Savor Your Food! It’s National Nutrition Month


March is National Nutrition Month®.  NNM is a nutrition education and information campaign developed annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  As you might guess, the campaign emphasizes the significance of making educated decisions about food and building solid eating and exercise habits.

The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Everyone is encouraged to savor food traditions and appreciate all the delicious flavors while enjoying and participating in the social experiences food can bring to meals and events.

How to Savor Your Food

Take your time. It’s worth noting that Americans are known for rushing through their meals. One Tennessee historian recorded a European visitor’s comments about early American eating habits. Apparently, our propensity to rush through our meals goes back to when we were just a handful of colonies1.

Our fast and furious eating behavior would be considered rude in some countries. In certain European restaurants, it is accepted and even expected that guests will take up to a half hour to decide what to order. It’s a part of the dining ritual to ask questions of the waiter and discuss different menu items.

Don’t Overeat. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for you to feel full? If you’ve ever eaten a meal and felt nauseous, sick to your stomach or as if you swallowed a watermelon, you’ve experienced the consequences of continuing to eat after your body is full. The next time you sit down to eat a meal, keep in mind that your body won’t usually “tell” you it’s full for nearly 20 minutes. Slow your pace. You’ll eat less; feel better and cut back on a few calories, too.

Chew Your Food Completely. Here’s something to pay attention to the next time you are eating. How soon do you put MORE food in your mouth after the first bite? Many people do not finish chewing the food already in their mouth before adding more. Pay attention to how often you don’t finish chewing and swallowing before placing more food in your mouth. You will likely be surprised.

Notice Flavor, Colors and Texture. Yes, it might be your favorite meal. It’s easy to get excited and dig right in. But take a moment to notice the colors. It may sound corny (unless you’re a chef or a food photographer) but take a second to admire the texture and contrast. It’s not a bad idea to photograph the meal and share it with others if this will indirectly help you with your own nutrition goals. Many people also use “Photo Food Logs” to document their daily food intake and help them with their weight maintenance or weight loss goals.

Drop Your Fork and Knife. While you are chewing your food, put your utensils down. Don’t pick them up again until you are finished chewing the first bite. This will help you with the overall process of savoring your food. Placing your utensils on the table while you chew delays the next bite and gives you time to look at your food, noting colors, flavors, texture and contrast. It encourages you to eat slower while being mindful of not overeating.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants us to think about the how, when, why and where we eat.  Whether you are determined not to eat between meals or to stop stress eating or even to eat more, being mindful of these elements can help us develop healthier eating patterns, eliminate stress or boredom eating and improve our overall health.

Savoring your food and take time to notice all the delicious elements involved in creating a meal.  Whether quick and simple or slow and complicated, give your food a little love and you’ll find your body loving it right back.

1. Mindful Eating http://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Eating-Rediscovering-Relationship-Includes/dp/1590305310

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Instant Benefits of Exercise: 3 Things a Walking Program Can Do for You NOW

We hate to wait in line. We get impatient if a website takes longer than two seconds to load. In some cities, they have what’s known as a “honk-o-second.” That’s the teeny little space between the time the light changes to green and the person behind you honks before you can move your foot to the gas pedal.

And with a walking program or any other exercise? We get frustrated because we want results and we want them NOW. We hate to wait.

Remember the “goldfish statistic?” In early 2015, Microsoft Corp published the results of a study showing that the average American has an attention span of 8.25 seconds and reminded us that a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Ouch.

Speaking of your attention span, there’s another statistic that shows you’ll only read about 28% of the average webpage (approximately 593 words).  By the end of this paragraph, you’ll be at 178 words. So, hold on to you’re span, baby! We promise to get you what you need with just a few more.  Ready?

3 Things a Walking Program Can Do for You NOW

  • Improve Your Memory. Studies show that completing 15 minutes of moderate exercise leads to faster reaction times on working memory tasks directly after exercise. These findings imply that concentrated sessions of cardio exercise may help circulate your attention and memory resources more effectively. This helps to enhance your mental functioning. One of the most motivating conclusions in a published study showed moderate exercise can provide immediate benefits no matter your age. So, lace up your shoes, strap on your Fitbit or other wearable device and start your own walking program.
  • Provide Confidence and Improve Your Mood. Yes, that’s correct. One study surveyed nearly 2,000 young people over 23 different trials. They found that consistent exercise greatly improved self-confidence and provided a mood boost. Exercise significantly helped those showing anxiety and signs of depression.
  • You’ll Have Radiant, Glowing Skin. Everyone enjoys looking healthy and happy. A rise in your body’s temperature will increase blood flow to your skin.

You can do this! And you won’t even have to wait months and months to see results. It only takes 20 minutes of moderate cardio exercise to improve your mood and make you feel better.

Another study researched college students who exercised (jogging) at three different levels of intensity. Most of us would assume that those exercising at the highest intensity would benefit the most, right? Turns out that no substantial difference between intensity or mood benefits after exercise was reported.

This means that even if your really tired and can’t push yourself as hard, you’ll still finish your workout or your walk feeling better. It’s a win-win all the way around.

Document Your Feelings for Posterity (or Yourself)

You’re almost to the end of this page with a few words to spare.  If you finish it, you can pat yourself on the back for not being part of the 28% we mentioned earlier. We’re leaving you with a tip to help you keep exercising.

It’s easy to forget how great it feels when we are consistently exercising. So, we recommend an audio reminder. It’s quick and easy: Use your phone. Record a voice memo describing how you feel after exercising.  That’s it. Each time you feel like dragging your feet on the way to the treadmill, replay your audio clip. It’ll make you feel good about exercising. Immediately. No waiting. We like that.

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Using Photo Food Logs in Your Wellness Program


Face it, you want variety in your wellness program and a good wellness program includes smart meal choices. It’s Friday and after a week of rotating out meals with ground beef, chicken (or fish sticks for those with young kids), you may want to put together a meal that engages your senses, and makes you feel like it’s a special occasion.

Whatever recipe you choose, whichever wellness program you participate in, did you know that impressing your friends by posting dinner pictures on Instagram and Facebook can help you reach your weight management goals?

Introducing the Photo Food Log…

Instead of writing down everything you eat or using a food and calorie-tracking app, take photos of your food. Just pick up your phone and start snapping shots at each meal. It’s fun and it really helps you understand what you’re doing with your meals and food intake. Facebook and Instagram aside, you’ll be doing something healthy for yourself. If you decide to post your pictures online, you may find that your friends are happy to give you a thumbs-up and provide another form of motivation for you.

When you include a photo food log in your wellness program, you can look at your meals at the end of each day and mentally note what changes you’d like to make the next day. Another way to monitor your progress is to evaluate your photos on a weekly basis. For example, you can take photos of all your meals – then at the end of the week, take stock of your progress. Are you losing weight? Maintaining? How do you FEEL? Are you feeling healthier, better and more energetic? If so, your photos are a good reminder of what to keep doing.

If you feel tired, lethargic and generally not at your best AND your either gaining or not losing weight, you know that your pictures need to look different the next week.

The Importance of Food Tracking

Maintaining a daily food journal, whether written or photographic is an efficient way to track the calories you consume daily. Walkingspree members can also use Walkingspree’s online food tracker.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood benefits of a food diary is the power of knowing what you’re taking in. Almost everyone thinks they know exactly what they eat daily. You might even go so far as to believe you know the amount of calories you’re consuming at each meal.  Still, the reality is most people eat more than three times daily. The majority of their extra calories undoubtedly come from eating between meals.

Bottom line: When you are able to see what you eat everyday, you’ll know which foods to cut from your meal plans.

A study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discovered that women (who were overweight or obese) who were participating in a diet program only or diet plus exercise program all lost weight but the women who kept daily food journals actually lost an extra six pounds over the women who did not keep food diaries of some sort.

A Food Journal Can Help You Eat More of the Right Foods

Ever wonder if you are getting enough veggies? Well, when you record your entire daily food intake into a food journal – or when you photograph your food, you’ll begin to notice patterns and trends in how you feel as well as whether or not you reach your daily goals. Some people find that making sure their meals have a variety of color ensures their vegetable intake is optimal. Think red bell peppers or tomatoes, yellow squash, orange peppers, green peas, black beans, white cauliflower, green broccoli, purple eggplant. If you are purposefully building a colorful plate, you will usually have plenty of vegetables in your meal. With a photo food journal, you’ll enjoy taking colorful photos when you do this. You might even find yourself arranging food to make the plate “look prettier.”

Food Journals Can Adjust Your Habits Gradually

If you are writing down, digitally tracking or photographing your food, you might be surprised to notice, over time, that your eating habits change. You’ll find yourself naturally selecting healthier ingredients or menu options. It is as simple “if you feel better and healthier – you’re probably eating healthier.”

And, in any wellness program, that is always a good thing!

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4 Things Only Fitbit or Wearable Device Users Understand

When I got my first wearable device last year (a Fitbit flex and also a birthday gift from my sister), it opened up a whole new concept for me. I could “compete” with a device or friends at the same time. It would show up on a magical digital dashboard and everyone would see my results. Was this okay? A little concerned at first. I’m a private person but then: Yes! Bring on the positive motivation, I thought to myself. What I did not realize was how it would impact my emotions. I soon learned that this was not limited to my own experiences. Many others understand the struggle(s). ~Clarissa at Walkingspree, USA

Since Walkingspree works with corporations of all sizes, we get to see a lot of step goals met (or not met) and we know how important having your own wearable device is. Sure, it will help you get in shape, feel better, lose or maintain your desired weight, live longer, alleviate or prevent certain health conditions, even make your employer smile and you become a part of a fun filled community.

BUT becoming dedicated to your wearable fitness technology also generates some interesting emotions and reactions.

Check these out and see if you don’t find yourself nodding and smiling in agreement.

Your Day Isn’t Over Unless You Met Your Step Goal and It Is a MISSION. If you’ve ever felt very guilty for going to bed before your screen vibrated and flashed all those blinking dots, showing you met your step goal, you know what we mean. You are the person who checks your fitness dashboard online, counts up the steps and calculates how many times you have to jump on the bed and you know exactly how many steps it takes to wheel the garbage can out to the street. Some wearers have even been guilty of strapping their device on one of their kids to rack up some extra steps at the end of the day (gasp!).

You Randomly Taunt Friends and Co-Workers at Odd Hours. It’s not usually the norm to get up at the crack of dawn just to heckle your friends or random people participating in a walking challenge. Still, something about achieving that step goal before everyone else can make you feel like everyone should know how great life is when you’ve met your step goal before they have. For example, the CRO of Walkingspree, Nathan Pickle, has been known to email his team first thing in the morning to let them all know how great it is to get 10,000 steps before 6:00 a.m.

If You Weren’t Wearing It, It Didn’t Happen. Now You’re Just Mad. If you walk or run without wearing your Fitbit, Garmin or other wearable technology, does it even count? On those days when you forget your device, you wonder if getting out of bed is just pointless, right? If your device isn’t counting them and your friends don’t see them, are the steps even real? Does anything at all matter that day?

Non-Wearers Think You’re in a Club or a Cult. Your friends who don’t wear a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin or some kind of wearable fitness technology appear to be in their own world. You feel sad for them and they think you are involved in a new trend that will go away soon. (Interesting note, you are not involved in a trend. It is officially a way of life. The wearable device market is projected to reach $12.44 BILLION by 2022 so you are definitely not alone in this journey.)

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Eat Smart Using Your Garden: Fresh Veggie Recipes

Suncrest Gardens Farm’s Pesto Pizza

In the last two weeks, we’ve shared a few tips on how to prepare your garden, how to kill weeds before you start planting and how to choose which vegetables to plant in your garden. This week, we are going to share a three recipes that use fresh vegetables. You can save these for use in the spring and summer but also may find a couple to try right now if you want to experiment with some store bought veggies before your harvest.

Want a quick and easy list of recipes using fresh vegetables from your garden? Try plugging in the words “Recipes Using Fresh Veggies” in Google or your favorite search engine. You’ll get some great ideas right at your fingertips.  If you are searching for healthier, low fat or low calorie ideas, try looking at websites geared towards a lighter fare. Cooking Light offers some great ideas and so does Eating Well.

Use your tomatoes, kale, spinach or arugula in this recipe from Suncrest Gardens.

Suncrest Gardens Farm’s Pesto Pizza

Ingredients

1)   1 12 – 14 – inch Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (see Recipe Center) or desired pizza crust

2)   1/3 cup Kale Pesto (recipe follows) or purchased basil pesto

3)   1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

4)   2 medium fresh garden heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purples, green zebras, and/or Marvel Stripe, or desired red or yellow tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices or 1 cup mixed baby tomatoes, such as sungolds, yellow pear, and/or sweet 100s, halved

5)   1/2-1 teaspoon pizza seasoning

Directions

1) Bake whole wheat crust in 450 degree F oven 7 to 9 minutes or until ligh brown; remove from oven. (Or grill as directed in crust recipe.)

2) Spread Kale Pesto evenly over crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange tomato slices over cheese. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.

3) Bake about 8 to 10 minutes more or until heated through and crust bottom is crisp and brown. (Or grill as directed.) Remove from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes one 13- to 15-inch pizza (four 2-wedge servings).

Note

  • If you like, substitute 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, torn fresh arugula or spinach leaves with stems removed for the kale.

Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli and Tomatoes

Ingredients

1) 12 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 4 cups)

2) 1 cup grape tomatoes

3) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4) 2 cloves garlic, minced

5) 1/4 teaspoon salt

6) 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

7) 1 tablespoon lemon juice

8) 10 pitted black olives, sliced

9) 1 teaspoon dried oregano

10) 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)

Directions

1)    Preheat oven to 450°F.

2)    Toss broccoli, tomatoes, oil, garlic and salt in a large bowl until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the broccoli begins to brown, 10 to 13 minutes.

3)   Meanwhile, combine lemon zest and juice, olives, oregano and capers (if using) in a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables; stir to combine. Serve warm.

Fresh Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1)   3 medium cucumbers, sliced

2)   1 cup sugar

3)   3/4 cup water

4)   1/2 cup white vinegar

5)   3 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Directions

1)   Place cucumbers in a 1-1/2- to 2-qt. glass container.

2)   In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake remaining ingredients until combined.

3)   Pour over cucumbers.

4)   Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5)   Serve with a slotted spoon.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

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