Summer is almost synonymous with grilling season, turning simple foods into a delicious spread. However, grilling doesn’t have to equal unhealthy eating if you maintain the basics of good eating that you follow the rest of the year. Keep the standards of good nutrition, which means the consumption of a mostly plant based diets abundant in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with moderate levels of healthy fats, and some lean proteins. We can enjoy the occasional hot dog or hamburger. What we eat routinely is what counts, not the hot dog we may have at a family BBQ. However, there are always ways to eat better at BBQs and maintain healthy lifestyle habits while partaking of summer activities.
Bread isn’t your enemy. There are many varieties of breads to choose from, and whole grains provide the fuel your body needs to tackle everything life brings. So when you’re deciding what to eat, invite bread to the table.
Maybe you’ve heard you should avoid carbs. I’ve certainly heard that chatter. I’m always perplexed when I hear about people trying not to eat carbs. Carbohydrates (carbs) provide us with the daily fuel we need in or out of the gym. We aren’t just talking about grains here; even fruits and vegetables are also made up primarily of carbohydrates!
Millennials are the first generation to be more overweight than their parents and to spend more on food than clothing. So in trying to figure out why this may be the case, I tried to identify some patterns of the Millennial generation in general.
In an effort to eat as close to nature as possible and lead healthful lifestyles, many of us have growing concerns about what is added to our foods, especially processed foods. The array of chemicals meant to thicken, stabilize, color, and flavor can be intimidating enough to make one question their safety.
When it comes to protecting our hearts, there is much we can do through diet. We are becoming more aware than ever that it is the type of dietary fat, rather than the total amount of fat, that affects health.
When I look back at my childhood memories, there are a few distinct moments, almost like screenshots (keeping it current, snapshots/photo images) that are vivid in my mind of people and places. I can tell you what I wore or what song was playing at an event or moment in time, but will fail in giving you a year or telling you how old I was. I can even still hear the jingling of my mother’s favorite gold bangles as she entered a room; you always knew when she was approaching. Even stronger memories are tied to certain smells, such as the scent of Greece, the motherland of my parents. We would land every summer into the Athens airport and walk off the plane into paradise. It is something magical and unique to experience.
In a recent survey by the International Food Information Foundation (IFIC) on food and health, a remarkable 78 percent of consumers reported that they encounter a lot of conflicting information about what to eat and avoid. Of those people, more than half agree that the confusing information makes them doubt the choices they are making. There is no surprise on the confusion considering 77 percent rely on friends and family for nutrition information, yet a handful trust these sources. In addition, the constant bombardment of the latest trend and faux nutrition experts touting the next miracle quick fix for weight loss can distort anyone’s views of what is sound advice for nutrition and health.
It is becoming increasingly evident that a plant-based diet has many health benefits including lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and obesity. In fact, researchers of a study tracking plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the US (published in PLOS Medicine medical journal) found that those who ate more healthy plant foods (meaning whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and oils) and fewer animal foods, had a 35 percent lower risk of diabetes regardless of their weight.
The way I interpret “clean eating”—and I think most nutrition experts would agree—is predominantly choosing whole, real foods or close to how they are found in nature, as well as foods that are less or minimally processed.
In my attempt to be an “informed consumer,” I quickly realized that genetically engineered or modified foods are one of the most hotly debated issues at this time. Regardless, I believe in being aware and making my own educated decision on matters of health and environmental impact, and this applies to GMO and non-GMO foods.
I have been a loyal devotee of probiotics ever since my internist first introduced me to the idea many years ago after a strong round of necessary antibiotics. After experiencing the benefits for myself, I was hooked. So apart from taking probiotics, I have made it part of my daily routine to consume food sources of prebiotics and probiotics.
We know whole grains are heroes when it comes to their strong link to a lower risk of mortality and chronic diseases including heart attack and other cardiovascular disease; stroke; cancer; respiratory disease; and type 2 diabetes. Many recent studies support the risk reduction associated with the consumption of whole grains. In addition to all this, whole grains, which essentially provide a high fiber diet, aid in digestive health and even gum disease prevention.
Eating right matters, and this does not change as we get older. In fact, it is never too late in life to see the health benefits of good nutrition. The main principles of eating well are the same no matter what age. A nutritious diet should emphasize fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (including fish and seafood) and plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds), and healthy unsaturated fats while limiting processed foods, especially processed meats and fast foods.
As I have shared before, I am a mom to Anjolie who will soon be leaving toddlerhood and becoming a preschooler—yikes! I often think about how I will prepare her for this next stage. I have always tried to instill healthy habits and a positive relationship with food. So I guess the bigger question for me is, what or how do I build upon this healthy relationship and continue to implement good habits throughout her growth into a young adult?
Well, this is news to me. I think if you eat a great diet and give your kids what you eat, you are creating a familiarity with tasty and healthy foods. Cooking and eating good food is a party in our house, literally. The atmosphere we create around food fosters a love for healthy foods, so I know that it is possible to get kids to love good foods.
Appropriately planned, well-balanced vegetarian and vegan diets are healthful and may play a significant role in disease prevention.
The truth is that most of the food we eat is processed. For example, a peeled apple, pre-washed spinach, and yogurt are processed foods.
For many of us, the New Year also means the promise we make to ourselves to lose weight and get fit. My top bit of advice is to make good health a priority all year long, not just the few days or weeks after January 1. Many of us give in or give up as soon as the holidays begin and count on getting into shape in the New Year. But the time is now. It is easier to make gradual positive changes along the way than to try to lose weight overnight and make it last.
Fact: There is no scientific data that proves that eliminating gluten promotes weight loss. Any time we try something new, we are “all in,” at least at the onset, with a keen and committed attention to our nutrition, physical activity, and avoidance of what we (or the internet) consider “bad food.” So yes, there can be indirect weight loss for some people due to cutting down on calories as a result of elimination of certain foods or even an entire food group. Additionally, if processed gluten foods are being replaced with fruits and vegetables, some weight loss will likely occur.