Spring Cleaning: Give Your Diet A Makeover

Spring is here—and people are hitting the roads on their bicycles, in their running shoes, moving to the outdoor tennis courts, and getting their workouts in in the form of spring cleaning. As we move past the dense wintery foods, and into BBQ & cookout season, get ready NOW to clean up your diet and nourish your body this summer! Spring is a great time to reevaluate what you’re putting into your body—the new life all around us is exciting & inspiring—and the seasonal produce is amazing!

As you’re getting ready to clean up your diet, ask yourself the following questions so you know where you should change things, what can remain the same, and where you have a little wiggle room:

1. How do you feel?

This can be broken down into a handful of questions that specifically address different areas of your body. Asking yourself things like, “How do my joints feels?” or “How does my digestive system feel?” Evaluating these things can help you address certain dietary changes you can make to correct those problems.

Healthy-diet2. What are areas you’re doing well in?

Before you get down to the nitty gritty, identify areas of your diet that you know are good-to-go. Do you tend to eat a healthy breakfast? That’s great! Do you drink enough water in the day to maintain a healthy hydration level? Awesome!

3. What areas do you know you’re not eating well in?

It takes a little research & education to REALLY know what a healthy diet looks like—and what YOUR healthy diet should look like. With modern media, however, it doesn’t take a lot to know some of the things that are genuinely bad for your health. What are some of those areas that you think to yourself, “I know this is bad for me, but…” Overeating fast-food? Too much ice cream? Soda? Beer? Acknowledge these things so you know where to focus

4. How would you rate your ‘food awareness’?

In addition to knowing what’s in season, it’s good to know how to literally clean up your diet by knowing which foods are typically exposed to more chemicals and pesticides than others (click here for a helpful resource). Ultimately, this printable guide helps you be informed about when it makes sense to buy organic or not, since ‘organic’ produce typically equates to “produced pesticide-free”

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, write your answers down, and begin to create a plan to change the areas you’ve identified. Stock your home with the healthy things—and preemptively plan an “escape route” for the unhealthy things. If there’s an area you’re not feeling well in—like stiff joints, unsettled stomach, constant headaches, etc. talk to a dietician about how you can change your diet to alleviate your physical issues.

Now that you’ve given your diet a makeover, get out into that wonderful spring weather!

5 Tips to Make Your Life Better – Start Small for Healthy Changes!

If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s always something we’d like to change, improve, try again, or just make better. All too often we attempt to make these changes suddenly—only to be disappointed when we aren’t as successful as we had wanted, or fail altogether.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Research shows* that it takes at least about 2 months to form a SIMPLE habit—like drinking water with lunch, or taking vitamins. It can take far longer than that to form a habit that involves more time or effort. Starting small and working toward bigger goals is, in many cases the way to go. Here are a few tips on how making small healthy changes can amount to big successes:

old-lady-writing1. Break down your big-vision goals into smaller chunks. Anyone who has trained for a marathon will tell you that they didn’t just set out one day and run over 26 miles. They started with a mile—and added to it as they saw success in smaller goals. Or even consider making vision-action board to help visualize the smaller chunks.

2. Plan the time for that task. Activities that aren’t habit yet are often the first to get dropped when we’re running short on time. If you’ve got a jam-packed busy day, be sure that part of your schedule includes enough time to fit your new small change in. This might be as easy as setting your alarm ten minutes earlier in the morning to accommodate your habit-to-be. Or add that small change to piggy-back something that you will ALWAYS do, no matter how busy your day. e.g. If your goal is to build a stronger core, after every bathroom trip, do 20 abdominal crunches or sit-ups. (Eventually, an activity as habitual as brushing your teeth can help train other habits to become more habitual.)

3. Swap things out. If you’re trying to add something new to your life such as  exercise or healthy eating, it’s likely that there’s something it can replace. Evaluate your daily routine & identify what needs to be swapped. For example, if you’re trying to cut calories—swap out that 2:30pm triple grande latte for the same amount of black drip coffee! (Or better yet, skip the extra caffeine and stretch for a couple minutes, or walk if time allows.)

4. Dedicate some time to learn more about what you’re trying to change. Read some success stories from people who have done the same. Use the Vision Board to better define what  & how you want to change, and then transform that board into an action board for simple steps to take toward achieving that vision. Don’t just focus on the greater goal of ‘losing weight’ or ‘playing longer with my grandkids’, look at the little steps along the way to getting there, such as choosing a healthier snack when peckish, gradually making your daily walk a little bit longer, etc.

5. Identify the challenges. If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ve probably tried to make changes in the past—but have been discouraged by temporary defeat. What stopped you last time? What is a hurdle you know you’re going to have to leap over? Identify these things so that when they approach, you can avoid or defeat them. Make a plan for when those challenges arise. For instance, if you know that your book club host always has a table of decadent, sugary treats–come prepared! Arrive on a full stomach and bring your own snack, just in case you feel the need. Continuously sipping on water or a low-sugar beverage, like unsweetened ice tea, can also help combat the mindless munchies.

A very wise & lovable stuffed bear named Winnie the Pooh gave us this brilliant piece of wisdom:

“There is something you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

And we’ll add—you CAN make the changes you want!

Where do you plan to start? Have you found other methods to help you start to change?  Share them below or on our Facebook page.

 

*Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Thing, Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change Stick, by Jeremy Dean.

Eating Healthy: It isn’t as time consuming & costly as you think!

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? As a member of the over-fifty crowd (and yes, now the over-seventy crowd), keeping my heart healthy is extremely important. Towards this, I like to stay pretty physically active…my back swing can always use some extra work. What I haven’t written a lot on, however, is the eating component in this “trying-to-be-healthy” equation.

In the discussions I have had with all kinds of people in many different phases of life, some of the biggest reasons (or, “excuses” as I like to call them) for not focusing on a body-friendly diet are that it takes too much time (“I’m too busy!”) and it’s more expensive than unhealthy alternatives.

Photo from here, labeled for commercial reuse.

Photo from here, labeled for commercial reuse.

I’d like to start by addressing these two points a bit directly:

1. If you’re really too busy to keep your body (the only one you have) healthy, you need to reevaluate what’s taking up your time.

2. If you think healthy food is too expensive, consider the cost of the healthcare that not taking care of your body NOW can precipitate.

The truth of the matter, however, is that both of these complaints are untrue. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming, nor does it have to be more expensive.

Think about it: You can throw something frozen in the freezer for five minutes—or you can take that same five minutes and make a decent salad. OR—you can cook in advance & freeze healthier options to have a hot & healthy dinner when you’re crunched for time. There are countless ways, many even quicker than junk consumed daily, to fill your diet with nutrients—and honestly, with fruits, veggies & clean proteins, you can usually eat MORE while keeping your caloric, trans fats, and sodium intake MUCH lower than the instant-gratification quick-hunger-fixes.

As for cost—I’d like to challenge you: Take your grocery/food budget for two weeks and only buy good-for-you options. Focus on fresh, natural & richly colored foods, as they tend to pack the most nutritional power. When you go out for dinner, rather than ordering an oversized burger—opt for a healthy serving of veggies with some clean fat and protein like avocado and chicken. If you really stick to the challenge (and eat what you buy), you’ll find that your budget spreads a bit further, you feel better—and if you keep it up, you’ll also break those addictions to foods that are causing health problems.

Who’s up for the two week challenge? Who wants to join me in eating for a healthy heart? Share a photo of your healthy grocery cart or basket on our Facebook page! I’m excited to see what healthy goods you’re eating!

3 Super Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

This Sunday is the biggest snack-day of the year. Homes & bars will be filled with delicious finger foods that eager fans will pile high on their tiny plates… over and over again throughout the four-five hour event. We’re by no means anti-snacking, but there are definitely some healthier options than the “regular offenders” on the table… and certainly ones that are tastier than that day-old veggie-tray that’s been sitting out for hours.

If you’re hosting your own gathering, focus on making things from scratch. There are a LOT of tasty treats that are made unhealthy by adding preservatives, salts, sugar, and other chemicals. By making things (like layered bean dip) from scratch, you can cut back on a lot of unnecessary additions and make the snack better for you—and usually better tasting!

Here are three of our favorite recipes for some delicious finger foods for the biggest football game of the year!

LEMON DROP CHICKEN WINGS:

They’re SUPER easy to make and are a great replacement for the high-calorie/high-sugar wings often served at Super Bowl parties.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 5.34.16 PM

(Full recipe here)

ZUCCHINI FRIES:

These are a great way to liven up that tired vegetable tray. Zucchini naturally lowers cholesterol & blood pressure, and is a good anti-inflammatory, and is even said to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Of course, you don’t have to tell your Super Bowl parties about that…

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FRUIT SKEWERS WITH SWEETENED YOGURT DIP:

If you just need something quick to throw together & bring, this is the way to go. Choose your favorite fruits—or ones that show team support! (We vote kiwi & blueberries!) Dip them in this delicious sauce!

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 5.33.58 PM Share your favorite Super Bowl recipe with us in the comments section below, or on Facebook!

Getting Fit: Why Cholesterol Matters

By Leslie Vandever

Ever noticed how extra pounds stick like super-glue once you pass a “certain age?”

Seems just a couple of months ago you weighed just a teensy bit more than you did when you were a young adult. Back then, if you needed to drop a few pounds, you just ate a little less for a couple of weeks. But now, every time you step on the scale, the number is always rising.

Foods high in cholesterol, photo labeled for commercial reuse.

Foods high in cholesterol, photo labeled for commercial reuse.

The fact is, fitness slipped out the back door a long time ago. You knew it was going, but you were busy. You still are. Your job is demanding. When you’re not at work, there are a million other things to do. The house needs cleaned, the laundry is piling up, the lawn needs mowed, and you’ve got to get to the grocery store. You’ve been scraping the bottom of the mayo jar to make sandwiches for work. If you’re retired, the days are just as busy with volunteer activities, the needs of your family, travelling, and just plain life. Who has time to think about fitness, let alone do something about it?

Well, erm, you do. You can make the time.

Here’s the hard truth: there’s an obesity epidemic in the U.S. About a third of all American adults today are overweight or obese. If you’re one of them, you’re a perfect candidate for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Any or all of them could keep you from participating in your own future.

If the extra baggage on your booty isn’t enough for you, consider what those delicious, easy-to-eat French fries are doing to your insides: they’re plastering layers of sticky plaque along the walls of your arteries—the very arteries that feed into and out of your heart.

The culprit is cholesterol. By itself and in the right quantities, it’s a good thing. Cholesterol is actually a vital type of lipid (fat) molecule, and the body absolutely must have it in order to construct cell membranes.

In fact, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, all by itself. But cholesterol is also in many of the foods—particularly fast foods and processed foods—that we eat. And too much cholesterol is dangerous. Really dangerous.

There are two main types of cholesterol to pay attention to:

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) is a type of protein that binds with the cholesterol molecule and carries it to tissues throughout the body, including the arteries. Over time, it can narrow and harden the artery, a condition called atherosclerosis. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is called the “bad” cholesterol. There is more LDL cholesterol than any other kind in the body.
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the “good” cholesterol. It snatches excess cholesterol away from the tissues and delivers it to the liver, which removes it from the body. The lower the level of HDL cholesterol in your blood, the higher your risk of heart disease.

It’s a great argument for getting fit, isn’t it? Just by cutting high fat, high cholesterol foods out of your diet and opting for fresh, high-protein foods like lean meat and fish, eating low-carbohydrate foods like wholegrain bread, pasta and brown rice, and plenty of high-fiber, nutritious vegetables and fruit, you’ll lower your LDLs and raise your HDLs to healthy levels. You’re already halfway to getting fit, at age 50 and beyond.

Now add just 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, three or four days a week and you’ll make it all the way. Stick to it and you’ll be so fit and healthy that you just may get to see the future—and those cool flying cars like the Jetsons had, too.

 

Article provided by Healthline.com.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer. She also writes a blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis called RheumaBlog, under the pen-name “Wren.” In her spare time, Vandever enjoys cooking, reading and working on the Great American Novel.

References:

Adult Obesity Facts. (2013, Aug. 16) Overweight and Obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on January 13, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

What Is Cholesterol? (2012, Sept. 19) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved on January 13, 2014 from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/

5 Ways to Fortify Your 50’s (60’s and 70’s) with Food!

By Mary Purdy, MS, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
www.NourishingBalance.com

Mary Purdy HeadshotYou can still be fabulously fit after fifty, but there are some physiological realities that take place in our golden years which are important to consider. Things do slow down somewhat. This means our digestion isn’t quite as snappy, our immune system  is not as zippy and our brains aren’t always quite as speedy. But, fear not! Nutrition can play a significant  role in all of these processes. There is  huge amount we can do to support our bodies and even thrive as we age. Here are 5 ways to get started:

  1. Bolster your immune system with herbs and spices. As we age, we can often become more susceptible to infection. You likely already know that herbs and spices help to flavor foods,  tickle your taste buds, and add life to bland dishes. But they offer a great deal more. Many herbs are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that actually help prevent damage to our cells. These include things like basil, cilantro and parsley, which you can easily throw in any salad, soup or sauce. Additionally, many herbs and spices offer antibacterial properties like rosemary, oregano, garlic and onions which can be added to roasted veggies or tossed into stews. Lastly, more and more studies are coming out demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effects  of things like ginger, turmeric, and spicy peppers helping to reduce risk for chronic diseases like cancer. Sprinkle on a new spice today!
  2. Boost your brain and muscle with the power of protein. If you are currently active and engaging in workouts that have you doing weight bearing exercise, sufficient protein is integral to your health and your muscle recovery. These can be vegetarian or animal based (I always advocate for organic as much as possible) but are important especially  the hour after a workout when your muscles need the building blocks for repair. Whether it’s eggs, bean salad, lentil soup, a protein smoothie, or a piece of fish, be sure you are getting about .8-1 gram of protein per Kg of body weight per day (Your weight in pounds  divided by 2.2 = your weight in kgs). Needs do vary from person to person. Consulting a dietitian can be helpful. Protein is also used to create the neurotransmitters that help your brain to think clearly and your mood to stabilize. A little protein at each meal is helpful for keeping you balanced.
  3. Stimulate digestion with fermented foods. You may have noticed a resurgence in the sauerkraut on the shelves of your supermarket. This is because we are learning more and more about the benefits of fermented foods for our health. These foods (miso, sauerkraut, kim chee, tempeh, kombucha, a beverage) provide the body with beneficial bacteria that take up residence in our gut and support digestive function and immunity. This can be supremely helpful for anyone dealing with sluggish digestion or indigestion. Try a miso soup, some sauerkraut with your fried eggs, or sautee some slices of tempeh (fermented soy bean patty) in your next stir fry.
  4. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! Speaking of sluggish digestion, fluids are essential to keeping things “moving”. Our thirst mechanism slows down somewhat in our later years, so we often need to be reminded to keep up our intake of water and other beverages. This is especially true if we are sweating as the water loss can often be substantial. Water is always a wonderful way to rehydrate, but I often recommend trying out some other nutritive beverages like herbal teas, green teas, and coconut water which offer additional nutrients that can help to nourish our systems.
  5. Open yourself to Omega 3’s. You’ve likely heard some information about these essential fatty acids. We know that they support heart, skin and brain health among other things. Including them in your diet is a terrific way to maintain healthy cognitive function and memory. Whether you take a fish oil supplement (I recommend about 1000mgs-2000mgs/day) or eat fish a couple times a week, it’s important that your body gets a daily if not weekly dosage of these important fats. Other sources include walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds. You also might find it surprising that animals that are grass fed or chickens that are pasture raised have a much higher level of omega 3‘s in their meat and eggs respectively that those fed a grain based diet. Greens and sea vegetables provide a small amount as well. Another grand excuse to get more greens in!

No matter what, keeping a diet that is varied and bursting with many different colors and flavors, is a great way to support your body and health as you become your fittest and most fabulous self.

 

Mary Purdy, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from Bastyr University. She provides medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling at her Private Practice at the Seattle Healing Arts Center and is a Clinical Supervisor at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. She also offers an online detox program and regular corporate wellness presentations. She has been featured on KUOW and KIRO News, is on the board of Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine and is the Past President of the Greater Seattle Dietetic Association. Her website is www.NourishingBalance.com  Her Group detox begins January 29th. ‘Like’ Mary Purdy’s page on Facebook!

12 Top Foods for your Daily Diet

Swapping out processed foods for healthy, nutritious food can be a challenge. Making the change takes dedication, motivation & time. Don’t give up, though! You can RETRAIN yourself to crave foods that nourish your body and give you real energy—often you can even eat larger portions because they’re lower in calories. (Check this out to SEE what 200 calories looks like.)

And remember, the food pyramid isn’t necessarily the best thing to follow for a healthy diet (Click here for our explanation). Here are 12 top foods to add to your daily diet for better health:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 4.47.18 PMALMONDS are full of monounsaturated fatty acids & plant fibers that help control & lower cholesterol levels & maintain blood vessel help. They’re also good for brain development, bones, the immune system and an anti-inflammatory for your skin.

APPLES are high in fiber, good for respiratory issues, and are also an anti-inflammatory. They’re a great source of pectin, which lowers cholesterol. (And they keep the doctor away.)

BLACK BEANS are another high-fiber choice. They help regulate the digestive tract, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar. They’re great for your heart, are full of flavanoids & antioxidants, which help fight cancer, and have vitamin B6 & folate which helps the nervous system!

BLUEBERRIES are chalked-full of antioxidants, which help your body get rid of free radicals. They can help prevent cancer, heart diseases & help bolster your immune system!

BROCCOLI is loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene. It is low in calories, and high in nutrients, so you can eat large portions of broccoli to feel fuller while not over-indulging! It’s also full of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.  Read more

Controversial Food Pyramid

no_food_pyramidWe’ve all heard of the “Food Pyramid” and seen various iterations of it. As a baby boomer, you probably even remember before it was a pyramid. (In fact, the “Food Pyramid” didn’t even exist until 1992!) Over the years, there have been numerous objections to every version of the USDA’s dietary suggestions—dating all the way back to the 1920’s. Arguments against the food pyramid have been posed regarding the influence of various food industries, bad science, and just a general misunderstanding & lack of clarity in the use of the pyramid.

The food pyramid, as most of us understand it, has a big base of grains, topped by a split of fruits & vegetables, which is topped by dairy & meats, then with fats, oils & sweets at the very top. Most nutritionists are quick to point out that lumping fats, oils & sugars all together doesn’t work—there are essential fats, oils & sugars. Read more

How Your Body Responds to Sugar (& Why You’ll Want to Avoid Sugar This Holiday Season)

Sweets and treats are upon us with Thanksgiving just around the corner.  Let’s take a refresher on the threats to our health from sugar and ways to stay motivated to avoid it …

keep-calm-and-avoid-sugarHere are several reasons from Fit After Fifty to avoid sugar through Thanksgiving and the holidays:

  • Ÿ  Sugar = wrinkles!  A high sugar diet damages collagen and causes wrinkles
  • Ÿ  Sugar = fat!  Sugar in your system causes increased fatty acids which your body stores in fat cells.
  • Ÿ  Sugar = MORE fat! Excessive sugar causes your body to stop producing insulin which increases your appetite and the production of cortisol. This cycle leads to more fat storage.
  • Ÿ  Sugar = poor heart health, stressed kidneys, and diabetes.
  • Ÿ  Sugar = nasty teeth! Sugar increases oral bacteria which erodes enamel.
  • Ÿ  Sugar = depression!  Increased insulin levels lead to depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
  • Ÿ  Sugar can increase the growth of malignant cancer cells (click here for more information).

So how can you stay motivated to avoid sugar? Read more

Beyond Exercise: Health Tips to Keep (or Get) You Fit

“A healthy lifestyle requires a balanced diet and regular exercise.” We know YOU know! However, we at Fit After Fifty also know that it’s easier said than done. – especially if you think that you are too far gone.

Would you like to hear a secret about getting fit? The best time to start is now!

Photo credit: neurobodyfit.com

Photo credit: neurobodyfit.com

That’s not to say that it doesn’t take time and effort – it does. When you find your motivation and start using things like the following health tips, you will find that it’s worth it! Click here to hear Bobbi’s perspective on healthy living. Read more