National Nutrition Month®

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Image © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics | 2015 National Nutrition Month®


More than likely, your schedule is hectic; it’s a series of peaks and valleys with little room for meal planning and physical activities. This month is National Nutrition Month®, a campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which educates and reinforces the public on the importance of developing healthy eating and exercise habits.

Truth is, making informed food choices is not easy. It’s very important to develop a healthy lifestyle – one that focuses on a balance between food and physical activity – in order to manage your weight, reduce risk of chronic disease and support overall health.

So, let’s chat and chew about tips and tricks for the home and workplace to help you achieve healthier habits.

HEALTHY HABITS FOR A HAPPY HOME

At least half of the money Americans spend on food is for meals outside the home. Not only can preparing meals at home lead to financial savings, with all the resources available today, it’s even easier to develop – and maintain – healthier eating habits. 

“With busy, on-the-go lifestyles, many Americans have lost touch with their kitchens and thrown in the towel on eating healthy, which is key to prevention of heart disease and stroke.” – Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph. D., MPH, R.D., Chairperson of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont (1)

 Below are some tips to help you and your family live a healthier lifestyle:

  • Eat meals together. By enjoying meals together, the likelihood that children will eat the wrong foods or snack more decreases. The American Psychological Association reports that in “families who shared at least three meals a week, children were 24 percent more likely to be eating healthy foods than those in families who ate few or no meals together.”
  • Make it a family affair. Get kids involved in preparing meals; being conscious of the ingredients used can help nurture healthy eating habits.
  • Play some tunes. The American Heart Association suggests listening to a favorite CD and allotting a certain number of songs to complete each chore. For example, you might dedicate two songs to vacuuming the family room and three to washing the dishes. Not only will you and your kids pick up the pace to finish on time, you will also strengthen your heart all while having fun!
  • Leave treats to the pets. Rather than use food to show affection or reward your child for good behavior, try fun activities instead. Not only will this encourage bonding and exercise, it will help prevent your kids from using food as a coping mechanism for stress or other emotions later in life.

HEALTHY HABITS WHILE YOU WORK

On average, people SIT for roughly 9.3 hours a day! When you add that to the time you spend commuting, watching TV, or at the computer, it’s no surprise research has attributed sitting for long periods of time to a variety of health issues. As with the home, establishing good habits at the workplace are essential to your health.

Here are some tips to help you work smarter, not harder, towards a healthier lifestyle:

  • Upgrade your office chair. When you are sitting close to 8 hours a day at work, knock out your daily workout by replacing your office chair with an exercise ball. Not only is it a great way to strengthen your abdominal area, it reduces wear-and-tear on your spine.
  • Brown-paper bag it. An estimated 60 percent of individuals eat out for lunch at least once a week. Going out for lunch several times a week not only adds up in dollars, it greatly increases your daily calorie count.  By packing your own lunch, you can easily track your daily calorie, sugar and nutrient intake.  Try spicing up your lunch this month. Check out this list of Pack-and-Go Healthy Lunch Recipes for Work from Eating Well Magazine.
  • Double-up on your coffee break. No, I’m not suggesting you grab two cups of joe during your midday break. Instead, when you opt for your daily pick-me-up, use the time to stretch your legs. If you can, try taking a 10-15 minute walk around the office parking lot or walk up-and-down the stairwell a few times. Not only will you burn a few calories, it may help clear your mind, reduce stress, refocus, and feel a boost in energy.
  • Stay hydrated. Thirst and dehydration can hurt your ability to concentrate, as well as lower your energy and performance levels. Keep a water bottle at your desk to avoid drinking soda and other sugary drinks throughout the day. There’s an added bonus too – every time you refill, it gets you up and moving.
  • Time yourself. Similar to how music can keep you on track with chores, a timer at work can help build in short breaks during work hours. Try doing something active—like 20 jumping jacks or a set of quick stretches.

For the remainder of March, challenge yourself to implement at least one new healthy habit at home and work. Or, if you have other ideas, feel free to share in the comment section! If you’re hungry for a change, now’s the time to get moving! 

National Compliment Day

compliment

Today is National Compliment Day, which challenges us to give someone (or several people) a sincere expression of praise, congratulations, or encouragement. 

Compliments have a strange and profound ability to create positive energy, build trust, and spark creativity.  They promote awareness and enhance your, and others’, well-being; they show the people on the receiving end that something about them was worth acknowledging.  More importantly, Psychology Today says that complimenting someone allows you to “view yourself as a generous and big-hearted person.  So, you can increase your own self-esteem…” because of how you perceive yourself.1

As with most things in life, compliments come with their own set of rules.  Surprisingly, giving a compliment is not as straightforward as you may think, but there are ways to help you deliver better ones in the future.   

So, let’s chat and chew about good characteristics of a compliment and how we can all benefit from exchanging them more often. 

WHY ARE COMPLIMENTS IMPORTANT?

You know there’s been a time when you felt unappreciated or struggled to figure out how someone felt about you—all it would take is one quick pick-me-up to make a big difference!  Compliments not only give people reassurance, they strengthen relationships and build your network.  People shy away from individuals who are self-absorbed and unwilling to share in the glory; they are more likely to put someone down in order to give their own self-esteem a boost. 

In today’s world, whether personal or professional, we tend to compete with others.  For some, giving compliments means they are admitting their inferiority to that person.  The truth is, compliments are a way to show respect or admiration for someone; no one is refereeing, so “withholding your compliment isn’t going to even the score.”1    

WHAT MAKES A GOOD COMPLIMENT?

Giving someone a compliment just to check a box is the worst possible way to approach this exercise.  You can always tell when someone is offering you fake flattery; not only does it raise questions about your character and intentions, it can weaken a relationship as well.  To avoid any miscommunication, see below for some common characteristics you should remember, and incorporate, when considering whether or not to compliment someone.  

  1. Make it genuine. Insincere compliments are easy to point out; they are also much more damaging than simply stating the truth.  Compliments that aren’t authentic can create trust issues and diminish any praises you may offer in the future.  With genuine compliments, the expectation is to get nothing in return—you feel it’s necessary in that moment to say something positive.
  2. The more specific, the better. Paying attention to detail is what separates those with great complimenting skills from those who still need work.  Being specific shows that you’ve taken a genuine interest in the person; likewise, it reassures them that their doing something right.  Remember to use language that is descriptive or emotional, but never embellished.
  3. Recognize the little things. In any business—even personal—setting, a lot of “behind-the-scenes” work takes place.  On the surface, the assumption is that the final outcome (i.e. project, event, clean house, etc.) just miraculously came together; however, as we all know, the preparation, lack of sleep, and running around is the real magic underneath it all.  Let someone know their efforts to achieve the end result did not go unnoticed.
  4. Show how it affected you. Every so often, telling someone how great they did is too predictable.  Mix things up by showing how you were affected by their actions—people enjoy hearing how their actions greatly impacted others.        
  5. Avoid the backhanded compliment. Backhanded compliments are not compliments at all.  Instead, they are an insult masked as one, usually spoken in a passive aggressive tone.  If you’re surprised by someone’s talents or accomplishments, rather than undermine the situation, (i.e. “Your painting is surprisingly good”), remove any words that may overshadow your intended comment. 

While there may never be the perfect moment to give someone a compliment, it’s important to at least start trying.  Never try and fit a compliment into the context of a conversation, or a social interaction, because people can easily catch on.  We’ve all heard it before—“honesty is the best policy”—so make sure you’re giving people the praise they deserve, when they deserve it, and compliments are not used as a means to push your own agenda.   

References:

  1. Psychology Today 
  2. Feel Happiness 

Is gluten-free the way to be?

gluten-free

Within the last couple years, a gluten-free diet has made a name for itself, appearing in health and fitness magazines as the trendy new thing to try. On the flip side, Celiac disease has given people no choice in the matter—a gluten-free diet can be the difference between life and death.

So, let’s chat and chew about whether or not you should go gluten-free.

What is Gluten?

First and foremost, Gluten is a protein, which acts as the glue that holds food together, helping to keep its shape. Although gluten is found in many foods, the top three include wheat, barley, and rye. 

What is Celiac disease?

Google1 explains Celiac disease as “a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine.” Furthermore, gluten prevents the small intestine from absorbing parts of food that are essential to staying healthy. The National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse estimates that more than 2 million people—or, 1 in every 133 people—are affected by Celiac disease in the United States2.

Why Gluten-free?

While a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat someone with Celiac disease, there are advantages for people experiencing other health-related issues. Erica Kannall3, registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist, states that, “eliminating gluten may improve conditions ranging from digestion to thinking.” Rather than take another prescription or rely on caffeine, if you’re experience symptoms similar to these or the ones below, maybe a gluten-free diet will do the trick.

  • Digestion: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) states that removing gluten from your diet reduces chances of stomachaches, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and more4.
  • Neurological: According to Kannall, eliminating gluten can lead to improved moods, better focus, and clearer thinking as well. NFCA also found that “people with gluten sensitivities report that eating gluten causes headaches, foggy thinking, ADHD-like symptoms, and even depression4.”
  • Inflammation: Inflammation in body tissues or itchy rashes can result from gluten sensitivity. The Mayo Clinic reports that people with a gluten intolerance may experience joint pain, muscle cramping, and numbness after consuming gluten5.
  • Energy: Gluten sensitivity prevents proper digestion and absorption of vitamins/minerals the body needs, which can lead to malnutrition and a drop in energy levels.

What’s on the menu?

As expected with any lifestyle change, individuals who choose to be gluten-free might feel deprived at first because of dietary restrictions. Surprisingly though, there are far more Gluten-free products—even bread and pasta—than one might think. Check out this list, provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation6, which discusses safe gluten-free options, as well as foods you must avoid.

New to gluten-free baking? Get started with this Guide to Gluten-Free Baking.

Or, jump right in with some of these gluten-free recipes:

Regardless of why somebody chooses to live a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s important to note that this diet is not as cut-and-dry as others. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making changes to your lifestyle or diet. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free diet, check out online forums for people’s feedback on their personal experiences.

Have something to add? Join the conversation – leave a comment below!

References:

  1. Google Search; Celiac disease
  2. Prevention Magazine
  3. Healthy Eating / SFGATE
  4. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
  5. The Mayo Clinic
  6. Celiac Disease Foundation