Keep the Party Going! Food Safety

  The air is warmer, the sun is shining, and cookouts are quickly approaching. Did you know that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year.  So, don’t commit these party fouls with these common food safety mistakes this summer.  Keep the party in the yard and not running to the restroom! Mistake 1: Washing your meat before cooking. Wash your hands, not meat or poultry. Washing meat or poultry can spread germs to countertops and other items in your kitchen like fruit, which can make you ill. Washing your hands not only keeps you safe but protects your guests as well. A study found that “only 5 percent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.” Grab that soap and be sure to wash [...]

Make Mental Health a Priority

  May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), “1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.” Mental health affects all ages, from children to adults, and it is part of our overall health and well-being. Let’s explore why mental health is so important and how we can make it a priority. What is Mental Health? First, let’s start by defining mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a “state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Taking care of your mental well-being does not mean an absence of negative emotions or feelings, but it does mean practicing healthy [...]

Exercise and Mental Health

  Mental health is an important factor in overall wellness. Many Americans face mental health challenges daily, which magnifies the need for understanding and managing it. Exercise is proven to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Let’s take a closer look at how exercise can aid mental health. The Benefits The latest exercise guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services noted how physical activity has “brain health benefits, including possible improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, and improved sleep and quality of life.” Exercise increases the body’s production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help the body stabilize mood, feel more happy and motivated, and stay more focused (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Physical activity also releases endorphins, often referred to as the “feel-good” hormone, and are a natural pain killer for [...]

Flavors of the Season: Spring Produce

Fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed all year round. In season fruits and vegetables are usually more affordable and make great additions to meals and snacks. Spring offers a variety of fruits and veggies including apricots, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, collard greens, kiwi, pineapple, spinach, strawberries, etc. Produce has many health benefits but unfortunately most people are not meeting the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies each day.  In fact, research has found that, “just 1 in 10 adults meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations.” Not only are fruits and vegetables delicious but having a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Reflect on your habits. Where can you add an additional serving of produce? Can you add a piece of fruit as a [...]

Stress Eating

The strongest food cravings seem to hit when you are at your weakest point. I’m sure we can all think about a time when the stress of life was piling up, and in turn we coped by eating a pile of cookies. Many people experience stress eating, but making a habit of it can be detrimental to our weight loss goals. There is much power behind the term “stress eating”. Stress, the hormones it releases, and coping strategies involving comfort foods, all can factor into overeating. Research has shown that both stress and weight gain go hand in hand, which is alarming when nearly a fourth of Americans rate their stress as an 8 out of a 10-point scale. So, why do we turn to food in times of stress? Stress Eating, Hunger, and Hormones Appetite can react to stress [...]

Nutrition Review of Meal-Kit Delivery Programs

  Lock us down and Americans will eat it up. Literally! While in quarantine many of us ate like bears preparing for hibernation. More time at home to cook and limited access to grocery stores spawned an explosion of meal-kit delivery programs. Our lead dietitian tried several of them to assess the nutritional value of these “healthy, convenient meals”. Overall, we found these options to be heavy in salt and fat, and low on produce portions. The meals seemed to be kept at a low price-point by substituting processed foods for fruits and vegetables. In several the produce seemed more of a garnish. Upon closer review of each program, we often found that choices classified as “healthy” seemed to have had a very loose definition of health. For example, Marley Spoon has no information on the site as to the [...]

Exercise for Stress Relief

Our days can be full of stressful situations and feelings. No matter how much we’d like to get rid of stress altogether, we find that is virtually impossible. Instead, a more realistic approach is to manage how we react and respond to stress. Exercise has numerous benefits for the body, including stress relief. It increases the body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural pain relievers and encourage feelings of pleasure (Mayo Clinic). Physical activity is a good way to give your mind a rest by focusing on the present moment. It’s known to help improve your mood by lowering feelings of depression and anxiety. When we’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy coping habits like extra snacking or drinking. Exercise provides a healthier choice for coping. Let’s look at several examples of exercises that [...]

Stress… More than Just Frustrating?

Stress. We all face some form of it almost every single day. It can feel like a frustrating or annoying part of life, but did you know that it can affect us mentally and physically? Stress impacts all systems of the body, including our musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, digestive, immune, and cardiovascular systems. Learning how stress can affect our entire body can help us choose better ways to manage it. How Stress Affects the Body Musculoskeletal System. Stress causes muscles to tighten. Over time this can lead to muscle pain and body aches. Chronic tension can be a trigger for headaches and migraines. Respiratory System. Stressful situations can cause rapid breathing. These quick breaths can leave you feeling short of breath and may trigger panic attacks. Nervous System. The nervous system triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and [...]

Top 10 Outdoor Activities for Spring

Spring is the time of year when exercise starts to sound a little more motivating again. Warmer temperatures and more daylight might make it easier to be active outdoors, but where do we even begin? Grab the whole family and check out 10 of our favorite ways to get moving this season.   Take a Walk After a long winter, fresh air and sunshine feel so good! Walking is a great form of exercise and can even help with stress management. Try hiking a trail in a local park. Or get the entire family involved and go for a short walk after dinner.   Plant a Garden Planting a garden can be a relaxing and rewarding activity. Whether you’re planting colorful flowers or delicious fruits and veggies, you’re sure to add a pop of color to Spring. Tending and watering the garden [...]

Sleep and Heart Health

We’ve all been there – we didn’t get enough sleep the night before, and then the next day are tired, unfocused, cranky, and slugging through the day. Sleep can impact a multitude of things, but it can also affect our health. Did you know that adequate sleep is an important part of heart health?  How Does Sleep Affect the Heart? Studies have found that getting enough sleep helps manage blood pressure, improves blood sugar, and even regulates part of the brain that controls hunger (CDC). This can help with the management and prevention of hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and obesity. Adequate sleep can benefit heart health more indirectly by encouraging healthier behaviors. The more rested we are, the easier it is to make mindful choices about sleep, exercise, stress, and many other habits.   Serious sleep conditions like Sleep Apnea [...]