Life Ever Changing

A pursuit to become a Registered Dietitian and to promote healthy living

Diabetes Increases Risk of Death from Heart Attack

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More research shows that diabetes increases your risk of dying from a heart attack, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers followed 703,920 participants who experienced a heart attack. Those diagnosed with diabetes at the time of their cardiovascular event were less likely to survive than those without diabetes. This study supports a recent study with similar results, and suggests treatments focus on the long-term effects of heart disease in diabetes patients.

Alabas OA, Hall M, Dondo TB, et al. Long-term excess mortality associated with diabetes following acute myocardial infarction: a population-based cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health. Published online June 15, 2016.

Tip of the Day

Chock full of nuts! Walnuts are great in salads, and slivered almonds in veggie dishes. Add nuts to boost nutrition and flavor!

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Nutrition Facts: A guide to food labels

The Nutrition Facts label is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on most packaged foods and beverages. The Nutrition Facts label provides detailed information about a food’s nutrient content, such as the amount of fat, sugar, sodium and fiber it has. In 2016 the FDA announced changes to the label aimed at helping consumers make more informed choices. Manufacturers will have to use the new label by July 26, 2018. The changes include:

  • Making calories and servings per container more prominent by using larger print.
  • Adding “added sugars” as a category under “total sugars.”
  • Removing “calories from fat” because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Updating which nutrients must be listed. Vitamin D and potassium will be added; vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • Updating serving sizes to better match how much people actually eat. Serving sizes are not meant to tell people how much to eat.
  • Listing calories and nutrients for a single serving as well as the whole package for foods that are typically consumed in one sitting.

In addition, daily values for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on the research that was used to develop the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Knowing how to read food labels is especially important if you have health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and need to follow a special diet. It also makes it easier to compare similar foods to see which is healthier.

The more practice you get reading food labels, the better you can become in using them as a tool to plan your healthy, balanced diet. To help you decode the new label, each section is explained in the example.

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  1. Serving size: Serving sizes are listed in standard measurements, such as cups or pieces. Similar foods usually have similar serving sizes, so you can compare them more easily. The label also includes the number of servings per container to help you calculate the calories and nutrients in the entire package. Be sure to check the serving size against how much you actually eat. If a serving is 16 crackers but you eat 32 that doubles the calories, sugar, fat and other nutrients you eat.
  2. Calories: The calories listed show the amount of calories in one serving of this food. You can use this information to compare similar products and choose the one that is lower in calories.
  3. Nutrients and daily values: The label must list the amounts of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium that are in one serving. The daily value (DV) percent tells you how close you are to meeting your daily requirements for each nutrient. It’s based on a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. The DV can help you track whether you’re getting enough — or too much — of all the nutrients you need in a day.
  4. Nutrients to increase: The typical American diet is low in fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They’re listed on the label to encourage Americans to include more of these important nutrients in their diet.

Tip of the Day

Garden anywhere! Try growing your own vegetables and herbs. You can start small with a few pots on your balcony or patio or even indoors.

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Fiber Helps Prevent Chronic Diseases

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A high-fiber diet is best for healthful aging, according to a study published online in Aging. Researchers followed the diets of 1,609 healthy people and monitored incidence rates for cancer, heart disease, depression, and cognitive impairment. Those who consumed the most fiber, especially from grains and fruit, were more likely to remain disease-free later in life, compared with those who consumed the least fiber. Possible mechanisms include fiber’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Gopinath B, Flood VM, Kifley A, Louie JC, Mitchell P. Association between carbohydrate nutrition and successful aging over 10 years. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. Published online June 1, 2016.

Tip of the Day

Want to try meal planning? Want to try meal planning, but don’t know where to start? Plan out a week of meals for you or your family before the week starts. By planning ahead you can save time and money by only buying the foods you need and making fewer trips to the store.

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Vegan Diets Do Least Environmental Damage

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A vegan diet leaves the smallest environmental footprint, according to an article published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. Researchers assigned 63 participants from the New Dietary Interventions to Enhance the Treatments for weight loss (New DIETs) study to a vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, or omnivorous diet and monitored changes in their environmental impact. Those in the vegan group decreased their environmental footprint the most when compared to the other diets. A vegetarian diet provides cost savings and uses significantly fewer resources for purchasing and producing plant-based protein, compared with animal-based protein. The authors hope these environmental findings, in addition to the health benefits, compel policymakers to consider plant-based diets in their recommendations.

Turner-McGrievy GM, Leach AM, Wilcox S, Frongillo EA. Differences in environmental impact and food expenditures of four different plant-based diets and an omnivorous diet: results of a randomized, controlled intervention. J Hunger Environ Nutr. Published online April 25, 2016.

Tip of the Day

It’s not about perfection! Healthy eating doesn’t need to be perfect! Remind yourself that your healthy eating style over time is what matters most.

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7 Mistakes Even Healthy Eaters Make

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You’ve taken the first step: vowing to eat well, starting now. Many dieters are so determined to finally lose weight that the pounds will indeed start to whittle away. The problem, though, is that many haven’t learned from their mistakes — and within a month or so, they’ve returned to their poor eating habits. Here are seven of the most common dieting mistakes.

Not Eating Enough Protein with Breakfast

A person decides to eat healthy and chooses a bowl of cereal with non-fat milk and a banana; one hour later, he or she starts complaining of hunger. People who make this mistake are definitely moving in the right direction, but if they are truly watching their serving sizes, the 8 grams of protein from the milk is most likely not going to keep them full until lunchtime. Consequently, they wind up over-snacking until then or eating a lunch that’s too big. Adding a healthy fat to the cereal mix, like slivered almonds, or having a little extra protein — like a hard-boiled egg — can make a big difference in their satiety level.

Having a Snack

This is a tricky one. Most dietitians recommend a mid-morning snack if it’s going to be more than four hours between breakfast and lunch. But often, people misjudge the size of their snack and create another actual meal. A 1-ounce serving of almonds is not the same as a 2-ounce serving. Remember, a snack is a mini-meal, and it ought to be less than 200 calories. Plus, it should contain protein, healthy fat or both, or you will most likely be hungry one hour later. In other words, don’t just grab a piece of fruit. And guess what? If you aren’t really hungry, there’s probably no need for a snack at all.

Not Counting the Calories from Alcohol

You would think this would be a no-brainer, but too many people sabotage their weight-loss efforts by their cocktail consumption. Cocktails don’t need to be flat-out avoided, but you can’t drink like a fish on the weekends and reach your weight-loss goals — no matter how well you eat during the week. And watch the size of your weekday pour — a 6-ounce glass of wine doesn’t have the same calories as a 12-ounce glass.

Eating a Salad for Lunch

Dieters often boast they’re eating salads for lunch, as if they think they’re following the No. 1 weight-loss guideline. Here’s the thing: Some salads are healthy, and some are not so healthy. If you’re piling your salad with everything but the kitchen sink, it’s closer to the latter. Croutons, bacon bits, lots of cheese and a creamy dressing can be just the tip of a diet disaster. Too much chicken, too much avocado and too much olive oil can push it over the edge. So just because you’re eating all those healthy greens, you need to make sure all the other ingredients follow suit.

Leaving the Carb Off the Dinner Plate

This is a really popular mistake. Believe it or not, you can lose weight and enjoy carbs with dinner — too many people think more protein on the plate is far better than adding a carb; when you do the math, however, it doesn’t usually work out in the protein’s favor. For example, a plain 8-ounce chicken breast is around 375 calories, but if you were to eat a 4-ounce serving and add a half cup of brown rice, you would save about 78 calories. A small baked potato (topped with salsa) can save you 105 calories, if you stick with a 4-ounce serving of broiled salmon versus an 8-ounce. And besides saving calories, you’ll be getting fiber, which overall may help with weight loss.

Avoiding Your “Bad” Foods

This is probably the No. 1 diet mistake. Ask yourself: What do you love to eat? And don’t list what you think you should be eating. It’s important to continue to eat those foods you really love — though you likely think you should avoid them. Sound crazy? Well, whenever someone completely avoids the foods they love, they inevitably feel deprived and give up on healthy eating. The key is to find a way to keep the favorites in the mix without sabotaging weight-loss goals. For example: Occasionally having a slice of pizza for lunch with a side salad, enjoying french fries with your burger, but losing the bun and/or sharing dessert at a restaurant when dining out, while consciously passing on the breadbasket.

Trying the Next Fad Diet

If you hear about a diet that promises quick weight loss, run. If you hear about a diet that eliminates food groups, run faster. And if you think trying yet another diet instead of attempting to make lifestyle changes is the answer, think again.

Tip of the Day

Make half your grains whole grains! Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgar,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” “whole rye,” or “wild rice.”

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Food-borne illness: First aid

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All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. But poor handling of food, improper cooking or inadequate storage can result in bacteria multiplying in large enough numbers to cause illness. Parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals also can contaminate food and cause illness. Signs and symptoms of food poisoning vary with the source of contamination, and whether you are dehydrated or have low blood pressure. Generally they include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

With significant dehydration, you might feel:

  • Lightheaded or faint, especially on standing
  • A rapid heartbeat

Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:

  • Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as it once did.
  • Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
  • People with chronic diseases. Having a chronic condition, such as diabetes or AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.

If you develop food poisoning:

  • Rest and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Generally, anti-diarrheal medications should be avoided because they may slow elimination of organisms or toxins from your system. If in doubt, check with your doctor about your particular situation.
  • Infants or young children should not be given anti-diarrheal medications because of potentially serious side effects.

Foodborne illness often improves on its own within 48 hours. Call your doctor if you think you have a foodborne illness and your symptoms have lasted longer than two or three days. Call immediately if blood appears in your stools.

Seek emergency medical assistance if:

  • You have severe symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain or watery diarrhea that turns very bloody within 24 hours.
  • You belong to a high-risk group.
  • You suspect botulism poisoning. Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning that results from the ingestion of a toxin formed by certain spores in food. Botulism toxin is most often found in home-canned foods, especially green beans or tomatoes. Signs and symptoms of botulism usually begin 12 to 36 hours after eating the contaminated food and may include headache, blurred vision, muscle weakness and eventual paralysis. Some people also have nausea and vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, difficulty breathing, and dry mouth. These signs and symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Tip of the Day

Out of something in your kitchen? Add it to a list!  Keeping a running list of items you need and bringing it to the store will minimize the number of products you buy and the size of your bill.

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Real food on a budget

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Are you concerned with the cost of your new good-for-you food choices? Some healthy real foods, such as fresh produce and fish can be expensive. But your overall grocery bill may actually be lower because you’re eating less of other costly foods, namely all those pricey processed offerings: chips, cookies and ice cream. Plus, you may find that you’re eating more meals at home and fewer in restaurants, which can also save money.

Here are some ideas for sticking to your grocery budget while eating healthy foods:

  • Plan ahead. With smart planning, you can obtain your recommend daily servings of fruits and vegetables at a very limited price. Shop smart at your grocery store and watch for specials.
  • Buy grains such as oatmeal and brown rice in bulk. Food co-ops are often good at offering foods in bulk.
  • Visit farmers markets for summertime deals. You can usually pick up the freshest produce at the lowest prices.
  • Consider growing some of your own produce. It’s not as hard as you think. If you don’t have room for a garden, you can grow items such as tomatoes and peppers in outdoor pots.
  • Eat simple meals sometimes. A peanut-butter sandwich made with whole-wheat bread or a bowl of soup and a few pieces of fruit don’t cost much.

And remember, your health is worth the investment. Making good choices now will make your life easier later — and it may just save you money down the road.

Tip of the Day

Have fun with physical activity! Exercise can help you feel better and have more energy. Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit your lifestyle.

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Water: How Much Do Kids Need?

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Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. People may survive six weeks without any food, but they couldn’t live more than a week or so without water. That’s because water is the cornerstone for all body functions. It’s the most abundant substance in the body, averaging 60 percent of body weight. It helps keep body temperature constant at around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and it transports nutrients and oxygen to all cells and carries waste products away. Water helps maintain blood volume, and it helps lubricate joints and body tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes and nose. And, water is truly a liquid asset for a healthy weight — it’s sugar-free, caffeine-free and calorie-free.

How Much Water Do Kids Need?

The daily amount of water that a child needs depends on factors such as age, weight and gender. Air temperature, humidity, activity level and a person’s overall health affect daily water requirements, too. The chart below can help you identify about how many cups of water your child or teen needs each day. These recommendations are set for generally healthy kids living in temperate climates; therefore, they might not be perfect for your child or teen.

The amount of water that your child or teen needs each day might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the recommendations in the chart are for total water, which includes water from all sources: drinking water, other beverages and food. Notice that fruits and vegetables have a much higher water content than other solid foods. This high water content helps keep the calorie level of fruits and vegetables low while their nutrient level remains high — another perfectly great reason for kids to eat more from these food groups.

So how do you apply total water recommendations to your kid’s day? As a rule of thumb, to get enough water, your child or teen should drink at least six to eight cups of water a day and eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Also, pay special attention to your child’s or teen’s water consumption when they are physically active. Before, during and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. The goal is to drink a half cup to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.

Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements

Age Range Gender Total Water (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years Girls and Boys 5
9 to 13 years Girls 7
Boys 8
14 to 18 years Girls 8
Boys 11

Data are from Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Tables. Recommended Daily Allowance and Adequate Intake Values: Total Water and Macronutrients.

Adapted from: Mary Mullen, MS, RD; Jo Ellen Shield, MED RD LD

Tip of the Day

Variety is key! Vary your protein food choices. Eat a variety of foods from the Protein Foods Group each week. Experiment with main dishes made with beans, peas, nuts, soy, seafood, or lean meats.

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Weight Loss Prevents Cognitive Decline

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Weight loss helps prevent brain damage caused by type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online in Diabetes Care. Researchers followed 319 participants with type 2 diabetes and overweight or obesity from the Action for Health in Diabetes study. Some participants received an intervention, including nutrition education, while the control group received no intervention. All participants underwent brain imaging and cognitive tests. Intervention group participants reduced their weight by 12 percent and improved their cardiorespiratory fitness, the body’s ability to oxygenate the muscles, by 26 percent, while those in the control group lost 1 percent of their weight and improved their cardiorespiratory fitness by 7 percent. Those in the intervention group had a 28 percent lower volume of white matter hyperintensity, or damaged areas of the brain, when compared to those in the control group.

Espeland MA, Erickson K, Neiberg RH, et al. Brain and white matter hyperintensity volumes after 10 years of random assignment to lifestyle intervention. Diabetes Care. Published online March 29, 2016.

Tip of the Day

Eat seasonally! Checking what fruits and vegetables are in season in your area may help you save money.  They usually cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.

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8 solutions to healthy-eating roadblocks

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Life doesn’t follow a perfectly smooth course. You will inevitably run into obstacles on the journey to healthy eating. It’s how you respond that makes the difference. For long-term success, you’ll need strategies in place to solve problems as they arise. The first step is to identify and define potential roadblocks and brainstorm solutions. Identify the barriers most likely to get in your way and plan ahead how you’ll face those challenges.

Roadblock: “I don’t have time to make healthy meals.”

Healthy detours: If you use smart cooking strategies, creating a healthy meal doesn’t have to take too much time. Planning ahead is a great time-saver. For example, shop for several meals at one time, or prepare foods over the weekend and then freeze meal-sized portions to reheat during the week. You can also keep it simple with a fresh salad and low-calorie dressing, a whole-grain roll and a piece of fruit, or a healthy sandwich, soup or entree from a deli or grocery store.

Roadblock: “I don’t like vegetables and fruits.”

Healthy detours: You don’t need to like all fresh vegetables and fruits. Just find some that you enjoy. Experiment by sampling produce you’ve never eaten before. Add fruits or veggies to your favorite recipes, or replace meat with vegetables when possible. Experiment with new ways to prepare produce, such as grilling pineapple or lightly cooking vegetables if you don’t like them raw.

Roadblock: “I don’t like to cook.”

Healthy detours: Not interested in becoming a gourmet chef? No problem. Many cookbooks offer recipes for quick and easy healthy meals. Or you can use creative shortcuts that don’t require a lot of cooking, such as prepackaged vegetables and lean meats. Also, remember that cooking is a skill: The more you practice, the better you will become.

Roadblock: “My family doesn’t like to try new things, and it’s too much work to make two different meals.”

Healthy detours: You’re right — you don’t want to fall into the trap of making the “good” food for the family and the “diet” food for yourself. So instead, ask for your family’s input — and help — on healthy foods they’d like to try, which may make them more willing to experiment. Take it slow, and make a few small changes each week. You may be able to make some dishes healthier and tastier and your family won’t even realize it. If you have a favorite dish that you don’t want to abandon, prepare it with a different cooking method, such as baking rather than frying.

Roadblock: “I can’t resist junk food!”

Healthy detours: As you prepare your healthy-eating plan, ask yourself how you can fit the occasional treat into the plan without derailing your overall weight-loss efforts. If you give up all your favorite foods, you’ll feel deprived, which decreases your chances of successful weight management. Give yourself permission to eat them on occasion and in moderation. Find a happy medium for high-calorie foods.

Could you take the kids out for ice-cream cones once a week or buy a small bag of chips for the Sunday-afternoon football game? That’s better than buying a gallon of ice cream for your freezer, where it causes constant temptation. You can also try healthier versions of your favorite snack foods, such as baked, rather than regular, potato chips. In addition, eat healthy foods before having your treat. It can help you eat less of your favorite treats.

Roadblock: “When eating out, I like to eat large portions of my favorite foods, not something healthy.”

Healthy detours: It’s OK to occasionally have your favorite foods if you do it healthfully. For example, when at a restaurant, eat half of your favorite meal and save the other half for the next day. Or, if you know you’ll be eating extra calories, increase your exercise for the day. Explore ways to make your favorite dish healthier. If your meal contains a rich sauce, for instance, ask for it on the side so that you can control how much of it you eat. If you dine out often, however, it’s best to make healthy choices part of your routine. You don’t want a large indulgence to cancel out all your good efforts.

Roadblock: “I don’t eat breakfast because I’m not hungry in the morning.”

Healthy detours: Research shows that eating breakfast helps people better manage their weight, in part because it helps keep them from feeling ravenous and overeating later in the day. So, even if you’re not hungry, try to eat a little something in the morning. Start gradually by planning to have breakfast twice a week and then work toward eating breakfast every day. Keep foods on hand that you can take with you on busy days, such as apples, bananas, whole-grain bagels and low-fat yogurt in single-serving containers.

Roadblock: “Keeping food records — measuring food, keeping track and figuring out calories — takes too much work.”

Healthy detours: Losing weight does take time and effort. That will gradually lessen as you get used to knowing what serving sizes should look like and how many calories you should have each day. But, initially, keeping detailed records will help you work toward your main goal: reaching a healthy weight. Make these initial steps easier on yourself by keeping your food record and serving-sizes chart handy and logging your entries after each meal instead of at day’s end.

Tip of the Day

It all adds up! What and how much you eat and drink, along with regular physical activity, can help you manage your weight and lower your risk of disease.

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