Fall/Winter Healthful Eating Tips
Put up a Good Defense!
1. Limit Added Sugars in Your Diet
Our bodies definitely need some carbohydrates (sugars) to work well every day. However, the type you choose to include in your daily diet is crucial. Sugars and refined grains (white flour for example) have been shown in studies to increase inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation has been linked to type 2 diabetes, liver problems, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions.
What to do? Choose whole grain carbohydrate options like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole corn tortillas over sugary foods and white flour products.
2. Eat More Healthy Fats
As with carbohydrates, there are different types of fats that our bodies need to function properly and certain fats like monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats are healthier for you than others like saturated fats and trans -fats. Healthy fat sources from vegetable oils, fatty fish, and avocados have been shown to be anti-inflammatory which may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
What to do?
For cooking and/or preparing meals, choose vegetable oils like canola and olive oil which are also heart healthy. Try to have fatty fish like tuna, sardines, mackerel, or salmon 1-2/week, and better yet use these 1-2 fish options in place of red meat or pork for those meals. Snack on nuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados for a healthy yet tasty change!
3. Introduce More Unprocessed Plant-Based Foods to Your Diet
Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, soybeans, and other lentils/beans are examples of “whole” plant foods. This means they are in their natural state and unprocessed. These foods retain and provide us with numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants found in these types of foods can help to decrease inflammation in our bodies, which again has been shown to increase disease and illness. Antioxidants kill “free radicals” which are harmful substances in our bodies that lead to inflammation.
What to do? Choose “whole” plant foods over other processed options such as sugary or salty snacks, meats, and prepackaged fruits and veggies that may be laden with sugars, salt and extra calories from sauces and syrups. Try replacing at least 2 meat dishes per week with healthy plant-based proteins, such as soybeans/tofu, lentils and pasta, chickpeas and brown rice or nut butters such as peanut, almond, or sunflower butter on a soft, whole grain bread for an interesting new protein option!
4. Eat More Fermented Foods
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (a popular fermented Korean cabbage dish) contain beneficial bacteria that are healthy for our digestive tract. These bacteria are called probiotics. When eaten, probiotics help to increase the number of healthy bacteria in our gut, which in turn strengthens our immune system to fight against harmful bacteria and viruses.
What to do? The easiest and most delicious way (in my opinion) to add some probiotics to your diet is eating Greek or Icelandic types of yogurt! You get plenty of gut-friendly bacteria per serving, and these types of yogurts have more protein and less added sugar as compared to regular yogurts or yogurt drinks. Blend it with fresh berries, or whole grain granola for a healthy treat. For a different approach, try pairing a side dish of sauerkraut with turkey sausages and a small serving of potatoes.
5. Reduce Daily Stress
Lowering your stress levels is a key to healthy immune function. The hormones that we release when our bodies and minds are stressed, such as cortisol, also contribute to an increase in the inflammation responses in our cells and tissues. Stress can also lower your body’s defense cell’s ability to do their job which is to protect us from any sources of pathogens that may be trying to get into our system. Most of us know reducing our daily stress is challenging to do! Activities like planning a small vacation or family visit ahead of time have shown to improve positive outlook and overall mood, which helps us better cope with our stressors. It is important to have good, positive things to look forward to!
What to do? Try meditation and/or mindfulness techniques. They are available free online, and some videos only take 5-10 minutes but still give you that much needed break and relaxation. Any type of exercise or physical activity is helpful to combat stress levels, especially yoga classes. Journal writing is another idea and has been shown to reduce stress levels and initiate relaxation. Writing down your thoughts and ideas can be very peaceful and help to lower overall feelings of stress in your life.
Immunity Boosting Vitamins and Minerals
Make Sure to Get Enough of These Immunity Boosting Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamin A helps to keep skin and tissues of the mouth, stomach, intestines, and the respiratory tract healthy, which in turn helps protect us from infections.
How to get it? Carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes/yams, apricots, mango, and fortified low-fat milk
Vitamin C is known to stimulate antibody production which is your body’s natural defense mechanism. It also aids in the production of white blood cells, another defense your body uses to fight illnesses and disease.
How to get it? Tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, oranges, grapefruit and bell peppers
Vitamin D helps to regulate certain proteins that have antimicrobial properties. These proteins can directly kill pathogens thus helping us to not get infected with some common illnesses.
How to get it? Fortified low-fat milk, salmon and other fatty fish, egg yolks and ready to eat fortified breakfast cereals.
Iron is a necessary nutrient for the growth and functioning of many different types of immune cells such as lymphocytes.
How to get it? Beans & lentils, red meat, nuts, whole grains, and fortified ready to eat breakfast cereals.
The mineral zinc is essential along with Vitamins A & C, and protein for wound and skin healing which again helps to prevent infections in our bodies if we have a strong barrier (healthy skin). Zinc also helps to support our immune response in general, and further helps to protect our immune system by acting as an antioxidant as well.
How to get it? Red meat, oysters, whole grains, low-fat dairy, beans & lentils, nuts, and seeds.
Make Sure To Try these Tasty 5 fruits & Veggies This Season!
Kale, along with other dark leafy green vegetables is an excellent source of Vitamin K, which is vital for our bone health as well as heart health/blood clotting. It also contains a good amount of folate which is also essential for heart health and for pregnant women. Kale also contains an excellent source of Vitamin A and offers a good amount of Vitamin C, which helps with improving our body’s immunity, skin health and eye health as well specifically for Vitamin A. Try using kale to replace some of the lettuce leaves in your salad for a nutrient packed punch for your favorite salad! Or my preferred option is adding some kale to stir fry veggies with rice and beans (or chicken). Another easy and popular option is to make kale “chips”. Simply place kale leaves on a greased baking sheet/pan. Add a drizzle of any vegetable oil, and a sprinkle of salt and bake at 350 degrees until kale is crisp (usually about 10 minutes) for a healthy snack.
These well-known root vegetables have numerous health benefits such as improved eye health, and help contribute to lower cholesterol levels and healthy skin. They also contain Vitamin K, beta carotene (which our bodies turn into Vitamin A), fiber and potassium, as well as antioxidants which help the cells in our bodies prevent damage/diseases such as certain cancers. Carrots are very versatile and can be added to soups, salads, stir fry’s, or try them mashed with an equal amount of mashed potatoes for a healthy twist on a traditional potato dish! Serve this yummy dish with grilled chicken and sautéed green beans for a healthy and tasty meal!
Pears are an easy on the go snack, and are filled with healthy fiber! Dietary fiber helps to keep the blood sugar levels stable in our bodies, reduce risk of certain cancers, lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and has heart protective properties as well. Pears have a good amount of Vitamin C, the mineral copper and Vitamin K. Pears are delicious as a substitute for apples in an apple crisp, an addition to your favorite salad or hot cereal, or added in chopped up pieces along with your favorite pork dish! For a tasty treat or dessert, try adding chopped up pear pieces to vanilla low fat ice cream, along with a small amount of chopped pecans and chocolate chips, yum! *Quick and healthy tip: When buying canned pears, go for brands that offer the pears in their own juice and NOT packed in syrup. Fruits packed in syrup provide an unnecessary amount of additional sugar to an otherwise healthy snack!
Pomegranates are chock full of antioxidants which help to destroy compounds known as free radicals in our cells, thus helping to keep our bodies healthy. These tasty fruits also contain a good amount of fiber, and small amounts of Vitamin C and some B Vitamins. To get the maximum benefits from pomegranates, be sure to eat the whole fruit including the seeds, and like all fruit juices, be sure to limit your intake as juices contain more sugar compared to nutrients you will receive from eating the whole fruit. You can add pomegranate easily to your daily diet by using them in muffins to replace any fruit, added to hot cereals and yogurt, and added to smoothies. Or try the sweet and delicious pomegranate seeds on top of a piece of salmon or chicken with olive oil and cut up lemon slices for a new take on your protein!
Like most vegetables, cauliflower is both low in calories and full of nutrients! Cauliflower is easy to incorporate into your daily diet, and offers a generous amount of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate (a type of B Vitamin)as well as fiber. It also contains a significant amount of antioxidants which have been linked to the reduction of some types of cancers, including certain kinds of reproductive cancers in women. Cauliflower is popular currently in restaurants to order as an appetizer, where eateries will offer buffalo or Asian style florets as an alternative to buffalo chicken or sweet and sour chicken choices. Also, try this nutrient packed cruciferous vegetable minced up with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt as a low carb alternative to rice or potatoes, or use cauliflower as a side dish to accompany a protein such as chicken, beans, fish or tofu. Make sure to round out your meal with a whole grain such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta!
What is the difference between Healthy and Healthful?
Healthy versus Healthful: The problem is that some people insist that you can’t say your salad is healthy; you have to say it’s healthful because only healthful can mean “conducive to good health.” The thinking is that only a living thing can be healthy—if we’re in good health, you and I can describe ourselves as healthy. Healthy is a personal characteristic, but things that are dead, things we consume, aren’t healthy anymore. If they’re good for us, they’re healthful.
This word pair, healthful and healthy, has been causing debate for over a century. The question is whether these adjectives can both be used to mean conducive to good health. This is what gets some word mavens’ blood boiling. Healthy, they say, cannot be used to mean conducive to good health. But according to the Oxford English Dictionary, healthy has been a synonym for healthful since its earliest appearance in print… in 1552.
So it’s OK to use healthy and healthful as synonyms for conducive to good health: have a healthy snack or a healthful one. But if you’re referring to someone who enjoys good health, however, use healthy because it’d be weird to call a person healthful. Save healthful for the granola and healthy for your personal trainer.
Check Out These 7 Tips To Help you Stay Healthy!
Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. Choose foods that provide the nutrients you need without too many calories. Build your healthy plate with foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein foods. Try the eating right tips in the boxes below!
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables!
Make at least half your grains whole
Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
Vary your protein choices
Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars
Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt. Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods. Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often.
Enjoy your food but eat less
Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.
When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include begetables, fruits and whole grains. When portions are large, share a meal or take half home for later.
Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.
Be physically active your way
If you are currently inactive, start with a few minutes of activity such as walking. Gradually increase the minutes as you become stronger.