Eat Smart!

Eat Smart! After school snack ideas


For many, September means goodbye summer and hello back-to-school routines.

And with everyone’s hectic schedule, having a few healthy choices available will help answer the late afternoon cry, “I’m hungry!”

Snacks will help put off hunger and help you and the kids get through to the next mealtime.

Keep snacks on a designated shelf in the fridge or in a basket on the counter for convenience. It will also make them easy to grab on your way out the door, when you know sometime down the road you will be looking for nosh. Have something for your kids to eat after practice or to help you avoid the impulse by at the grocery store.

Over the weekend may be a good time to come up with a list of your favorites. Make it a family affair: brainstorm suggestions with your kids and have them help pre-bag the treats in individual portions. This is also a great time to talk about food and nutrition.

Choose whole foods and limit processed, packaged foods when possible. Whole foods will tend to have less sugar and more fiber which will fill you up.

Here are a few healthy suggestions to get you started. Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page.

– Fruit like bananas, apples, grapes … the list is endless. Try using peanut butter as a dip.
– Cut up veggies and use low fat salad dressing or hummus as a dip.
– Cheese and crackers
– Yogurt
– String cheese – look for low-fat
– Salsa with sliced cucumbers instead of chips
– Box of raisins
– Dried fruit
– Apple sauce
– Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts
– Fat-free microwave popcorn
– Canned soup
– Granola bars (check the calories)
– Whole wheat pretzels
– Graham crackers
– Wheat crackers
– Animal crackers
– Low fat cottage cheese
– Instant oatmeal
– Cereal and milk
– Frozen fruit bars
– Chocolate milk (low fat)

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Eat Smart! Is it too expensive to eat healthy?

healthy fruits and vegetables

A recent study grabbed the news headlines by stating that consumers would have to spend hundreds of dollars more a year to meet the news U.S. nutritional guidelines.

But the news reports missed the point of the study, that education needs to go hand-in-hand with guidelines, and that eating patterns have to change.

University of Washington researchers surveyed about 1,200 adults about their diet and nutrition. They then calculated a diet that met the nutritional guidelines by increasing the foods they were already eating. They did not suggest alternative foods. For example, diets that include apricots as a source of potassium (100g per serving), would be more expensive than one that included bananas which have about 425g of potassium.

Bottom line, don’t use this report as an excuse for not eating healthy.

But if eating healthy and saving on your grocery bill is a concern,
consider these tips when planning your next shopping trip:

  • Plan a week’s worth of menus. Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.
  • Plan your meals around produce that is in season.
  • Buy only the amount of produce you plan to eat over the next week.
  • Consider inexpensive protein sources, such as beans or cottage cheese.
  • Select store brands and buy canned and frozen food in bulk when they are on sale.
  • Take inventory of the food you have at home. Buy only what you need and what you plan to eat.
  • Don’t buy all of your food at the grocery store. Sometimes food items like milk, bread and eggs can be cheaper at stories like Target, gasoline stations and convenience stories. Shop around.

You must have a few tips of your own. Share them on our Facebook page, or post them in the comment section of our member blog.

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Eat Smart! Weight Loss Studies Look at Eating Habits

fork wrapped in tapemeasure

Two interesting studies came across our desks this week. Definitely food for thought.

Study I: Limiting food choices may help with weight loss

What do you think would happen if you ate mac-n-cheese for five straight days? Gain a ton of weight, right? Well, maybe not. Here’s why.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that people lose interest in food that they eat over and over again, and end up eating less food.

The study had obese and non-obese women eat either a macaroni-and-cheese meal every day for five days, or one mac-n-cheese meal a week for five weeks. The group that ate mac-n-cheese every day averaged 100 fewer calories a day by the end of the week, whether they were obese or not. The other group averaged 30 more calories per day over their five week period.

Hmmmm.

Study II: Listen to your mother; chew your food

Participants who chewed their food 40 times vs. the typical 15 times, ate about 12 percent fewer calories, regardless of their weight.

In a study of 28 obese and normal-weight young men, researchers found higher levels of CCK, a hormone associated with reduced appetite, and lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, when the subjects chewed their food 40 times.

Mathematically, a 12 percent reduction in calories would result in a weight loss of about 25 pounds in a year. But of course, a typical diet includes foods that do not require chewing (like milk, soups, ice cream, etc.) and it may be hard to chew food for more than twice the normal 15 times. But chewing longer may be a useful tool in your weight management kit.

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Eat Smart! Out with the food pyramid, in with ‘MyPlate’


The USDA unveiled a new guide last month to help Americans make better food choices. The “MyPlate” is divided into four colorful sections with fruits and vegetables taking up half the plate, and protein and grains the other half.

There is also a small blue circle near the top of the plate to remind you to drink your milk or other dairy products like cheese or yogurt.

Gone are the fats and oils. And meat and beans are now under protein along with fish and tofu.

Why the change? U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said the old MyPyramid was too complex, confusing and not easy to remember. They hope that the MyPlate design will be a better visual aid for people when they sit down for a meal. The “MyPlate” icon is a general guide to what should be on your plate, and not to be used as a guide to actual serving sizes.

The biggest visual cue in the graphic may be the reminder to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, rather than breads or pastas or starchy vegetable.

The USDA also suggests you balance your calories, increase some foods and decrease others, and offers the following tips:

  • Enjoy your favorite foods, but eat less of them
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies
  • Make half of your grains whole grains
  • Drink fat-free or 1% milk
  • Choose lower sodium options when picking prepared foods
  • Choose water over sugary drinks

Applying these recommendations to a restaurant plate may make it easier to ask for a “doggy bag” at the beginning of the meal, instead of at the end.

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Eat Smart! Low-carb, high-protein diets may reduce cancer risk

French FriesCanadian researchers found that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can reduce the incidence and growth rate of cancer.

In a recent experiment, researcher feed mice one of two diets – a typical Western diet or a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.

The typical Western diet consisted of 55 percent carbohydrate, 23 percent protein, and 22 percent fat while the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet consisted of 15 percent carbohydrate, 58 percent protein, 26 percent fat.

The experiment was repeated using mice that were genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer.

Almost half on the Western diet developed breast cancer in the first half of their life, while none developed cancer that quickly when fed the low-carb diet. As for longevity, only one on the Western diet reached its normal life span and 70 percent died from cancer. Of those on the low-carb diet, more than 50 percent reached a normal life span and only 30 percent developed cancer.

A diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates boosts the immune system to help kill cancer cells and prevent obesity. Cancer cells need significantly more glucose to grow and restricting carbohydrates can significantly limit the amount of glucose in your blood.

So how much protein should you eat? Researchers suggest aiming for 35 percent and according to USDA dietary guidelines, adults should aim for 10-35 percent protein and 45-55 percent carbohydrates. Watch out for added fat in your protein choices and choose natural carb sources like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. And limit sugar-sweetened food and refined grain products.

So keep this in mind for our many participants who will be celebrating this weekend for Canada Day and Independence Day.

High carb/low carb diets have been a controversy for a while. Talk to us on Facebook and let us know what has worked for you.

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