Live Total Wellness

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Healthy eating building blocks for kids

We teach our kids right from wrong to prepare them to live as law-abiding citizens in the world. Why not do the same for your kids in the eating department? Unhealthy habits can be passed on and our kids will not know how to protect their health.

Keep reading for some fundamental building blocks of great nutrition.

One of the most important functions of a family is family meals. It is here at the dinner table that habits are made and bad habits broken. Statistics show that kids who eat meals with their families are less likely to drink, smoke and do drugs. They are also more likely to copy the types of eating habits they see.

This is a parent’s opportunity to showcase what they know about healthy eating. If your knowledge is lacking, we can help you with that too. Begin with the food pyramid. There is one for kids that details what their nutritional requirements are. Both kids and adults need at least five a day of vegetables and fruits.

Kids will be more likely to try new foods at the dinner table when everyone else is eating them too. This gives parents the opportunity to revamp the kitchen with healthy foods and condiments. No matter what they reach for it will be good for them.

Besides sitting down for a family meal, there is the preparation for dinner. Let the kids get involved. They will see what it takes to make a meal and how great it is to cook with healthier foods. When they snack, it will be on vegetables, nuts and other good things you are putting in the dish.

Another novel idea is to give the kids their own night to fix dinner. Help them to create their menu and give them a hand if they need it. Not just learning by your side, they get to decide what foods they like to eat and learn about nutrition first hand.

Sugar is the enemy when it is eaten in large quantities. Teach your kids about sweetness by offering snacks that contain natural sugars: fruits and vegetables (carrots, beets). Adding sweet, but low calorie sweeteners to foods is also an alternative to sugar: syrup in oatmeal, honey in tea, and applesauce in muffin mixes. There will be times that you use cane sugar but it won’t be all the time.

Kids are big drinkers. If they want an alternative to water, try flavor packets for water or adding a bit of club soda to their fruit juice for a fizzy soda-like taste without the sugar and calories.

Giving your kids a good nutritional foundation is far-reaching. They will build on that foundation throughout their life and pass on what they learn to their children.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Going Back To Basics

Your grandmother was right. Every time she nagged you at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table she was setting the stage for your future. If only we’d listened. Well, WE did and we’re ready to refresh your memory.
The older generation were the ones who got it right. They listened well and taught us a few things about nutrition and how to eat smart. So what was it your grandmother said as you were making your way out of the front door?
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Your body has gone for hours without food when you get up in the morning. If you don’t want to stagger through your day like a zombie, you need some nourishment within the first couple of hours after you wake. 

This is one I remember my grandmother telling me all the time.  “Chew your food slowly.” The first part before the adverb seems like a no-brainer but there are people who couldn’t even tell you what they had for breakfast. Why? They inhaled it.  My grandmother also told me to chew each bite about 30 times!  I'm not sure we need to go to that extreme!   

Chewing your food does a number of things. First, it keeps you from getting indigestion. People who eat too fast will more than likely be hugging a glass of Alka-Seltzer and water or the toilet bowl not long after eating. Food is processed and broken down better by the body if it is thoroughly masticated instead of being introduced in the stomach in hunks.

Chewing also gives you a chance to enjoy your food. The French know all about this. Food is meant to be a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. You can taste all the flavors you love in your meal when you take your time to chew.

Thirdly, chewing increases your metabolism. Chewing gets those old stomach acids churning. Revving up the metabolism early in the day keeps it going. 

Last of all, chewing helps you feel full longer. When you chew each piece of food, you prolong the meal. You’ll notice that you don’t get hungry so often when you practice this technique.

What else did grandmother say? She said to eat a balanced diet. Many of us didn’t want those beans she put in front of us but she really did have our best interests at heart. Beans are an excellent source of protein without all the fat that other forms of protein provide. They are also filled with fiber. If you were going out to play, you needed that sustained energy and the fiber to eliminate other fats that might be present in the meal. That’s why you didn’t feel like eating again even at dinnertime. 

One thing that grandmother knew but maybe never HAD to mention is to eat only real foods.  Let me explain that one.  Today we are exposed to so many foods.  Think about each aisle in the grocery store and how many items are crammed on all of the shelves in those aisles.  Now, think about how many of those foods have been created or processed.  Your grandmother shopped at the local market where she was given the choices of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, and meats.  Yup, breakfast, lunch and dinner were all made from the freshest ingredients she could find at the corner store.  Meals were prepared from simple ingredients, not processed or frozen.  This is something to keep in mind when eating now.  We have so many processed foods that are really not healthy.  Grandmother knew about simple and fresh!  
Grandmother knew her stuff.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? What grandmother really wanted was for us to get back to basics. Use her wise words as a starting point for better nutrition for you and your family.  

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Got Water?

We've all heard it before - drink lots of water.  But do you know why?  There is good reason that you should take heed to this wise advice

If you were stranded in a desert, would you want something to eat or drink? That rumbling says eat but did you know that the human body can’t go more than a day or two at the most without water? (There have been stories of people surviving longer but those are not the norm).  It is important to stay well hydrated.

Water is the most abundant fluid in the body. Over half of our body weight is represented by water.  It is an understatement to say that water is vital to life.

So why do we need to stay hydrated? Water is used to keep our bodies going. Every system needs water to operate properly.

Do you exercise? When you do, your body perspires. That is water you are losing through your skin as well as some electrolytes. The body uses water as a cooling system. But, that water you lose needs to be put back so water isn’t stolen from other systems.

How about digestion? When you eat food, the body breaks it down into nutrients that are transported to the cells where it is used for repair, daily functioning and building new cells. It can’t do that without water to give volume to your blood to help carry these nutrients.

What about excretion? Whatever the body can’t use is excreted from the kidneys. Water is needed to transport these nutrients so they can then be filtered from the blood to form urine.

Without proper water volume your body becomes dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to dizziness. Your body doesn’t have enough water to keep its systems functioning. In extreme cases, body systems can begin to shut down. You will get sluggish also. Intravenous fluids may be used at this point to increase your blood volume and the amount of water in your system.

So, how do you get that water? The obvious way is by drinking water. Tap, mineral, purified, spring, flavored and carbonated are all ways that water comes to us. But what if you are not the kind that likes water? For some, water is hard to consume because they don’t particularly like the taste.

There are other sources of water. If you like tea or coffee you are also getting water in your system. Go easy on the sweeteners so that you don’t get empty calories mixed in with your water. Also try drink mix packets. They can be added to bottled water and are a substitute for soft drinks or sugary punch.

Consume water throughout the day to spread out your consumption. Before, during and after exercise, drink plenty of water to replenish what is lost. Electrolyte drinks will also replenish the salt that you lose.
When you are hungry, drink a glass of water. It partially fills your stomach so you eat less and sometimes those pains signify thirst and not hunger.

Got water? If not, get some now to keep that body hydrated.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Is Raw Better?

When considering the options about food and how to prepare it, is raw best?  Cooking can either enhance or deplete the health benefits of foods.  Spinach, for example, when cooked down, becomes more concentrated in nutrients and fiber.  You actually get more nutrition eating a serving of cooked spinach versus raw spinach.  Many times, enzymes are destroyed by heat and cooking. Enzymes are necessary for digestion.  Heating can also deplete vitamins, damage proteins and fats.  Cooking can sometimes also contribute to free radicals which cause diseases such as cancer.  

What foods are more nutritious raw?

Almonds and many other nuts have healthy fats that are essential for the body.  However, when nuts are roasted at a temperature higher than 170 degrees, the benefits of raw nuts are negated and actually become unhealthy.  The disease fighting effects will actually break down into free radicals.  

You've been told to eat your greens and this green is actually better eaten raw.  Not only do you enjoy the best form of Vitamin K but the actual chewing process will release an enzyme.  This particular enzyme, myrosinase, helps your liver detoxify carcinogens.  Cooked broccoli will actually deactivate this enzyme.  

Garlic has been know for its medicinal properties for centuries.  The Chinese have known about the benefits of garlic as an immune system booster, powerful antibiotic, reduces cholesterol  and so many other health related benefits.   Although there are garlic tablets and capsules, the best way to attain all the benefits of garlic is to eat it raw.  The Chinese have also used it in teas, as well as mashed in foods.  Heating the garlic will negate the benefits of garlic.  

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