn’t like dinner in the first place? Making a sandwich and adding some fruit sounds easy, but that’s just one more thing to do in the morning and if you’re in a rush, it’s one of the first chores you’ll discard.

Here are some tips to bring lunch back into focus on busy weekdays:

Do plan for leftovers, if possible. I mean if you like what you’re making for dinner and think you wouldn’t mind having it for lunch tomorrow, set aside some for lunch add a piece of fruit and yogurt and there’s lunch tomorrow.

If you must have fast food try to stay away from fries, and see if soup or a salad is on the menu. Yes, I said salads. Sure, you’ll get some nutritional content from the lettuce and all the other goodies on the salad, but the dressing might have as much as 30 grams of fat in it, most of it saturated fat. Stick with light dressings or even keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge at work.

If you’re out and about running errands and get hungry, stop at 7-11, and grab a bottle of milk, some trail mix or a granola bar and a piece of fruit. It might not be gourmet, but it should boost your energy level until later and then dinner.

Keep lunch items at work. There are many things you can keep in your desk that are shelf-stable and still healthy. A packet of tuna and crackers were my favorite. Stay away from fruit juices loaded with sugar and prefer fresh fruit. Nuts, trail mix, and granola bars are all good lunchtime choices. Stay away from sodium-laden canned soups and noodle bowls. Not only can they provide you with more than the maximum sodium you need for one day, but they also won’t provide the complex carb and protein boost you need to get you through the afternoon and keep you from stalking the vending machine later for an unhealthy snack.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Grapes and Mental Health

We've all heard that drinking wine is good for us, but what about those who are on medication or just don't indulge in alcohol? Well, according to the experts, non-fermented (Concord) grapes may be just as healthy for you, especially when it comes to our aging brains. In fact, new studies suggest that drinking a healthy amount of unadulterated (Concord) grape juice can help us stay healthy by keeping our bodies laden with important antioxidants, our minds limber, and our memories on track.

Recent research shows that grape juice given to lab rats (who were approaching the end of their life span) enhanced their cognitive and motor abilities and skills. The researchers placed laboratory animals under a significant series of tests focusing on their short-term memory and their neuro-motor skills. What they found, was that the majority of the tests conducted revealed ample improvement or a trend toward substantial improvement in these essential areas that also significantly affect humans as they age.

These experiments, addressing our continually and increasingly aging population (people these days can look forward to enjoying a healthy life, up into their 80s and beyond, with a new standard reaching the 100 year mark), seek to determine better ways for individuals to grow "old" gracefully and maintain their mental and physical abilities and skills.

Experts went on to add that although these tests and findings are currently in the preliminary stages, they assert that much (previous) research has identified (red, concord) grapes as containing essential antioxidants that are beneficial for our health for a vast variety of reasons, including lowering cholesterol, and warding off serious ailments such as certain types of cancers. Now, drinking Concord grape juice is gaining notoriety for it (seeming) potential to help retard the mental and physical deterioration process that generally has been associated with aging.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Healthy Breakfast

Whatever your true feeling about breakfast? I believe this meal has earned the title of the most important meal of the day. Most of the information I have been able to internalize and commit to memory referrers to a "normal day." Meaning a day that ends in the evening and begins again in the morning. I say this because when I used to work the night shift hardly anything I have learned about the importance of breakfast would have applied to me then. So if off-shift work is your plight this information may or may not feel like it's useful.

After a good night's sleep of 8 to 10 hours, blood sugar levels are usually low by morning. Even while we sleep our body is busy working burning calories to keep us warm, while we sleep. After fasting for 8 to 10 hopefully restful hours of sleep. The Arabic word for the first meal of the day translates to Break Fast. In my opinion after fasting all night it's time to recharge in the morning and take in the nutritional fuel necessary to power our mind and body through the day.

Breakfast allows us to kick-start our day making this meal beneficial to both young and old. People who eat a healthy breakfast daily are more likely to

- Consume more vitamins, minerals and less of fat and cholesterol.
- Increased strength and endurance.
- Better concentration and productivity all day long.
- Control weight and
- Low cholesterol equals a lower risk of heart disease

Children who eat breakfast are likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills, and better eye-hand coordination and are less likely to miss days of school.

If you think to skip this meal will help you lose weight, think again. Skipping this first meal of the day can send your body into starvation mode and make you crave for snacks especially sweets. Impulsive snacking on unhealthy foods can lead to weight gain. Try to choose healthy foods from at least two food groups each morning

- Fruits & Vegetables
- Grains
- Dairy
- Proteins

A glass of pure fruit juice, bananas, yogurt, low-calorie muesli with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, fresh fruit salad with few spoonfuls of low-fat yogurt, fresh and raw veggies mixed with flavored yogurt, a slice of toast or plain bread with eggs, boiled or poached are some good options for breakfast. Kids can enjoy a Smoothie with their favorite fruits; add a dash of yogurt or honey to make it more delicious.

The first thing I do in the morning is to rehydrate with a cup of tea or a glass of water and then try to eat as healthy as possible. If you look forward to eating different kinds of healthy foods for breakfast, you are less like to skip this meal. If time is your hurdle, think about packing your breakfast or eating on the 'run', its better than skipping breakfast altogether.