Bringing your lunch to work is a breeze with these quick and simple strategies.
How often do you just grab whatever’s available when you’re hungry, even relying on a vending machine to supply your midday meal? Reinvigorate your lunch, save money and eat healthier with the following packing tips:
Pick foods from a range of food groups to maximize your energy. Choose fruits; vegetables; low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese; whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta or brown rice; and lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs or beans for your lunches.
Think beyond the typical sandwich and chips. Stuff whole-grain pita bread with sliced chicken, cucumbers, red onion, low-fat feta cheese and a dash of light dressing. Make kebabs with cut-up fruits and pair with low-fat yogurt as a dip. Replace peanut-butter sandwiches with another nut or seed spread like sunflower-seed butter.
No microwave? No problem. Keep hot foods hot with an insulated vacuum container such as a thermos. Fill with hot stew, chili, vegetable soup or leftovers for a satisfying meal on a cold day.
Have easy brown-bag options handy. Pair low-fat cheese sticks and smoked turkey slices with whole-grain crackers, crunchy raw vegetables and a handful of grapes, or try whole-grain pasta salad — made with chicken, vegetables and shredded Parmesan cheese — with low-fat pudding and a crisp apple. Another option: Layer hummus, sliced tomatoes and reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese over whole-grain bread for a taste-tempting sandwich. Add a handful of baked potato chips and a fresh pear for a satisfying meal.
Revive leftovers. Don’t let food from the day before go to waste — turn it into a tasty lunch! Pasta dishes can be enhanced with vegetables, such as a serving of broccoli or a handful of baby spinach. Bring salads to life by adding your favorite raw veggies or protein, such as a boiled egg, chicken or tofu.
Packing lunches can be challenging if you aren’t already in the habit. Look within yourself to find barriers to success and plan solutions that work for you…and save money while you’re at it!
If you are sleep-deprived or if your job has you sitting all day, your brain is being damaged. If both apply to you, that is a double-whammy that no brain can withstand. Regularly getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night can cause the same long-term brain damage as alcohol abuse. Sitting at a desk all day or spending hours watching television damages the brain in a way that can increase the risk of dementia.
Recent research found that getting too little sleep causes the brain to literally eat itself. Specialized brain cells called astrocytes are more active in brains that are sleep-deprived. Astrocytes act like miniature vacuum cleaners, sucking up unwanted cellular debris. While normally this is good, when the vacuuming goes on too long, the astrocytes begin sucking up portions of the brain’s connections called synapses.
Sedentary behavior such as prolonged sitting has been found to be associated with thinning of the medial temporal lobe of the brain. This portion of the brain is crucial to the formation of new memories. Thinning of the medial temporal lobe can be an early sign of cognitive decline and dementia.
Published June 18, 2018 by Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS
1 pound snow peas, washed and trimmed of stems and strings (about 7 cups)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
Crushed red pepper, optional
Bring a large saucepan 3/4 full of water to a boil. Add the peas, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain the peas then plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again thoroughly and set aside.
To prepare the sauce, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Stir until the cornstarch and seasonings have dissolved. In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and peas. Increase the heat to high, stirring frequently. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently. Find out what it can do for you.
Do you live to exercise? Unless you’re an elite athlete, you probably answered no to that question. Most people, in fact, would say they exercise to improve their quality of life.
What is functional fitness training?
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability. For example, a dead lift is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you pick up an object from the floor. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to move efficiently in a variety of common situations.
Functional fitness exercises can be done at home or at the gym. Gyms may offer functional fitness classes or incorporate functional fitness into boot camps or other types of classes. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettlebells and weights, are often used in functional fitness workouts.
What are the benefits of functional fitness training?
Functional exercises tend to be multijoint, multimuscle exercises. Instead of only moving the elbows, for example, a functional exercise might involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles. This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life.
What are examples of functional fitness exercises?
Functional fitness exercises use multiple joints and muscles at once to train your whole body. Examples include:
Assisted lunge with press
Resisted squat with overhead press
Are functional fitness exercises for everyone?
If you’re over age 40, haven’t exercised for some time or have health problems, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their doctors.
It’s also a good idea to start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance. As you become more fit and are ready for more challenge, you can increase resistance by using weights or resistance tubing or performing movements in the water.
The functional fitness payoff
As you add more functional exercises to your workouts, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities. That’s quite a return on your exercise investment.
A better understanding of these potential food triggers will help you stay on track.
Have you noticed that when food temptations strike, it often has more to do with your mood than when you last ate? You may crave food to relax, relieve stress or boredom, soothe anger, or cope with loneliness, sadness or anxiety. Indulging in cravings during these emotional times may lead you to eat too many high-calorie, sweet, fatty foods.
Everyone has a food craving at times — and yes, chocolate is at the top of most people’s list. The first step to managing your cravings is being able to identify when you’re truly hungry. Learn how to recognize the difference between a craving and hunger.
Are usually for comfort foods, such as chocolate, sweets and fatty foods
Are often caused by negative feelings
Lead to eating that makes you feel good at first, but then guilty
Increase during a woman’s pregnancy and menstrual cycle
May be stronger when you’re dieting, especially if you’re giving up your favorite foods
Can occur even after you’ve recently eaten
Pass with time
Usually occurs when you haven’t eaten for a few hours or more
Results in a rumbling stomach, headache or feeling of weakness
Doesn’t pass with time
Isn’t just for one specific food
Can be satisfied by a healthy snack or meal
If you have a craving, distract yourself. Try calling a friend, listening to music, taking a walk or bike ride, reading, or writing. If a negative feeling is causing your craving, use positive self-talk, exercise or a fun activity to improve your mood.
One of the most important ways to succeed at weight control is to establish realistic goals and expectations.
You might have a combination of goals: your weight-loss goal, your health goals, your exercise goals or your daily servings and calorie goals. Goal setting keeps you motivated and helps you stick with your program, so it’s important to approach it with a thoughtful plan.
The key is to make your goals your own. The more aligned they are with your likes and dislikes — your preferences and priorities — the greater your chances of success. So while yes, the sky is the limit, it’s important to set goals that you can reach and that suit your lifestyle. You can always reassess goals and set more challenging ones as you go along.
Start with outcome goals
An outcome goal is longer term and focuses on the end result. Examples include, “I would like to lose 20 pounds” or “I would like to weigh 125 pounds.”
Guide your planning
Build the framework for shorter term, or “process goals”
Stretch and inspire you
Move ahead with process goals
Process goals focus on a specific process or action — such as “I will walk 30 minutes every day” or “I will eat four servings of vegetables each day” — rather than a single outcome. Many people find that when they focus on process goals, the outcomes (such as weight loss) take care of themselves.
Build success one small step at a time
Help you reach your outcome goals
Are the most important type of goal for many people
Stay inspired with daily goals
Each day, it’s important to set goals for both meal servings and physical activity.
It’s also important to set one inspirational goal, such as, “Today I will stop eating before I feel full” or “Today I will focus on positive thinking.”
Are the building blocks for weight loss and good health
Provide a daily sense of achievement
Keep you motivated to keep up with your program
Include enjoyment in your goals
When setting goals, don’t forget satisfaction. A study of individuals who maintained their weight after completing a weight-loss program found that satisfaction with the amount and quality of daily activities was an important factor in success.
Your goal is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Aim for a whole rainbow of colors, including dark green, red, orange, purple and white. Variety is vital to get all the different nutrients and their health benefits.
Make fruits and veggies the star of your daily diet with these ideas:
Snack smart. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Or reach for vegetables that require little preparation, such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter. Just be sure to limit your intake of dried fruits because they’re not as filling as whole fruits and they have a lot more calories in a smaller volume of food. For example, 1⁄4 cup of raisins has the same number of calories — about 100 — as almost 2 cups of grapes.
Experiment with new combinations. Try mango or peach slices on whole-wheat toast with a little peanut butter and honey. Toss some mandarin orange or peach slices into a salad.
Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as a main ingredient. Try pineapple-chicken stir-fry, tomato-basil pizza or vegetarian chili.
Start your day with a fruit or vegetable. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on your morning cereal or oatmeal. Saute red peppers, tomatoes or spinach into your scrambled eggs.
Drink your fruits and vegetables. But don’t reach for prepared fruit juice! Instead, turn whole fruits and vegetables into a refreshing drink. Make a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and your favorite frozen fruits. Or puree together banana, berries, lemon, mint, ice and 2 cups of fresh raw baby spinach — this green concoction may look odd, but it tastes delicious!
As you can see from these suggestions, sneaking more fruits and veggies into your diet can be easy, convenient — and fun!
The dish utilizes summer stone fruits, such as nectarines, peaches and apricots. However, this flexible recipe can be adapted based on seasonal changes or your personal preferences, and you’ll still get the same tasty results. For extra creaminess and a punch of protein, add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.
1 pounds cherries, pitted and halved
4 cups mixed stone fruit, such as nectarines, peaches and apricots, peeled, pitted and sliced
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
2 tablespoons raw sugar, turbinado or firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons walnut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon dark honey
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the cherries and stone fruits. Sprinkle with the flour and turbinado sugar and toss gently to mix.
To make the topping, in another bowl, combine the oats, almonds, flour, turbinado sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk to blend. Stir in the oil and honey and mix until well blended.
Spread the fruit mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the oat-almond mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is lightly browned, 45-55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutritional Information Amount per serving
Total fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Sodium: 52 mg
Total carbohydrate: 38 g
Dietary fiber: 5 g
Protein: 4 g
Don’t like to cook? Can’t resist junk food? Use practical strategies to overcome your biggest healthy-eating challenges.
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 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.
To make the pesto spread, place basil leaves, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, garlic and salt in a food processor. Process ingredients until they are well-blended and fairly smooth. Add mayonnaise and pulse until just blended. Set aside.
Heat oven to 375 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray.
Coat one side of each slice of bread with cooking spray. Lay bread slices on baking sheet with coated side facing down. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of basil pesto mayo on each slice of bread. Place 1/4 cup mozzarella, 4 ounces of turkey and 2 slices of tomato on two of the bread slices. Top sandwich with the remaining two slices of bread.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until sandwich is warmed through and golden brown. Cut in half and serve.
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