Eating more fruits and vegetables

Improving eating habits can be as simple as including plenty of color to your plate, according to the American Dietetic Association.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

THE BASICS:

Fruits and vegetables are edible plants that can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your food plan results in weight loss and fights chronic diseases.

RECOMMENDED SERVINGS:

Guidelines suggest women should eat 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-2.5 cups of vegetables. Men should eat 2 cups of fruits, and 2.5-3 cups of vegetables. Bottomline: Aim for five 1-cup servings a day.

THE RESEARCH:

A variety of fruits and vegetables protect you from a variety of health risks, and their color provides a key associated to these benefits. Try to eat some of these at least once a week:

Green produce promotes healthy vision and may reduce cancer risks. Choose avocados, apples, grapes, honeydew, melons, kiwi, limes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach.

Orange and deep yellow promotes healthy vision, immunity, and may reduce cancer risks. Choose apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruits, mangos, papayas, peaches, pineapples, carrots, yellow peppers, yellow corn and sweet potatoes.

Purple and blue has anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and may reduce cancer risks. Choose blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage and purple-fleshed potatoes.

Red helps maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks. Choose cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grapefruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, rhubarb and tomatoes.

White, tan and brown contain nutrients that promote heart health and may reduce cancer risks. Choose bananas, brown pears, dates, white peaches, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potatoes and white corn.

QUICK TIPS:

  • Buy in season, when flavors are at their peak and produce costs less.
  • Buy pre-cut packages of fruits or vegetables for snacks, instead of chips or candy.
  • Keep a bowl of fruit in sight, or wherever you go first to find a snack. If you see them, you will eat them.
  • Add fruit to food you already eat, like cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt and salads.
  • Add veggies to food you already eat, like pasta dishes, canned soups, frozen pizza.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, quick bread, muffins.
  • Use chunky salsa instead of thick, creamy snack dips.
  • Dip fruit in yogurt, low calorie pudding, peanut butter.
  • Dip veggies in salsa or low calorie dressings.
  • Fill half your dinner plate with vegetables.
  • Include a green salad with your dinner every night.
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Revitalize your walking Goals

Now is the perfect time to renew your step goals and revitalize your walking routine.

To reduce the risk of chronic disease, you need 30 minutes (approx 3,000 steps) of moderate intensity (normal) walking a day on top of your normal lifestyle activities.

To manage your weight (prevent weight gain, sustain weight loss) you need to do about 60 minutes (approx 6,000 steps) of moderate to brisk walking a day, in addition to your normal lifestyle activities, while ensuring your calorie intake does not exceed your energy output (calories burned).

To lose weight, you need 60-90 minutes (6,000 – 9,000 steps) of moderate to brisk walking, while ensuring that your caloric intake is less than your energy output.

To further increase muscle mass, muscle strength, agility, flexibility and stamina, you need to add strength training and resistance exercises such as calisthenics, pilates and yoga, two three times a week in addition to your daily walking.

Sound overwhelming? Relax. It’s really not. And it’s much easier when you break it down into smaller pieces. You can start by setting a goal and increasing your steps by 20% over your baseline each week. At the end of each month, review your progress.

Recommitting to your walking routine is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and setting goals can help.

Use the following S.M.A.R.T. criteria to develop your goal, upload your steps and review your progress weekly and you will achieve what you have set out to do.

S – Specific. Define exactly what you want to accomplish. Walk 10,000 steps a day? Great, increase your average daily step count by 20 percent. When you’re comfortable with that, increase that amount by 20 percent. Keep doing this until you reach your goal.

M – Measurable. Upload your steps once or twice a week and use the tools on the Walkingspree website. Monitoring your progress will encourage you to keep going.

A – Adjustable. Be flexible and have a backup plan in case you are not able to get out for your regular walk or catch a cold. Adding 1,000 or so steps a day (about 10-15 minutes more walking time) may be all you need to get back on track.

R – Realistic. Make sure the goal reflects what is attainable for you and not based on comparing yourself to others. This is a lifelong commitment, not a horse race.

T – Time based. Set a deadline, and remember long term changes are achieved when you invest the time.

Finally:

Enjoy the outdoors. Appreciate the fresh air, the birds singing, and greeting the many other walkers you’ll come across. Take different routes and explore new areas in your neighborhood. Walk to work and head outside at lunch time with a co-worker for a walk.

Check your dashboard. It’s an excellent visual reminder. Do it daily and remember to upload your tracker at least weekly.

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American Heart Association Physical Activity Recommendations

This infographic shows the recommended physical activity requirements for overall improved cardiovascular health as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

There are approx 1000 steps for every 10 minutes of activity, so you can see from looking at the infographic how many steps you would need to walk to match those activity minutes.

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This Is Your Body Without Water (Infographic)

Whether we eat too much at lunch and suffer a classic food coma, or have a horrible night’s sleep and feel groggy the next day, we’ve learned the hard way that we need to manage both diet and sleep to avoid the extremes. But there’s one other crucial component of health that just doesn’t get as much attention: water.

We’ve all experienced what it feels like when we don’t drink enough water. We’re groggy, hungry and typically just feel off. But did you know that not drinking enough water can affect your skin, eyes, weight, hair and nails, too? Staying hydrated is so important. Whether you drink warm water and lemon each morning or find other ways to drink more water, the facts below will likely motivate you to boost your hydration.

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5 ways to keep your diet and fitness goals on track through the summer

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It’s summer. BBQ’s, patios and sunshine. It just feels right to indulge while relaxing at the cottage or in the back yard. However with a little bit of awareness you can stay on top of your fitness and health so you’re not playing catch up the rest of the year.

1. Plan for flexibility. Watch for changes in routine. Are you a social eater or do you snack when you’re alone? If you’re running late to something, do you have a tendency to grab something unhealthy on the go? Keep health snacks on hand and plan in advance for the random changes in summer. For longer road trips, locate in advance the grocery stores you will pass. Stop and buy fresh fruit, vegetables and prepared deli food. Or purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from roadside stands. Always have a water bottle so you don’t get dehydrated, and use that water to wash any produce.

2. Avoid dog days of summer boredom. Sometimes you’re just relaxing and maybe a bit bored. Be careful that you’re not snacking out of boredom. Download an audio book or podcasts to keep you entertained.

3. More people doesn’t mean more food. If you are a social eater, treat yourself to a reasonable portion of something that you love. Pick one treat. Don’t have chips, beer and wings. If you love beer, have one with a healthier meal. If you don’t love beer but you love wings, drink a low-calorie alcoholic beverage or water and indulge in a few wings. Stay hydrated. That way you won’t mistake dehydration for hunger. If you are attending an event at someone’s home, offer to bring something. That way you have at least one healthy option.

4. Make good Patio/restaurant food choices. Before going to a restaurant, preview the menu online and decide what you will eat. On arrival, don’t look at a menu. Order your predetermined choice. Place your cutlery down between bites so that your brain has time to register that you are full.

5. Make exercise part of your vacation. Don’t let a change to your routine be an excuse not to exercise. You don’t need a gym to get a good workout; you can move and be active anywhere! Explore your vacation destination on foot or on a bike. Use your activity tracker and take advantage of even higher step counts on vacation explore days.

Summer is full of fun and yes some indulgence, but it’s still possible to make healthier choices. It just takes some awareness and advance planning. If you make a choice you are not proud of, don’t feel guilty. Instead, use it as learning experience so you can make a more informed choice next time. Moderation is the key and your future self will be grateful.

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