New Year’s Resolutions: Keep Up With These Nutritional Tips

Consistent exercise isn’t the only New Year’s resolution to make for the benefit of your health! Your diet is equally important for a well-rounded, successful fitness regimen. Keep up with your resolutions for better fitness and health in 2016 with these nutritional tips…

Make small steps, and stay consistent. A recent report noted that while most New Year’s resolutions fizzle by the end of February, consistently following small behavioral changes in your diet can have a lasting impact.

Choose water as your beverage of choice. Regardless of whether your habitual beverage is a soda or coffee, try to switch at least one beverage/serving per day to water instead. Bored? Lemon, cucumber or strawberry slices (and/or some mint) are a healthy way to add some flavor, or you can purchase unsweetened flavored seltzer water to drink.

Make sure to eat one serving of fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal. Fresh produce is key to a healthy diet, both for nutritional value as well as for all of the vitamins and minerals they contain. Plan a variety of fruits and vegetables to have on hand to enjoy with your meals or as a healthy snack.

Eat fish twice weekly. Fish, particularly salmon, is rich in the healthy, important Omega-3 fatty acids. Balance your red meat and poultry consumption with fish – twice weekly is a good benchmark. Take it a step further and try going totally meatless for one meal each week.

Don’t avoid all fats, just the unhealthy ones. Speaking of healthy fats like Omega-3s, plan your diet to include more unsaturated fat (good for your heart) and less saturated fat. Here is a helpful article about good fats vs. bad ones.

Clean your cupboards of sugary foods. Get rid of that high fructose corn syrup! Go through your pantry and cupboards to rid yourself of foods that are high in sugar. Check the labels for sugar’s pseudonyms: fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, maltodextrin and fruit juice concentrate. Note: Sugar hides in non-dessert foods as well, such as tomato sauce, so look closely.

Start your day with lots of protein. Not only does protein help keep you full (reducing unhealthy snacking), it energizes, rejuvenates cells, and helps you maintain a healthy weight, according to studies. Start your day with a nutritional, delicious healthy smoothie, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, etc.

As you plan your new nutritional diet for the New Year, try one (or several!) of these healthy lunch recipes. Need some more help keeping up with the nutritional tips above? Here are some additional suggestions.

Good luck!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

8 Great Healthy & Easy Winter Recipes

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

Mmmmm. Winter is the perfect time to nourish yourself with healthy comfort food. I’ve pulled together a few easy recipes that you can make ahead, so you’ll always have something hearty and warm on hand. I suggest making big batches and then freezing the leftovers so you’re always prepared.

All of these recipes give you great nutrition before a workout, and some adapt really well to a wide mouth thermos, so you can bring them along to the slopes or on a winter hike. 

  • This Slow cooker Root Vegetable Stew is a wonderful way to take advantage of the winter veggies and do it all simply in the crockpot.
  • Need a mid-winter pick-me-up? This Lime Jalapeño Chicken will do that for you during those dark days of winter with its wonderful citrusy flavor.
  • Packed with protein and power greens, the Pork, White Bean and Kale Soup is easy to make and pour into a thermos for a day at the slopes.
  • Although this one is a side dish, the Honey Glazed roasted Root Vegetables are a winner if you have a crowd coming over for the game. You can prep the veggies ahead and toss in a gallon zip lock to season and then just pull out and roast as directed.
  • No winter recipe list would be complete without a chicken chili recipe. With just 8 ingredients, things couldn’t be simpler
  • This one is super hearty and satisfying – French Beef Burgundy Stew. Another winner made easy in the crockpot and would do well in a wide mouth thermos after your vigorous winter snowshoe adventure.
  • This won’t do well in a thermos, but the protein packed Quinoa Enchilada Casserole is too yummy and too easy to make, so I had to include it on this list. Using quinoa and black beans not only adds important protein but both are really great sources of fiber. This one is easy to freeze ahead before baking.
  • This crockpot recipe makes you look like a top chef. The French Basil Chicken recipe is easy to make for a crowd or just two of you. You can mix all ingredients in gallon zip locks, freeze uncooked, and pull out and toss into your crockpot in the morning.

Give some a try and let us know your favorites, or did you try some variations? We would love to hear.

Featured photo source: GimmeSomeOven.com

Stay Hydrated During Your Winter Workouts

Dehydration is a concern for active people all year ‘round, not just in the hot summer months. Winter activities, however, pose different challenges to stay properly hydrated. Understand that dehydration occurs when fluid loss equals greater than 2% of your total body weight. That can actually be easy to do even in the winter months since while participating in winter sports, you may not get over heated and not think to drink as often as you do in summer months.

Add the contributing factors of household and office heat systems, causing drier air indoors, you stand a chance of already being a bit dehydrated even before you begin your activities.

While participating in winter sports, you are at risk of not “feeling” thirsty because you feel 40 percent less thirsty in the cold than when you’re warm. You also sweat less and that can lead some people to believe they don’t need more fluids.

If you are not careful to re-hydrate as your body loses fluids, your body expends extra energy to send blood to the skin and produce sweat. The effects of this is lower fluids in your bloodstream, making it ineffectual at delivering much needed oxygen-rich blood to your hard working muscles, lungs and vital organs

This is confirmed for you when you experience muscle cramps, but more serious symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, which are not things you want to risk experiencing out on the trail in the back country or at the top of a mountain skiing.

How much hydration is needed for varying individuals? Check out the ACSM Fluid Replacement Recommendations specific to your needs.

Older athletes do have certain factors to be considered. As we age, we become more vulnerable due to our bodies’ reduced ability to conserve water. Also, our sense of thirst tends to lose its accuracy which in turn makes older individuals less responsive to the bodies’ signs that we need to re-hydrate Individuals with diabetes and kidney disease are at a greater risk for dehydration, as well.

So how do you stay ahead of this game and prevent dehydration during winter sports? Here are some simple tips to incorporate:

  • Be in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you at the start of each day and re-fill often. Especially do this in the mornings that you know you will be working outside later on in the day, that way you start out well hydrated.
  • Keep it easy and incorporate a sports hydration pack whether you are walking locally, hiking the back country, or skiing. Staying hands’ free instead of carrying a bottle makes it easier and quicker to sip continually during your activity.
  • Drink warm beverages: Green teas and other caffeine free options are a great way to get your fluids if you are not that excited about cold water in cold weather.
  • Eat your way to hydration: Veggies and fruits are packed with fluids and also give you that extra energy for your winter workout coming up. Start your day with plenty of these.
  • Just say no to caffeine: It is a diuretic which contributes to dehydration.
  • Plan ahead: Keep extra water bottles in the back of your car and replenish when you use them. Hydrating after your hike or ski day is easier if plenty of extras are on hand.

How do you feel like you do with staying on top of winter hydration? Let us know what works for you!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

Skip the Sugar! 5 Holiday Treat Recipes That Are Actually Good For You

The holidays are here! And so is the struggle to continue with your healthy nutritional choices. It doesn’t have to be a struggle and it is actually pretty simple to still enjoy some yummy holiday treats with a few changes and considering other alternatives.

For those of you with medical or dietary restrictions from sugar, consider substituting stevia for your sweetener. Stevia is a plant based non-caloric non-caloric sweetener made from an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant Make sure to find a stevia product with no additives, just pure stevia such as Reb A which is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not raise blood sugar. You can learn more about Stevia in the Raw Granulated Sugar here.

  • These Orange-Pumpkin Tarts are so cute and pleasing to the eye as they are to the taste buds. The sugar-free oatmeal cookies used in the crust give it a wonderful texture.
  • Garnish the Red Grape Sorbet with mint sprigs and you have a new holiday tradition to deck your table. No other sweetener is needed and get your antioxidant benefits against cancer, heart –disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Compared to traditional decorated sugar cookie recipes, these Christmas Sugar Wafers are much lower in sugar. Substitute stevia and you really cut back.
  • These peanut Butter Kiss Cookies are a holiday favorite, except these ones are also gluten free! Sure to please everyone on your list.
  • Garnish the Red Grape Sorbet with mint sprigs and you have a new holiday tradition to deck your table. No other sweetener is needed and get your antioxidant benefits against cancer, heart –disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Add some elegance to your holiday table with this Incredible Apple Tart. It is amazingly low in sugar and high in flavor.
  • No holiday table feels complete without Pumpkin Pie. Make sure to use sugar free pumpkin puree and again substitute the sugar for stevia.

You have lots of options and can still have your cake and eat it too, so happy holidays! Please share with us your favorite low sugar holiday treat recipes and tips that work for you during this season of treats.

Featured photo source: MyRecipes.com, credit Lee Harrelson; styling: Mindi Shapiro

Happy Thanksgiving from Fit After Fifty!

We want to wish you joy and plenty of warm, happy feelings as you prepare to celebrate the good things in your life with the ones you love.

The Fit After Fifty community is all about promoting a better life through fitness, and we hope that health and wellness are two of the things you can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. If not, make the choice to focus on your health and fitness, so that you can be thankful for the benefits of a better, healthier life in the coming year!

An average American consumes 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner, according to the Calorie Control Council! That is more than twice the healthy average daily intake, and more than 3.5 times the normal calories from fat. Make the choice not to consume so much this year.

Curious about what’s happening to your body during Thanksgiving dinner? It’s not just your stomach that’s affected by all of the food and the stress. Below is a useful graphic that explains the effects of this holiday on your body.

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As you enjoy the spread of tasty holiday fare this Thanksgiving, take care to avoid some of the most unhealthy dishes. Fried appetizers are not your friend; they encourage the growth of plaque in your arteries – go for raw veggies to curb your hunger, instead. During the big meal, try to stay away from candied yams (pure sugar), turkey gravy (high fat), and even green bean casserole, if a lot of butter is used. You might want to avoid those classic mashed potatoes, too, since they will intensify your food coma.

We hope you have a wonderful, healthy Thanksgiving this year!

Featured photo source: Flickr user inafrenzy

Hosting Grandma This Thanksgiving? Senior-Friendly Tips for the Holidays

This is the time of year when families and friends gather around a table to enjoy each other and celebrate the things they are thankful for! Many families will be hosting grandparents and other elderly relatives and friends. It’s important to keep in mind that your aging loved ones have some special needs and things you should consider when planning your holiday meal and activities. Here are some senior-friendly tips for the holidays:

Holiday Meal Pointers

Two major things to keep in mind when planning your Thanksgiving dinner with Nana in mind is that she won’t be able to metabolize food the same way, and that her taste buds may be very different. Make plenty of side dishes that are easy to chew and swallow, since tough and dry foods are difficult with reduced saliva production and dentures that older people often have to deal with. Cut back on the salt to reduce risk of high blood pressure, and compensate with savory (not spicy!) seasonings. Keep nutrition at the forefront of your meal planning, since elderly people often have reduced appetites and need as much nutrition and good calories as they can get. If you can, prepare a special dish or two that your aging loved one loves!

Planning the Setting

Elderly people can have a lot of unique needs, particularly if their reduced mobility or condition keeps them mostly wheelchair-bound. Make sure there is plenty of space for them to maneuver at the holiday table. That could mean leaving space for their wheelchair or giving their chair (make sure it’s a comfortable one with plenty of support!) extra space for them to get their from their walker. You may also need to have the temperature set a little higher, or have a space heater to place near them, so that they are comfortable and warm. Clear the path to the downstairs bathroom so that they can easily get there, and if they have bladder control problems, you may want to have spare towels and cleaner at-the-ready in case of an accident.

Emotional/Mental Considerations

This time of year can be very difficult both emotionally and mentally for seniors. Depression and loneliness are serious concerns; even if your aging loved one is joining in your holiday festivities. Keep this in mind, and try to plan ways to help them engage and join in with everyone else’s celebrations and activities. Simple games that they can play with the kids, old/classic music, and simply spending some time talking with them are good ways to do this. Sadly, this season is also likely one of the few times that you have the opportunity to notice symptoms of other illnesses, such as dementia.

In what ways do you prepare to host elderly loved ones over the holidays? Please feel free to share them!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

The Dangerous Transition from Unhealthy Eating to Disorder

When we hear terms such as ‘bulimia’ and ‘anorexia’, the image that often comes to mind is a far-too-skinny young woman. But these eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and can originate in surprising places.

Unhealthy eating is a common struggle that nearly all of us deal with at one time or another, and around the holiday season, it can be harder than ever. We need to be mindful that unhealthy eating can make the transition into a mental health problem: binge eating disorders. They can cause serious risks to our health, particularly in our later years – elder eating disorders are a complicated and unique struggle for senior adults.

“Triggers for older adults dealing with eating disorders can include lack of enthusiasm for life; attempts to get attention from family members; protest against living conditions, such as in a nursing home; economic hardship; and medical problems,” according to one report.

The misconception that eating disorders only affect the young can also cause misdiagnosis of eating disorders with seniors. According to Laurie Cooper, of the Renfrew Center in Nashville, TN, “Many family members or helping professionals may attribute weight loss, malnutrition or unexplained symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea to a ‘normal’ aging process or some other medical condition, rather than a mental health disorder.”

Eating disorders are very serious, and can be more so when they are affecting the elderly. This is because an older person’s bodily functions are less resilient in the aging process, and the tremendous toll an eating disorder has will affect an elderly person far more quickly and seriously. Eating disorders can also exacerbate the effects of other common conditions associated with aging, such as osteoporosis, gastrointestinal issues, cardiac conditions, depression, and obesity.

Unhealthy eating may seem relatively harmless to anything other than fitness or your waistline, but it can make a dangerous transition to an eating disorder. Some of the most common symptoms to beware of for elder eating disorders are:

  • Substantial weight loss or gain in a short period of time;
  • Excessive amounts of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills;
  • Behavioral changes (disappearing after eating, desiring to eat alone, etc.); and
  • Changes in appearance (hair loss or dental damage) or bodily function (cold sensitivity, heart problems, gastrointestinal issues, etc.).

If you, or someone you love is showing some or all of these signs, consider talking to a doctor about treatment.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

Simple and Super Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Imagine not feeling bloated, heavy and guilty after dinner this year!

By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com

Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a minute. I want you to imagine something very cool. You are sitting around the Thanksgiving table this year eating sublimely delicious food that is – drumroll please – actually GOOD for you!

Imagine that! Imagine actually being healthier after your dinner because you’ve just indulged in whole, natural food that’s packed only with good things like vitamins, minerals and fiber, and has none or very little of the usual junk associated with Thanksgiving dinners.

Imagine NO GUILT! 

Imagine no high fat, high sodium. empty calorie, processed sugar, preservative filled excuse for food this Thanksgiving.

Imagine not feeling bloated, heavy and guilty after your big dinner.

Out with the marshmallow topped casseroles (are you kidding me?), out with the fatty bad-for-you desserts and in with super healthy and super ridiculously delicious Thanksgiving food.

Who knew?

Ready? Here are some very yummy and healthy Thanksgiving side dishes you can try this year:

  • Butternut Squash Soup makes a great starter side dish for your Thanksgiving table. Butternut Squash is super high in vitamin A and a great source of dietary fiber.
  • Lentil and Red Pepper Bake is delicious and colorful, low in calories and high in protein.
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with Walnuts is another high fiber dish, and the walnuts add a lovely depth of flavor. Only six ingredients and things couldn’t be simpler.
  • Sweet Potato Gratin is a fresh new twist on an old standby. High in dietary fiber, vitamin A, and easily prepared as a baked dish, this one gives you more time to spend with your loved ones, it’s so easy.
  • Green Beans & Pancetta with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing is a much healthier, lower sodium option than a typical canned beans and canned soup recipe. Green beans are full of vitamin C and dietary fiber. The pancetta is a flavorful bacon alternative.

…and now for your ‘just desserts’!

  • Pumpkin Pie with Rum is hard to beat for your traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Dark molasses for the sweetener adds iron and nonfat evaporated milk replaces the heavy cream and really cuts calories but no loss on flavor.
  • Squash and Cheesecake Bars will give your typical pumpkin pie a run for the money in flavor, yet they have far fewer calories and lower sugar. The oats and low sugar graham crackers make a lovely, crunchy crust to the smooth squash.

We are willing to bet once you try some of these, they will easily replace your standard less healthy options and all you will “miss” this holiday season are the calories and the guilt. Let us know your favorites!

Featured photo source: POPSugar.com

Top Supplements You Really Should Take Daily, and Forget the Rest

Don’t let vitamins get complicated! Supplements and multi-vitamins are certainly beneficial to a nutritional diet, but there are so many out there it can be overwhelming and expensive. However, a good diet with the right supplements doesn’t have to be confusing, and you don’t need to take a handful of pills every day to achieve it.

Here are some of the top supplements you really should take daily. The rest? Forget them unless otherwise advised by your doctor or nutritionist.

Good-Quality Multi-Vitamin

With a good multi-vitamin, you can enjoy more energy, strength, eyesight, heart health, bone strength, and more. Don’t skimp and buy a typical drug store vitamin, however. These are almost always synthetically created and your body won’t be able to absorb any nutrients. Look for multi-vitamins that are made with organic fruits and veggies, contain phytonutrients/phytochemicals, and come from a brand that adheres to FDA/GMP standards of quality. An optimal multi will contain magnesium, Vitamin C, and B-complex. A quick trick to test your multi is to try dissolving the vitamin in a glass of room-temp water. It should completely dissolve in 20 minutes, maximum.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

While you can get this supplement from eating good fish such as salmon, you’re probably not getting enough. Omega-3s help decrease inflammation (and pain associated with it) and improves blood pressure, cognition, strength, flexibility, and the health of skin, hair, nails and more. The most beneficial forms of omega-3 fatty acids are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Look for omega-3 supplements and fish oils that contain those acids.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the production of tons of proteins and enzymes that your body needs to fight disease. In addition to a bolstered immune system, some of the benefits include increased muscle strength and bone density, as well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogen (cancer-causing). Since it’s basically impossible for our bodies to get enough Vitamin D from food, sun exposure and supplements are the primary sources.

So head to the health food shop and stock up!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

How to Make Your Halloween Fitness-Friendly

Despite what it may seem, there are plenty of ways that you can stick to your workout regimen and focus on fitness this Halloween. In this blog post, you will find some of the top tips for how to make your Halloween fitness-friendly, and still fun.

Trick-or-treat goodies do not have to be made of processed sugars and unhealthy fats – there are lots of yummy treats that are actually healthy. Stay away from the Snickers®, and instead, snack on healthier treats such as naturally sweetened dried fruit, really dark chocolate, lightly seasoned nuts, etc. You will feel better, and won’t struggle with the crash that comes after eating processed sweets.

One great exercise opportunity for Halloween is to take your grandkids trick-or-treating. You’ll be giving your kids a break to relax, your grandchildren will love spending some special time with you, and you will definitely get a workout in as you keep up with their sugar-fueled energy. Everybody wins!

If you’re hosting an event, give your guests plenty of nutritional finger food in addition to the treats. Orange is the color of the night, so go for the orange bell peppers and carrots for dipping. Make little jack o’lantern fruit cups out of orange peels, googley-eyed deviled eggs, and other healthier Halloween bites. You can find more recipes and ideas on Pinterest.

Spread the fitness-friendly Halloween idea if you’re offering goodies to trick-or-treaters, too. While I wouldn’t advise skipping the traditional candies and sweets in total (you might experience some sugar-driven tantrums), perhaps provide the costumed kids a healthier choice, such as fruit leather. Stick to the pre-packaged items, and their parents will appreciate your efforts to keep their kids healthy and safe.

Do you have other tried-and-true methods for keeping your Halloween fitness-friendly? Please share them with us.

Good luck, and happy Halloween!

 

Featured photo source: Pinterest.com