Halloween is just around the corner – and it often comes with a SCARY amount of sugar in most households.
Did you know that the average American will eat just about 3 pounds of candy each Halloween season?
Nobody says you have to give up the sweet stuff, but here are a few tips for having a healthier Halloween!
Be Pro-Pumpkin..but without all the Sugar
The second it hits October you see pumpkin-flavored everything, everywhere. But most drinks and foods touting their pumpkin-flavors have just that, flavoring, and very minimal actual pumpkin.
Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A and fiber – but only if you get the actual pumpkin! Try incorporating canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix which has added sugar) into favorite foods like waffles, oatmeal and home-made muffins.
Spiced pumpkin soup, homemade pumpkin raviolis made with won-ton wrappers and pumpkin smoothies with plain yogurt are other great ways to get a feeling for fall without all of that added sugar!
Scatter your Sugar – Use Nuts and Fruit
If you’re looking for something to nosh on this time of year, make sure to have fresh fruit and nuts on hand. You can make your own trail mix – even using a little candy if you want – but spread out the sugar by incorporating fruit and nuts.
Many dried fruits contain added sugar, so look for items that don’t – or incorporate fresh instead of dried fruit when you can.
When it comes to nuts, calories do add up quickly – but those calories also come with protein, fiber and healthy fats that will help keep you full when it comes time to go trick-or-treating
Out of Site…Out of Mind
Ever find yourself raiding your kids’ candy bag, just because it’s there? Same thing goes with the candy jar on the counter. You probably wouldn’t eat it if you hadn’t seen it! Studies show that a move as simple as moving tempting foods out of site can help cut down on overeating.
Sure, it’s fine to indulge your sweet tooth once in a while – but keeping your sweets stashed away (and in small portions) might help you cut back on the calories from sugar this holiday season!
Although nutrition guidelines can be hard to follow and sometimes contradict each other…exercise guidelines aren’t always in any better shape!
Guidelines about how much we should exercise range from:
- Children do 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day
- Vigorous intensity aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for adults
- Bone strengthening activity at least 3 days per week
- …and don’t forget about cardio: for major health benefits adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week
It’s hard to know exactly how much we should move!
And the harsh reality is that most Americans aren’t doing anywhere close to that much. In fact, the CDC says that up to 80% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of weekly exercise.
A new study shows that doing something is better than nothing, and as little as 1 hour of exercise per week may curb depression risk.
Researchers from a team of British, Australian, and Norwegian analysts looked at data gathered from nearly 34,000 adults. They found that people who exercise just one hour per week (regardless of the level of intensity of that exercise) had a 44 percent lower risk for developing depression over the course of a decade when compared to those who never exercised at all.
The benefits of exercise are widespread, from weight and appetite control, to bone health and balance. But it appears from this particular study, that even a small amount of exercise can help curb depression too!
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the benefits – and drawbacks – of a primarily plant-based diet.
A recent article in the New York Times buy Jane E. Brody entitled “Good Vegan, Bad Vegan” brought some of these issues to light. Her article was based on opinions about and feedback from another popular publication, the documentary “What the Health“, a controversial movie with many questionable premises billing itself as “The Health Movie Health Organizations Don’t Want You to See”.
Brody points out in her article some of the same points that many dietitians and other nutrition and health advocates regularly repeat, that even vegetarian diets, if not properly planned and balanced can be unhealthy.
Take this sample vegetarian meal “plan” for example:
- Sugary cereal with vanilla (sweetened) soy milk for breakfast
- White pasta with pesto and high-sodium canned soup for lunch
- Refined white carb crackers and salty soy cheese for snack
- Grilled vegan cheese sandwich on white bread with canned green beans for dinner
Now of course this menu is a big exaggerated…but you get the point: there are no animal foods in that diet, but there is a ton of added sugar, salt, and refined white carbs that also aren’t so great for you either. Not enough fiber either…
While cutting back on your reliance on animal protein can be good for your health – and the environment – there are certainly ways to incorporate small amounts of animal foods responsibly in a diet that is well-balanced!
- If you’re a heavy meat-eater, try making at least one day a week meatless. (Check out meatlessmonday.com for inspiration)
- Focus on plants you can eat MORE of – aim for at least one serving of fruits and/or vegetables every time you sit down for a meal or snack
- Be picky about processed food – don’t forget that even processed vegetarian foods can be devoid of important nutrients or have high amounts of added sugar and/or salt