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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Thanksgiving Food and Healthy Eating Myths Busted

We all know that a lot of holidays involve food: cookouts on the 4th of July, cookies for Santa at Christmas, and candy treats for Halloween. But one holiday completely revolves around food—when you think of it, you automatically think about food. Thanksgiving is all about the meal of turkey, sides, and desserts. Several food myths surround this holiday, however, and not all of them are true. Keep reading for myth busters to share at your table.

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  • Turkey makes you sleepy. Always have a nap after your Thanksgiving meal? Have you been blaming the turkey because you heard it was high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin and then melatonin and causes you to sleep? The truth is that a lot of other foods on the dinner table have much higher levels of tryptophan, and the real reason for the nap is more likely because of the amount of carbs that you consumed (and possibly the number of glasses of wine you drank!).
  • Sweet potatoes are always better than white potatoes. It’s true that if you look at the nutritional components of a regular sweet potato compared to those of a white potato, hands down it wins for its higher levels of vitamin A and C and fiber. The typical sweet potato dish is loaded with sugar and fat, however, and not nearly as healthy as a plain baked white potato.
  • Dark meat is unhealthy. Yes, it is true that white meat is very lean and an excellent source of protein. Dark meat is not so terrible, though, that you should intentionally avoid putting it on your Thanksgiving plate. A serving of 4 oz of white meat is 158 calories vs. 183 for dark meat, and 0.5 gram of saturated fat vs. 1.6 grams of saturated fat. Dark meat is also higher in zinc and iron.
  • Canned pumpkin isn’t as healthy as fresh. I am sure you have heard multiple times how much healthier fresh fruits and vegetables are versus canned. This is typically due to processing them and then storing them in a high-sodium or high-sugar liquid. However, when it comes to canned pumpkin, that rule doesn’t apply. It’s more concentrated than a fresh pumpkin, which means more vitamin A and fiber. But be careful when grabbing a can of pumpkin and don’t accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar and salt.
  • Stuffing and dressing are the same thing. They are very similar, but not the same. Stuffing is typically stuffed inside the bird, whereas dressing is prepared in a casserole dish. A note about food safety: Be cautious when eating traditional stuffing that is cooked inside the bird. It adds mass to the turkey, which slows the cooking. This not only dries out the meat, but can create salmonella bacteria. Always be sure your turkey is cooked to 165 degrees.

Show up at the Thanksgiving holiday this year with these healthy eating myth busters to share with your family and friends (and also check out these additional Thanksgiving hacks). Then grab a plate, load it up with lots white and dark meat, and enjoy the once-a-year food fest!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating holidays sleep Thanksgiving carbs food safety fruits and vegetables turkey myth busters

Get into the Exercise and Healthy Eating Mindset Before the Holidays

fit-it-in.jpgIt’s coming…the holiday season! Many people tend to give up or have the “I’ll start fresh next year” mindset when it comes to exercise around the holidays. Don’t let that be you this year! Halloween is over and before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here. Parties will start, normal schedules will be crazy, and more food will be added to your life.

Three Tips for Staying on Track with Workouts and Food

This season, let’s go into the holidays with a different mindset. We know what’s coming—it happens every year! Here are three tips to keep you on track.

  • Schedule time for your workouts. If you know you have a party or family gathering, plan ahead. Write your exercise time on your calendar each week just like you would anything else. Scheduling time for fitness should be a priority.
  • Something is better than nothing. Gym time cut short? Don’t just blow it off! Just get into the gym and move. Getting 30 minutes of exercise is better than getting 0 minutes. Don’t let your busy holiday gatherings keep you from your exercise routine. Even if you have to do bodyweight exercises at home or portable exercises on the road, don’t just skip your workout.
  • Do a little bit better next time. You overate, you missed your workout, you have another party today. It’s okay; you didn’t lose the battle of fitness. You don’t need to overeat at the next party. Just do a little better than you did at the last. Healthy eating and exercise don’t have to be all or nothing. Just do better every day. Move a little more, and eat one less holiday treat than the day before.

Change Your Mindset—and Ask or Help!

The holidays don’t have to be a time to let it go and start over during the New Year. This year, make it different! These three tips will help you change your mindset as we enter the season of craziness and delicious goodies!

If you need help on a quick workout idea, stop by the track desk and ask a NIFS HFS to help you out!

Remember 30-minute workouts are proven to be just as beneficial as longer workouts. If your short on time or just feel 60-minutes is too long, our Small Group Training Express classes are offered on Tuesday's and Thursday's from noon-12:30p with Kaci! Try your first session free!

Try a 30-min session!

Happy Holidays!

This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy eating holidays Thanksgiving bodyweight mindset christmas new year scheduling halloween

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets: Nutrition and Healthy Summer Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-492361906.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around the Indianapolis area. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

The Top 5 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Market

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your local farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar to help you make the best local eating choices.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Way to Stock Up for Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer Indianapolis vegetables antioxidants local eating

Food Safety and Grilling: The Fun Way to Healthy Eating!

ThinkstockPhotos-475200404-1.jpgThe weather is warming up, the flowers are coming out, and daylight is around much longer at night. All of these things mean one thing: time to start grilling again! Having a barbecue or cookout is a wonderful way to do a majority of your cooking because it is a healthy preparation method and leaves little to no cleanup in the kitchen!

However, there can be some safety concerns when it comes to grilling, so read below to make sure you are informed.

Follow Proper Meat Temperatures

One of the most common reasons for food poisoning is not cooking your meat to the proper temperature. In fact, only 23% of Americans say they use a meat thermometer. This is the easiest and best way to make sure you are cooking your meat to the proper temperature. Here are the food safety temperature guidelines for different types of meat:

  • Chicken: 165 degrees
  • Pork: 145 degrees
  • Hamburgers: 160 degrees
  • Steak: 145 degrees
  • Bratwurst: 160 degrees
  • Fish: 145 degrees
  • Leftovers: 165 degrees

Use Condiments and Marinades Safely

Another thing to be cautious about is condiment safety. Always be sure to marinate meat in the refrigerator vs. sitting out on a counter or out by the grill. If you are reusing the sauce used on raw meats, bring it to a boil before using it on cooked meats; or throw it away to prevent cross-contamination. Condiments should not be left sitting out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees).

Don’t Reuse Cutting Boards and Platters

Something that might happen if you are in a hurry (or trying to cut down on dirty dishes) is to use the same cutting board or platter that had the raw meat on it for chopping veggies, or to put the cooked meat back on it. This can definitely be a recipe for disaster, so be sure to grab a different platter or cutting board, or clean the original one thoroughly with hot soapy water before using again.

Wash Hands and Utensils

Finally, don’t forget about those tools and your hands! This is where a lot of bacteria from the raw meat can reside. Thoroughly wash your grilling utensils once they have come in contact with the raw meat instead of just hanging them up on the side of the grill. Also, be sure to wash your hands and the grill handle that you touch with your hands after handling the raw meat.

Taking these small extra steps can guarantee a spring and summer filled with delicious (and safe) foods from the grill! And here are some tips for healthy eating at your next barbecue.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: healthy eating summer food safety grilling

NIFS Dietitian Reviews Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Service

Hello Fresh Box.jpgWhen I ask people why they don’t cook more, I get a lot of answers. Typically it’s along the lines of “I don’t have time,” “I haven’t been to the grocery store,” “I don’t know what to cook,” or “I don’t know how to cook.” So I was intrigued by the meal delivery service options that are available for individuals who don’t cook as often as they’d like.

Some of the more popular services are Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, and one local to the Indianapolis area called Fresh Artistry. I had an offer for 50% off my order with Hello Fresh, so that is why I chose to try that one. Here is my experience.

Ordering and Delivery

I went to the Hello Fresh website to sign up. I was able to choose three meals to feed two people (from a selection of six meals) for $35 (originally $70). If I were getting vegetarian choices, it would be a little cheaper, and they also had an option for a family of four. After choosing a beef dish, chicken dish, and fish dish, I was able to pick my delivery date. I chose a Tuesday delivery so I could enjoy the meals during the week when time is short for meal prep.

The box arrived on my front porch with many ice packs to keep the food fresh. Each meal was nicely distributed into its individual boxes, which I appreciated, so I knew which ingredients went with which dish.

Hello Fresh Instruction Card.jpgHello Fresh Ingredients.jpgMaking the Meals

I pulled out the colorful instruction card for the first meal that it suggested I make to guarantee freshness, which was Bayou-Spiced Rockfish. It also listed the prep time, that it was gluten and nut free, the difficulty level, the ingredients I would be using, and a picture (this I really appreciated!) of the final product. When I flipped over the card, it listed the nutrition facts for the meal, what tools I would need to use, and detailed instructions with more photos! So far I was really enjoying my purchase!

I started to work on prepping the veggies and potatoes. What I really enjoyed was the fact that I had minimal dishes getting dirty in the kitchen. When I was finished, the only items I needed to clean were a knife, cutting board, and skillet. This was a plus for sure! After the veggies and potatoes were prepped and ready, I switched those out for the fish. The pan was hot so it didn’t take long at all for it to cook.

Hello Fresh Meal.jpgHello Fresh Veggies.jpgThe final thing to do was to put it all on the plate and taste it. I thought it was delicious! The portion size was ideal, the flavor was great, and the prep and cleanup were easy! From start to finish the time was around 30 minutes before eating.

The other two meals that I was shipped were also tasty. Each of those took around 35 minutes to prepare (due to a longer cooking time for the chicken and beef), and they both involved one extra piece of equipment to wash.

The Verdict: Thumbs Up!

Overall I was very happy with the service. What I really liked was the option to skip weeks easily when you don’t want a delivery. I was really delighted with the Hello Fresh process. If you have been wanting to cook balanced meals and do more healthy eating, this is the easiest way I know of to get started. Try one soon and let me know what you think!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy eating wellness cooking dietitian

Nutrition on the Go: Can Food Trucks Provide Healthy Eating?

ThinkstockPhotos-87741362.jpgThe food truck phenomenon started in 2008 in California with a truck called Kogi BBQ that served Korean-Mexican fusion on the streets of L.A. Soon many chefs followed the trend, and now you can find these mobile dining establishments in most cities across the U.S.

One great thing about this trend is that it tends to be inexpensive compared to restaurants, and a fresher fast-food option. However, since these trucks typically have an ever-changing menu, it can be challenging to know what to order—and whether you can find a healthy option.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Follow some of the tips below, and then get out there and find your new favorite truck!

  • Scan for the best. Normally if you see one food truck, there is another one close by, or as is getting popular now, you might be at an event where a bunch of food trucks have gathered at one time (such as the First Friday Food Truck Festival). Take a walk around and check out all of the menus available (burning those calories as you walk), and then you can make a more informed choice.
  • Eat with a fork. One thing food trucks are known for is their fresh ingredients, so take advantage of filling up on those. And when you load up your plate or bowl and require a fork to eat the item, it slows down the process. Allowing your brain to tell your stomach that you are full is the goal, and this typically takes around 20 minutes. By eating with a fork, you can slow down considerably versus folding over the pizza and finishing it in five bites, keeping the burrito all rolled into a nice hand-held contraption, or using both hands to wrap around the giant burger!
  • If you aren’t using a fork, look for a taco truck. Almost all food trucks that specialize in tacos have great things going for them: they are portion controlled, typically have a protein source in them, and are loaded with veggies on top! Most food truck tacos aren’t loaded with sauces and cheeses like sit-down Mexican restaurants, so you can save a lot of calories. One more plus is that most food trucks use corn tortillas instead of flour, which means less processing, fewer calories, and less sodium.
  • Burn more calories standing up. Usually there aren’t a lot of places to sit around food trucks, which a lot of people see as a drawback of the movement. However, take this opportunity to practice eating your food while standing. It is well known that standing burns more calories than sitting, and can also help prevent acid reflux.
  • Share, share alike. As I already mentioned, typically there are a lot of different food trucks in one area. So, grab a friend or a co-worker and try multiple items. You will get to try a lot of different things but in much smaller portions.

Moderation and Balance Are the Keys

As with any dining out, when it comes to food trucks the same nutrition rules apply: moderation and balance. As long as you remember to have three food groups on your plate and eat a standard amount, you can enjoy the food truck experience for lunch or snacks and not feel guilty!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks lunch acid reflux

Helping Picky Kids Get Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-474735668.jpgHas dinnertime become the dreaded time lately? Getting picky children to eat can be very frustrating. Children of different ages may respond differently to various tactics. Here are a few ideas for how you can get your child to try (and hopefully like) new foods, and get better nutrition.

Pregnant and Lactating Women

Some research shows that the foods that a woman eats during pregnancy may “program” the fetus’ food preferences later in life. Both amniotic fluid and breast milk take on flavors and odors of the foods mom eats. When pregnant and breastfeeding, try these tactics:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods to expose your baby to an assortment of flavors and smells. This may reduce the chance that your child will be a picky eater.
  • Avoid a diet based around junk food. Your need for additional calories is not a good reason to eat food that contains no nutritional value. Doing so may increase the amount of sugar needed to experience reward in your child’s developing brain, possibly leading to loss of control and binge-eating episodes later in life.

Infants

Feed your baby variety. It often takes the introduction of a new food ten times for a young child to develop a taste for it. Most babies grimace at every new food. Keep trying a food and your baby may learn to like it.

  • Introduce vegetables before fruits so that the child does not get used to eating sweet foods all the time.
  • When eating several different foods at one meal, introduce new foods before familiar favorites. If they do not know mashed bananas are available, they may try the lima bean puree.
  • Do not avoid foods because you do not like them. Your child may learn to like different foods than you.

Toddlers and Children

As with babies, toddlers may refuse foods—not because they don’t like them, but because they begin to realize they have a choice. Let your child make other decisions, like what book to read, or what clothes to wear, but not what to eat once the food is on the table. A toddler’s growth may be slowing down, so they may eat less. If they are not eating, they may be full from snacks or juice, or they may have been served a portion that is too large. Babies and toddlers will not starve themselves!

  • Eat with your children, and eat the same things. Dad can’t avoid green vegetables, and mom can’t avoid bread or starchy vegetables; your child will pick up on that and think they can avoid certain foods, too.
  • Turn the TV off. Young children need to focus on eating, and distractions such as cartoons will keep them from eating.
  • Make foods fun! Arrange a fruit salad as a smiley face. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes.
  • Let kids play with their food, and be tolerant of messes! It helps kids experience the food’s texture and smell, and will help them eat it, too.
  • Make dips out of cottage cheese, tofu, yogurt, guacamole, peanut butter, or pureed fruits and vegetables. Your child can dip fruits and vegetables, rice cakes, toast, or other nutritious foods.
  • Find a fun character-inspired cookbook, choose a recipe, and make it together.
  • Serve one food at a time, keeping other options out of sight. Start with new foods or foods the child does not like as well first, and then add familiar foods and favorites.

More Tips for Parents

Here are some more ideas that will help make mealtimes more pleasant:

  • Don’t force your child to eat anything.
  • At most meals, try to offer mainly healthy choices.
  • Allow your children to ask for seconds.
  • Do not force your child to finish a meal, even if they want dessert.
  • Deemphasize dessert as a prize; don’t make children finish their vegetables to get it.
  • Have your children rate new foods with a pre-made “New Food Chart”: have them draw a happy face if they like it and a sad face if they don’t.
  • Finally, praise the child for trying new foods. That will encourage them to do it more often.

Hopefully by trying some of these suggestions, you can get your kids on the road to healthy eating—and start enjoying mealtimes more!

Related: Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks lunch kids pregnancy lactation

Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

ThinkstockPhotos-528974268.jpgIt’s that time of year again…back to school! This means busy evenings or early mornings getting lunches packed for the kids. What’s in a child’s lunch is important because it’s in childhood that eating habits are formed—and heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and other diseases begin to develop. Fatty buildups, the beginnings of clogged arteries, are seen in the arteries of children as young as 10 years old.

So even though that prepackaged meal is the quickest and easiest thing to throw in a lunchbox, consider these 10 ways to help your child eat a more balanced lunch.

  1. Encourage your child to choose 1% or fat-free milk. Milk is the biggest source of saturated fat in children’s diets. Choosing 1% or fat-free milk instead of whole or 2% is an important strategy for keeping children’s hearts healthy and arteries clear.
  2. Switch from bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef, and other fatty luncheon meats to low-fat alternatives. Supermarkets sell many good-tasting, low-fat or fat-free brands of turkey breast, chicken breast, ham, bologna, and roast beef.
  3. Include at least one serving of fruit in every lunch. Try buying a few new types of fruit each week to let your child discover new favorites and to give him or her more healthy eating choices. In addition to apples, oranges, or bananas, try pears, sliced melon, cups of applesauce, grapes, or pineapple (fresh or canned in its own juice). Try serving fruit in different ways: whole, cut into slices, cubed, or with a yogurt dipping sauce.
  4. Sneak vegetables onto sandwiches. Try lettuce, slices of cucumber, tomato, green pepper, roasted peppers, zucchini, or sugar-snap peas. Eating fruits and vegetables reduces your child’s chances of heart disease, cancer, blindness, and stroke later in life. Putting veggies on a sandwich is one way to get more into your child’s diet.
  5. Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread for sandwiches. Choose breads that list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient. If the main flour listed on the label is “wheat” or “unbleached wheat flour,” the product is not whole grain. Most multi-grain, rye, oatmeal, and pumpernickel breads in the U.S. are not whole grain.
  6. Limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. Sweet baked goods are the second leading source of sugar and the fourth leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets. Low-fat baked goods can help cut heart-damaging saturated fat from your child’s diet, but even fat-free sweets can crowd out healthier foods like fruit. This nutrition rule does say LIMIT and not eliminate. The key is moderation when it comes to sweets!
  7. Pack baked chips, pretzels, Cheerios, breadsticks, or low-fat crackers instead of potato, corn, tortilla, or other chips made with oil. Avoid empty calories from artery clogging fried chips. Also, beware of Bugles, which are fried in heavily saturated coconut oil. One ounce has as much artery-clogging fat as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
  8. If you pack juice, make sure it’s 100% juice. All fruit drinks are required to list the “% juice” on the label. Watch out for juice drinks like Sunny Delight, Hi-C, Hawaiian Punch, and Capri Sun. With no more than 10% juice, they are just as sugary as soft drinks.
  9. Don’t send prepackaged lunch trays. Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables that come with a treat and a drink get two-thirds of their calories from fat and sugar. They also contain over 1000mg of sodium, which is half the recommendation for the whole day. Making your own healthy alternative is as easy as packing low-fat crackers, low-fat lunchmeat, a piece of fruit, and a box of 100% juice in your child’s lunchbox.
  10. Let your child help pack their lunch. If your child is excited about the foods they are eating, they will be more likely to finish their energy-packed lunch. Allow them to help pick and choose items to put in their lunchbox each night or morning, teaching them the importance of meal planning and responsibility.

Find out more about nutritional coaching

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here. (And to see what she brings for her lunch, click here!)

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories lunch kids sodium

Summer Nutrition: Packing a Healthy Eating Picnic

ThinkstockPhotos-465173011.jpgDuring the summer, the days are stretching longer, the temperatures are rising, and the sun is shining brighter! It’s time to enjoy the outdoors. Whenever I visit bigger cities, I notice that their parks are packed with people enjoying picnics, which is one of my favorite things to do to explore and discover a new outdoor space. So let’s bring the picnic to our local parks! Surprise your significant other, take the family out for an afternoon in the park, or enjoy time with friends playing football or frisbee.

Equipment to Bring

When planning a picnic, make a list of items you will need, especially if this is your first time. Here are some items you may need to bring:

  • Plastic or paper plates
  • Can opener and corkscrew
  • Disposable eating utensils
  • Garbage bag
  • Reusable, heavy-duty serving pieces
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paper or cloth napkins
  • Thermos for drinks or soups
  • Bread knife or sharp knife
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet napkins
  • Matches
  • First aid kit and sunscreen
  • Tablecloth
  • Small cutting board

Healthy and Delicious Picnic Food Options

Think healthy! Typical picnic fare—such as potato salads, greasy burgers, chips, and beer—can be high in calories and fat. You do not have to compromise your waistline when planning a picnic. Try some of the following tips to keep your meal tasty and light.

Appetizers:

  • Cut up veggies—carrots, celery, broccoli, and green and red pepper—and bring along a low-fat dip. Brightly colored veggies will maximize the amount of vitamins you get in your meal.
  • Good options for salty snacks include crackers topped with peanut butter, baked tortilla chips and salsa, and nuts and dried fruit mix.
  • Try a garden salad with vegetables, beans, and fruits, topped with nuts and an oil-and-vinegar dressing.
  • Avoid creamy pasta and potato salads. They are high in fat; and if left in the heat, can create an ideal medium for bacterial growth, which can cause food-borne illness.

Entrees:

  • Try pita sandwiches or wraps. Pair a protein source—turkey, chicken, lean ham, tuna or salmon—with lettuce leaves and vegetables such as chopped celery, peppers, onion, and shredded carrots.
  • Replace mayonnaise with mustard or drizzle with olive oil and vinegar dressing.
  • Salads topped with flaked tuna or salmon and oil and vinegar dressing.
  • If your picnic area has a barbecue grill, try grilled chicken breasts, lean hamburgers, turkey burgers, or veggie burgers. Opt for a whole-grain bun instead of white.
  • Grill vegetables on a skewer. Try red or green peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion.
  • Corn on the cob is an excellent choice to add to an entree. For added flavor, use garlic or onion powder. Grill for a great taste.

Desserts:

  • Skipping out on the high-fat treats doesn’t mean you need to miss out on a summer sweet. Try a colorful fruit salad with peaches, mangoes, berries, kiwi, and watermelon.
  • Take along angel food cake and top with mixed berries.

Drinks:

  • Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day for proper hydration.
  • Sweet drinks can increase thirst and add unwanted calories. Instead, try natural fruit juices diluted with water.
  • Try to limit alcohol intake, as alcohol can be dehydrating and high in calories.

Get outside, be active, and enjoy a tasty and healthy lunch at a local park!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer picnics

NIFS Heart Throbs: 5 Healthy Habits for Weight-Loss Success

team.jpgThe Slim It to Win It* (SITWI) program is off and running again for another year of life-changing results and lifestyle modifications to maintain those changes. SITWI, in its fifth year, is NIFS’ equivalent to the NBC show The Biggest Loser. But unlike that show, the highly trained coaches at NIFS work in and around the real-world challenges that face the participants in the program to get true and long-lasting results. I am honored and very excited to be part of this great program again after a few years away, and look forward to witnessing all of the successes had by all those working hard in the program!

I am coach of “The Heart Throbs” this year, a group of 10 individuals who come to the program with a common goal of reducing body fat and learning to practice habits and behaviors that will keep them healthy and fit throughout their lifetimes. They came to the right place! But why the name Heart Throbs, you ask? Other than being a pretty good-looking group, over half of the people in the group have dealt with or are dealing with a heart issue and have overcome that obstacle to continue to fight and become the individual they want to be.

Stories from the Team

Take Amy Anderyck (Year One overall champion, by the way). Here is a snippet of her story:

I was born with an ASD heart defect. It was a hole the size of a quarter. It's not uncommon for babies to have them at birth, but they usually close up themselves after a bit. Mine never closed. So when I was 5 years old my parents took me to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet Dr. Albert Pacifico, who was the best pediatric vascular surgeon in the country at the time. He did a great job with my repair and I am able to lead a happy, healthy life without any restrictions. I am thankful for my parents and the doctor. 

Slimit16pic2.jpegOr Haley Pratt:

I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome as an infant, but my structures were too small to take care of anything as a baby. I had my first ablation at age 4, which was still very young to operate, but there was no choice. I went on living life normally as an active child. The doctors told me I would never be able to play organized sports, have life insurance, or pilot a plane. I am here to say that I conquered the first two (even got a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at Lynn University) and someday would love to get my pilot's license.

Two years ago, I did have another scare where I had a tachycardia episode that felt exactly like what I was used to growing up. I wondered how this could happen after 15 years. It ended up being inappropriate sinus tachycardia, which sometimes comes and goes on its own. I am on a beta blocker and have a looping monitor implanted for the time being, but I will be able to quit both soon. I have a healthy heart and nothing can stop me from achieving my goals!

The team’s inspirational stories are too many to list in one blog post, but I assure you that they rival the two stories shared above. It takes a lot of courage and strength to look something like that in the face and overcome it. I am so proud of Haley, Amy, and the rest of the Heart Throbs, and I am humbled that they chose me to lead them to a healthier and better life!

Five Questions About Your Eating Habits

At our first meeting, we spoke about what it took to get results in reducing body fat and body weight, or eliminating medications or staving off type 2 diabetes. I suggested that of the top three things that can lead you down the path to success—mental health, nutrition, and exercise—exercise was a distant third. Exercise should be the fun stuff; it’s the first two that are the tough ones. The Heart Throbs would like to ask you 5 questions about how you are eating that could help you develop those important habits that will lead to success:

  • Are you eating slowly? It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to signal to the stomach and the rest of the body that you are full. If you eat fast, you usually eat more.
  • Where are the protein-dense foods? Eating protein with every meal will help with recovery, building muscle, and feeling full. Protein consumption soon after a training session is a great habit that will help in all facets of your fitness. Some examples are meat, fish, eggs, plant protein, and yogurt.
  • Are you eating veggies with every meal? Prepare them any way you like, and shoot for few portions each meal. Veggies should account for the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for the day.
  • Where are the carbohydrates? Carbohydrates (grains, beans, starches, fruit) have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to the increased intake of highly processed and unnatural carbohydrate sources. Carbs are important, especially after a training session, and help supply the body with energy it needs to run various systems of the body. Portion control is key here (1 to 2 cupped-hand-sized servings), as well as timing (after training) to get the most out of your carbohydrates.
  • Are you eating fat? Fat in your diet is important, and although the discussion would be too extensive for this piece, this idea does come with a bit of blowback. So let me put it like this: In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the “experts” labeled fat as the enemy and worked hard to eliminate it from the American diet (remember the SnackWell’s aisles?). What happened to America? It got fat. Choose healthy fats (oils, butter, nut butters, nuts, and seeds) and spread them out through the day.

Bonus Takeaways

 The Heart Throbs have some bonus takeaways for you:

  • Experiment to find what works for you. It has to work for you to be sustainable!
  • Don't try to overhaul; add one habit every couple of weeks.
  • Identify any nutritional deficiencies that can be found through a blood test and work to correct them.
  • You can't change your life unless you change something you do every day.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating Slim It to Win It carbs