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Living a healthy lifestyle is central to maintaining wellness throughout your lifetime. In fact, healthy habits not only help you to feel good and manage illness today, they can also help prevent future disease. There are many behaviors that influence your health - what you eat, how you sleep, if you smoke, how active you are, how you manage stress - to name just a few. You can improve your quality of life by making simple, positive changes to your daily routine.
Where to start?
We've collected useful facts and tips to inform, motivate and support steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Remember, small changes are powerful. Start today!
Many people skip breakfast because they’re rushing to get out the door, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school. And these are just a few reasons!
Studies have linked breakfast to better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and of being overweight. It’s hard to know though, if breakfast causes these healthy habits or if people who eat it have healthier lifestyles. But one thing is clear: Skipping breakfast can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. When you wake up, your blood sugar is low and breakfast replenishes it, helping your muscles and brain work their best. If your body doesn’t get that fuel from food, you may feel zapped of energy and you will be more likely to overeat later in the day. Breakfast also gives you a chance to get the vitamins and nutrients you need every day to keep you healthy and prevent disease.
Breakfast is very important for children; their growing bodies need the nutrients and fuel. Sometimes kids don’t feel like eating in the morning, but it’s important that they do. Children who skip breakfast have a harder time focusing and they become more tired in school. They may also be cranky or restless. Also, most children don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need from just lunch and dinner. And children who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to eat junk food during the day and be overweight.
Here are some tips:
- No time to sit down? Pack something healthy your child can have on the way to school. Choose fruit, nuts, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
- Try a whole-grain low sugar cereal, low-fat milk and fruit, or a breakfast smoothie made from low-fat yogurt, fruit, and a teaspoon of bran.
- Even last night’s leftovers reheated in the microwave will do. It’s a good idea to have some healthy food within an hour of waking up.
- Resist that pastry or doughnut. Your best bet is a mix of foods that have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Carbs will give you energy right away, and the protein will give you it later on. Fiber keeps you feeling full.
- Make it ahead. Old fashioned oats are perfect to mix up with fresh and dried fruit, nuts and even vegetables for a perfect, packed with nutrients, make-ahead breakfast. If you need some inspiration, try this quick recipe:
Pumpkin Pie Refrigerator Oatmeal
- 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
- ¼ cup pumpkin Puree (unsweetened canned pumpkin)
- In a half pint (1 cup) jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup.
- Put lid on jar and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add pumpkin and stir until mixed throughout.
- Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Eat chilled.
Nutritional Info: 216 calories, 4g fat, 48g carbs, 8g fiber, 12g protein.
Did you know that people who sleep six or fewer hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who sleep seven or eight hours a night? Research shows that if we don't get enough sleep we eat more the next day. There is also evidence that we may get those extra calories by choosing fattier foods than we would normally eat. But why is it that sleeping less makes people eat more? Studies have found that depriving people of sleep raises the blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, and lowers the blood levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. We know life is busy, but there is always hope!
Here is what you can do to get a better sleep:
- Be physically active on a daily basis. A 30-minute jog, a yoga class, or any sport or activity that makes your heart pump a little faster will improve the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid large meals at night. A large meal can cause indigestion; interfering with your sleep.
- Eat foods high in tryptophan. These include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, salmon, mackerel, and black beans. Tryptophan is an amino acid needed to create a hormone called serotonin, which ultimately creates another hormone called melatonin, which helps regulate sleep and the wake cycles in your body.
- Eat foods that contain melatonin. These include cherries, walnuts and flaxseeds, which are also packed with nutrients to keep you healthy and lots of flavor!
- Eat foods high in magnesium. Studies have shown that magnesium helps to counteract insomnia. These include kale, spinach, almonds, yogurt, avocado and pumpkin seeds.
- Stay away from caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine is a natural stimulant of our nervous system. It makes us feel alert and prevents the onset of tiredness.
- Do something relaxing before sleep. Whether it is meditating or taking a hot bath, a healthy and relaxing activity before bed will definitely help you sleep.
- Refrain from watching too much television and limit screen time -whether it's your phone or computer- before sleeping. Studies have shown that the bright light of screens may interfere with our body's production of melatonin and affect our sleep cycle.
- Go outside and get some sun! Sun exposure will help your body produce melatonin and improve your sleep.
Have you ever thought about why it’s called “Wonder Bread?” That’s probably because it’s a wonder where all of the nutrients have gone. Refined grains such as white bread, white flour, and white rice are lacking in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Eating whole grains has been linked to reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Cereal is a great source of whole grains. But it’s not always easy to tell which brands are actually good for you. When shopping for cereal, keep the following guidelines in mind:
100 % whole grain – The best cereals are made from (not “with”) 100% whole grain or bran. The first two ingredients should be whole grain, bran, oats, or soy. Avoid refined grains, enriched flours, and meals, which lose nutrients in the milling process.
Less than 200 calories per serving – Some cereals can be less than 100 calories per serving, while others can be more than 500. In general, it’s best to stick to cereals that are less than 200 calories per serving, and to use skim milk (80 calories per cup) instead of whole milk (150 calories).
At least 5 grams of fiber per serving – A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol, prevent diabetes, reduce risk of some cancers and promote regular bowel movements. It is recommended that most people eat between 20-35 grams of fiber per day.
Less than 5 grams of sugar per serving – In this category, less is always best! Read the ingredients to avoid added sugars like high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, and molasses. It’s also better to add your own fresh fruit (like berries and bananas) to cereal than to buy brands that already contain fruit.
Less than 3 grams of fat per serving – Make sure the cereal you choose does not contain any trans fat, which has been proven to raise cholesterol. It’s best to keep the fat content as low as possible when choosing a cereal. Again, use skim instead of whole milk.
Other foods that contain whole grain include:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Fall is just around the corner. The leaves are starting to change and the air is getting cooler, telling us it is the height of apple and pear season. These delicious fruits are not only filled with taste but they are also loaded with antioxidants, vitamins C and E, minerals and fiber while still being low in calories. Bake them in a pie or cobbler, bake them plain, make a sauce with them or even eat them on their own. Go out and pick them today!
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