Eat Smart!

Eat healthy during cold and flu season


Staying healthy during this flu season is paramount in everyone’s mind. But what foods should you eat, especially if you get sick? Walkingspree spoke with Eileen Leek, APN-BC, a nurse practitioner who manages occupational health centers in New Jersey, to find out.

Q: What should I eat to avoid getting a cold or the flu?

A: Eating to stay healthy during flu season shouldn’t differ from any other time of year. You always want your immune system to function at its optimum, not just during cold and flu season.

Foods known to support the immune system are fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – the more colorful your plate the better. Another important nutrient is protein for cell repair and production. Good protein sources are legumes, beans and lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish as well as soy, eggs and dairy products.

Q: What should I eat when I get sick?

A: Your top priority should be to stay well hydrated. The body’s demand for fluid increases with elevations in body temperature and increased respiratory secretions. These are just two reasons why fluids are so important when you’re ill. Herbal teas, sports drinks, fruit or vegetable juices and water are all good choices.

Also, many experience loss of appetite when ill. Other than stomach upset, this results from the decreased sense of smell that occurs with nasal congestion. Whatever is appealing and goes down well is the best bet here. Small meals that may include soups, broths, puddings, fruit-flavored gelatin and yogurt are good choices when the appetite is limited. Another good option is a nutritious shake or smoothie.

Q: How much should I drink?

A: The body is composed of 60 percent water and fluid is needed to flush toxins from the body. The rule of “8 glasses of water a day” is the minimum when we’re well. But, being ill with a fever increases the need for fluid quite a bit, so think about doubling your fluid intake to stay hydrated.

BOTTOM LINE: Ensure your immune system is ready to fight off whatever viruses the season brings. Make food choices that give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck and get plenty of rest.

Be sure to check out the “Should I walk if I have the flu?” post in the Walkingspree member blog for tips on returning to your exercise routine after you have been ill.

Photo by Vera Kratochvil

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Eat Smart! People who keep food journals lose twice the weight

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier and lose weight, keeping a daily food journal may be the easiest and most effective way to help you achieve your goal.

In fact, keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss, according to a Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research study.

“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” states Jack Hollis Ph.D., the lead researcher. “Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.”

To lose one pound a week, all you need to do is eat 500 less calories each day for seven days. And by tracking what you eat during the day will help you:

  • Avoid mindless eating and make intentional food choices
  • Budget your calories – a planned “treat” for later in the day may help you say “no” to temptations
  • Appreciate the calories count of foods and make healthier, more satisfying choices
  • Include healthier food choices like more fruits and vegetables
  • See which choices translated into lost pounds and which did not
  • Record everything you eat in a notebook or in the Walkingspree Food Tracker. If you are concerned about your intake of sugar or sodium or other nutrient, Food Tracker can help you monitor up to five nutrients at a glance. Also, checking your Food Tracker before you go out to eat will help you preselect an entree that will satisfy you and not cost you a ton of calories.

    So start losing weight this week – select your target caloric intake, track everything you eat for a week, and keep walking.

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    Resolve to eat healthier in the New Year

    Is starting a new diet on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Do you start off great only to find it too hard to maintain after a few weeks?

    Starting a new diet can be empowering but overwhelming. So, instead of an entire diet overhaul, consider embracing one healthy eating habit at a time. Do that one habit for a couple of weeks or so, then add another. Pacing yourself this way may make it easier to stay the course. Remember, you are creating a lifestyle change – habits that will stay with you for lifetime.

    Here are some items for your consideration:

    • Eat more veggies – Fill half your plate with vegetables.
    • Eat more fruits – Eat a banana with breakfast and an apple as an afternoon snack every day.
    • Pack healthy snacks – Carry them in your car, purse or stash them in your desk at work. A package of healthy nuts can help keep you away from the vending machine.
    • Pack a healthy lunch – Start with one or two times a week. Not only will you save on calories, you will save money, too.
    • Measure your portions – If you are still hungry, wait 20 minutes then go back for seconds.
    • Drink more water – Have a glass before every meal, or every time you wash your hands.
    • Eat at the dinner table – Take time to enjoy your meals. Restricting where you eat may results in fewer calories consumed.
    • Don’t drink your calories – Swap out high calories drinks for low calorie beverages or, better yet, water.
    • Count fat, sodium or fiber grams – Pick one nutrient and use your Walkingspree Food Tracker to monitor your intake to help you stay in a healthy range. You can track up to five nutrients with your Food Tracker.
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    Handle holiday parties without guilt


    Family dinners, office pot luck luncheons, drinks with friends and holiday parties – it’s very easy to pack on additional weight this time of year. What’s a body to do?

    First, don’t let your healthy eating and exercise goals add stress to your holiday season. (There’s enough of that already going around.)

    Next, embrace your new mantra – “maintain, don’t gain”.

    Focusing your efforts in this direction will go a long way in helping you keep off the pounds during the holidays. And, a little planning ahead will help you avoid the excesses of the season. Here are some simple strategies to try at your next holiday party.

    • Eat light during the day if you have a party that night.
    • Don’t party on an empty stomach – eat a healthy snack before going out to help you from over eating at the party.
    • Be picky at the buffet table – select only foods you will savor and appreciate.
    • Look for simply prepared foods – select foods that aren’t fried or breaded.
    • Look for the fruits and veggies – the fiber will fill you up and it’s an excellent way to sneak in your vitamins during this hectic season.
    • Pace yourself – wait 15 minutes before getting seconds, mingle instead.
    • Don’t drink your calories – choose sparkling water or a low-calorie beverage instead of eggnog or another cocktail.
    • Socialize away from buffet table.
    • Take a quick walk around the block with a friend; enjoy their company and the neighborhood holiday decorations.

    And remember, this is the season of love and joy. So love yourself and savor the time with friends and family.

    Photo: christmasstockimages.com

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    Healthy holiday cooking tips


    Here are a few healthy food ideas to try when preparing your traditional Thanksgiving feast.

    • Use pineapple or orange juice thickened with corn starch for glaze on vegetables, such as carrots. Do the same thing with cranberry juice for the turkey instead of gravy.
    • Use jams and jellies instead of margarine or butter for bread.
    • When baking replace half of the oil with applesauce to reduce the fat.
    • Replace sour cream with equal amounts of fat-free plain yogurt.
    • Thicken gravy with tapioca and a little water instead of butter or margarine.
    • Use low fat or nonfat cheeses instead of full fat cheeses.
    • Cook the turkey or chicken in the skin and bones for flavor, but avoid the skin when eating.
    • Try adding some extra healthier options with your holiday meal, such as white meat, steamed vegetables without butter and sweet potatoes
    • Only make enough for that meal or make extra and put leftovers in the fridge before serving, or give doggy bags to friends.
    • Use herbs and spices like garlic, cinnamon, fresh basil, instead of condiments like gravy and butter.
    • Be careful not to add to much oil to your meals. Remember 1 tablespoon of oil is 120 calories. Try cooking in wine or lemon juice instead of using excess oil.

    Check out our Thanksgiving eating strategies to help you keep your healthy eating goals.

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