Produce Picks to Add to your Plate this Fall

Article from Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

The sun sets sooner, the nights are getting cooler and wool socks are starting to sound like a good idea under a warm blanket. This is the perfect time to celebrate the seasonal produce gems of autumn! Next time you’re at the local market, here are some Fall favorite produce picks to fill up your basket.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is full of fiber and beta-carotene, which provides its vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in the body, which is great for your skin and eyes. To balance pumpkin’s sweetness, try adding savory herbs, such as sage and curry. Check out our other blog post for more “Benefits of Pumpkin.”

Beets

Beets are edible from their leafy greens down to the bulbous root. The leaves are like spinach and are delicious sautéed. The grocery store most likely will carry red beets; your local farmers market may have more interesting varieties, such as golden or bull’s blood, which has a bullseye pattern of rings. The red color in beets is caused by a phytochemical called betanin, making beet juice a natural alternative to red food coloring. Beets are a source of naturally occurring nitrates and may help to support healthy blood pressure. Roasting or steaming beets whole takes the fuss out of peeling — the skin easily slides off after cooking. They also are delicious raw, shredded and tossed in salads or thinly sliced and baked into chips.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are full of fiber and vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Try them as a breakfast side dish or serve them at any meal. 

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a fun, kid-friendly vegetable that is a lower-calorie and gluten-free alternative to grain-based pasta. Cut it in half to reveal a pocket of seeds; scoop those out and pop the two halves into the microwave or oven and cook until tender. Scrape a fork into the flesh and spaghetti-like strands appear! Voilà! Toss with pesto or marinara sauce for a quick veggie side dish.

Kale

Kale — we can’t get enough of this luscious leafy green and with good reason. Kale is a nutrient powerhouse. It tastes sweeter after a frost and can survive a snowstorm. If you plant kale in your garden, you can dig it out of the snow and serve fresh salad in January! One cup of raw kale has only 8 calories and is loaded with vitamins A, C and K as well as manganese. Kale is great sautéed and cooked in soup, but also is excellent raw in salad; simply remove tough stems, slice into thin slivers and pair with something a bit sweet such as carrots or apples. One advantage of using kale for your leafy greens is that you can add your dressing ahead of time; the kale becomes more tender and delicious, not wilted.

Pears

When we can buy fruits year-round, we tend to forget they have seasons. Pears are the most delicious in the fall when they’re at their peak. Pears are unique in that they do not ripen on the tree; they will ripen at room temperature after they’re picked. How do you know when they are ready to eat? Check the neck! If the fruit near the stem gives to a little pressure, it is ripe. There are a wide range of pear flavors and textures. And, just like apples, some are excellent eaten fresh while others are best cooked or canned for the winter. Try pears on the grill, poached in red wine, tucked into a panini, pureed into soup or a smoothie, or simply sliced with cheese and wine. If you eat the peel too, one medium pear has 6 grams of fiber. 

Okra

Okra commonly is fried, but also is wonderful in other forms. Around the world, chefs cherish the thickening properties of the seed pods in dishes from Louisiana gumbo to Indian curries and other stews. If you wish to minimize the thickening property, try okra briefly stir-fried. The pods are high in vitamins K and C, a good source of fiber, an excellent source of folate and low in calories. At the market, look for pods that are no longer than 4 inches and are bright green in color and firm to the touch.

Parsnips

Parsnips are cousins to carrots — they have the same root shape but with white flesh. They’re typically eaten cooked, but also can be eaten raw. One-half cup of cooked parsnips is full of fiber (3 grams) and contains more than 10% of the daily values of vitamin C and folate. Try these pale beauties roasted, pureed into soup, or mashed. You can even top a shepherd’s pie with mashed parsnips instead of the traditional mashed potatoes!

Cranberries

Fall is the time to get to know these tart berries and their wealth of nutritional benefits. They contain a compound called proanthocyanin which may prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your bladder wall. Fresh and dried cranberries pair well with a variety of meats and poultry. Fresh cranberries can be eaten raw but often are cooked or used as a garnish for those fancy seasonal mocktails/cocktails. Dried cranberries are delicious in grain and vegetable salads and make a healthy snack on the go but be careful of the portion sizes- they also have added sugar.

With all these in season vegetables and fruits, hopefully you will be able to grab them and gain some of these helpful benefits during these Fall and Winter months.

Healthy Habits for the Holidays 

Article from Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

We look forward to this time of year, all year long! Holidays only come around once a year, so
why not go ahead and splurge? Because gaining weight during the holiday season is a national
pastime. Year after year, the average American gains about 6 pounds from Halloween to New
Year’s Day– and keep the extra weight permanently.

But Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your weight, experts say. With a little know-how,
you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast.
After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a turkey!

1. Get Active
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your
favorite foods. Eat less and exercise more is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during
the holidays. Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and
especially the day of the feast.

Make fitness a family adventure. Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. For
many families, a turkey trot or a local 5k is something to make an annual tradition. This will help
motivate you before the feasts to be training for the run as well as keeping you accountable for
the day of the race. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the
holiday together.

2. Eat Breakfast
While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in
the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but
satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain
cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite
and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.

3. Lighten Up
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your
recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. There is more sugar and fat in most recipes
than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie
ingredients.

Try using fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy. Use sugar
substitutes like Stevia or natural agave in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in
baked goods. Swap out sour cream for plain Greek yogurt in creamy dips, mashed potatoes,
and casseroles. And maybe even consider using less butter when able.

4. Proper Portions

Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before
you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select
reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small
portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable,
traditional foods. And don’t forget, let’s aim for half of your plate to be full of fruits and
vegetables.

5. Skip the Seconds
Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next
day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for
a delectable dessert. That peanut butter fudge pie or pumpkin pie is just too good to not have
any, right? Choose the best bets on the buffet. While each of us has our own favorites, keep in
mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others.

White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, thin gravy, and
pumpkin pie tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories. However, if you
keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like.

6. Savor the Flavor
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the
easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say.
Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots
of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.

7. Drink in Moderation
Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly. Have a glass of wine or a wine
spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, enjoy sparkling water. This way you stay hydrated, limit
alcohol calories, and stay sober. If you’re looking for a flavorful holiday drink to give you more
immune health, focus with an invigorating blend of 30 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids try
this Holiday favorite-
​ ​


– 1 packet tropical punch 4D
– 5 ice cubes
– sparkling water

—mix and top with your favorite fruits
like oranges and cranberries to give a
festive look! Enjoy!

 

8. Be Realistic and Give Grace
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra
temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
This way, at the start of the new year you will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any
weight over the holidays.

9. Focus on Family and Friends
The holidays are not just about the delicious bounty of food, it’s a time to celebrate relationships
with family and friends. The main event should be family and friends socializing, spending
quality time together, not just what is on the buffet—although that’s a perk to the gathering.

How Can Pumpkin Benefit You?

Article from Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

Ah, isn’t Autumn just lovely?  It’s one of my favorite times of the year! Crisp air, leaves starting to changel, and pumpkin is a favorite autumn ingredient. But let’s take a deeper look into our favorite autumn flavor and find out more about the health benefits and not just the yummy taste.

So, when you think about pumpkins, what comes to mind? Jack-o’-lanterns? Pumpkin pie? Charlie Brown? Pumpkin spice lattes? Well, there’s more to these orange gourds than Halloween and sugary (but delicious!) desserts and drinks. Pumpkins have numerous health benefits — none of which take center stage in autumn’s most frequent offerings.

Are you skeptical about taking the pumpkin out of the pie (or cup)? These health benefits may change your mind:

Weight Loss 

Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion which keeps you feeling fuller longer. There’s seven grams of fiber in a cup of canned pumpkin. That’s more than what you’d get in two slices of whole-grain bread.

Pumpkin may be filling, but it’s also a low-calorie superstar. Canned pumpkin is nearly 90% water, so besides the fact that it helps keep you hydrated, it has fewer than 50 calories per serving.

Improved Vision

Pumpkin’s vibrant orange coloring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.

Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.

Boost of Immunity

Looking for a way to ward off illness and improve your immune system? Try pumpkin. The large shot of vitamin A the fruit provides helps your body fight infections, viruses, and infectious diseases. Pumpkin oil even helps fight various bacterial and fungal infections. Plus, pumpkin is packed with nearly 20% of the recommended amount of daily vitamin C, which may help you recover from colds faster.

Youthful Skin

Eating pumpkin can help you look younger (beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays), but the pulp also makes a great, all-natural face mask that exfoliates and soothes (see recipe to make your own). 

 

All-Natural Pumpkin Face Mask

  • 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. of honey 
  • 1 tablespoon of milk. Mix, then apply it, wait for 20 minutes or so and wash it off with warm water.

Lower Cancer Risk

Beta-carotene is great for your eyes and skin, but you know what else it’s good for? Fighting cancer. Research shows people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.

Vitamins A and C are “a kind of cell defense squad.  Both are rich in antioxidants, and act as shields for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.

Could Help Treat Diabetes

In scientific tests, pumpkin has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and increase the amount of insulin the body produces. More testing needs to be done before we can say for sure what pumpkin’s benefits for diabetics will be, but if you have diabetes, munching on pumpkin certainly won’t hurt.

You can even add pumpkin to some of your favorite family recipes like chili, hummus and smoothies. 

Turkey Chili with Pumpkin

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium bell pepper, red, yellow, or orange, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (or 3/4 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1⅓ lbs. ground turkey or chicken, 90 to 93 percent lean
  • One 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • ¼ cup tomato paste, no salt added
  • One 14-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon, or 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  •  Cilantro (optional)
  • * Can top your dish with shredded cheese, cilantro, plain Greek yogurt, avocados, and pumpkin seeds

Blend all ingredients together in a crock pot and cook for 4 hours and serve. 

  • Benefits: turkey swap from beef makes it a leaner choice and cuts back on the saturated (unhealthy fat).
  • Beans is a great source of fiber and protein as well as iron.
  • Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, Vitamin C, E, A, folate, iron, copper, riboflavin, manganese, and beta carotene- good for fighting cancers, eye, and skin health, as mentioned.
  • Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to give more calcium, protein, and a healthier alternative. 
  • Spices and herbs are great for antioxidants, phytochemicals

How to Help your skin “Age Gracefully”

Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger, right? While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.

Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right self-care.  Here are some tips to help you live your best, youthful life.

Be kind to your skin

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation.

To keep it looking and functioning at its best:

  • Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside.
  • Get yearly skin cancer screenings, or as needed. 
  • Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily to get plenty of needed vitamins and minerals like vitamin E
  • Stay hydrated with water all day long.

Exercise is important

Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. I always say, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.  Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 2.5 to 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of the two. Muscle strengthening activities of moderate intensity or greater, that involve all major muscle groups, two or more days per week. Some examples of aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, dancing, and cycling.  Muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises can be performed using weights or resistance bands. Older adults should also focus on activities that include balance training in addition to aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises.

Mind your diet

Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for recommends that you eat:

  • fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or canned—all can fit
  • lean protein, such as fish, poultry, chicken, beans, and legumes
  • at least 3 oz. of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every day
  • 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin D   
  • healthy fats like avocados, nuts & seeds

Avoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats.

Mental health matters

Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well.

To keep your mood elevated:

  • Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods.
  • Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging live longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference.
  • Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only fuel your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.

Stay physically active daily

Numerous studies have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some options to stay active are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.

Lower your stress levels

The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are several proven ways to relieve stress, including:

  • Using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga
  • exercising
  • getting adequate sleep
  • talking to a friend

Quit smoking and decrease alcohol consumption

Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking or other tobacco products, isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommended amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Get enough sleep

Good sleep is important for your physical and mental health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. The amount of sleep each night depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to:

  • lower the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • reduce stress and depression
  • lower the risk of obesity
  • reduce inflammation
  • improve focus and concentration

Finding new hobbies

Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and live longer.

Being Mindful

Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including:

  • improved focus
  • better memory
  • lower stress
  • improved emotional reaction
  • relationship satisfaction
  • increased immune functioning

To practice mindfulness, try activities like:

  • meditation
  • yoga
  • tai chi
  • coloring or reading

Drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been proven to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water each day depends on the following:

  • your thirst
  • your activity levels
  • how often you urinate and move your bowels
  • how much you sweat
  • your gender

You can generally take your weight and divide by 2 to get the number of ounces you’ll need each day. Example: 100 pounds divided by 2 = 50 ounces each day.

Oral hygeine is important to keep a beautiful SMILE

Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist at least every 6 months. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, infection, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.

See a doctor for regular check ups

Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions.

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is not meant to substitute for medical advice. If you or someone you know suspect that you or they may have been infected by the coronavirus, please contact your health care provider.

Preparing for cold season with Vitamins & Minerals

 

Article by Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

 

As kids head back to school and adults are heading back into the office, life is getting back

to a “normal” routine. But let’s be sure to armer up against all those colds, flu season and now all

the different Covid-19 stands. There are several things we can do to

help protect ourselves from getting Covid- 19 and colds and flus this season. 

Because COVID-19 comes with cold and flu-like symptoms, Vitamins B, C and D, as

well as zinc may be helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting the illness in

the same way they can help you get over a cold or flu. Good nutrition can help fight off

almost anything, but it does take good sleeping habits, a good night sleep 7-9 hours

each night, regular exercise routines, and reduced stress to help keep your immune system at its best.

 

Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C.

VITAMIN C

Generally, vitamin C can help you fight a cold faster or ease your cold symptoms if you

are taking it prior to getting sick. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help reduce

inflammation—and lung inflammation is a severe symptom of COVID-19, which can

lead to respiratory distress and even death. It doesn’t hurt to

start increasing your vitamin C intake now. Try adding lemon to your water, or even add fruits

and vegetables into snacks as much as possible. A great snack to consider would be

bell peppers and hummus– bell peppers are full of vitamin C and hummus

(chickpeas) is a great source of zinc.

Natural sources of vitamin D: fresh salmon, caviar, cheese, mushrooms, tuna, eggs on gray stone background top view. Foods and products rich in vitamin D.

VITAMIN D

The primary function of vitamin D is to help your body maintain optimal blood levels of

calcium and phosphorus, which you can get through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet

rays, or through foods like dairy. 

Getting enough vitamin D can also protect you from respiratory infection.  Vitamin

D supplementation significantly decreases the chance of respiratory tract infections,

based on clinical studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. 

Eggs are a great source of B-complex vitamins along with cheese, milk, fish, spinach, and meats.

B-COMPLEX VITAMINS

Vitamin B6 is essential to keeping your immune system in top condition. Be sure to get

enough vitamin B as a supplement, as part of your daily diet. You can easily get your

daily intake from fortified cereals, eggs, cheese, milk, fish, spinach/ kale, and meats. 

Foods with zinc including nuts, seeds, red meat, and poultry.

ZINC

Popping a zinc throat lozenge or taking an over-the-counter cold remedy with zinc in it

(as a syrup or tablet) helps shorten the length of rhinovirus colds. Zinc also helps

symptoms—nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough.

Zinc has also been found to help produce and activate T-cells (t-lymphocytes), which

trigger the body to respond to infections, according to the NIH. Zinc helps the body heal

by fighting off bacteria and viruses. It is required for growth, reproduction, metabolism,

and blood clotting. Found in all body tissues, it acts as an antioxidant, blocking free

radical damage and helping control the aging process. Furthermore, we need this

mineral to help produce certain proteins and DNA, so it is essential to get enough each

day to stay healthy and maintain a robust immune system. Many healthy foods contain

enough zinc to meet the daily requirements, naturally.

For a faster recovery, start taking zinc to treat your illness within the first 24 hours of

symptoms. A proper dose of zinc is 75 mg, but beware: taking more than 150mg per

day of zinc could cause zinc toxicity and have a negative impact on your immune

system.

If you’re taking more than one zinc medication, check with your doctor first to prevent

adverse reactions.

Looking to get higher zinc sources in your diet?  Try making your own trail mix with nuts

and seeds like pumpkin seeds and cashews. This can be an excellent snack idea and

easy as an on-the-go option. 

There are so many other things to consider as well to keep our immune systems at

peak. Like staying hydrated helps to keep your immune system up and flushing

out toxins our body no longer needs. Proper and regular hand washing helps keep

those germs at bay. Use soap and warm water and sing “happy birthday” to know

you’re washing long enough—that’s a trick I always tell my kids! Find ways to reduce

stress. Let’s face it, stress is inevitable but coping with it is key—going for a

walk, talking with a friend, and meditating are all ways we can reduce the stress in

our lives. Also, get plenty of rest each night—7-9 hours of sleep is the recommendation

which at least 4 of those hours being REM cycle sleep according to the National Sleep

Foundation guidelines.

Best foods for hydration

Hello Summer! It’s finally here, longer days, warmer weather, beach trips, pool parties and all that yummy in season fruits and veggies. With the temperatures warming up it’s even more important to keep hydrated. Those seasonal fruits and vegetables are a great way to keep hydrated. 

A summertime favorite is watermelon. I remember as a kid sitting out on the back deck eating a big piece of watermelon while the juice just dripped from my fingers and face and then my sister and I would spit out those black seeds at each other. Yeah, gross to think we did that but when you’re 5 and 7 years young, it was the highlight of the day!

Looking at it now as a dietitian, that watermelon kept us hydrated with 96% water, refueled our electrolytes with potassium and the fructose, a sweet like a treat. There are so many seasonal favorites that are primarily water based. Some of the best foods for hydration are cucumbers are 97% water, lettuce is 96% water, strawberries with 91% water and celery, tomatoes, starfruit, limes and lemons, grapefruit, and coconut water all are great for hydrating.

Infusing water with these types of fruits and vegetable can also be a way to get extra flavor, nutrition, and electrolytes. With a nice refreshing flavor, you’re probably more opt to drink more frequently throughout the day and meet your water intake each day.

So how much water should we have each day?

A lot of people say, “make sure you drink 8- 8-ounce cups of water each day, 64 ounces to stay hydrated” but everyone is different which means the amount of water we need is different. The best way to ensure you’re getting enough throughout each day is to take your weight and divide by 2. For an example- if you’re 100 pounds divide by 2 would mean you need 50 ounces of water each day to stay hydrated. 

And remember, if you’re already thirsty, that’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re already dehydrated so chug some water to catch back up. It’s important to always listen to our body and the cues we’re given. If we’re sleepy, go to sleep. If we’re hungry, go eat. If you’re thirsty, go drink some water.

And replenish those electrolytes!

It’s easier to get dehydrated in the summer because we spend more time outside (or even in a stuffy indoor environment). You’ll likely find that your sweat gland suddenly seems a bit more…overactive. With hot temperatures, many individuals are more prone to sweating, which causes the body to lose water. When you sweat more, you’re not only losing water, but also electrolytes. 

Without enough fluids and electrolytes to properly hydrate, your body can start to overheat. Replenishing those electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, is key to rehydrating properly.

I have two tips to help!

1. As mentioned before, make a big water bottle and infuse it with your favorite fruits, vegetables and even some herbs. This helps to give you the flavor you want to drink plenty of it for hydration but also, fruits and most veggies have potassium. My favorite thing to do is have lemons and limes in my water. Great for vitamin C as well.

2. Make a summer slush—fruit and ice oh my! It’s like having a frozen popsicle except you can drink it, without the mess! Add in a packet of 4D and you have a pre-workout treat! With vitamins, minerals, caffeine, 0 calories, aminos for workout recovery and so much more.

Try this simple (and less mess)

Summer Slush

1 ¾ cup of diced watermelon

5 cubes of ice

1 can of LaCroix (flavor of choice but I love the Lemon Cello—so refreshing!)

1 packet of 4D (flavor of choice but I love the pina colada flavor for this!)

*Blend it together and serve! ENJOY!

What’s your favorite way to keep hydrated?

The Tortoise and Hare

We all can recall the story of The Tortoise and Hare from childhood, right? The Tortoise and Hare race and the Tortoise is slow and steady, but the Hare is fast out the gates. I’ve used this analogy many times in wellness consultation sessions, and recent episodes of “The Biggest Loser” have me contemplating how important this story really can be.

When asked the question “What is the hardest part of a fitness program?” most people will answer “Sticking with it”. While the research has concluded that making the decision to start is actually the most difficult aspect, a strong case can be made for the fact that sticking to a workout plan or healthy diet may truly be the most formidable phase of getting back in shape.

In the business world, as well as in your personal life, your success is ultimately the result of the efforts you put forth day in and day out over the course of months and years.

Performing everyday tasks on a consistent basis gives you a much better chance to reach your goals.

When it comes to physical health, the major problem in our society is that far too many of us emulate the Hare because we look for the fastest way to get results, be it the next great 30 day transformation program, the next piece of exercise equipment that is going to reshape us before holidays (swimsuit season, class reunion…), or the next pill that will miraculously re-energize our metabolism so the ‘pounds will melt away’.

In reality, the prosperity that your career brings or the sense of accomplishment that comes from raising responsible children is the result of a long range outlook, not something you can accomplish in a couple of months. Success at turning back the clock and regaining your health will require you to commit to a consistent plan, to become the Tortoise.

Even Olympic athletes, if they stop training, can ultimately lose all that they had worked so hard to attain.

By becoming the Tortoise and planning with a long-term vision, you will have experienced such amazing results that you will not want to do anything but continue.

Your health will become top priority as you see that it enables you to successfully accomplish all of the other goals you’ve set for yourself.

So, strap on your shell, set your feet at the starting line and get headed on down the road.

Don’t worry how fast anyone else is progressing. Remember, the tortoise won the race, regardless of how fast the hare got out of the gate.

Are there more benefits to caffeine than risks?

Article by Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

There really isn’t anything like that warm first sip of coffee in the morning or even afternoon. Or even just having some caffeine to give us that jolt we need to give us that motivation for our workout, to get out of the sleepy daze in the morning. It keeps us productive when we’re feeling the slump in our day and it helps to give us that extra focused energy to keep us producing in our daily routine. 

The number one choice of caffeine for Americans is coffee. And I’m happy to report there are some health benefits as well. Studies show (from Radiological Society of North America) caffeine can reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease, improve your mental functioning, short-term memory and speed up your reaction times. It also can boost your metabolism, which most of us can use a little boost right about now, right? 

Nutritionally speaking, coffee has some potassium, niacin, and magnesium. It can help contribute to your hydration for the day! Yes, you read that right–caffeine beverages can count towards your hydration for the day. It also can provide some good antioxidants and has some beneficial effects such as anti-inflammation. Making your coffee or tea with fat-free or low-fat milk is one way to increase your daily calcium and vitamin D intake. If your diet does not include dairy, a soy option is a calcium-rich alternative. Just be mindful of adding sweetener since coffee drinks can be a source of added sugars which can lead to weight gain. 

It’s nice to know there are some positives to drinking caffeine, right? We usually only hear the negatives like “it is addictive”, and “don’t want to drink too much because there can be negative side effects like withdrawal”. Although those are real effects from caffeine, let’s also keep it within normal limits. 

So, how much caffeine is too much? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says 3-5, 8-ounce cups of coffee provide about 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is the most that is recommended per day for healthy adults says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because caffeine is a stimulant, certain groups, such as those with hypertension and the elderly, may be at a higher risk for negative side effects of caffeine and so should consider limiting their intake. Pregnant and breastfeeding women will also want to limit caffeine and should discuss their intake with their health care provider. It is not recommended for children either.

I get asked all the time, “what about the energy drinks or pre-workout supplements? Are those any better? “ It sometimes feels like energy drinks get a bad rap while coffee gets all the glory, right? The truth is: caffeine is caffeine! It doesn’t really matter where you get your caffeine from, it’s not an essential nutrient. 

If we’re comparing apples to apples: 1 packet of 4D mixed in 16 ounces of water contains 150 mg of caffeine while an 8 ounces coffee averages around 100mg. Since the FDA does give recommendations of up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, either choice would work. Choose drinks that have sugar free options like 4D which has 0 calories and 0 grams of sugar. Also, pay attention to how caffeine makes you feel. People’s sensitivity to caffeine varies so if you are bothered by headaches, restlessness, or anxiety or irritability, pregnant or breastfeeding you may want to reevaluate your caffeine intake accordingly. And, if your reason is to give you a boost of energy, don’t forget the role of good nutrition and adequate sleep in our daily energy levels. 

Like everything else in life, moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can be just as counterproductive just like too much of an unhealthy thing. On a positive note, that caffeine we love so much, counts towards our daily hydration, helps speed up our metabolism and it helps with memory. I’d say those are some amazing benefits. Cheers!

Sources/ resources—

Radiological Society of North American- Caffeine Boosts Short-Term Memory (webmd.com)

Caffeine: How much is too much? – Mayo Clinic

Benefits of Coffee (eatright.org)