(Originally Published In The June 16th Edition Of Exposure Magazine.)
A couple weeks ago, we talked about how making your food with a variety of color tends to make it more attractive to eat. Interestingly enough, this week I learned that people are also affected by what vegetables or foods are named. Research suggests that similar thinking persists in young adults. In a research letter published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine Bradley Turnwald, Danielle Boles, and Alia Crum explain that people in a university cafeteria were much more likely to eat vegetables labeled with indulgent descriptions than vegetables labeled in a descriptive way or in a way that highlighted their health benefits. It definitely points to how much the brain is involved in our eating preferences. We are attracted by what it is called and also by what it looks like. I know this is true for me and for many others as well. When I am searching for a new recipe on Pinterest or a recipe site, I am always drawn to recipes that provide pictures and descriptions. Words are important. How it looks is great, but how it fuels your body is most important.
You can create a menu that looks, sounds, and tastes great, and still fuels your perfectly designed body. I encourage parents to use menu planning with their children. Help them understand that food is fuel, and should look appealing. Let your children create a fun and nutritious menu and encourage them to name the menu items. Discuss what the meal will look like, what vitamins are in certain foods, and when it comes time to choose a vegetable or fruit, ask them what they think would be a nice color and flavor to go with the rest of the meal. This kind of creative meal planning will help you avoid the starch laden, repetitious meals of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and corn. If you have young kids, a better way to teach is to simply have pictures. You can print, laminate, and attach a magnet to the back of each picture. You can sort the various food groups and help them pick the meal based on balanced nutrition, color and content. As part of their morning routine, post the pictures of what the nights meal will be on the refrigerator. When my three children were young, each family member was responsible for choosing a dinner menu for one day a week. We planned the whole months meals at one time and I wrote it all out by hand. It was always posted so that everyone knew what was coming. Grocery shopping was much easier and efficient. Each dinner had to have a main dish, a side dish and vegetable or fruit. We also always had to choose two out of three items on the menu that everyone liked. I was the master of the planning so we didn’t eat the same thing 3 times in a week. My husband and I chose last so we could provide variety. This was a truly joyful experience and one that helped our children learn about food pairing, balancing a meals nutrition, color and variety. If we had only known we could have named the meatloaf Marvelous Mouthwatering Meatloaf instead! I think we might have missed out on a bit of fun!
(Originally Published In The June 9th Edition Of Exposure Magazine.)
1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
We are all graced with different abilities and gifts. When we share those gifts with others we feel good inside. Ask yourself where you may be of value. Pick something you are passionate about. Share a little bit of your time and talents by helping another without benefiting yourself. Serving others can provide the opportunity to feel good about helping someone in need. There are so many amazing opportunities to impact your community. Think about who you might like to spend time with. You can lend a hand in helping the elderly, children, pet shelter or community group. Do you have a talent to entertain with, mentoring capability, or you fundraise better than anyone? We are all graced with different ways to bless others. There is a Carnegie Mellon study that suggests that volunteering actually lowers your blood pressure. What could be better than a health benefit while serving others? Feeling good emotionally and receiving physical benefits also? Just say yes! It’s a definite win-win.
Another study in 2012 by Health Psychology suggested that as long as one volunteers regularly, with an altruistic intent, one will likely live longer. The ROI, return on investment, may be surprising. I encourage you to share a part of your life so you too can live a healthier and longer life filled with blessings!
(Originally In The May 18th Edition of Exposure Magazine.)
As I hit my 50’s, I “created” a health crisis- Literally, I was sitting in a hospital on my 50th birthday. I say “created” because my own behavior led me to it. The journey to better health started out of necessity. Two years ago, I found myself over committed, overwhelmed and incredibly stressed. Like a lot of working moms and entrepreneurs, I felt I could handle it all. I had 3 jobs, countless volunteer jobs and was also a wife, mom, animal mom and much more. Something needed to give- and unfortunately it was my heart that yelled from the inside- “Hey, we protest this treatment!”.
I had to reassess the priorities in my life for my health. I found through this process I needed to focus on three core priorities. To do this right, I excused myself from many of the responsibilities that were dragging me down, eliminated the jobs I didn’t need, and refocused on my health. I want to share with you a bit about my journey and break down the three core goals I set for myself.
Restorative sleep- we need it. When you don’t sleep properly you will be heavier, unhappier and sometimes cranky. All three are undesirable, but common. Shut down and repower your brain. Some interruptions are unavoidable, like soothing a child or grandchild in the night, but the majority of us need to shut it down for seven to eight hours a night. Limit any light entering your brain 30 minutes before sleep. It signals your brain to slow down for restoration. No electronics- phone, television, Kindle, etc. Your sleep patterns, and ultimately your body, will thank you. I suggest quiet meditative time working on your I AM statements in the complete dark before bed. I AM Confident, I AM strong, I AM healthy, I AM a goal getter, etc. You choose your own I AM because you know where you are headed. Your brain continues to work on the tasks you give it before bed. Focus on what you want to manifest by repeating what you want to accomplish the next day! Intention and mindset is everything. One may find this weird, but I spoke to my heart every day during my health crisis, and still do today. I tell it I am grateful that it is healthy and happy and wonderfully made. When I find myself stressing, I tell my heart to be strong, work correctly and maintain balance. I am not able to control others so I focus on my own health and wellness. Healthy mindset = healthy body. I claim it. And I sleep to retain it.
The second core goal is exercise. No I am not a gym rat or a marathon runner. You don’t need to be either. Here is what you DO need to do… move. Exercise is about baby steps- or maybe upping the total number of steps. People become overwhelmed with the idea of exercise. Make it simple. If you love to watch TV, commit to planking for a commercial break, or doing 25 squats or 20 sit ups each break. Decide to walk the same number of minutes you choose to watch TV. Stop talking yourself out of exercising. Start small but be consistent. There are no excuses. Seriously, there is a modification for everything. If you are very overweight, then start with walking to the end of your driveway or the other end of your house. Increase the distance each time. Maybe you will be able to reach the end of the block next time. If you need to stop and catch your breath at any time, do so. Document your progress. Progress is the motivation that will keep you consistent and on task. The last and most important part of exercise- NEVER compare yourself to others and their journey. Run your own race!
Last and most important core goal. You cannot out train your diet! Yes, you are what you eat and drink. Figure out what you want your eating goals to be. Yes, it’s confusing, but you have to be able to maintain your plan, so it has to be able to be done as a lifestyle change rather than a fad diet plan. I prefer learning how to eat real food with a balanced consumption of nutrients while controlling sugar intake. Read labels and avoid excess sodium and packaged food. It’s convenient to eat packaged foods, but come with a cost, often an expanding waist line. There are lots of resources online to help you get a handle on the food intake part. I prefer the My Fitness Pal app, especially for beginners, as it helps you actually SEE what is happening when you eat certain foods. Nutrition is 80% of improving your health. Your water intake is critical. In helping people every day improve their health, it’s the one deficiency, I see most often. We have learned to use sugary soda, energy drinks and sugary snacks as a crutch for a quick boost of energy, at the expense of proper hydration and nutrition.
Of course, I love the occasional binge of barbecue ribs or lasagna! It only become a problem if this is your diet every day, even more so if you are the king or queen of seconds. Measure your portions until you are 100% sure what a portion is. No excuses.
These three core goals will not always be in perfect alignment. One day you may eat well, sleep poorly but walk 15,000 steps. Be kind to yourself and look at how you are progressing over time. It’s about the progress, not each individual day. Don’t micro-manage every tiny detail or you will fail at becoming a healthier you. Love yourself on your journey, run your own race. Focus on feeling good, being strong, creating inner happiness and living the life you deserve!
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."