I had the privilege of coaching some college athletes over the summer. They were happy with our work together, but worried about how to keep up their new healthy eating habits in the college cafeteria. Here are my quick tips:
- Don’t head straight for the line! Take a breath and ask yourself, “How can I nourish myself?” This question serves you better than, “What is there to eat?”
- Walk around and ask what’s at the salad bar? Pasta bar? Main and side dishes? Even check the dessert bar for granola, nuts, and seeds.
- Use the available foods creatively to make your own meal that fuels your brain and body. Seek plants!
- Breakfast ideas: Oatmeal- stir in berries, nuts, cinnamon Yogurt parfait- choose Greek to punch up the protein and add fruit, berries, nuts, and cinnamon Cereal- increase the nutrient density by avoiding artificial colors and added sugars while choosing plain Cheerios or granola and adding fruit, berries, nuts, and seeds Pancakes or waffles- choose just one instead of a stack and add yogurt to the top with (you guessed it) fruit and berries
- Snack ideas- use a little creative thievery. Take an apple, banana, or orange to go. Bring a quart or gallon baggie and make your own trail mix using the breakfast and/or dessert bar. Pour in whole grain cereal or granola, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, a (few) pretzels for salty balance, and some (few) chocolate chips or M&M’s
- Lunch- again, walk around and see what is available and treat offerings like ingredients. Doing a colorful basic salad is a great choice, but you may lose interest some days. Take broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. and microwave to “al dente.” Stir into ½ cup of pasta, rice, over baked potato, or quinoa (yes, they got the memo.) Add a bit of dressing and you have a nice dish! Put a bunch of veggies in a bowl and pour soup over it for phytonutrient power. Chili today? Make a taco salad and pour some chili over it for a Mexican treat. Make your own bruschetta! Pop some bread in the toaster. While you wait for toast, get tomatoes in a bowl and go for the salad herb area. Stir olive oil, garlic, basil, and a dash of Parmesan in with the tomatoes (cut them up a bit). Spread the mixture over the now complete toast- Yum!
- Dinner- use the same creative ideas. Use the healthy plate reference to remind yourself of proportion. Half your plate is vegetables, ¼ lean protein (fish, beans, quinoa, grilled chicken), ¼ whole grain or starchy vegetable like sweet potato, squash, beets, or baked potato (with skin).
Feeding children well has been a hot topic amongst parents for at least the last fourteen years. That’s when I was pregnant with my first baby and began paying keen attention to the matter. “Back then” organic was a little known concept out of California, micronutrients were a mystery, and no one had heard of Omega-3’s. Even so, at playgroup, school pick-up, and on the ball-field, chat often turned to nutrition.
Over the last decade, science has supported the fact that feeding children well is essential. Studies have shown over and over that children who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains have the brain function to achieve academically, have the energy to perform well in sports, and the focus that allows for creativity in art and music. Kids who eat well feel great and do their very best.
With so much information now out on the subject, many parents need guidance. I recommend reading Dr. William Sears’ “Family Nutrition Book” as well as “Nutrition Deficit Disorder.” These thoroughly, yet simply, explain exactly how to keep your child’s daily nutrition optimal. Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Disease Proof Your Child” is also excellent. Web MD has a great top 10 foods list that serves as a quick reference guide. http://children.webmd.com/child-nutrition-8/brain-foods-for-children?page=2
Visualization has long been a tactic in sports psychology. It has been proven that if one visualizes the accomplishment of a goal, it’s achievement is probable. I often tell clients that if they visualize themselves fit and healthy, they are more likely to take the steps to be that way.
This same approach can be used daily to increase intake of fruits and vegetables. Eating the 9-13 servings of plants each day which are required for optimal health may be a challenge. A study profiled in Science Daily found that if you want to improve the way you eat, the best way to do so is to both make an action plan and visualize yourself carrying it out, according to researchers.
I have just reviewed a great new book by William Sears MD and his wife Martha Sears RN called Prime Time Health. Dr. Sears is an internationally renowned pediatrician who has authored over 30 books. He has been referred to as “America’s Pediatrician.”
Why would a pediatrician be writing about health in mid-life and healthy aging? When Dr. Sears was 57 he battled colon cancer. This made him determined to avoid what he calls the “three D’s” (disease, disability, and doctors) for the rest of his life. Now at age 70, after a great deal of research and making health his hobby, Dr. Sears has the blood chemistry of a much younger person and is enjoying Prime Time Health. The Sears’ book explains simply and clearly how to enjoy mid-life and prime time.
I’d love to share his “Nine Simple Steps” with you all! They are the following:
- Make health your hobby – It’s time to hike, bike, and go to farmer’s markets.
- Keep your arteries clean – Avoid “sticky stuff” with added sugars /saturated fat. Sticky in your mouth is sticky in your arteries.
- Reduce your waist – Belly fat is a factory for disease-causing processes.
- Eat more seafood and less meat – Yes- more positive news about omega-3’s; give yourself an “oil-change!”
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – Oxidation is biological rusting that wears and tears your tissues and organs. Oxidation is the culprit in everything from wrinkles to major diseases. The anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables fight this process beautifully.
- Take Juice Plus – After Dr. Sears’ colon cancer, his wife Martha made him start eating JP. He read all the published research and papers, started eating it, and takes no other supplements, vitamins, or prescription drugs.
- Graze on good foods – As we age, our bodies become less efficient in absorbing nutrients. Dr. Sears even blends himself a “green drink” and sips it throughout his day.
- Practice the “Pills/Skills” model of health care and self-care. Instead of asking “What can I take?”- ask “What can I DO?”
Time for spring cleaning some old food habits and eating more fruits and vegetables!
As many of you know, I’ve been doing independent nutrition study for the last few years. From all my research, the one fundamental that is consistent in disease prevention, feeding children, optimizing athletic performance, and protecting DNA is eating the 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables the USDA recommends. Remember when eating five servings a day was an achievement?!?
The phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables are vital. We should be eating kale, beets, broccoli, cranberries, and mangoes every day. Such a simple idea, but challenging in reality. I have found a product that helps the kids, Tim, and I get all these foods in our bodies if we fall short.
Juice Plus is 17 fruits and vegetables harvested at the peak of ripeness, cleaned thoroughly, juiced, and encapsulated for adults. For children there are tasty chewables. Juice Plus is not a vitamin. It is actual fruits and vegetables that are absorbed into the blood stream. Bioavailable to you.
Here is a website listing the research on Juice Plus completed at major universities world wide and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. There is a quick video with Dr. William Sears and many other nationally known physicians describing the imperative of eating whole foods and recommending Juice Plus. I look at Juice Plus as a safety net and peace of mind- the next best thing to fruits and vegetables.