Archive for October, 2009
Friday, October 30th, 2009
The only scary part of Halloween should be the ghosts and goblins, not the candy and sweets! Do not fear Trick-or-Treating; after all, it is a Halloween tradition. Halloween candy and customs can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, just as long as you make a few minor adjustments!
Top 10 Tips for Halloween!
1. Serve kids a healthy snack like peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread before you go out Trick-or-Treating. Children with full bellies don’t tend to binge on chocolate.
2. Prepare a special Halloween meal with healthy ingredients to show kids that Halloween can be fun and low-calorie! See our suggestions below.
3. Let your kids enjoy their Halloween candy in moderation. For example: divide candy into 3 piles: Hate, Like and Love! The hate and like candy should not be eaten. Let them use their red light foods and enjoy the candy they love.
4. Do not save left-over Halloween candy for more than 3 days! On days 1 and 2, put a 100 calories worth of candy as a treat for lunch. On day 3, throw the candy out! It is better in the garbage than around your belly!
5. Sift through your child’s Halloween candy and make sure to throw out anything super-sized or suspicious. Doing that will ensure a much safer and healthier candy bag.
6. Donate all the extra treats you decided to get rid of to a local shelter or bring it to work for your co-workers to enjoy, in moderation of course!
7. Do not buy Halloween candy weeks in advance; it can lead to unhealthy “picking” weeks before the actual holiday!
8. Brush your teeth before heading out the door for Trick-or-Treating! The minty taste will prevent any unnecessary overindulging!
9. Give your kids crafts to do on Halloween. Help them make scary masks, jack-o-lanterns or haunted houses to distract them from eating candy all day!
10. Consider breaking tradition this year and escape to a haunted house or go for a hay ride instead of collecting candy!
Go ahead—focus on having fun with your kids; dress up and enjoy time together! Remember to follow the tips to ensure a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!
Halloween Day Menu
Eye-ball Eggs with Gooey Guts
Cook 2 eggs over easy (eye-balls) and place 2 slices of fat free cheese (gooey guts) over the “eye-balls” and melt! Enjoy this breakfast with a sliced up apple!
4 Hershey kisses or 2 tbsp M&Ms with some carrots or a banana!
Use bone cookie cutters to create fun Halloween shapes in whole wheat bread! Make sandwiches with 4 slices of ham or turkey or peanut butter & jelly! Add different vegetables or fat-free cheese for fun combinations!
¼ cup chocolate covered raisins or 4 gummy worms plus a fruit or vegetable!
A healthy whole wheat pasta and chicken dish made with all kinds of healthy and colorful veggies. Serve in a big “witches cauldron” just for Halloween!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ready time: 25 minutes
- ½ lb lean, boneless, chicken breast
- 1 lb whole wheat bow-tie pasta
- Medley of veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, fingerling potatoes and squash.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- Boil and drain the pasta according to packing directions.
- Grill and slice up boneless, lean chicken breasts.
- Steam to cook broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and squash.
- Combine all ingredients with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Makes 4 servings
1 1/3 cup whole wheat pasta = Yellow
2 oz chicken breast = Green
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Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Stroll down any grocery aisle and you are bound to see a bevy of foods with labels proclaiming products “Healthy” or a “Smart Choice”. But are all these foods really good for you? According to Reuters, the FDA is now looking into whether these claims are a misleading marketing scheme or a true measure of a food’s nutritional value.
The FDA needs a full investigation to determine this? Even my 6-year old son could tell you that Cookie Crisp Cereal, despite the “Smart Choice” label on the front of the box, is not a healthy breakfast option. Nor is Froot Loops Cereal, another product bearing the “Smart Choice” claim.
Finally, the FDA is looking closely into these claims. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg vows to “take enforcement action against any egregious examples.” According to Hamburg, “some foods with almost 50 percent sugar were displaying a “Smart Choices” checkmark. Other package fronts boast a high percentage of the recommended daily vegetable intake but fail to mention that the products contain 80 percent of the suggested fat allowance.” Yet they still are able to display the “Smart Choice” seal? Mike Hughes, chairman of the Smart Choices Program, says it “complies with all U.S. laws and regulations.” If so, these laws and regulations clearly need to be updated!
I hope these companies are not simply slapped with a fine. If so, it might make financial sense for the companies to continue to print these phony nutrition claims and simply pay the fee. The FDA needs to take this consumer manipulation seriously and pull these products off the shelves. Our country is in the midst of an obesity epidemic and we need to do all we can to educate (not confuse) the general public. Frankly, I am shocked that it has taken the FDA this long to look into this.
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Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Personality traits, genetics, and athletic ability combine to influence kids’ attitudes toward participation in sports and other physical activities. Help your kids figure out their fitness personality based on their overall personality to ensure a lifelong love of exercise!
If your child is very social, encourage team sports, dance classes, biking, or skateboarding with a friend. These activities will keep your child active and entertained for hours.
For the introspective child, try exercises such as yoga, swimming, jump rope, jogging, or working out with an exercise video. Team sports might be too much pressure to perform in front of an audience. The suggested exercises allow your child to exercise at her own pace.
If your child is adventurous and likes to be outdoors, suggest exercises such as rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, surfing or even mountain biking. These sports will keep your child motivated each time he hits a new trail!
For the creative child, suggest exercises that they will allow your child to express herself, such as dance classes, yoga, gymnastics, ice skating, dancing around the house, running, fast walking or even using exercise equipment at home with music she loves.
If your child is competitive at heart, encourage as many team sports as possible, such as tennis, hockey, or soccer. Try to encourage running sports so she is able to benefit from the great cardiovascular workout!
Creating a Workout Regimen:
When creating a workout routine, choose the sports or exercises that fit your child the best and make it fun. Try adding music to each routine or creating a playlist; music is a powerful motivation tool and makes everything more enjoyable! Below is an example of a detailed workout regimen:
- First start with a warm-up to allow the muscles to wake up and get ready for the work ahead! A warm-up should last between 4 to 10 minutes. Do exercises that focus on the major muscle groups of the body. Try walking around the block or up and down the stairs, lunges, squats, shoulder rolls, and raising and lowering the shoulders.
- Next, start working on increasing the heart rate for the cardiovascular (aka “cardio” portion of the exercise. Try to keep your child’s heart rate up for at least 30 minutes to get the most benefits. Try running/jogging, jumping, skipping, jumping jacks, biking, swimming, dancing, and kick-boxing or even surfing when it’s nice out!
- Now, try working on strength. This does not mean body building or even lifting weights; muscle strength can be improved using your own body weight and is very safe for children. Try doing at least two of the different exercises for at least 5 minutes each. Try push-ups on the floor or at the wall, plank, stomach crunches, wall squats, throwing and catching a weighted ball, lunges, or even jumping squats.
- Of course we must end with the cool down! The cool down is just as important as all the other parts of the exercise routine but is usually skipped. After working out, muscles can start to tighten up, leading to injury. Be sure to stretch the muscles that were worked out during the exercise routine. Try doing at least two different stretches for 3 to 5 minutes each; try neck rolls, shoulder rolls, quad stretches, hamstring stretches, butterfly stretch (sit on the floor with the soles of feet touching and lower upper body, nose to feet), or sit on the floor and forward bend, trying to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight.
Try as many different exercises as possible to keep your child moving. Kids who exercise often are less likely to become overweight or obese and have a decreased risk of developing type II diabetes and heart disease. They also sleep better and have an all around positive attitude about life. Regular exercise, along with a balanced diet will lead to a lean body with strong muscles and bones, allowing for a long and healthy life!
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Friday, October 16th, 2009
Last month, a colleague approached me about exploring the role of acupuncture in weight loss. As a traditional Western medicine physician, I was skeptical about its merits. While many of my patients have used herbs and other holistic treatments, I have never been a believer. But, since I am willing to do anything to help my patients, I decided to use myself as a guinea pig to see if acupuncture was something I should be recommending.
First, I did some research. I wanted to know the science behind acupuncture. I wanted to understand how it all worked.
Acupuncture works to control weight in a few different ways. First, acupuncture helps your body release endorphins (aka “happy hormones”.) Many people who are trying to lose weight experience cravings which can lead to overeating. Cravings are often caused by low levels of endorphins; acupuncture can help you lose weight by increasing endorphin levels, thereby decreasing cravings. As many of my friends will attest, I am a “chocaholic” who suffers from severe chocolate cravings. It takes all of my will power to limit my chocolate intake to an acceptable level. I would love to have this weakness under control.
Acupuncture also helps reduce stress. This finding piqued my interest as I find myself in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Could acupuncture really help me “de-stress”? That would be great. But how could decreased stress help with weight loss? Studies have shown that people who are stressed have high cortisol (aka “stress hormone) levels and cortisol increases appetite and alters metabolism. By helping the body release more endorphins, acupuncture helps neutralize cortisol.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture also works to restore the balance and flow of the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. It is believed that restoring balance to the flow of Qi in the stomach can help suppress an overactive appetite. Emotional issues which can lead to overeating, such as stress and anxiety, can be helped by balancing the Qi to the liver.
I wasn’t sure about the Qi explanation, but the endorphin release and cortisol neutralization explanations made a lot of sense in my overly-scientific mind. So I began a course of acupuncture treatments.
And now, I am a believer! Each session helped me feel relaxed and calm. After my sessions, I actually felt more centered. And, unbelievably, my cravings for chocolate have decreased. For the first time, I can look at a dessert menu without temptation. I haven’t overeaten since starting my acupuncture treatments. I am thrilled that I gave acupuncture a chance and will be continuing my treatments. I even lost a few pounds along the way!
Of course, you need to make sure you find a good acupuncturist. I visited Michael Bennett, who has degrees in both acupuncture and Chinese/herbal medicine. Michael’s office is in Manhattan (Fifth Avenue at 38th Street). If you would like to use my acupuncturist, give him a call at 347-565-4255 or e-mail Michael@metropolitanacupuncture.com.
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Monday, October 12th, 2009
Our worst fears have finally come true. Overweight teens are dying from heart disease. Pediatricians have long feared that the rising number of severely obese children and teens would soon start to suffer from adult complications of obesity, like heart attacks, strokes, and death. And now it is happening.
According to the St. Louis County medical examiner, a 13-year old football player who collapsed during football practice died as a direct result of “hypertensive cardiovascular disease”, also known as high blood pressure. This young man, Anthony Troupe Jr. died last August but the results of his autopsy were just released this Wednesday. The cause of death was hypertensive heart disease, which is known to be caused by obesity. Young Anthony was 6-foot-2 and weighed 383 pounds.
Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to those of us in the child obesity specialty. In fact, a study published in the British Medical Journal and reviewed in the New York Times earlier this year found that obese teens were twice as likely to die by age 60 as non-obese, non-smoking teens. But it is one thing to think of somebody dying at age 60 and quite another to think of a child dying at age 13. It is just so sad.
Other studies have found similar results. A Harvard study followed teens over 50 years and found that obese boys were twice as likely to die from heart disease as normal-weight boys. In fact, they learned that obesity that starts in childhood or adolescence causes a greater risk of early death than obesity that starts in adulthood
It is clear that heart disease starts at a very young age. As parents, we must protect our children from the deadly effects of obesity. Many look at obesity as an aesthetic issue. It is not. It is a disease. A disease that can kill. And we must treat it that way.
I urge any reader with an overweight or obese child at home to get help before it is too late. Children must work with physicians when starting a weight loss program. So call your pediatrician and get a referral for a child weight loss specialist. Do not wait.
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joanna-dolgoff-md/child-obesity-our-worst-f_b_317380.html
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Friday, October 9th, 2009
A healthy, well-stocked kitchen can be a recipe for success if you equip yourself with a master grocery list! Certain items for the freezer, fridge and pantry are all necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here is a list of my favorite kitchen staples that no kitchen should be without.
Frozen bags of fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness to provide the optimal amount of nutrients your body needs. Make sure you buy the items with no added salt, sugars or sauces. Buy lean meats and fish in bulk and freeze in healthy portions to minimize cost and time during the week!
- Frozen Vegetables
Quick Tip: Buy in bulk at your local whole-sale market to save some money.
- Frozen Fruits
Quick Tip: Mix frozen fruits with ice cold non-fat milk for a mid-day treat!
Healthy Protein Options: Lean chicken breast, lean steak, frozen large bags of shrimp, salmon or any type of white fish (all to be bought at a wholesale supermarket)
Stock your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. In season fruits and vegetables generally cost less and taste better! Dairy items are also of utmost importance for your body because they contain Vitamin D and Calcium which help maintain bone health. Eggs are healthy because they provide your body with protein needed to maintain strong muscles.
- Portable fruits
Options: Apples, blueberries, pears, oranges, grapes
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy items- yogurt and cheese
Yogurt Options: Look for plain yogurt with no artificial sweeteners or plain Greek yogurt
Cheese Options: Part-skim mozzarella string cheese sticks or low fat cheese wedges, like Baby-Bell Swiss Cheese.
Simple Ideas: Buy eggs to make omelets or scrambled eggs. Boil an egg for a simple snack option. Scramble an egg with egg whites for extra protein and no additional fat!
Items for your pantry are important because they can stay fresh for a long time. Usually canned good can be found on sale so do not be afraid to buy many canned items at once!
Simple Ideas: Beans can be added to soups and stews easily and are a vegetarian protein option. Just be sure to rinse and drain the beans before adding to a recipe because sometimes there is a lot of added salt packed in the cans that you do not need.
Healthy Tip: pair any bean (cannellini, black, kidney, lentil) with brown rice for a healthy side dish!
Simple Ideas: Buy tuna packed in water and add to pasta dishes or salads. Remember it is important to eat protein at every main meal and tuna is ready to go at any time, in no time at all!
- Whole Wheat Pasta/Bread
Healthy Tip: Always buy whole wheat pasta and bread for your family because they are excellent sources of fiber; fiber helps keep you full for a long period of time.
- Low-Sodium Stocks
Healthy Tip: Stock up on stocks! Just make sure they are low sodium and non-fat.
Simple Idea: Use the stocks to make a quick batch of vegetable or chicken soup!
Smart Supermarket Strategies for a Healthy Family
- Shop mostly on the perimeter of the store:
- Steer clear of the middle isles when shopping at the grocery store because the middle aisles contain all the processed foods. The perimeter of the store contains all the fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
- Make a grocery list for the middle isles: stick with canned vegetables, beans, whole wheat pasta/bread and oatmeal.
- Make a list and only shop for items on the list:
- You will save money and time by avoiding those unnecessary impulse buys.
- Shop on a full stomach:
- If you shop on an empty stomach, you are more likely to grab anything that looks good. Eat before you go so you are less likely to put unhealthy foods in your shopping cart.
- Go grocery shopping without the kids:
- Avoid buying the sugary snacks with the “cool” cartoons on the box; they are expensive and bad for your children’s overall health.
- Shop in a wholesale supermarket:
- Items bought in bulk are generally less costly for more food!
Stretch Recipes and your Budget:
Try to cook big batches of soups, stews, and pasta sauces during the weekends and freeze for quick and easy, weeknight meals. You can also make extra portions of meals during the week and store for later use. Buy high cost items like meats in a wholesale supermarket and freeze healthy portion sizes for during the week.
The key to a healthy lifestyle is to keep healthy foods in your house; whether it is for a snack or a meal. Remember to always enjoy a variety of healthy foods in moderation while keeping a few go-to snacks and/or meals handy for those extra busy days!
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