Monday, November 21, 2011

Common Challenges:Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Here we are again, it’s the holiday season. It seems to come up faster and faster the older I get.   As I continue to see clients and get busier and busier, the common theme during the holidays is to work towards a goal of weight maintenance or continued weight loss through the holidays. This can certainly be a difficult thing to do as the holiday season is themed around all different types of food events.  Ask anyone what they think of when they hear Thanksgiving and I guarantee the majority say turkey with all the fixings.
Since our society puts a lot of focus on food and how it makes us feel, it’s no wonder that some can become quite anxious this week.  I’m choosing to forego any big research topics this week to provide some tips on how to make this holiday healthy. 
1)       Focus on the true meaning of the holiday and not the food it’s centered around.  Celebrate the relationships you are thankful for and make this the priority for the day. 

2)      Remember you can always have any of the foods that will be served at Thanksgiving at any time of the year.  Often we associate Thanksgiving alone with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pies.  If we only “allow” ourselves to eat these foods once a year, we may find we give ourselves permission to eat as much as we want just this one day.  Why stuff ourselves and feel uncomfortable if we don’t have to? 

3)      Don’t save up for Thanksgiving dinner.  Remember, if you don’t eat enough to fuel your body through the day, your body is panicked and thinks its starving.  The next meals you eat will be triggered for storage to prevent another “starvation” mode again.  Eat smaller meals throughout the day consistently and insure you are comfortable.  This will allow you to make good decisions at meal time. Often times the hungrier you are the more likely you are to be in “crisis mode” where you feel the need to eat everything in sight to avoid feeling faint, or getting rid of your hunger pangs or headache.

4)       Portion your plate appropriately.  Remember, as I said above, give yourself the okay to eat or make any of your favorite foods again.  This will take the pressure off of yourself to feel this is your only time to eat your favorite foods.  When portioning your plate: keep your meat at ¼ of your plate, your starches at ¼ of your plate and load the rest of our plate with veggies or fruits.  Since you’ve decreased your portions throughout the day by eating smaller meals, you have a little more room for the extra fats in the gravy, meats, and sides as well as possibly room for dessert.

5)      Be Active.  I can’t say this enough.  Most people will eat more calories than usual on Thanksgiving.  Why not prepare for it and balance it off with a nice walk, run, or bike ride early in the day or after your meal. This is a great thing to do with family.  Walking for a half hour at a medium pace burns approximately 200 calories. 

Here’s to a healthy Thanksgiving and enjoying your time with family and friends.  I’m looking very forward to hosting Thanksgiving for my immediate and extended family.  I’ll be cooking lots of food and hoping the weather stays warm so we can have a friendly family football game after we enjoy our dinner.
Happy Thanksgiving to the Kindred Community

Monday, November 14, 2011

Family Nutrition: Is it possible to predict obesity by 3.5 years old?

A recent study completed by the University of Montreal and published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine suggests that it may be possible to predict obesity as early as 3.5 years of age.  Laura Pryor, a PhD candidate, and her team analyzed data drawn from the Quebec Longitudinal study of child development which ran from 1998 to 2006.  1,957 children’s height and weights were analyzed from 5 months to 8 years of age.  In addition to weight and height, BMI’s (body mass index) were configured and analyzed and differentiated into three trajectory groups: children with low but stable BMI, children with moderate BMI, and high- rising BMI (elevated BMI that was rising).
An interesting summary from this study was that the research team noticed that all three trajectory groups were similar until about 2.5 years of age.  The BMI’s of the high-rising trajectory group increased significantly at 2.5 years of age and by middle school 50% of these children were obese.  When looking into factors to cause this, the researches hypothesized that the top two factors for this rise in BMI were the mother’s weight at child’s birth and the mother’s smoking status.  If the mother was overweight at the child’s birth or was a smoker, the child had a higher risk of being in the high-rising BMI trajectory group.  As stated by the Laura Pryer, this research only discusses increased probability for children to become overweight, not necessarily direct causes.
I would be interested to know what other environmental changes occur at 2.5 years old.  Did most of the children start attending a preschool that provided breakfasts and lunch?  Were diets adapted appropriately for the 2.5 year old child, such as changing milk to skim milk and increasing fruit and vegetable intake with whole grains and lean protein?  Either way, I think it is clear that toddler’s with high BMI’s had a 50% chance of becoming obese by middle school.  This proves again that healthy habits need to be a priority and introduced at a young age.  What do you do to instill healthy habits with your toddlers?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post: Squash- Fall’s most Colorful Vegetable

As we enter into the month of November and gear up for the holidays, Angela Farris helps familiarize us with the many types of squash as well as giving us tips on how to prepare.  Enjoy!

Squash is not only colorful, it’s tasty! Winter squash varietals come in various shapes and sizes but share similar characteristics. Winter squash tends to have a hard outer shell that encloses a vibrant flesh that can boast many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C & E, beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

A quick, easy way to prepare your squash is to oven bake it. Preheat your oven to 350°. Scrub the outside of your squash thoroughly, cut in half length wise (Beware! squash can be difficult to cut due to its size and firmness. Take extra precautions and find a firm grip before slicing), remove the seeds and place face down in a roasting pan. Add half an inch of water in the bottom of the pan to provide moisture. Depending on size, bake between 1 – 2 hrs or until flesh is tender to the touch at the thickest part. Scoop flesh out of squash and season with fresh herbs and spices. Squash is a visually appealing taste treat for everyone in your family to enjoy! Find a few common squash varietals and some fun spice pairing suggestions below:
Acorn Squash: Named after it’s round, small, acorn-like shape, the flesh of an acorn squash has a mildly sweet flavor. Cutting the acorn in half provides decorative scalloped bowl shape. Varieties include a dark green or golden yellow skin. Spice pairing: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove

Butternut Squash: A common squash used in soup making due to its non-stringy texture and rich flavor, butternut squash is easily found in supermarkets. It tastes similar to sweet potatoes and is usually a deep colored orange flesh. Spices pairing: rosemary, sage, thyme

Delicata Squash: This squash is a lesser-known variety that has a thin, edible skin, creamy texture, and flavor similar to sweet potato mixed with corn. Spice pairing: nutmeg, cardamom, all spice

Spaghetti Squash: With a mild nut like flavor and great spaghetti noodle-like texture, spaghetti squash has become a popular variety. This squash can replace wheat noodles and is a great gluten-free substitute for those with allergies. Spice pairing: cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika




Squash from left to right: (top) Butternut, Acorn- orange, Spaghetti, (middle) Acorn- green, Acorn- golden, (bottom) Carnival, Delicata

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