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Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right by Erica Hansen, MS, RD

VegetablesWhy do you eat what you eat? Are you eating right? If you are like most Americans, according to research, taste trumps all other deciding factors. Surprised? Probably not.

We live in a time and place where food is abundant and you have a lot of food choices to make, as many as 200 per day according to researcher Dr. Brian Wansink. Can you think of a place where you can’t find food? It’s in movie theaters, malls, airports, your workplace, gas stations, and even available at sporting events. Each year about 50,000 new food products are introduced to your grocery store shelves. With so many foods to choose from many Americans have the luxury of choosing to eat the very best tasting things.

Unfortunately, some of the foods that are packed with essential nutrients have been given a bad rap in the tasty foods lineup. According to national surveys, less than 25% of Americans eat the amount of vegetables we should (about 2-3 cups per day). When I meet with patients the number one reason they cite for avoiding vegetables is, you guessed it, taste.

Vegetables are running up against some tasty competition. The foods you find on supermarket shelves are literally made to win; loaded with added fat and sugar they are created to taste great. Why? Because you buy things that taste good and we are hard-wired to enjoy the taste of fat and sugar, both high in life-sustaining energy. From a marketing and business perspective it makes sense for a food manufacturing company to add taste–unfortunately, even at the cost of compromising nutritional quality.

Vegetables are naturally low in fat and simple sugars, but you shouldn’t give up on great tasting vegetables just yet. When aiming to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal, consider these three suggestions to add flavor and flair:

1. Vary your veggies
Don’t get stuck eating the same vegetables night after night. While corn, peas, carrots, and potatoes are great, they aren’t the only veggies out there.

Consider writing out a list of all the vegetables you like eating by going through all of the colors of the rainbow. What are all of the red vegetables you like? Orange? Green? Sometimes having a tangible list of possible choices will help you realize how many you actually do like and give you ideas to add to your grocery list.

During your next trip to the grocery store, pick-up a new vegetable or one you haven’t tried for a while. I don’t recommend filling your cart with new options, it can be too overwhelming. Start small and add to your list of vegetable ideas.

tradition 32. Mix up your methods
Though a healthy choice, steaming or boiling your vegetables can at times lead to a bland product. Try roasting, broiling, grilling, or stir-frying in a little oil. Many vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and red potatoes) are fabulous when tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese and then roasted or broiled on high heat. Ratatouille is prepared in a similar way.

Salads are often a go-to vegetable, and for great reason, but don’t get stuck in a salad rut. Try taco salads, an Asian salad with mandarin oranges and toasted sesame dressing, throw in fruits and nuts for something sweet, or try a hearty chef salad.

Cooking vegetables in broth instead of water or oil, seasoning them with fresh herbs and spices, soaking them in rice vinegars (delicious on cucumbers!), and dipping or topping them in salsa, hummus, or nut butters are also great, tasty, nutritious choices.

3. Be sneaky
It is easy to get stuck thinking in terms of vegetables as side dishes only, but vegetables can be incorporated into what you’re already eating:

• Add sautéed or fresh vegetables to your pizza
• Cucumbers, peppers, and sprouts add great crunch to sandwiches and wraps
• Carrots and onions in your rice make for a nice pilaf
• Include beans in your soups, stews, salads, and casseroles
• Zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, or artichokes are tasty in pasta
• Spinach or kale in a fruity shake is nearly undetectable
• Creamy butternut squash in homemade mac n’ cheese makes for sweet, nutty, and extra creamy comfort food

I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering as I wrap up these lists; no small accomplishment for veggies with less than tasty reputation.

Remember, all forms count–fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, and canned vegetables. Start small, but start today to make vegetables a regular part of your plate!

Kids Are the Future of Tomorrow… So How’s Their Health? By Camille Olson

mid section view of a woman cutting vegetablesHow is the Health of our kids? We have all heard the old adage, “The kids of today are the future of tomorrow.” What happens when the kids of today are less healthy than the kids of yesterday? It is no secret that our children today have many health obstacles to overcome to ensure that they have a bright tomorrow.

I recently read an article by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen. I could not believe what the research revealed about our children and their future health. I have included below some of my favorite parts from the article.

“Today’s teens are developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes at a younger age than any generation before them. After 40 years of improvement in America’s heart health, they’re likely to live shorter lives than their parents. There is no way to sugar coat this. More than 70 percent of teens studied already had one or more of these red flags: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides (a menacing blood fat), low levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, and lots of excess pounds.

CB100665How did kid’s health get so big? Blame the four S’s:
1. Sugary drinks and snacks: about 30 percent of teens’ daily calories now come from them.

2. Salt: kids eat more blood pressure-boosting sodium than any other age group.

3. Skipping the good stuff: only about 20 percent of kids eat five servings of fruit and veggies a day, or enough whole grains.

4. Sitting around: just 20 percent of teens get an hour of physical activity per day, the minimum for good health.

So as parents, and adult role models, what can we do to help? Truth is, we know what really keeps kids’ hearts healthy, not lectures and weigh-ins. Kids click with what YOU do. Don’t shame them, but focus on positives and their health. Start with these five basic recommendations:

peopleGet every kids’ cholesterol checked. Heart-health experts now recommend that all kids have a cholesterol test between ages 9 and 11 and again at age 17 to 21. Total cholesterol over 189, LDLs over 199 and triglycerides over 114, and healthy HDL below 45 means it is time to eat smarter.

Know your kids’ blood pressure. Your pediatrician can tell you if you child is fine, or needs help.
Change your menu. Today. Don’t wait! Few teens get even half the cholesterol-lowering fiber they need. Serve more fruits, veggies and grains. Toss walnuts and raisins on oatmeal, or Cheerio’s, keep apples and oranges on the counter, make sandwiches with 100 percent whole-grain bread, sprinkle veggies with almonds and serve water instead of sugary soft drinks.” Lead the way.

Downshift on pizza and other teen salt bombs: The single largest source of sodium in teens’ diets is pizza, so make it a once-a-month treat-and start with a big salad so a couple of slices of pizza will fill them up. Cutting back on salt now will cut your teens’ risk for high blood pressure later by 63 percent.
Tun off the TV and get moving: Play back-yard soccer, go to the playground, go skating or play Wii Fit. Simply cutting your family’s staring at TV time in half will help everyone burn calories and build muscle and as a result, self confidence.”

Not only do we need to follow these guidelines from Dr. Oz, but we need to realize the impact (both positive and negative) that parents and peers have on their children. Modeling good healthy behaviors will benefit both the leader and follower. These behaviors include: exercise, healthy eating, taking time for ourselves to “recharge” our batteries, and getting the proper amount of sleep. If you or a loved one is struggling, a therapist or health coach/trainers at Whole Fit can help support your efforts to change.

Whole Fit provides a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight management, and performance training. Our team includes experienced professionals with a wide range of health and wellness backgrounds. To learn more about our team visit us online at www.wholefitwellness.com.

camille2About the Author: Camille Olson is currently working in the marketing department at the South Shore Center for Couples & Families. She received her B.S. degree from Brigham Young University in elementary education. She is married and is the mother of five children.