Eat Smart!

Eat Smart! Vitamin D deficiency tied to health risks, may impede weight loss

Dairy is a great source of vitamin DA couple of studies have been released about the lack of vitamin D in our diets. One study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March reported that one out of three Americans are not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin.

Low or deficient levels of vitamin D are associated with health risks like bone fractures, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and cancer. Studies have also shown some correlation between vitamin D and weight loss success.

During a weight-loss study, researchers at the University of Minnesota observed that participants with low levels of vitamin D had a harder times losing weight on a reduced calorie diet than participants with adequate levels of vitamin D.

Another study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that vitamin D may prevent heart disease, especially in men. The study reported that men who took 600 IU of vitamin D a day were 28 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke, as compared to men who took 100 IU or less a day.

So how much should you take? Healthy adults should take 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily. People over age 70 should take 800 IU.

Sunlight is a natural source as it helps our body produce vitamin D, just 10 minutes exposure will do it. But that can be a challenge for people who live in northern climates, especially in the winter months when the rays of the sun are not strong enough to produce the required amounts of vitamin D in our bodies.

Other sources include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines; foods fortified with vitamin D like milk, yogurt, orange juice and some ready-to-eat cereals; and vitamin supplements. You could also take a tablespoon of cod liver oil which has 1,360 IU.

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Eat Smart! Vacation and healthy eating go hand-in-hand

Pretzel SignWhether you are traveling to a resort or taking a road trip this summer, don’t let your time away from home be an excuse to ignore your healthy eating habits. You took time to plan your trip, and with a little bit more planning, you can eat healthy and not feel deprived. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track.

  • Take some time to plan what meals you want to eat and where.
  • Plan your splurges, like you plan your souvenir budget.
  • Slow down, you’re on vacation. Make mealtime an event, savor and appreciate what you are eating.
  • Make your meals part of your itinerary, and part of your vacation experience.
  • Eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are comfortable.
  • Eat small meals, 5-6 times throughout the day, to avoid overeating at any one meal.
  • Order small portions, or better yet, split an entree with your travel buddy. You can always order something else if you are still hunger.
  • Save room for local delicacies later in the day and never deprive yourself of a taste.
  • Don’t be shy in restaurants. Ask about the food and how it is prepared. Most restaurants will help you make a healthy choice.
  • Pack healthy snacks, or keep a reference list ready to help make you make better choices.
  • Pack a cooler with sandwich fixings. A picnic under a tree or near a lake may be more relaxing than eating at a fast food restaurant.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Go out the night before and get a banana, whole grain cereal or instant oatmeal, and a small milk, and store it in your hotel refrigerator. In the morning enjoy a leisurely meal in your room.
  • Some hotels provide a free breakfast and healthy choices are available. It’s easy to walk away from the donuts when you know you are going to have a special treat later in the day.
  • Drink water. Drink water. Drink water. Have a bottle with you at all times and keep it filled. If traveling by car, keep a case in the trunk.
  • Vacations are a special one time deal, so go ahead and sample exotic tastes, but do it in moderation.
  • Remember to walk – it’s your secret weapon.

For ideas on planning a walking vacations, checkout Monday’s Move Smart!

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Eat Smart! Food pairings can maximize nutritional benefits

You are eating healthier and making better food choices. You choose foods that are high in nutrition like citrus for Vitamin C and milk for calcium. But did you know that by eating certain foods together you could boost their nutritional effectiveness?

Studies show that certain food combinations, or pairings, can actually help your body absorb the nutrients better. According to Harvard Medical School, the following food combinations can improve your health.

Vitamin D and Calcium
Calcium helps strengthen bones, but it needs vitamin D to help your body absorb it. Look for vitamin D enriched dairy products. Aim for 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, the recommended guidelines from the USDA.

Sodium and potassium
Excess sodium can increase blood pressure and thus increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Potassium helps your kidneys remove excess sodium. Load up on fruits and vegetables to increase potassium, and decrease sodium by avoiding processed or fast foods. Aim for 4,700 mg of potassium and no more than 2,300 mg of sodium for healthy adults.

Vitamin B12 and folate
Vitamin B12 helps your body absorb folate, a B vitamin that is essential for cell growth and reproduction. Try to eat B 12 rich foods like meat, eggs and milk with folate rich foods like leafy green vegetables and beans. A deficiency in either of these can cause a form of anemia, and a B12 deficiency can cause mild tingling sensations and memory loss. Aim for 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg of folate.

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Using a food journal can double your weight loss

Keeping an accurate record of what you eat may be your secret weapon to losing weight. In fact, keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss, according to a 2008 study by the Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research.

“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” states Jack Hollis Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study. “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.”

We all know it boils down to energy in (calories consumed) and energy out (calories burned).

To lose one pound a week, you need to eat 500 less calories each day for 7 days. A food journal is a reality check; it will give you an honest look at how many calories you are eating. And taking time to write down everything you eat helps you make better food choices.

Keeping track of all the foods and drinks you consume in a day will be an eye opener. It will allow you to analyze your food patterns, and help you make better and more satisfying choices. Tracking your food intake is a powerful tool when it comes to weight control.

Record everything when you eat in a notebook or in the Walkingspree Food Tracker. Be honest. Just like any diary or journal, it’s between you and your diary. Don’t cheat on yourself. Once you get an idea of your calorie intake, you’ll find quickly that you’ll have many items memorized.

Select your target caloric intake, track everything you eat for a week, and keep walking. Let us know how it goes on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll include your suggestions in next week’s Eat Smart.

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How to Handle Snack Attacks

You know the feeling. You find yourself in front of the vending machine or an open refrigerator door looking for something to eat. You need a snack.

Actually, snacks can be good for you and are an effective weight management tool. If you are satisfied throughout the day you are less likely to over eat at meals or to binge on a midnight ice cream raid.

When choosing your snacks, look for ones that contain about 100-200 calories. Also, choose snacks that will fill in food group gaps, like an apple for a fruit serving, a yogurt for dairy. You get the idea.

Plan your snacks: Make a list and purchase health snacks you enjoy.

Plan your snack time: If you normally scrounge for something to eat at 3 in the afternoon, set your computer or phone alarm for 2:45 p.m. Take a quick 10 minute walk and then enjoy your pre-planned snack.

Keep snacks handy: Put them in your drawer at work, in your purse or glove box in your car. One person I know puts pre-planned snacks in labeled lunch bags, one for each day of the week.

Take your time: Slow down and enjoy your snack. Move away from your desk and never, ever eat while you are watching TV.

Don’t drink your calories: Beware of high calorie beverages like sport’s drinks, soft drinks, and fruit juices. Pick water instead, and if you need a bit of flavor, add a squirt of lemon or lime juice. Adding a teaspoon of sugar (about 15 calories) is a much better choice than a 12 oz. can of Coke (140 calories, about nine teaspoons of sugar!)

Check out the list below, choose the ones you like and spread them out over the next week. Be creative and share your ideas with us on our Facebook page.

Snack Suggestions

Box of raisins
Fruits such as bananas, grapes, or an apple
Cut-up veggies like broccoli, carrots
Dried fruit
Apple sauce
Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts
Fat-Free Microwave Popcorn
Dark chocolate
Peanut butter
Canned soup
Granola bars (check the calories)
Pretzels
Graham crackers
Baked tortilla chips and salsa
Wheat crackers
Animal crackers
Light yogurt
String cheese
Low fat cottage cheese
Instant oatmeal
Cereal and milk
Frozen fruit bars
Chocolate milk (low fat)

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