The average BBQ meal contains 3,500 calories, but don’t let that stop you from hitting up a slew of BBQs, backyard cookouts, and pool parties this summer. Even though BBQs can be packed with fattening foods, there’s usually a ton of delicious, good-for-you food choices there, too. Check out Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right’s top cookout tips :
1. Drink water. When you get dehydrated, not only does your energy drop (not ideal at a party), but you also become more likely to eat when you’re just thirsty and make not-so-smart food decisions. Remember to drink before your thirsty; by the time youare feeling thirsty, you are already past the point of being adequately hydrated.
2. The “Grill” of Victory- Grilling makes practically everything taste great, and it keeps added fat to a minimum. As long as the food isn’t drowned in oil beforehand, you’re pretty much good to go. Grill lean protein, fruit, and veggies. Some best on-the-grill bets include: fish, veggie burgers and bison, fat-free franks, and grilled chicken breast. Then go condiment crazy with these low-cal choices, such as, ketchup, pickles, salsa, mustard, and hot sauce. Foil packs and skewers are also good ways to secure smaller bits of lean protein and veggies.
The best type of meat to consume is sustainably raised, ie: pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, and free-range. When the animals are raised in their natural environment (roaming in the pasture, feeding off the grass, exposed to the sun) they are the healthiest and therefore have more nutrients and are better for us. By consuming sustainably raised animals you will also be avoiding the negative effects of excess hormones and antibiotics. This plus the moral and environmental considerations makes this one of the most important steps toward eating healthier and more sustainably. For fish, look for wild or organic farm-raised fish. Try to minimize swordfish and tuna, which have a higher concentration of mercury, and focus on fish like cod or salmon, which are higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Slender Side Dishes- Pair your choice of lean protein with crisp veggies and salad. Try corn on the cob, asparagus and onions, which are awesome when grilled, and they’ll fill you up. Also, remember to avoid mayo-laden side dishes, such as cole slaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad. Even a relatively demure 2/3-cup serving of ordinary potato salad can have close to 20 grams of fat… which makes eating it especially silly considering how many other fun things there are to chew. But slaw can be saved! If you can get to a sink, rinse your coleslaw (until the water runs clear) to wash calories and fat grams down the drain.
4. Find guilt-free frozen treats. Stick to fruit pops and fruit bars instead of standard ice cream treats. You get the cool refreshment without the extra fat.
5.Alter you cooking methods. The temperature at which you cook your meat and the way you eat it — i.e., well-done, rare, medium-rare, etc. — is also extremely important to focus on. You should avoid cooking your meat at a very high temperature over long periods of time. Hazards with overcooking meats at high temperatures include an increased risk of cancers due to chemicals called HCAs. Try cooking the meats medium-rare and removing any blackened or charred pieces, the worst parts for you. You can cook the meat partially in the oven before putting it on the grill to cut down cooking time, which gives the HCAs less time to form. Or cook smaller pieces, which cook more quickly.
Although it’s fine to splurge on occasion, go out of your way to use these tips at your next summer feast.
Besides being incredibly healthy, omega-3 fatty acids also affect metabolism. Omega-3 alters leptin levels, (hormone in the body which directly influences metabolism) and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. In other words, it increases the levels of fat-burning enzymes and decreases the levels of fat-storage enzymes.
To date, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has not yet issued any Dietary Reference Intakes for omega-3 fats. Many nutrition experts suggest that people consume at least 4% of their total calories (approximately 4 grams) as omega-3 fats. So how do you boost your omega-3 intake? The list below provides you with a cornucopia of suggestions!
Go Nuts (and Seeds)!
One-quarter cup of flaxseeds contains about 7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids while one-quarter cup of walnuts contains about 2.3 grams. By combining one-quarter cup of walnuts with a tablespoon of flaxseeds you will add close to the recommended 4 grams of omega-3 fats to your diet.
Beans, Beans, Good For The Metabolism
One cup’s worth of soybeans, navy beans, or kidney beans provides between 0.2 to 1.0 grams. A four-ounce serving of tofu will provide about 0.4 grams of omega-3s, a substantial step up from the average American intake.
Fish provides about 2 grams from every 4 ounce serving of Chinook salmon; 0.6 grams from the same serving of halibut; and 0.4 grams from tuna. Be sure not to fry fish. Frying will damage the omega-3s and deprive you of their health benefits. In a research study that compared consumption of fried versus non-fried fish and risk of atherosclerosis, consumption of fried fish was found to offer no health protection to the study participants, even when the fish contained omega-3 fats.
Omega 3’s From Other Sources
A cup of winter squash will provide you approximately 0.3 grams and
for extra virgin olive oil, the amount of omega-3’s per ounce is about 0.2 grams. Be sure not to fry with olive oil, for the same reason mentioned above.
Don’t worry about bringing your calculator to the kitchen. All you have to do is to focus on bringing more omega 3 rich foods into your diet.
Eat fish and seafood such as salmon, halibut, tuna and scallops a few times a week
Add walnuts and flaxseed to salads or oatmeal
Incorporating more beans, winter squash, and extra virgin olive oil to your Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right meal plan.
When schools cut physical education programs so students can spend more time in the classroom, not only are they missing a chance to prevent obesity, they may also be missing an a golden opportunity to promote learning, according to a recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver on May 1, 2011.
Researchers sought to determine how implementing a daily physical activity program that incorporated classroom lessons would affect student achievement. First- through sixth-graders at an academically low-scoring elementary school in Charleston, S.C., took part in the program 40 minutes a day, five days a week. Prior to initiation of the program, students spent only 40 minutes per week in physical education classes.
The program involved using several classrooms, which were revamped into two gyms that housed equipment for an All Minds Exercise (AMX) room for older students and an Action Based Learning (ABL) lab for the younger children.
Younger students moved through stations in the ABL lab, learning developmentally appropriate movement skills while basic academic skills were reinforced. For example, children hopped through ladders while naming colors on each rung. Older students had access to exercise equipment with TV monitors. For instance, a treadmill had a monitor that played geography lessons as the student ran through the scene.
Researchers compared state standardized reading test scores for the year before and the year after initiation of the program. Results showed that the time spent out of a traditional classroom in order to increase physical education improved student test scores. The percentage of students reaching their goal on the state tests increased from 55 percent before the program was initiated to 68.5 percent after the program was initiated.
This study adds to growing evidence that exercise is good not only for the body but also the mind. It also shows that physical education and academic instruction need not be mutually exclusive.
There has been much discussion about cutting out recess and P.E. classes so children can have more time in the classroom for instruction. It’s hard to imagine kids sitting still for eight hours a day and maintaining a high level of concentration. Aside from the issue of concentration, another recent study in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise also found that individuals who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.
Much blame has been placed on fast food, school lunch, soda intake and video games. Perhaps the answer also lies in this common sense approach to learning that includes movement. Providing activity in a safe school environment makes sense for both weight control and better school performance.
The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.
According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from those that are most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.
EWG has been publishing guides to the “dirty dozen” of most pesticide contaminated foods since 1995, based on statistical analysis of testing conducted by the USDA and the FDA. The dirty dozen list only reflects measurable pesticide residues on the parts of the foods normally consumed (i.e. after being washed and peeled). Below is the latest EWG guide to the “dirty dozen”, along with recommendations for foods other than fruits and vegetables that are best bought organic along with information about antibiotics, hormones, and the impact of producing food on the surrounding environment.
A recent USDA Inspector General Report found that the government is failing to even test meat for the harmful chemicals the law requires.
Raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease on crowded feed lots, and both pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow the grain fed to the animals. Additionally, it takes many times the water and energy to raise one meal’s worth of meat than it does one meal’s worth of grain.
To meet USDA standards, certified organic meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics. Searching out cuts from grass-fed animals ensures that you’re eating meat from an animal that was fed a more natural diet, and looking for a local source of meats lets you question the farmer directly about the animal’s diet and the farmer’s method of raising it. It cuts down on the environmental cost of transportation, too.
Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in dairy products and milk is of special concern because it is a staple of a child’s diets. Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crop making celery rank No. 1 in the 2010 analysis, up from No. 4 in 2009.
Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
If you buy strawberries out of season, they’re most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Scrubbing and peeling doesn’t eliminate chemical residue completely, so it’s best to buy organic when it comes to apples.
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market. Nectarines
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.
Peppers have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They’re often heavily sprayed with insecticides.
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pestcides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable. Kale
Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested.
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries.
America’s popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus.
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list). Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape’s thin skin.
When shopping for these fruits, vegetables and other foods, keep this list handy in order to avoid those with the highest pesticide residue.
“Weight can be inherited, but it can also be contagious.” -Brian Wansink author or “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think”
Brian Wansink, an author of over 100 academic articles and books on eating behavior, has found that when we are with people we enjoy, such as friends, we often lose track of how much, how fast, and how long we are eating for. It seems when we are with others we tend to mimic the speed at which they eat and how much they eat.
Similarly, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that obesity spreads socially not because friends have shared ideas about acceptable body size, but rather because they share environments and carry out activities together that may contribute to weight gain.
In other words, shared social behaviors, such as eating out at restaurants, and shared surroundings, likely play a bigger role in the obesity “friend effect” than do shared social norms.
Researchers interviewed 101 women and 812 of the their friends and family members (both men and women) and calculated the Body Mass Index for everyone in the study. The initial women in the study were 2.4 times more likely to be obese if their friends were obese. And they were 3.6 times more likely to be obese if their close friends were obese which confirms earlier findings that obesity spreads in social networks.
Participants were asked to choose their ideal body size from nine line drawings of people of different sizes. They were also asked how much they agreed with stigmatizing statements about obesity, such as “People are overweight because they are lazy.” And they were asked whether they would rather be obese or have one of 12 other stigmatizing conditions, including herpes or alcoholism.
The researchers found very little support for the hypothesis that friends’ shared views about acceptable body size cause obesity. Although friends tended to have similar BMIs, their views about body size did not account for this effect.
Therefore, this may suggest that interventions that try to change people’s ideas about how fat or thin they should be won’t be very effective.
Instead, efforts should focus on promoting healthy environments, for instance, making people’s neighborhoods more exercise-friendly and increasing access to healthy foods, the researchers of this study say.
More studies need to be done to find out what accounts for the spread of obesity among friends, but in the meantime, share these tips instead of fatty dips with your friends:
Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table
Decide how much you want to eat prior to the meal
Avoid temptation by always leaving some food on your plate as if you’re still eating
Whether at the park, on the beach or in your own back yard, a family picnic is a great way to spend time together while bonding over the food you eat. Unfortunately, traditional picnic foods like fried chicken, dips, and mayonnaise-based salads can wreak havoc on anyone’s health. With a little modification, you can enjoy a picnic while keeping your family happy and healthy.
Fresh and Crisp Produce:
Go raw! Summer picnics occur at the height of the fresh produce season. The more colorful produce you add to your menu, the healthier the meal. Get your picnics off to a ‘fruitful’ start by packing your cooler with a wide variety of colorful fruits. If they are in season, there is nothing quite like a juicy watermelon to finish the meal. Sliced apples, berries, and dried fruit like raisins, dried apricots are perfect travel snacks without the mess of fruits you have to peel. Pack a nutritional punch by filling your cooler with colorful vegetables, thereby providing your family picnic with antioxidants and vital vitamins and minerals. Try baby carrots, slices of celery, cucumbers and peppers, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli- all perfect for dipping. Pack low- fat or fat- free dressings for a fun and nutritious snack. Be sure to keep uncooked meats and fresh produce separate in your coolers to avoid potential food-borne illness.
Chips and Dips:
Greasy fried potato chips with onion dip is loaded with saturated and trans fats. Instead, help your heart and cholesterol by switching to baked chips, like Stacy’s Pita Chips or Tostitos Scoops, and pair it with a nutritious dip, such as hummus, salsa, fat-free bean dip, or low-fat yogurt with herbs and spices. Your kids will love all the dipping!
There are so many delicious ways to pack healthy protein into your picnic basket. Take slices of lean, chicken, turkey, ham or roast beef and top them on a salad or sandwich for a delicious, healthy meal. Nuts can also boost your protein and fiber intake when sprinkled onto salads, but note to self, watch your portions because although they are high in healthy fat, the calories can quickly add up.
Hearty Whole Grains:
Refined breads, rolls, and starchy pasta salads can pile on lots of calories and little fiber. Choose whole grain products like 100% whole wheat rolls or whole wheat pita bread, for an added boost of fiber and nutritional value without sacrificing taste. Bring along whole wheat tortillas—kids love the fun shape of a rolled up sandwich. Turkey and veggies, lean ham and low fat cheese, and reduced fat peanut butter and jelly, are all great options for fillings. Another kid tip-use a potato chip bag clip to keep the healthy fillings from falling out!
Switch up your Salads:
Resist the temptation to load your picnic basket with high-calorie salads that are mixed with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise-based salads are providing you with artery clogging fats. Instead opt for low-fat or fat- free mayo and split it with non- fat yogurts, which will save you loads of calories and fat and give you an added perk of protein.
It’s so easy to become dehydrated without even knowing it, especially when you are outdoors playing in the sun, hiking or tanning. Kids are especially prone to losing fluids, and often don’t want to interrupt their fun to drink. Beat the heat with plenty of ice water, sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, and an assortment of low-calorie beverages. You can freeze water bottles the night before and use as cold packs to keep food and drinks cold.
Get Up and Move:
Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or enjoying the relaxing air in the park, there are so many activities to do to get your heart pumping! Searching for sea shells, pitching tents, climbing, and hiking are all fantastic nature filled activities, providing good exercise without feeling like a workout. Depending on what location you pick there are many fun, vigorous activities you can find.
Homework, late workdays, long commutes, after-school activities — it’s no wonder few families eat dinner together. Yet studies show that the family dinner hour is an important part of healthy living. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, be at risk for eating disorders, or eat unhealthy foods, such as soda, fast food, fried food and sweets or candy.
The researchers examined 17 previous studies, which involved 182,836 children aged 2 to 17 and found that three or more family meals per week were associated with a 12% reduction in the odds for being overweight, a 20% drop in the odds of eating unhealthy foods regularly and a 35% reduction in disordered eating- including purging, the use of diet pills, skipping meals or the use of smoking cigarettes as a way to control weight. In addition, the kids were 24% more likely to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, breakfast and also more likely to take a multivitamin.
Although the studies yielded mixed results and weren’t easy to compare, overall they show regular family meals are tied to better nutrition. Basically, by simply having family dinners and engaging themselves in their kids’ lives, parents can significantly benefit their child’s health and well-being. How awesome is that?! Also, as Amber Hammons, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the lead study author, points out, it’s possible that parents may influence and monitor their kids more during shared meals.
Remember, the goal is to get everyone to the dinner table and to spend quality time together – not to force Mom into Carol Brady mode. Here are tips on pulling it off:
Keep it simple. Family meals don’t have to be elaborate. Work salads and vegetables into meals. Focus on familiar favorites, like chili or frittatas.
Get the family involved. Let kids help prepare meals and set the table.
Use the crock-pot. Put everything together before leaving for work in the morning. You’ll come home to the delicious smell of a cooked meal.
Few kids would say they crave a good fiber-rich meal. However, many appetizing foods are actually great sources of fiber — from fruits to whole-grain cereals. Fiber has mounting research that shows we need to have fiber in our diet every day to fight off disease and promote overall well-being. Kids who eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods will likely continue with this healthy habit later in life, so jump on the bran wagon now!
What is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is part of the plant food that our body does not digest. You can find dietary fiber in the following plant foods: fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts and whole grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for a healthy diet.
Soluble fiber acts like a sponge. It absorbs water in the intestines and forms a gluey gel that picks up cholesterol and carries it out of the body.
Insoluble fiber acts like a broom because it doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk and softness to the stools and keeps them moving along comfortably preventing constipation.
Fiber has the following health benefits:
It keeps your child’s intestines working comfortably.
It protects against constipation when combined with enough water.
It fills up your child’s tummy so they will be satisfied and not overeat.
It reduces the risk of many diseases including diabetes and certain cancers.
It reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association both recommend a simple rule of thumb: The total number of fiber grams a child should consume each day should equal the child’s age plus 5, starting at age 2. A 6-year-old, therefore, should have 11 grams of fiber a day.
Fiber intake should be increased gradually. This is important to minimize potential adverse side effects such as abdominal distress, bloating, flatulence, cramps and diarrhea. Remember to encourage kids to drink more fluids, especially water, as they eat more fiber.
What Foods Are High in Fiber?
A high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving. Here’s how some fiber-friendly foods stack up:
Help your child meet their daily fiber needs, by gradually increasing fiber in their diet with the following tips:
Choose 100% whole grain cereals for breakfast
Have cut up fruit in the cereal or as a side dish
Use 100% whole grain bread, rolls, wraps, or pita for sandwiches
Add fresh fruit and/or vegetables with low fat dipping sauces
Add a small bag of nuts or seeds in with their lunch
Replace white rice, white bread and white pastas with brown rice and whole grain products
Include a fruit or vegetable salad with the skin on
Add seeds and nuts to liven up the salads
Replace a side dish with dried peas or beans
Make a pizza by topping a whole wheat tortilla with pizza sauce, low fat cheese and vegetables
Toss in extra vegetables in home-made or low sodium canned soups
Offer a bowl of air-popped or low fat popcorn
Make a baggie of 100% whole grain crackers
Changing your child’s diet should be a positive experience. Explain to them why fiber is important for the whole family to feel healthy. You don’t want to get upset and frustrated with your child if they don’t want to try higher fiber foods. Just be positive with your encouragement and keep introducing higher fiber foods.
With obesity at an epidemic stage in America, many people and programs have considered different ways to lower the obesity rate, from championing exercise to surgical procedures. As it turns out, it may not be just the obese we need to target, but their mother’s, as well.
It’s been known for some time now that a mother’s diet may affect their child’s health and weight. The most recent study on this topic, which will appear in the journal Diabetes, found that a mother’s diet while pregnant can alter her child’s DNA–called epigenetic change–to make the child more susceptible to obesity. Researchers measured epigenetic changes in nearly 300 children at birth and showed that specific dietary habits during pregnancy strongly predicted the degree of obesity at six or nine years of age. Whether the mother herself is overweight or not, was not the issue, but simply what she eats during the early stages of pregnancy.
Children with a high degree of epigenetic change were more likely to develop a metabolism that “lays down more fat,” researchers found.
The rate of epigenetic change was possibly linked to a low carbohydrate diet in the first three months of pregnancy, but it was too early to draw a definitive conclusion and further studies were needed.
One theory is that an embryo fed a diet containing few carbohydrates — which provide the body with energy — assumed it would be born into a carbohydrate-poor environment and altered its metabolism to store more fat, which could be used as fuel when food was scarce.
Immediate thoughts that come to mind after reading about this topic: What exactly was the ‘diet’ of these ‘low-carb’ pregnant women? What was the diet of the kids from birth to age 6-9? Surely, there are other causes for obesity, and mothers who eat an unbalanced diet during pregnancy might simply feed their kids unhealthy foods to begin with. Perhaps there is a correlation, but correlation does not mean causation. It seems more research on this subject is warranted.