Healthy Eating Tips Your Kids Will Love

Every parent wants good things for their children: a positive outlook on life, a healthy respect for authority, a strong sense of self, a disease-free body…a healthy body weight.  Despite our best intentions, a recent report suggests that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. With all the advances in medicine, how could this possibly be true? The blame falls squarely on today’s toxic food environment.

In short, your kids are eating too much junk.

And who can blame them? Junk food tastes great.

The good news is that healthy food also tastes great. Take these simple tips and transform your child’s diet into one that is packed with good health.

1) Add Color

Adding bright and colorful fruits and veggies to your child’s plate will get their diet on the fast track to health. Fresh fruits and veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health.

If your kids are resistant then make it fun. Serve veggies with salad dressing as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow and place them on a skewer. Serve a color themed meal – all green, all red or all orange. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with an endless number of ways to make fruits and veggies fun to eat.

2) Think Whole Foods

Processed foods are the biggest problem with our modern diet. Packaged and refined food products are devitalized and filled with empty calories that quickly lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, processed foods make up a large portion of the diet of many children.

Train your kids to opt for whole foods, rather than packaged ones. Whole foods are foods that are in their natural state. An apple. A piece of sprouted grain bread spread with natural peanut butter. A piece of hormone-free chicken. A bowl of beans. You get the idea.

3) Use Wholesome Sweeteners

Refined sugar and corn syrup are packed into many of the foods that your kids love. Continue reading “Healthy Eating Tips Your Kids Will Love”

Back on the Ball

8  exercises to strengthen your body while on an exercise ball.

Why Use an Exercise Ball? It’s a way to constantly strengthen your core, which makes it possible to further the rest of your exercise routine and be better prepared for life in general.

So, you’ve been spending time on an exercise ball for some time and you’re looking for something new. But don’t walk away from the exercise ball just yet. Instead, look through the exercises below and slip them into your ball-centric routine.

Bended-Knee Bridges: Start this exercise lying on the ground on your back, with your calves and heels on top of an exercise ball. Place your arms straight out to your sides and lift your back and buttocks off the ground. As you do this, tighten your gluteus maximus and raise your hips toward the ceiling. When you reach the top of the movement, hold the position for a moment and slowly return to the starting position.

Bridge and Dig: For this one, do everything you did in the bended-knee bridges. But when you raise your buttocks and hips as high as they’ll go in the air, use your feet to pull the ball toward your body. Then dig your feet into the ball to maintain balance hold. Return to the starting position slowly and repeat.

Rolling for Abs: Start by getting in the sit-up position (lying on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor). Hold the exercise ball right below your knees, your hands sitting on top of the ball. Slowly lift your back and shoulder blades off the floor, as if performing a normal sit-up. As you make this motion, roll the ball to the top of your knees, without allowing it to roll over so far that you lose the ball. Hold this position for a moment and slowly return to the starting position.

Reach and Kick: This one looks a bit silly, but it is effective if done properly. Begin by placing the ball on the floor and getting on your hands and knees over the ball. Then raise your right arm up and out to the side. At the same time, kick out your left leg. Hold both in the air for two seconds, return the starting position, and repeat using the opposite leg and arm. Once you learn the exercise, move your arm and leg into positions that make it more difficult to balance.

Stand and Split: With your feet together, stand a foot or so behind an exercise ball. Put your hands on the ball by bending at your hips and keeping your legs straight. Next, raise your right leg directly behind your body until it is parallel to the floor. While keeping your lifted foot flexed and inner thigh pointed at the ground, rotate your torso to the right as you extend your right arm toward the sky and turn your head to look at your lifted right hand. Hold for a few seconds, slowly return to the starting position, and repeat using your left leg and arm.

Walk It Out: Lying facedown on the exercise ball with your stomach on the ball, allow your hands and feet to rest on the floor. From this position, use your hands to walk away from the exercise ball. As you do this, your feet will lift off the ground and onto the exercise ball. Walk your way away from the ball until your body is in the plank position (straight and almost parallel to the ground). Hold this position for a second or two and slowly make your way back on top of the ball the same way you left.

Side Lifts: For this one, you’ll need to get on the ground on your left side. Place your arms on the ground in front of your body for balance. (You’ll want your left arm directly underneath your body, with your elbow helping to lift your upper body off the ground.) Hold the exercise ball between your calf muscles and slowly lift your legs straight up. At the top of the lift, hold the position, and return to the starting position. After your desired number of repetitions, switch to your right side and repeat.

Pass It On: Start out flat on your back, with an exercise ball in your hands. Raise your legs and torso at the same time until your shins are approximately parallel to the ground. At the peak of your movement, place the ball between your feet. Return to the starting position and repeat. This time, when you raise up, remove the ball from between your feet. Return again to the starting position and repeat.

Love Your Feet

What you can do to treat your bottom dwellers like the top dogs.

There are lots of body parts that get lots of attention. Your face has all sorts of special cleansers and creams. Your abs get worked out day in and day out as you search for the perfect swimsuit shape. And your biceps go through enough of a routine to be awarded their own gym membership. But what are you doing for your feet? If it’s nothing special, it may be time to change.

Here’s why to give your feet a little extra TLC and how to do it on a daily basis.

High Priority

They may be way down on the ground, but your feet ought to be on the top of your mind if you want optimal overall health. Neglect your feet and over time, they can suffer damage that makes it hard to do all the things you enjoy in life, such as play with your children, drive a stick shift, and even walk without pain.
Since your feet also give you an early indication of whether various diseases are setting in, (See “From the Feet”) pay careful attention to what they have to say. When you’re ready to take your walkers to an improved level of health, try out the tips below.

Wear the Right Shoes. You may think that fashion has to be painful. But if you’re wearing shoes that cause any kind of pain, there’s a problem. Instead of suffering through a day of gorgeous shoes that leave you in excruciating pain, only wear shoes that fit well the first time you try them on. Expecting shoes to break in forces your feet to hurt until they do.

Put on Better Shoes When Possible. Though you may choose the best possible dress shoes to wear at work, they may not have the support you need for long-term wear. If possible, keep a pair of comfortable tennis shoes or other shoes with good support at the office. When you’re going to be sitting behind your desk or not interacting with clients for a long period, slip on your tennies. Or go barefoot! Just keep your shoes nearby in case you need to slip them on quickly.

Wash Well. Keeping your feet clean isn’t just to avoid smelly feet. Whether you walk around barefoot in the gym, wear flip-flops to the store, or stay in socks all day long, there is the potential to pick up unwanted hitchhikers. With proper washing, bacteria and fungus that may build up on your feet during the day are washed away. When washing, don’t scour your feet with scalding hot water. For the best clean, use lukewarm water and a mild soap. And don’t scrub the area between your toes dry, as this can cause damage. Instead, gently pat the area dry.

Cut Across. Your toenails due for a good trim? Don’t try to cut them in a beautifully manicured half-moon shape. Instead, cut straight across the nail, careful to not cut your nails too short. Otherwise, you could wind up with painful hangnails that sound harmless but have the potential to keep you off your feet.

Go Pro. Want the best foot care from your toes to your arch to your heel? Visit a local massage therapist for a quick foot massage. Think there’s something suspicious going on with your feet? You may need to visit a podiatrist or other medical pro. That way, if there’s anything going on with your feet that could lead to something more serious, you can find out before it impacts more than your feet.

From the Feet

Are your feet tingling? It could be diabetes. Stiff? You may be suffering from arthritis. Swelling? High blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart disease may be the cause.

Dieting That’s a Cinch!

Because every diet deserves to be made a little easier, right?

“Cinch Diet is not just another fad diet. Cinch was designed by nutritionist and health educator Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., who is the creator and co-author of the New York Times Bestselling Flat Belly Diet.”

This is the introductory comment found on the official website for Sass’s Cinch Diet. And while you may be hoping this is the diet that is going to fulfill all its promises and help you shed the pounds that have been clinging to your hips and elsewhere for years, pay close attention to the wording of the first statement. It doesn’t say that the Cinch Diet isn’t a fad diet. It just says it’s not “just another” fad diet. So what is it?

A Puzzle

To follow the Cinch Diet, you’re going to have to eat four meals a day, consisting of only five different foods. These foods? Whole eggs, yogurt, spinach, raspberries, and almond butter. Sounds like a delicious way to eat for a week, doesn’t it? To top it off, the Cinch helps you figure out how much of each food you should be eating during your diet.

According to Sass, putting these foods together is like working a dietary puzzle, but one that can be put together in a variety of ways. And as the Cinch hits the major food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and vegetable-based fats), you can’t help but have a slightly well-rounded diet. Drop in a little dark chocolate every day (you read right – this diet includes a little douse of chocolate), you also maintain your mental well-being that makes it possible to get through every day of the diet!

A Promise

Whereas other diets make multiple promises that are very rarely fulfilled, the Cinch Diet has a single promise: do it for five days and lose 8 pounds. It may sound too good to be true, but if you’ve ever started a fad diet in the past, you probably realize that a single change in your eating or exercise habits can have an immediate impact on your weight or other health goals. So it should be no surprise that the Cinch makes the promise of 8 pounds in five days.

This promise’s potential is made clearer when you understand that Sass considers this a cleansing diet. In other words, eat these foods for five days, and you’ll remove all sorts of toxins from your body, many being kicked out via urination or bowel movements.

A Possibility

Difficult as it may be for you to buy into another fad diet (or as easy as it may be for you), the Cinch has some potential that shouldn’t be ignored. No, the Cinch won’t get you back to your teenage body, but it may give you a jumpstart. Additionally, if you pay close attention to what the Cinch is forcing you to eat, you may be reminded of the need for a regular diet that includes all sorts of food to ensure your body has all it needs for maximum efficiency.

Besides, if you can lose 8 pounds in a week and get that much closer to the goals you’ve set for yourself, it may be worth a shot. Just be careful that you don’t go with the Cinch only to return to unhealthy eating habits afterward, as these can quickly reverse any positive strides you may have taken toward improved health.

Packing for Health

A few tips for brown bagging your way to improved health.

Lunch. If you work, it’s not always easy to make it a healthy affair. And if you aren’t careful, you can easily find yourself eating at fast-food joints a few days a week. Instead of doing that, brown bag your lunch. Don’t have the time or dedication to make your lunch in advance? Keep a few handy items on hand at your job and you’ll eat healthier than ever.

Which foods should you consider packing for your healthier than ever lunches?

Peanut Power

With a heaping helping of peanut butter, you give yourself an equally large helping of protein. Toss some peanut butter on a couple pieces of wheat bread, add some honey, and you’re in for a smooth lunch delight that’ll power you up for the rest of the day. Use local honey and you’ll even bolster your immune system against potential allergens. Prefer something more substantial than honey? Slice up a banana and pile it on. You’ll get a nice load of potassium to complement the protein!

An Average Calorie Count. Did you know that the average fast-food meal with hamburger and fries contains more than half your daily allotment of calories? Beat the average by brown bagging your lunch. Your waistline will thank you, and your coworkers will envy you.

Green Goodies

Salad is the new healthy brown-bag alternative. If you think an all-green salad is a bit bland for your taste buds, add some color by chopping up and adding some of your favorite veggies and fruits. Carrots, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and tangerines can all add some color, flavor, and nutrition to your salad. Want to give it even more help? Cook up some lean chicken the night before and toss it on when you’re ready for a substantial and delicious salad.

Snack Away

Lunch doesn’t always have to consist of one large item with a few sides to go along with it. Actually, some of the best lunches contain a handful of smaller items and nothing else. Turn your favorite health snacks into a meal by grabbing a fruit-filled container of yogurt, a sandwich bag of carrot sticks, some cheese and crackers, and a tall glass of water. It’ll delight your taste buds, give you lots of variety, and provide your body with plenty of vitamins and minerals you need to keep on keeping on.

Golden Leftovers

Have something healthy and delicious for dinner last night? Don’t let the leftovers go to waste in your refrigerator. Pack the food up in an appropriate container and bring it to work. If your leftovers are rather small in size, be sure to pack an apple, orange, or something else to make sure you fill up on healthy foods and can withstand the temptation of the snack machine later in the day.

Wrap It Up

Love sandwiches but growing tired of the same old thing, day after day? Get everything you love about sandwiches in a new package by wrapping it up. Grab some whole-wheat tortillas and toss in some lean lunchmeat, your favorite vegetables, and whatever else suits your fancy. Top it off with a side of applesauce and a bag of nuts, and you’ve got a brown bag full of delicious, health-improving lunch!

Think Breakfast

Yes, you already had a healthy breakfast before heading off to work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy breakfast foods at lunch. Whether you prefer a bowl of cereal with a banana on top and low-fat milk or a bagel with low-fat cream cheese, eating breakfast for lunch is a great and healthy way to fill up without worrying about excessive calories.

Where to Get Your H2O

It’s not just in your faucet.

Water. It covers approximately 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight, helping you maintain a healthy temperature, get rid of waste, and protect your joints. Obviously, getting enough water each day is important to your good health. In fact, if you don’t get enough water each day, you put yourself at risk for all sorts of potential problems. When you wind up dehydrated from a lack of water, you can expect to feel tired and unable to perform the daily tasks of living. Go a little longer and hang out in the heat, and you can expect a heat stroke and other more serious conditions.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to down some good ol’ H2O and ensure your internal system stays up and running. Here are just a few.

Drink Water

This one seems a bit obvious, but drinking water every day is the surest way to get it in your system. Go with a few glasses every day and you’ll go a long way toward protecting against dehydration. How much water should you drink? The rules have changed over the years, and there are now a number of schools of thought on the matter. However, if you drink at least 64 ounces (1.9 liters) of water a day, you should be in good shape water-wise.

Down Other Drinks

Though water is the purest and most apparent way to stuff a little H2O in your belly, it’s not the only way. Many other drinks you sip on each day have a great amount of water in them. Milk, juices, beer, soda, coffee, and tea all consist largely of water. However, juices can have more sugar than you should add into your daily diet, beers are typically filled to the brim with useless calories, and soda and coffee often contain excess caffeine that could be detrimental to your health. So while it’s okay to enjoy each of these drinks on occasion, relying on them to be large contributors to your daily water intake is not a good idea.

Eat Well

On top of drinking your H2O via water and other drinks, a well-balanced diet will give you about one quarter of your daily water intake from the foods you eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken broth, and other foods all contain a lot of water. Some of them – such as tomatoes, watermelon, and lettuce, consist of as much as 90 percent water. Therefore, eating your fruits and veggies is as important in your quest for avoiding dehydration as downing a few glasses of water each day.

Consider Your Environment

Think everyone should drink the same amount of water every day? Think again. If you live in a particularly hot climate or sweat excessively during work or play, you’ll need to get extra water in your system to prevent problems from arising. How much more depends on your exact locale and volume of sweat being produced. A good rule of thumb is to sip on water throughout the day, not going more than an hour or so without drinking water – especially if you’re at increased risk for losing water.

Regardless of your environment, if you’re pregnant, are taking diuretic medications, or are dealing with certain dehydrating health conditions, you’ll need to up your water intake to protect against dehydration and its complications.

Litmus Test

Wondering if you’re getting enough water each day? If your urine is dark yellow or you feel thirsty often throughout the day, you need to drink more water. Otherwise, you’re probably drinking enough to keep your body’s systems in good working order.

Recipes for Sizzling Spring Delights

All you need for a red-hot spring dinner with family and friends.

As soon as the sun starts peeking out from behind the cold winter days, you come down with the much-anticipated condition of the season: spring fever! You’re suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to clean your house from top to bottom, get some fresh air, and have all your family and friends over for a nice evening of food and fellowship.

If you’re stuck wondering what to serve you guests, read on for some fantastic ideas that will have your mouth watering in no time!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Want something that screams warm weather? You’ve got to toss some strawberries in it. A great way to add strawberries is through a spinach-based salad. This recipe makes about four servings. Since it is rather fattening (35 grams of fat per serving), you probably shouldn’t make this your everyday salad.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion
10 ounces fresh spinach (rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces)
1 quart strawberries (cleaned, hulled, and sliced)
1/4 cup almonds (blanched and slivered)

Directions

Whisk together first eight ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Cover the bowl and chill for an hour. Next, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds in a large bowl, pour the chilled dressing over the salad and mix together. After 10 or 15 minutes of refrigeration, serve to your springtime guests and enjoy!

Chicken Barbecue Quesadillas

Think there’s no way to improve on chicken quesadillas? How about using one of spring’s most heralded flavorings to add some barbecue flavor? In addition to bringing in some great spring flavor, chicken barbecue quesadillas are a healthy and easy addition to your springtime festivities! This recipe makes 8-10 servings.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken (finely chopped)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
8 large flour tortillas
6 to 8 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken, barbecue sauce, and onion until it is warmed all the way through. While warming, sprinkle cheese on the tortillas. (Feel free to cut tortillas into shapes for some added flair.) Add a tablespoon of the chicken-bbq-onion mixture, add a little more cheese on top, and put the top tortilla in place. Do this for all the tortillas. A few minutes before eating time, put the tortillas on a warmed griddle for a couple minutes on each side and eat up!

Cool Spring Punch

With the warm weather comes the need to cool down. That’s where this one-of-a-kind recipe comes in. Combining some of your favorite fruit flavors into a refreshing punch, cool spring punch is sure to please. You can also spice it up a bit more if the kids aren’t around!

Ingredients

10 strawberries (washed and stems removed)
3 pineapple spears
20 red seedless grapes
2 ounces rum (optional)

Directions

Toss all the ingredients in a juicing machine, turn it on, and serve ice cold!

Avocado-Mango Salsa

After cleaning up for your guests, you’ll probably want some down time to enjoy your work. With a bag of tortilla chips and this excellent salsa, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, and your guests will be begging for more of this light, spring salsa!

Ingredients

1 ripe mango (peeled, sliced, and diced)
1 tomato (seeded and diced)
2 green onions (sliced)
1/4 cup limejuice
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and minced)
1 ripe avocado (diced)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Directions

Combine all ingredients, put in your favorite serving dish, and serve. You can also add this to your favorite grilled meat for a marvelous addition to your spring fare.

Get More Sleep!

Sound like nothing more than a pipe dream? Wake up and make it a reality.

Every morning you make yourself the promise: Tonight, you’ll go to bed earlier. You’ll get more sleep. You’ll feel great in the morning. But it seems to never happen. Even if you do get in bed earlier than usual, you still have a hard time getting all the sleep you need to feel your best in the morning.

Is there any relief in sight? Why, yes there is. All you need to do is make a few tweaks to your routine, and your sleepy mornings will soon be long gone.

Don’t Make Excuses

If you’re like most people, you find a way to do what you find most important. Whether that’s spending time with your family, checking your e-mail for business purposes, or reading a good book. As important as all of these things are, something may have to go if you’re going to sleep more.

Before you say you can’t do it, think about it. You could probably spend a little less time at work and a little more at home, so you could squeeze in family time during earlier hours. Also, you get very little work done at home, so why not leave work at work and get back to the grindstone when you’re at the office? Getting rid of obstacles to good sleep is essential to getting sufficient sleep.

Calm Down

Ever had difficulty falling asleep, no matter how tired you may be? It may be because you don’t give your body and your time to calm down. To lend a helping hand, try the following:

  • write out a to-do list for the next day before getting in bed
  • avoid caffeine during the last four to eight hours before bedtime
  • don’t eat or drink much during the last few hours before going to bed
  • set a calming routine that puts you in the mood to go to sleep
  • don’t spend time exercising right before you go to bed
  • make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet when it’s time to hit the hay
  • don’t take long naps during the day
  • never watch television while lying in bed
  • don’t let pets or little people sleep in your bed

Prepare for the Mornings

Before you go into your calming routine, you can make the mornings more peaceful with a few little steps. Do them right and you can even set your alarm clock for a little later than usual. Good ideas no matter what your circumstances include setting out tomorrow’s clothing and making your lunch for the next day before going to bed.

If you have children who always want to wake you up, you can take some extra steps for a few more minutes in bed on the weekends. After you put the kids to bed, set out books and toys in the hallway that leads from their room to yours.

This will keep them busy for a bit – especially if you put out items they’ve not seen in a while. You can also fend off your kids’ early-morning food needs by setting out fruit and muffins beside their bedroom door. Put out a blanket and some fun décor, and they’ll be thrilled to have a personal picnic waiting for them when they wake up, and you’ll be thrilled to be able to stay in bed while they enjoy breakfast.

How Much Is Enough?

Throughout your life, your sleep needs will likely change. On average, healthy adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. This isn’t time spent in the bed. It’s sleep. So turn off the TV, go through your bedtime routine, and get some shuteye!