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Fire up the grill for these healthy cookout ideas

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Summertime means cookout time, but just because it comes from the grill doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! We have ideas for keeping your summer diet healthy for your heart and your waistline—all it takes is thinking a little differently about the standard grilled menu.

Go fishin’
Forgo the traditional beef griller for fish! Oily fish, like tuna and salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You could form patties or treat a fillet with lemon juice, and add your favorite herbs and spices for even more flavor. Keep in mind fish cooks fast, so you want to be attentive while you are grilling it.

Slim down your burger
If you can’t go without your red meat, use lean or extra lean beef and drain or pat off the excess fat after you’ve grilled it. Did you know that the recommended serving size for a hamburger patty is three ounces? A three ounce burger is the roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Keep your patties on the slim side, or add in finely chopped vegetables like peppers or onions to make a thick burger that’s heavy on nutrients.

Think green
Take the mixed veggie-burger one step further by grilling vegetables instead of meat. Kabobs are an easy way to grill up a variety of veggies, and they’re easy to handle, too. Fill a skewer with veggies like mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash—anything with some “flesh” to it should work well. Lightly spray the skewered veggies with olive oil and place them on the grill. For the most flavor you’ll want to keep flipping occasionally, until they are slightly blackened. You can also grill corn on the cob right in its husk; place on the grill for about 30 minutes, rotating occasionally. Let it cool for about five minutes after removing it from the grill, and before you peel the husk off. Continue Reading »

Are you really eating healthy?

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I received a survey in the mail last week. You see, back in 2009 I enrolled in a cancer prevention study and have received lengthy surveys every few years or so. It is a very thorough survey that includes hundreds of questions and takes several days to fill out. The survey inquires about every aspect of health and lifestyle: information about immunizations; diet; hours spent sitting, sleeping or moving; medications taken; caffeine consumption and more.

Except for a few minor, non-life threatening ailments, I consider myself a pretty healthy person and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health during my annual wellness/preventive visit (don’t forget to schedule yours!). I was confident that my answers to the survey questions would be a no-brainer. Overall, boy, was I surprised, especially when it came to the diet section.

The survey listed every kind of fruit and vegetable and asked the respondent to indicate frequency of consumption. I thought I was a good fruit and vegetable eater, but there are some foods that I don’t eat that often for various reasons. So my consumption of kale, which I tend to eat frequently in the summer, but not as much in the winter, actually results in a low monthly average consumption overall. Likewise, cantaloupes and other melons are eaten only seasonally, so their consumption average was low. Continue Reading »

Springtime is go time: Running tips for beginners

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For many people looking to start a running routine, springtime is go time. It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged when starting a new fitness regime, but with perseverance and a few guidelines, running is a rewarding way to keep your body healthy.

Step 1: Get your gear
You don’t need much to start running, but a good pair of shoes will take you a long way and help prevent common injuries. Take a look at the soles of shoes you wear often to see where they are most worn; this will tell you where your weight is focused when you walk. Different pairs of shoes are best for different foot types, so research what matches with yours. A “flat foot” requires support and stability, while a “high-arch” needs more cushion for shock and absorption. Many stores—especially independent outlets—can help you choose the best shoe for your pattern of wear.

For optimal comfort, consider the fabric of your running clothes. While a cotton T-shirt is comfortable at the beginning of a run, the fabric retains sweat and can cause chaffing and irritation. “Tech” fabric made of fibers like Lycra, nylon or bamboo allows sweat to evaporate. You’ll often find these clothing items billed as being able to “wick away” moisture, and you’ll also find they make working out more comfortable than cotton.

Step 2: Make a plan & prepare
Don’t expect to run a 5K your first time out the door; give your body time to acclimate to your new activity! Many find a run/walk method of alternating a short time of running with a longer period of walking to be a good way to start out. Be sure to warm up your muscles before you run with dynamic movements, and practice static stretching afterwards to help improve and maintain flexibility.

Another part of preparing your body for running is what you eat. Did you know that digestion usually stops or slows when you run? That means that if you eat right before you run, your food becomes your new running buddy. Eat an hour and a half before your run to ensure your muscles don’t get fatigued but your stomach isn’t full of food while you’re exercising. Hydration is also essential; drink about 20 oz. of water about two hours before your run. Continue Reading »

Change of the cholesterol tune?

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For years we have been cautioned about consuming cholesterol-containing foods as a way to control our blood cholesterol levels. Perhaps that is why a collective gasp was heard when the 2015 Dietary Advisory Committee Scientific Report recently proposed lifting dietary cholesterol-limiting recommendations.

The Dietary Advisory Committee is made up of health experts who are charged with researching scientific and medical literature and making recommendations that guide dietary health practices. They make suggestions that other organizations review; organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. The last published set of Dietary Guidelines was in 2010 and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be published later this year. The guidelines are just that, a highly referenced nutrition guide for not only nutrition professionals, but also the general public.

The current dietary guidelines advise Americans to limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day. For egg lovers this poses a challenge, with the average egg taking up most of this allowance. So why the change in recommendations by the Dietary Advisory Committee? Continue Reading »

Fresh fruit and yogurt popsicles

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If you are looking for a healthy and refreshing treat, look no more. These simple treats are nutritious and delicious.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of fresh berries of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
½  banana
2 cups plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
¼ cup white sugar
8 small paper cups
8 Popsicle sticks

Preparation

Place berries, banana, yogurt and sugar in a blender. Blend until smooth. You can also use a mix of berries.

Fill paper cups ¾ full with the fruit and yogurt mixture. Cover the top with aluminum foil. Poke a Popsicle stick through the center of the foil of each cup.

Place the cup in the freezer for 5 hours. To serve, remove foil and peel off the paper cup. Continue Reading »

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