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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!
Fall is a perfect time to visit a farmers’ market! The weather is perfect for walking around and the trees turn into a beautiful array of colors. Fall produce is plentiful; you will find a big variety of:
- Apples and pears: Good sources of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and calcium. All this goodness is packed into a small apple or pear with about 80 calories only.
- Pumpkins and winter squash: Both are excellent sources of vitamin A. Vitamin C is present in good amounts, but is lost during cooking. Select pumpkins that are firm and heavy for their size. You can store them in a cool dark place for up to 2 months!
- Potatoes and turnips: These root vegetables are good sources of Potassium. Try a potato salad with the skin on for some added fiber! Vitamin C is lost during cooking.
Enjoy these benefits of shopping in farmers markets!
- Can save money. When fruits and vegetables are grown locally, they travel a short distance and that helps keep the cost low. Also, many markets accept SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) and you can use your EBT card to pay for fresh fruits and vegetables.
- You can’t get any fresher. Fruits and vegetables come straight from the farm. They are picked and loaded on a truck to be driven to a farmers’ market. Fresher, seasonal fruits and vegetables mean more nutrition and flavor on your plate.
- You help the local economy and neighborhood. When you shop at a farmers’ market more of your money goes directly to the farmer than if you shop at a grocery store.
- Help you eat a variety of foods. Farmers’ markets are the perfect place to venture into trying something new. They often have varieties of produce that you don’t see in a regular grocery store, so you’re sure to find some new favorites. Farmers are happy to talk about their products and answer your questions. And if you have a picky eater, make sure to include him or her on the trip to the market!
Some markets close in late fall, but others stay open year-round. To find locations and hours of farmers’ markets throughout New York City, go to this link.
Halloween is almost here and your kids are getting their costumes ready and counting down the days until October 31st! Maybe you’re having a party with school friends or planning a walk in the neighborhood. Candy surely puts a smile on kids. The good news is celebrating Halloween healthfully isn’t about giving up all the treats. It’s about bringing them into balance, especially since kids often have multiple celebrations: at school, at friends’ houses, at after care, and in the community. It’s good to keep in mind that there is more to Halloween than candy. There’s dressing up, having fun with friends, playing games, and doing crafts. If it were only at Halloween, we wouldn’t be concerned about the candy. But it’s not just at Halloween. It’s candy and other treats all too often— breakfast candy (sugary cereals), liquid candy (soda), and fruit candies at lunch (fruit snacks/gummies/roll-ups.)
Some ideas to keep the celebration fun AND healthy:
- When making those happy bags, choose non-candy treats, like headbands, stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, colored shoelaces, magnets, whistles, or other party items. Other healthy treats are pretzels, nuts, raisin packs, unsweetened dried fruit (mango, bananas, apples.)
- Back at home -and when your kid is out of sight- choose your child’s favorite treats and give the rest away (e.g. share with friends or at work.)
- Once Halloween is over, limit candy to 1-2 pieces on a given day and just for a few days. Give away any candy that is left or again, share!
With so many celebrations throughout the year, it’s important to enjoy each one without going overboard!
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.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great opportunity to make lifestyle changes that can protect you from this disease and other chronic illnesses. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, in the US only, over 252,700 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. Of these new cases, 33% (83,391) could be prevented with healthy, everyday changes to what we eat and how much we move.
This is what you can do!
Eat well. Always fill at least 2/3 of your plate with plant foods, and let animal foods (meat and dairy) take up the rest.
- Vegetables - Choose non-starchy ones like tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers and carrots
- Fruit - Go for whole fruits more often, whether fresh or frozen. Prefer whole fruit and vegetable smoothies to natural fresh juices
- Whole Grains - Whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal are a few great choices
- Beans - Add pinto, kidney, black, garbanzos and more to soups, salads and stews
- Sugary drinks - Regular sodas, lemonade and sweet tea add calories without filling you up. They also lack nutrients
- Red meat like beef, pork and lamb - Too much red meat raises risk for colorectal cancer
- Processed meat - Processed meats, like hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon and sausage, are often high in calories and increase risk for colorectal and stomach cancers
Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess body fat increases your risk for post-menopausal breast cancer.
Move more. Break up the hours you may spend in front of a TV or computer: stand, stretch, do jumping jacks or go for a short walk every hour or so. Aim to move for at least 30 minutes every day. Try anything that:
- Makes your heart beat faster
- Makes you breathe more deeply
- You already enjoy doing
If you choose to drink, limit alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol increase breast cancer risk, so if you do decide to drink, keep it to no more than 1 standard drink (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor) per day. Enjoy unsweetened tea, coffee, club soda and flavored water instead.
If you give birth, breastfeed! Breastfeeding your baby lowers your risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer! It’s best to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and to start liquids and solid foods after that.
By adopting these healthy habits you will be protecting yourself not only from developing breast and other types of cancer, but also from developing heart disease, obesity, stroke and other chronic illnesses.
And remember, a diet that is based on healthy foods is always the best source of vitamins and minerals!
What will the dietitian and I talk about during a nutrition assessment?
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)?