Everyone wants good things for their family: health, happiness, and enjoyment of life.
When it comes to raising kids, it can be tricky. Despite our best intentions, the growing child obesity epidemic 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 definitely can be attributed to today’s toxic food environment and lack of physical activity.
In short, our families are eating too much junk and are not active enough. Kids are especially vulnerable to developing unhealthy behaviors. Junk food is advertised directly to them and it tastes great! TV, video games and computer time can be a lot of fun.
The good news is that healthy food also tastes great, and physical activity can be fun for the whole family! We can give you simple tips and transform your child’s diet (and the rest of the family’s) into one that is packed with good health. If you make it a family event to be active and healthy together, you have a great support network to keep everyone motivated.
Parents are the primary influence over a child’s food environment at home. As the parent, you decide what food is offered and you model food behaviors to your child. The first step is to get the whole family on board with the idea of eating more healthfully. This does not mean eliminating all treats, but it does mean limiting access to them. As a general rule, at least 80% of the food in your home should be healthy, nutrient dense foods.
Try these tips to make healthy foods more attractive:
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, try to make it fun. Serve veggies with yogurt or hummus 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.
Help guide your kids to choose whole foods, rather than packaged ones. Packaged foods should be presented as a treat to enjoy occasionally. For daily eating habits, emphasize whole foods 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. But wait, there are more wholesome sweeteners available – sweeteners that add vitamins and minerals rather than empty calories. Use the following rather than white sugar or corn syrup:
Sucanat: This pure, dried sugar can juice retains its molasses content. Use it to replace white sugar in baking.
Pure Maple Syrup: Forget the “fake” syrups containing corn syrup. Pure maple syrup contains potassium, calcium and some amino acids.
Dates: Throw a few seeded dates into your blender to sweeten your smoothie rather than adding white sugar.
Honey: Contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, and also contain an number of compounds that act as antioxidants.
4) Make Smart Substitutions
Kids love pizza and pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Rather than fight your kids on their favorites, try making smart substitutions to make their favorites more nutritious.
Pizza: Up the nutritional content of your pizza by opting for whole wheat crust over white, adding veggies to the toppings and sticking with lean meat toppings.
Pasta: Use sprouted grain or whole grain pasta rather than traditional white pasta. Add veggies to your pasta sauce. Avoid cream based sauces, and look for red sauce without added sugar.
PB&J: A PB&J, made with white bread using sugar-filled peanut butter and corn syrup-filled jelly, is fairly void of any real nutritional value. Try the PB&J Makeover recipe below instead for a sandwich that will provide real wholesome fuel for your child’s day.
5) Ban Sugary Drinks
One of the best things that you can do for your child’s good health is to instill in them a love for water rather than sugary drinks. Soda pop and and even fruit juices are filled with empty (or near empty) calories that encourage weight gain.
The easiest way to do this is to stock your house with lots of pure, filtered water. Don’t have fruit drinks or soda pop readily available so that they grow accustom to drinking only water.
PB&J Makeover Recipe:
Not all PB&J sandwiches were created nutritionally equal. It all depends on the quality of the ingredients that you use.
If you use white bread, corn syrup-filled peanut butter and refined sugar-filled jelly, the result would be a sandwich that will skyrocket your blood sugar, promotes fat storage and leaves you feeling hungry a short time later.
However, if you make this recipe, with sprouted grain bread, true peanut butter made from one ingredient: peanuts, and fruit preserves that are naturally sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar, then the result would be a nutritionally dense food that would promote stable blood sugar levels and provide you with hours of sustained energy.
Your kids will love the fun twist of having their sandwich grilled and stuffed with banana slices!
Here’s what you need:
Sprouted grain bread
1 Tablespoon pure peanut butter (no added sugar or corn syrup)
1 Tablespoon natural fruit spread (no added sugar or corn syrup)
1/2 of a banana, sliced
Spread one piece of bread with peanut butter and the other with fruit spread. Line one side with the sliced bananas and sandwich it.
In a grill pan over medium heat, grill each side until grill marks appear and the sandwich is warmed.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 380 calories, 8.7g fat, 53g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, and 13.2g protein.
When you hear “starch”, most people think “foods to avoid”. Potatoes, rice, flour…. Is it too much carbohydrate?
Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate (just like other forms of starch), but acts more like fiber. It resists digestion in the small intestine – where most carbohydrate digestion takes place. Instead, resistant starch, like other types of fiber, is digested in the large intestine by healthy bacteria lining your GI tract. Think of resistant starch as “food” for the healthy bacteria in your gut.
The bacteria produce healthful short-chain fatty acids that keep your intestinal cells healthy, decrease bowel inflammation and decrease bowel time. All of these benefits help to keep your intestines healthy and can help prevent colorectal cancer (one of the most preventable cancers).
Where is Resistant Starch Found?
Seeds, legumes (peas, lentils, beans), under-ripe (green) bananas, unprocessed whole grains, cooked and cooled potatoes, rice and pasta are all great sources. Resistant starch can also be made chemically to be used as a supplement or food additive.
Health Benefits of Resistant Starch
- Did you know that bacteria cells in your gut (called your “gut flora”) outnumber the body’s cells 10 to 1? It makes sense to keep these microorganisms healthy! Resistant starch promotes the growth or healthy gut bacteria and decreases intestinal inflammation.
- Resistant starch improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which can help improve blood sugar control fro those at risk or diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.
- Since resistant starch acts similarly to dietary fiber, it also provides a feeling of fullness to help control your appetite. There is some evidence that shows reduced calorie intake and improved weight loss with diets high in resistant starch. Resistant starch has fewer calories than regular starch (2 vs 4 calories/gram).
Use this white bean hummus instead of creamy dressings or cheese in your sandwich. The hummus is filled with healthy protein and fiber.
Here’s what you need…
- 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- dash of salt
- Throw everything into the food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Spread onto whole wheat bread or use as a dip for cut veggies.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 124 calories, 1.6g fat, 20g carbohydrate, 5.5g fiber, and 7g protein.
Gone are the days when tuna melts were laden with fat and served on slabs of bread with a pile of French fries – this recipe gives you all of that comforting taste without the guilt. And it only takes a few minutes to make! Serve your healthy tuna melts up with a side of whole grain rice and steamed veggies for an all around winner of a meal.
Here’s what you need…
- 6 oz can of albacore tuna (in water), drained and flaked
- 1 egg white
- 2 Tablespoons oatmeal
- 2 Tablespoons diced onion
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons low-fat shredded cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Blend all of the ingredients (except the cheese) in a bowl. Pre-heat a frying pan and coat with cooking spray. Form two patties.
- Cook one side until brown and then turn. When the second side is nearly done, sprinkle cheese over it.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 138 calories, 2g fat, 4.5g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, and 25.5g protein
Here it is, our favorite recipe for fall! Enjoy these tasty pumpkin pancakes without guilt. Made with almond meal and packed with protein from eggs, these pancakes are sure to satisfy without shortchanging your results.
Here’s what you need…
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup egg whites
- 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- dash of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- cooking spray
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
- Heat pancake griddle to medium heat and coat with cooking spray.
- Cook each side about 3 minutes until brown, then flip and cook remaining side. Enjoy!
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 255 calories, 15g fat, 112mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, and 19g protein.
At North End Fitness and Training, we see a lot of different types of people come in. Many of them already make healthy decisions (most of the time). They might already exercise regularly and watch what they eat. They keep up-to-date on the latest health concerns. They don’t binge on sugar.
But they come to North End for a reason. They are still struggling to meet their goals. The truth is, many people, even those that are health conscious, probably have a few unhealthy skeletons in their closet – ones that they probably aren’t even aware of.
The following 5 mistakes are frequently committed by health conscious people. Once these bad habits are broken, you’ll find that achieving your weight loss goals just became a whole lot easier.
- You’re Sleep Deprived
- In Gallup Poll surveys, 56% of the adult population reported that drowsiness is a problem in the daytime. That means that more than half of the population may not get adequate sleep.
- Most healthy adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you fail to meet this need your body goes into sleep debt, which continues to accumulate indefinitely until you catch up.
- A lack of sleep negatively affects your immune system, your nervous system, and interferes with healthy hormone release and cellular repairs.
The best way to combat sleep deprivation is to set a scheduled bedtime. Your body will benefit from a consistent sleeping and waking routine, and you’re sure to get all the rest you need.
If you have trouble falling asleep once you’re in bed, then try these two tips. First, make sure that you don’t drink any caffeinated beverages after lunchtime. Second, don’t eat for two hours before you go to bed.* This helps eliminate sleeplessness due to indigestion, and will also turbo-charge your weight loss.
*Make sure that you do consume an adequate amount of calories earlier in the day.
- You’re Dehydrated
- Most people require 6-8 glasses (48-64 ounces) of water per day to stay hydrated. We’ve noticed that most people tend to fall short. How many cups did you have today?
- Dehydration occurs when more fluid leaves your body than is taken in. Symptoms include: fatigue, decreased ability to concentrate, irritability, headaches, nausea, rapid heart rate, and, in extreme cases, even death.
- Dehydration also slows your metabolism, which may hinder weight loss. People also tend to confuse thirst for hunger and eat more at a meal when they are dehydrated.
You shouldn’t wait until the feeling of thirst or dry mouth hits you, at that point you may be already dehydrated. Instead, constantly hydrate throughout your day to avoid dehydration. The best way to do this is to incorporate water into your daily schedule. Have 8 oz first thing in the morning. Keep a water bottle at your desk and train yourself to sip on it often, and get into the habit of drinking a full glass of water with each meal and snack.
- You’re Stressed Out
- We don’t have to tell you that we are living in a fast-paced world and that most of us have stress levels that are through the roof. But what you might not realize is that your stress levels may be getting in the way of your weight loss goals.
- Stress creates an increase in the hormone cortisol, and chronic stress creates a chronic increase in cortisol. This is a problem because excessive cortisol levels may slow your metabolism and increase cravings. High cortisol levels are also linked to greater levels of abdominal fat storage.
- The vicious cycle of stress and weight gain goes around and around. Stress causes you to eat emotionally, and your raised cortisol levels may cause that food to be stored as fat.
One of the most effective ways to instantly eliminate stress is to sit down and write out a list of all the things that are bothering you. This should include things that you need to get done, issues that weigh on your mind and anything you believe contributes to your stress level. Once it’s all down on paper, organize it like a to-do list and start resolving each item. Doing so will get the stress off of your mind and will put your body into the motion of resolving each issue.
- You Eat Out Too Often
- Research suggests that most people eat out one out of every 4 meals and snacks. That’s an average of once a day.
- Restaurant food is designed to do one thing: to taste good. In order to increase eating pleasure, each item is loaded with fat, salt and sugar. This causes you to eat way more calories than you actually need.
- Even when you order ‘healthy’ items, you’re still taking in more calories and fat grams than you would if you had prepared the item at home. Imagine the last salad you ordered out. Didn’t it come with full fat dressing, croutons, cheese sprinkles and a piece of butter-laden bread on the side?
The main reason people eat out is for convenience, so with a little organization you’ll find that preparing your own meals takes less time than you thought it would. On the weekend sit down and plan out your meals for the week. Then go to the grocery store and stock up on everything you’ll need for those meals.
Pack your lunch and snacks each night before bed, then grab it on your way out the door in the morning. When you prepare dinner at home, make enough for at least the next day as well. Your efforts will pay off both in terms of weight loss and in money saved.
- You’re on Exercise Autopilot
- You do the same thing each and every time you exercise. Same machines, same pace, same duration. While your routine is enjoyable and feels comfortable, your results have long since halted.
- A plateau occurs when your body adapts to your routine and weight loss stops. It is incredibly frustrating, and totally avoidable.
- You don’t have to increase the amount of time that you spend exercising in order to see quicker, faster results. It’s all about challenging your body.
At North End, we understand exercise. Our trainers will constantly challenge you, helping you break new ground during each workout. With personal attention and expertise, we will get you through that plateau!
So are you ready to break the plateau as you take your routine to the next level? It’s our goal to see you achieve greatness. We believe that you’ve got what it takes.
It’s not rocket science. To lose weight, you have to cut calories. So why do so many people struggle?
When you reduce the volume of food that you intake you are going to feel hungry. Constant hunger will make you feel irritable and dissatisfied. It’s just not something you can do for that long.
What if we told you that you can reduce your calorie intake AND control hunger?
This concept is based on the energy density of foods, or the number of calories in a particular amount of weight of food. Foods with a lower energy density provide fewer calories per gram than foods with a higher energy density. Research shows that people eat a fairly consistent amount (volume) of food on a day-to-day basis. This holds true regardless of the calorie intake. If you fill your diet with low energy density foods, your total calorie consumption will decrease, and yet, you feel as though you are eating the same amount of food.
So what kinds of foods are “low energy density” foods? You’re best bet are foods that contain a lot of water and fiber. High energy density foods will be those that contain a high percentage of fat.
To create a diet low in energy density:
- Fill your meals and snacks with large portions of fruits and vegetables. Choose spinach, tomatoes, kale, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables… we could go on and on- but you get the idea! Broth-based soups are also typically low in energy density.
- Round out meals by adding starchy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. These foods, while not all very low energy density, are very important for creating a healthy, balance diet.
- Look out for high energy density foods. Limit or eliminate them from your diet. They include: all fried foods (including vegetables), fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy, and non-whole grains. Also look out for foods with little moisture content – crackers, cookies, chips, and high-fat foods like croissants, margarine and bacon. These foods have a large number of calories relative to their weight and can easily be over-consumed.
*Nuts and seeds are high energy density foods, but contain loads of healthful fiber, vitamins, and minerals. While they have a place in your healthy diet, moderate portion size is absolutely necessary