Diabetes Alert day, held the 4th Tuesday of March each year, is a day of awareness sponsored by the American Diabetes Association that strives to be a “wake up call” for Americans. The day encourages you to take the diabetes risk assessment online to analyze whether you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes. The test asks questions about diabetes risk factors like weight, age, and family history and plugs the information into an algorithm to determine your risk level.
Diabetes affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the US. 7 million people have diabetes but don’t know about it. And an additional 76 million adults – 1 in every 3 – has prediabetes, which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes.
By managing weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, and exercising enough each week, we can help prevent many of these cases of Type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight, even losing just 7% of your body weight can help prevent diabetes – that’s only about 18 pounds if you weigh 250 pounds. Certainly an attainable goal!
And this year, with every diabetes risk test taken for the next month (March 27th through April 27th), Boars Head is donating $5 to the American Diabetes Association. So even if you think you’re not at risk, hop on and take the test anyway – you’re 10 minutes is equal to a $5 donation to the American Diabetes Association!
Check out the ADA Facebook Page
or visit their website
and click on the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test to find out your risk for Type 2 diabetes!
Want to do more to support diabetes research and education? Consider joining our North Shore Tour de Cure team
! On May 20th, 2012, we’ll be participating in a 100 mile bike ride on the north shore of Massachusett – and we’d love for any of our wonderful blog readers to join our team and ride with us. You don’t have to do the full 100 mile ride if you don’t want to either – there’s also a 15 mile option, 30 mile option, and 62 mile (metric century 100K) option. Don’t want to ride? Consider donating
a small amount of money to support the American Diabetes Association.
Denise K! Denise will receive a OXO Good Grips 5 pound food scale – the same type and style that was discussed in our blog post. Congratulations to Denise!
Thank you everyone for entering. I hope you’ll continue to follow our blog for many healthy eating tips, recipes, and exercise suggestions. And we’ll have another great giveaway coming up in early April – stay tuned!
You might be aware that portion sizes in our country have gotten out of control. With super size fast food meals, gigantic restaurant portions, and “snack size” treats that contain three servings, it’s hard for many people to understand and visualize what a true portion of food should be.
Enter a gadget that’s small and can help with some of the trickier portions – a food scale.
I know I sometimes struggle with meats, chicken, and fish in particular. The rule of thumb for a portion is a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards. But what if the chicken is in strips? What if the meat is cut thin? Sometimes, cheese can be a tough portion to estimate too (speaking of which, I found a new favorite cheese I have to share with you all soon)!
You can see how someone might get confused in these cases. And yes, that’s my confused face below (not sure why I look scared!) holding my yummy grilled chicken strips that I made yesterday in preparation for dinner tonight.
Check out how this OXO food scale helps me figure out how much I should put on my salad tonight! You can place the bowl on the scale and then zero it out, so you start measuring once you put the food in the bowl.
I then add my chicken to the bowl, and voila – it quickly tells me the weight of what I’m putting in. I can easily measure and see what a 3 or 4 ounce portion – a reasonable serving size - looks like.
Some of the features that are cool about this OXO scale are the zeroing capacity, the fact that it’s small and lightweight, it can fit in just about anyone’s kitchen, and it’s digital. I also like that the bottom portion with the number pulls out – this way if you’ve got a large plate on there, you don’t have to squat down and peek underneath – just pull out the screen and look.
It’s good that you can switch between grams and ounces/pounds too. If you really like the food scale, you can also measure other items like cereals or peanut butter with the gram measurement. Just look at the labels – you’ll see a gram measurement for serving size. You can then weigh out the exact amount in that serving using your food scale. I kind of like this for cereal, since I don’t have to get a measuring cup dirty, haha. I can just put my bowl on the scale, zero it out, and then add the number of grams in the serving. Of course, you can also just use measuring tools for these too!
Food scales aren’t for everyone, of course. Most of us could easily eat healthier by simply balancing our meals better, choosing less processed food, and eating more fruits and veggies! But they can be very useful for some people, including:
- People who like keeping food records. If you want to know the amount you’re eating, food scales provide precise measurements for foods that are typically difficult to quantify which will be helpful for keeping accurate records.
- Individuals who have hit a weight loss plateau and are trying to examine areas they may need help in. Sometimes, we get a “heavy hand” (or a “heavy eye”, so to speak). This means you may be overestimating portions without even realizing it. A food scale may help you get back on track.
- Bakers and cooks! Measuring baking ingredients with dry measuring cups can sometimes be less than accurate. Maybe you didn’t level out the scoop of flour, or maybe you didn’t fill the cup completely. A food scale gives measurements by weight, making them more accurate. You can find a lot of recipes using weights online. It’s also helpful for those of you who enjoy cooking with recipes (although we’ve all heard cooking is more of an art while baking is more of a science)!
- Those who like to eat out often. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to carry your scale around! But if you use the scale at home, it will be much easier for you to visually estimate a proper portion at a restaurant. You can then set aside the rest of that restaurant meal to take home.
We’re excited to giveaway
one OXO Good Grips 5 pound food scale to our readers! This giveaway will be open for entries for 6 days. Enter using Rafflecopter below (you can get multiple entries by following each instruction)!
Disclosure: OXO provided me with a food scale to test out, and provided the food scale to giveaway to our readers. We’re excited to host this giveaway, and only partner with companies that we feel align with our goals and mission!
Have you eaten kale lately? A lot of people turn their noses up at this leafy green, but it is super healthy and can be incredibly delicious!
Check out the amazing nutrition facts for a cup of chopped, raw kale:
- Contains only 34 calories
- Has no fat
- Provides over 200% of your daily Vitamin A needs, essential for proper eyesight
- Provides over 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs, essential for a healthy immune system
- Contains tons of Vitamin K, which is involved in blood clotting functions in your body
- Rich in vision health nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin
So, how do you include kale in your diet? Try chopping this green and cooking it in pasta sauce or including kale in a smoothie (if you blend it with fruits, you won’t even taste it!). Or, try one of my favorite uses of kale – crispy kale chips. This nutritious snack satisfies those salty cravings in a much healthier way than potato chips or pretzels. And it’s incredibly easy to make! Check out the photos and recipe below:
Yum, organic kale just waiting to be eaten up!
Rinse, then tear the leaves into small pieces.
Toss with olive oil and salt.
Ready to go in the oven!
All done - ready for some yummy snacking!
Bunch of kale
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Pinch of SaltDirections:
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rinse kale and remove hard stems. Tear leaves into small pieces.
- Toss kale in a bowl with olive oil and salt until everything is distributed evenly.
- Spread on a baking sheet.
- Cook for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven, until kale is crispy but not burnt.
Happy St Patrick’s Day! Luck of the Irish to ya! Erin go Bragh!
If you have a bit of Irish in you, you’re probably familiar with the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. My mom used to make it for us every year growing up. I actually can’t stand the taste of corned beef, so I dreaded having to eat this. Every year I’d whine and complain on St. Patrick’s day, and I’m pretty sure all I’d end up eating was the side of cabbage.
That being said, I know corned beef and cabbage is a tradition for so many of you, so I thought I’d share a little about the history and nutrition of this dish.
Corned beef is a salt-cured brisket, referred to as corned beef because it was traditionally stored in barrels or cooked in a crock with coarse grains of salt, also called “corns of salt.” While salting beef does have origins in Ireland, beef was traditionally used for exports. Beef that was available in Ireland was typically quite expensive and most could not afford it. Salted pork and bacon were more inexpensive and thus more commonly eaten. After the potato famine, many Irish immigrants arrived in America where the price of corned beef was more inexpensive and accessible. By the 1920s, corned beef and cabbage developed an association with St Patrick’s Day celebrations as an Irish American tradition.
How does corned beef stack up nutritionally? According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a 3 ounce serving of corned beef (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 213 calories, 15 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat (5 grams saturated), and 0 grams carbohydrate. Not bad in terms of calories, but that 3 ounce serving packs 964 mg of sodium – 40% of the max amount you should get in one day (and if you have high blood pressure, it’s more like 60% of the max amount you should get). It’s certainly fine to enjoy your salty celebratory dish once a year, but we wouldn’t want to eat corned beef too often with that high sodium content.
A cup of chopped cabbage only contains 22 calories and packs Vitamin C and Vitamin K. People often complain that they’re not sure how to cook cabbage. Some easy ways include cooking it in a pot with low sodium chicken broth, or sautéing it in a tiny bit of oil or butter with some garlic. Yum!
I wish you all a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!
Yesterday, I had an hour break between some of the nutrition education classes I was teaching at a school. I always keep gym clothes in my car, so I decided to pop on some workout clothes and go for a 4 mile run. I decided to run and repeat a half mile loop circling a few blocks around the school.
The school isn’t in the greatest area, but I’ve never thought of it being in a particularly dangerous location either. While running down one street, I happened to pass what looked like two guys fighting. Something seemed off about it, more off than a typical argument or fist fight – both of them were on the ground by the sidewalk and immediately paused and looked at me. Something about their glance shook me up a bit, but I didn’t think much of it – I told myself it was daytime and I was being overly paranoid.
That is until I ran the loop again, got to that same street, and turned the corner to see several police in bullet proof vests with guns, the individuals from earlier being pat down and put in cop cars, and police searching cars and the house across the street. An ambulance took someone away, and another person was escorted out of the house with the police.
Apparently, I should’ve trusted my initial intuition.
All this made me think about the importance of safety while exercising, particularly if you’re by yourself, if you’re in a somewhat dangerous area, or if you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. I was lucky that the police ended up intervening in this situation, but what if they hadn’t and I continued to run around this same loop, being tossed in the middle of whatever this crazy situation was?! So, here are some tips on staying safe while exercising: Keep your headphones off or on low
. I have a bad habit of blasting my music when I’m running to keep me motivated. This is fine on the treadmill or when I’m running loops at the track with lots of familiar faces. But when running in an unfamiliar area, running on mostly deserted roads or trails, running in the evenings, or running along roads with lots of intersections and car traffic – turn the music off or at least down low enough that you can hear people approaching you or cars coming. Invest in a Road ID.
I got this for Valentine’s Day and am so grateful my fiancé thought to get me one. Road IDs have essential emergency info and come in bracelet or anklet form, or they have ones that can attach to your shoe. When most of us are running, we probably aren’t carrying our identification or phones. If something were to ever happen while running, whether you pass out, experience an injury, or get caught up in an unsafe situation – it’ll be important for EMS professionals to know essential information if we’re unable to communicate. My Road ID includes my name, emergency contact numbers, a note that I have a heart arrhythmia, my medication allergies – and of course, a slogan at the bottom courtesy of my fiancé: “No whining!” (haha!) (*I have no affiliation with Road ID – I just think it’s a great product!)Be visible.
If you’re running at night, be sure to wear bright clothes with some reflective gear. This will help cars see you, especially if you’re running on roads without sidewalks (and on that note, avoid running on roads without sidewalks at night!).Let someone know you’re going
. If you’re going out for a long run or going in an unfamiliar area, let someone know where you’re going and about how long you’ll be running for. When visiting a friend in New York a few years ago, I planned out a route to go for a 7 or 8 mile run. I didn’t let my friends know how long I’d be gone for. Unfortunately, one of the roads I was supposed to turn on didn’t have a road sign so I missed it – and ended up in the next town over, asking for directions to the only road that I knew led back to their house. I finally made my way back, but I think I ended up with an 11 or 12 miler! Run with a buddy.
If you’re in a potentially dangerous or unfamiliar area, running with a buddy can provide some comfort. There’s safety in numbers.Last but not least - be aware of your surroundings.
Sometimes, we may shove off uncomfortable feelings because we think we’re being oversensitive. Intuition can tell us a lot though. If you feel uncomfortable somewhere, find somewhere else to exercise. Or at the very least, stay close to wherever you are ending your run (maybe it's your car, maybe it's your place of work, etc) so that if you need to cut your run short, you're quite close to your end point. Trust your gut!
They’re a great source of nutrition, inexpensive, and are incredibly versatile – we’re talking about beans here. You can use them with rice or quinoa, in soups, salads, and chili recipes, or as a star component in different types of salsa. Beans contain about 6 to 8 grams of fiber per half cup, depending on the type, which helps you feel full more quickly. They’re also a good source of protein and (perhaps surprisingly) contain many antioxidants.
Dried bags of beans are the most inexpensive option, as you pay about twice the amount on average for the canned versions. Dried beans also cut out the additional sodium found in canned beans. If you can’t find the time to soak the dried beans and prefer canned, that’s fine – just give them a good rinse to remove some of the additional sodium.
Stumped on how to use beans in your meals? Check out these ideas:
Try this Mango Bean Salsa
recipe which was shared with us by one of our 2012 Challenge participants – she recently participated in a challenge to eat at least 1 ½ cups of beans in a week! It’s a fun new salsa recipe that can be used with fish or chicken, or can be served with tortilla chips.
4 mangos - peeled, seeded, and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 ounce) can white shoepeg corn, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
Combine everything in a bowl and stir. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Another challenge participant shared that she had them in a mock “fried rice”
– a stir fry with brown rice, asparagus, black beans, onion, and egg beater. I love this idea because you could probably throw in any leftover veggies you have around the house that you need to use up!
Lastly, our black bean and pineapple quesadilla recipe
would also be a great new idea to try if you haven’t gotten around to it yet!
The USDA announced that today, March 8th, is “What’s on My Plate” Day! This fits in great with the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month
message – “Get your plate in shape.”
Have you seen the new MyPlate visual? It was released last year. As a broad community based message, I like it. It emphasizes that most of our plate should come from fruits and vegetables. These should be the focus of our meal, not the afterthought. A quarter of the plate should come from whole grains, and the other quarter from lean proteins, as well as a group on the side that emphasizes a serving of dairy.
Of course, with any public health message that’s meant to be delivered across broad populations, there’s going to be a few shortcomings and confusion. For example, I wish the plate emphasized the importance of drinking more water (particularly today, which happens to also fall on World Kidney Day). It’d be nice if it said “whole grains” rather than just “grains.” And I think people get tripped up over where items like wine or chocolate belong.
Regardless, I think most of us could take some advice from MyPlate. Maybe you need more fruits and veggies on your plate, or maybe you’ve been skimping on some calcium-rich dairy. The MyPlate website
also has some great tips and tools that I’ve found useful, and I bet you will too.
So share with me today – what’s on your plate? Comment on our blog post, post pictures to our facebook page
, or share with Inspired Wellness on Twitter
I’d like to think I’m becoming a slightly better cyclist this year.
I’ve never been a great cyclist – it’s probably my worst of the three triathlon disciplines. I’m a relatively good swimmer, and a slow but steady runner – but I’ve traditionally been very shaky and nervous on the bike.
Several years ago, I took it upon myself to train for my first triathlon. It was the women’s only sprint distance Title 9 triathlon. I didn’t have a road bike, but rather a heavy mountain bike I borrowed from a friend, complete with a warped back tire that hit the brake pad every time it rotated around. As I trained for this first triathlon, I was terrified of riding the bike on the street. What about potholes? Rocks and gravel? CARS?!?!
This led to me deciding the best place to train was a Walmart parking lot.
You heard me right. Next to my old apartment complex was a Walmart, and in the mornings before they opened their huge parking lot would be basically empty. So I’d ride my bike over there at 6 or 7am and just ride around in circles for an hour. Needless to say, when I got to the Title 9 sprint I didn’t handle hills that well! But I managed to get through the bike portion (on roads!) and was proud of myself.
After that triathlon, I finally ventured out on the roads much more as I trained for later events. This year, I live in a new suburb with a new road bike, and roads that are a bit more conducive to riding. I’ve really enjoyed getting out on the road and exploring my new neighborhood. I have a great time riding with my fiancé, who definitely pushes me to ride faster and stronger since he’s so much quicker than me! Today we rode 14 miles outside after work, enjoying the unseasonably warm day we had here in Massachusetts.
And, we got trainers! One of my family’s Christmas gifts to me was some money to help purchase a bike trainer, something they knew both of us definitely wanted. These have been great, since they let us ride when the weather isn’t conducive. Using it has increased my comfort on the bike, and makes riding outside feel so much easier! On the trainer, you can never coast because you just stop. It’s a great workout, and makes me appreciate riding outside so much more.
Anyway, the point of all this rambling – if you’re nervous about doing something new or you realize you have limitations in a certain activity, don’t let it stop you from getting out there and doing it! Maybe you’re afraid to sign up for a road race because you’ve never felt like a “runner.” Or maybe you’re intimidated to try that new exercise class because everyone else looks like they’ve been taking it for years. Take first steps to increase your comfort with trying these activities. Maybe start by going out for a short run in your neighborhood and see how it feels, or look for a local race that caters to newbies. You can ask that fitness instructor if there’s a time the class is offered when there are fewer people and you can get more individualized instruction.
Even if you have to ride around Walmart for months and months until you’re comfortable tackling the streets, you’ll get to a point where you gain self-confidence and decide to venture out to the roads. And I can’t wait to hear about it!
Today, March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss’s birthday! As a kid, I loved his books so much – their unique stories and rhymes were always fun to read. But did you know that so much of Dr. Seuss’s written words extend to nutrition, fitness, and health? Today, as we celebrate the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss, let’s take a look at how we can learn some wellness lessons from one of the greatest children’s writers ever.
Lesson 1: Try new foods.
“You do not like them so you say.
Try them, try them, and you may!
Try them and you may, I say.”
Sam, if you would let me be,
I will try them, and you will see.
I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!”
- Green Eggs and Ham
Ah, the classic case of picky eaters. I like to read this story to some of my younger elementary school students, because it helps reinforce the lesson that we don’t know if we like something until we try it! But this applies to both kids and adults alike. If you didn’t like a food as a child, don’t be afraid to give it a try now – our preferences and taste often change as we age. I hated peanut butter and yogurt as a child, but like both of these foods now. It’s funny how that happens. And if you have kids, encourage your children to be adventurous eaters as well. It can take a young child up to 10-13 times of seeing a new food before they are willing to try it. Keep supplying new healthy choices and they’ll likely start to try them.
Lesson 2: Fad diets and unqualified professionals never go away.
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”
-One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Fad diets will always be out there. The grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, the cookie diet, the cabbage soup diet – the list is endless. Avoid these funny diets and focus on eating a balanced meal plan that is sustainable for life! If you need help figuring out what a balanced diet looks like for you, contact a Registered Dietitian (whether it’s myself or someone else). Remember, anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” with no training – but a dietitian goes through a 4 year degree program, an accredited internship with tons of training, passes a national exam, and maintains continuing education requirements.
Lesson 3: Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes, and get back on track quickly.
“Today is gone.
Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.”
-One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Every day is a new start, a full day to enjoy our life to the fullest. Along the same lines, if you have a bad day and are beating yourself up over not eating right, not getting your workout in, having a bad training session….just remember, tomorrow is another day. There’s no use harping on mistakes that were made, and even worse, throwing in the towel for the week with the dreaded “Forget it, I’ll start ______ (insert healthy behavior here) next week.” Let today be done, and focus on the positive changes you can make tomorrow.
Lesson 4: Try a new exercise challenge.
“If you never did
These things are fun.
and Fun is good.”
Too scared to try a new fitness class? Scared to sign up for that 5K? Think you can never do a triathlon? Sign up and you’ll prove yourself wrong – and have fun in the meantime!
Lesson 5: Keep your family active, even on rainy days!
“Too wet to go out and too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all.
So all we could do was to Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!
And we did not like it. Not one little bit.”
-The Cat in the Hat
Being sedentary all day, for kids or adults, is not what our bodies need. We need to move, play, be active, exercise! If you’re stuck inside for the day because of the weather, think about exercises you can do in the house. For adults, you can definitely do a circuit of body weight exercises or cardiovascular exercises like jumping jacks. For kids, consider playing games like freeze dance, indoor hopscotch (use masking tape on the floor!), games like twister, or do some kid friendly yoga.
Lesson 6: You will kick butt in your race/sport/event, despite the challenges!
“But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.”
-Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
For all my athletes out there…. There will be times when you feel like you’re training is not progressing fast enough. Or the mental game gets to you. Or you might start doubting your ability to race. Or you’re in the race, getting overwhelmed by competitors or conditions. There are more hills than you expected! The course ran out of gels! It’s too hot/cold/snowy/rainy! Why are all these people so fast!
But you can do it! You’ll go on, despite the weather, competition, training snafus, and hard times, and you will succeed! Keep your head in the right place, and focus on accomplishing your goal – not the distractions around you. And just for some extra inspiration, from the same book:
“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)”
Lesson 7: You have the power to make healthy choices.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.”
-Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Eating right, exercising, staying healthy – many of these are choices we make. Granted, we can’t control every health problem or injury that comes our way, or the greater environmental and socioeconomic problems that interfere with healthy eating and exercising. But regardless, there are still choices we can make each day to improve our health. Most of us know that an apple is a healthier snack than cookies, but many people choose the cookies anyway. This week, I challenge you to think about your food choices before you go ahead and start eating. Pause for a second and decide what is best for your body. If you follow a nutritious diet and get enough physical activity, you’ll move in the direction of improving your health!
Lesson 8: Respect everyone.
“A person's a person, no matter how small.”
-Horton Hears a Who
…And no matter how big. In light of National Eating Disorders week also falling this week, let’s teach children and adults to be kind and respectful to all people, regardless of body weight.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane! Share with us: What's your favorite lesson from above?