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I know- daytime sure is busy, and it becomes very convenient to pick up a prepared meal on the way home to feed your hungry family. If your kids are older, it is also easy to just let them fend for themselves, eating whatever they find in the fridge, and eating wherever they land. But you know my message: you gotta eat as many meals as possible with your kids, no matter their age. Easy mealtime ideas:
Make-Your-Own Burritos or Tacos: (1) The starch- whole-grain corn tacos or whole-grain corn or flour tortillas; (2) The veggies – peppers, onions, avocadoes, shredded carrots; (3) The protein – soy crumbles, ground turkey or beef or venison, grated 2% cheeses; and (4) The toppers – chopped fresh cilantro, salsa, Ranch dressing.
Make-Your-Own Salads: (1) The veggies: greens including baby spinach, shredded carrots, radishes, snow peas, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli florets, zucchini strips, (2) The protein: nuts, 2% cheese cubes, chopped egg, tuna fish, turkey breast, chicken strips; (3) The starch: kidney or black beans, chick peas, green peas; and (4) The toppers: sunflower seeds, oil & vinegar dressing or other homemade dressing.
Make-Your-Own Breakfast Parfaits (great for supper, too): (1)The starch: crunchy cereal, dry oats, wheat germ; (2) The protein: reduced-fat vanilla dairy or soy milk yogurt; (3) The fruit: assorted fresh or frozen berries, banana slices, crushed pineapple, kiwi slices.
In a way, what you have at your meals is not as important as eating the meals with your kids, sitting around the table, facing each other engaged in conversation. We can learn so much about our kids, and vice versus, they learn about us and from us. We don’t have to lecture about eating a variety of healthy foods if we just serve them up. We don’t have to talk about the perils of drinking sodas if we just serve milk at meals. Enjoy the time with them. They’ll be out of the house before you know it.
May signals Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are the no. 4 killer in this country. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain abruptly stops. The biggest risk factor is uncontrolled high blood pressure – remember, high blood pressure is called the Silent Killer for a reason. And researchers state that 80% of strokes could have been prevented with quick action at the first symptoms.
To prevent a stroke, act F.A.S.T.:
(1) Face drooping – ask the person to smile
(2) Arm weakness – ask them to raise both arms
(3) Speech difficulty – ask then to repeat “the sky is blue”
(4) Time to call 911 when you first see a symptom
Stroke Risk Factors:
Time to take action when you observe in a person or you yourself have:
The key to preventing strokes is to act FAST. Take action now and don’t wait. A person needs to get to the ER for early medication treatment to stop cold a stroke that might be coming soon.
TIA or transient ischemic attack is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms. TIA symptoms usually only last a few minutes but, if left untreated, people who have TIAs have a high risk of stroke. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
More information at www.americanheart.org.
Have you heard of insulin resistance? Perhaps in relationship to pre-diabetes? It is a condition that occurs when certain cells in the body, especially in the liver and muscles, lose their sensitivity to insulin. There is resistance to insulin. Since the cells are not taking up as much insulin as usual, more insulin is needed to help keep your glucose levels in the normal range. And that means the pancreas eventually will not be able to keep up with making enough insulin.
Risk Factors for Insulin Resistance:
How best to reduce your risk for insulin resistance:
Insulin resistance can lead to pre-diabetes and then type 2 diabetes. Since the pancreas has to compensate for your body’s inability to efficiently use insulin, it has to work even harder by making more insulin to get the job done. And this is stressful wear-and-tear on the pancreas.
I am reminded each week, when I see patients for individual counseling, that some folks need to lower their cholesterol numbers by primarily diet. They may be unable to tolerate cholesterol-lowering meds, or there may be other reasons that the meds are just not right for them. So that means lifestyle is key!
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fiber foods at each meal:
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fats each day:
To get cholesterol down, focus on natural plant sterols in
Other tips to get cholesterol down to reduce fatty plaque build-up in artery walls:
Family meals, no matter the hour or which meal, are important in many ways for children, young and old. This is my mantra – eat with your kids around the table – face to face. You get to chat with them, and hear their ideas, thoughts and dreams. They get to chat with you, learning about your work, the community that you live in, and the happenings in the world.
Here’s an idea – a family dinner menu featuring Old-Fashioned Turkey Meatloaf.
TIP: Prep in the morn and bake off in the evening. Make 2 pans to have extra for sandwiches and quick dinners.
Family dinner sides to go with Old-Fashioned Meatloaf:
What can the kids to help with dinner?
Kids are pretty interesting. For sure, they do what we do, and not necessarily do what we say. So providing healthy meals and then modeling healthy eating habits, which means reasonable portions, is something they will be very tuned into. If we are drinking soda with a meal, they are going to want that. When our kids were at home, we all drank milk or water with the meal. No sodas at all. They are still milk drinkers today, as young adults.
For 25 years, the American Diabetes Association has set aside today – Diabetes Alert Day – to help folks learn if they are at risk for developing the most common type of diabetes, type 2. It is a growing epidemic in this country – well, actually worldwide because it is so closely connected to obesity. We want an early diagnosis of diabetes, since early treatment means delaying or avoiding complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, and stroke.
Are you at risk for developing diabetes? These put you at risk….. excess weight, age, and having a family history of diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it does not mean that you will develop type 2 diabetes any time soon. It really depends what you do with your lifestyle habits:
make changes in your diet with a modest amount of unrefined carbohydrate foods, lose weight if you need to, and enjoy regular exercise. Follow the 30/5 exercise rule: 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week.
Friday, March 29
Diabetes Resources: www.stopdiabetes.org and 1-800-DIABETES.
It is hard to believe but thousands of people in our area, young and old, do not have enough food. They experience hunger almost every day. There are many reasons that they don’t have enough money for food, but the bottom line is that they must make decisions between buying food or paying for their medicines or fuel or rent. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the Charlottesville Albemarle Emergency Food Bank provide food for many families each month throughout the year.
There are many area agencies that benefit from our Food Banks: food pantries and soup kitchens, schools and churches, and other nonprofit groups.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has the Back Pack program – it provides at-risk elementary school children with a backpack of food for the weekend and over holidays. The Kids Café program provides nutritious snacks in after-school programs for at-risk kids. And there is a summer feeding program as well.
Non-perishable donations are always welcome whenever there is the opportunity to donate. This means foods that are canned, boxed or in jars, and are safe to store outside of a refrigerator. And, be sure that they have NOT expired.
Nonperishable items for food banks: jars of nut butter, pasta sauce, cans of tuna fish and salmon, light-packed canned fruits and low-sodium vegetables; bags of rice and dried beans; boxes of whole-grain pasta and cereals.
Thinking about going vegetarian? There is a national movement called Meatless Monday – it began about 10 years ago – it’s an effort to help folks move toward some meatless meals in an easy, non-threatening manner. Hospitals, colleges, restaurants and workplaces are giving their support to this program. Do you want to try this?
Meatless Monday might be a painless way to ease your family into some vegetarian meals. Why is this such a great ideas? It can reduce your intake of artery-clogging saturated fat, and reduce your risk for developing certain cancers, including colorectal, esophagus, lung, and liver cancers.
It’s Meatless Monday – what’s for dinner?
Meatless Mondays can have a lasting impact on your family habits. In one large Meatless Monday study, there was a lasting effect, with 40% are incorporating more meatless meals into the rest of their week, 73% are eating more vegetables; 64% eating more fruits, 42% eating more beans; and 47% eating more whole grains.
We know that some people have gluten sensitivity – maybe as many as 20 million Americans actually. When consuming too much gluten there might be some physical symptoms. But Celiac Disease is a little different– it’s an autoimmune disorder where the body gets a bit “upset” every time that gluten is eaten. Inflammation and damage occur in the small intestines, and nutrients cannot be absorbed.
Dietary treatment for Celiac Disease is to provide symptom relief, get you back to more energy ad better health.
A Gluten-Free diet = NO foods containing sources of gluten – wheat, barley, rye, malt &brewer’s yeast.
Other Gluten Free foods: vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, dairy, fish, poultry, beef and pork. You just need to be sure that they are not prepared with gluten-containing additives or coatings.
And there are some great Gluten-free snack options: gluten-free tortilla chips with hummus or salsa, popcorn cooked in oil, peanut butter on rice crackers, or how about a snack mix with gluten-free corn chex, nuts and dried fruit. So many healthy options. Homemade and made-from-scratch is the way to go when you can. You will also want to be sure to avoid cross contamination in your kitchen, keeping work areas, appliances, and toasters clean.
I think that the beginning of the year, and especially in February, which is heart month, it’s a great time to evaluate your health and to begin to make some lifestyle changes, if needed. As part of the freshening up, is this a good time to take stock of your food cabinets, and do some weeding out and replacing?
Cleaning up the cupboards… OUT with high-fat, salty snacks and IN with whole-grain crackers, unsalted pretzels, assorted nuts, and plain popcorn.
Cleaning up the cupboards…. OUT with candy, rich desserts, and sweet sugary sodas and IN with fresh fruit, simple homemade cookies, and good old-fashioned water.
Cleaning up the cupboards… OUT with sugary refined cereals and white processed grains and IN with whole-grain cereals (likes oats), brown and wild rice, whole-grain pasta, barley, and quinoa.
Okay, so you don’t need to change everything at once – use your foods up, and then as you run out of items, replace with a healthier version. Be well-stocked with legumes, sweet and white potatoes, healthy condiments such as reduce-fat mayonnaise, flavorful vinegars, oils and mustards. And then don’t forget a variety of herbs and spices to give flavor without added salt: thyme, rosemary, garlic, basil, oregano… the list is endless.
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices. Read More