Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween, don't use it as an excuse to stock up on candy!

Below are two articles taken from the American Dietetics Association's website. Try to make your Halloween a little healthier by using the tips below. 

Here are some other tips as well:
- get bite-size and mini candy rather than larger portions
- use dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate
- make half of the candy sugar free
- If making cupcakes or cookies: use skim milk and use butter spray rather than butter. Also limit the icing and throw in some dry fruit in the mix. 

Happy Eats! 

The Two Tricks to Enjoying Treats

October 2010

October Feature Pumpkin Pail
Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, ghosts and witches…Who will come knocking on your door this Halloween? Make sure you're prepared with a treat fit for a superhero or princess.
It's easier than ever to find Halloween treats to make kids happy while providing a health benefit. Grocery store shelves are stocked with kid-friendly favorites containing whole grains, extra vitamin C, 100-percent fruit juice and added fiber.  
This year, consider mixing up the candy bowl with some of these items that kids might enjoy, even though they may be good for them. All of these items are available in easy to distribute snack-size packages, too.
  • Whole-grain cheddar flavored crackers
  • Fruit snacks made with 100 percent fruit with added vitamin C
  • Fruit leathers made with 100 percent fruit
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Animal-shaped graham crackers made without trans fat
  • Mini rice cereal treat bars
  • Cereal bars made with real fruit
  • Individual fruit cups
  • Mini 100-percent fruit juice boxes
  • Low-fat pudding cups
  • Baked, unsalted bags of pretzels
Remember to read the labels when buying these treats to be sure they are the healthiest choices. For example, check to see that fruit snacks, fruit leathers, cereal bars and juice boxes are made with 100-percent real fruit; animal crackers are made without trans fats; and that cheddar crackers are made with whole grain.
Another option for your trick-or-treaters is non-food treats such as Halloween pencils, pens, stickers, tattoos and spider rings. If you just can’t resist handing out candy, give bite-size candy bars.
Parents and kids should agree ahead of time on how much and when candy can be consumed each day. When they get home from trick-or-treating, have your children sort their candy into piles of "favorites" and "not so favorites" and let your children choose a few favorites to enjoy. As with any treat, candy can be a part of children's healthful eating plans — in moderation.
And don't forget what a workout trick or treating can be. Your kids can burn quite a few calories walking (sometimes in heavy costumes) and climbing up and down stairs!




Are you ready for a candy filled house?  In less than two weeks, houses across the country will be filled with chocolate snack bars, gummy candies, sugar coated taffy and sweetened beverages (yes, little hugs are still around!).  For years Halloween has brought kids in costumes, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and school parties.  Many kids wait all year for this night.  For most, it is the “candy collecting” and actual trick-or-treating that is the fun part.  While I’d love to persuade every parent to send in healthy Halloween treats for parties and convince every house to only offer healthy treats for trick-or-treating- we are not there yet. So, while this night represents treat terror for many parents (and dentists) – it does not have to be so dreadful.   Before you think about taking the fun out of this age old tradition- try turning the focus to something else.   Rather than limiting the “loot,” let the kids go wild for a night and use the diversity of the candy to make original creations.
To start with, open the candy wrappers and let the candy open to the air.  This is a good time to talk about the shapes of the candy, the colors, the textures all while letting the licorice harden and the chocolate get stale.  Categorize the candy based on how it will be used.  Gather materials such as glue sticks, scissors, construction paper, styrofoam cups, etc. 
With younger kids encourage creativity- use round candy for eyes, chocolate candy for hair, gummy candies for ears and a nose.  Kids will also have fun creating a Halloween Haunted House by gluing the candy onto the sides of a cardboard house.  Younger trick-or-treaters will be happy making a one story, square house while older kids will have more fun creating a Halloween mansion.  The bigger the house- the more candy gets glued onto it so encourage multiple stories! 
Of course, the kids will probably want to enjoy eating the candy as well.  Allow the kids one or two pieces and be sure to keep it out of site.  After a few days, the novelty will wear off and the kids will be on to something else. 
Still have candy left over?  Consider these other ways to utilize the Halloween candy:
  • Donate it to a local food bank or shelter.  While it is not the healthiest choice a few pieces may be a welcomed treat.
  • Consider a sending a treat package overseas to our troops- they’ll appreciate being included in the holiday festivities.
  • Make treat bags and visit a local long term care center. Have the kids pass it out to the residents.  They will appreciate the visit.
  • Recycle it on Halloween night.  Allow the kids to go trick-or-treating and then leave their candy out in a bowl for other trick-or-treaters.  (This typically only works with the little, little ones!) It will be gone in an hour
Most important- keep the focus on fun.  Have a Happy Halloween

Taken From:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

America and its expanding waist line!

The day before yesterday I was at Clear Lake Regional Hospital. As I sat down in the waiting room, I happened to sit in an enormously large chair. I was like woah, this is a big chair! The chair was probably 3 feet wide. I looked around the small waiting room and noticed that every fourth chair was a very large one. Hmm I thought, are hospitals doing this because of the growing waistline in America? I remember reading an article stating that many movie theaters are making their chairs larger because of obesity in this country. Airlines now even make obese people purchase two seats if they cannot fit in one.

I am not trying to offend anyone because obesity can be a disease, but this is really sad!! Honestly with the eating habits of our country, portion sizes, and commercial food production, it is no wonder that almost 40% of Americans are obese. I am reminding myself first, let's not fall into the pressures of our culture's food. Be mindful of what you eat because yes, it could go straight to your thighs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Local Grocery Store!

So for the first time in my life I went shopping at a local Houston Fiesta grocery store. For those of you who do not know Fiesta it is a grocery store that houses ethnic foods and is usually found in under-privileged communities. I was glancing in the milk section for Organic Fat Free milk... hmm where is it I thought. I finally found two different varieties, the Horizon version and some ethnic brand. The percentage of lower fat milks was only about 5% compared to the whole milk kind. Now I know a lot of you out there are like eww gross fat-free milk, but once you get used to it you can't go back to whole. Whole cow's milk is only about 3.5% fat, then there is 2%, 1%, and finally fat-free. You are probably thinking what's 3.5 percent, but small diet improvements can go a long way.

Ok back to the rest of the store. Now to the dairy aisle...fat-free or low-sodium cheese..... where is some. There was one packet left of fat free cheese that looked like it was there for a while, but I had to grab it regardless. All the cheese available was too high in fat and sodium for my taste. Just so you know a normal slice of cheese has about 9 g of fat. Low fat is usually cut down to 6 g or 4.5 g. The think that bothers me about cheese is sometimes if you go for a low-fat cheese the sodium is high. If you go for a low-sodium cheese the fat is high. Trust me there are times where I pull out 9 cheese packages and just compare the labels for fat and sodium. Cheese portions need to really be watched!

Now to find low-sodium broth. There was only one brand that was 33% lower in sodium but the sodium was still high! Overall it was really hard to find whole wheat products, organic items, meats with lower fat, healthy cereals, etc. i kept seeing weird foods... pork legs, things drenched in salt and vinegar, high sodium foods, and just about everything not good for you. The only real good area was the produce area... thank goodness!

So here is my point! Lower income areas usually do not have access to quality food in grocery stores. Foods are over- processed and preserved because they have to be cheap. Mass production yields affordable foods without the health factor taken into consideration. If a family of 5 is struggling to make ends meet they are probably not going to want to spend extra money on lean meats, fat-free foods, and organic foods. With obesity highly prevalent in lower income areas what are we to do as a nation to provide healthier foods to theses areas? Just today I stopped at a McDonald's next to the 3rd Ward of Houston (not to eat but for another reason); it was around dinner time so there were a lot of families with their kids eating "dinner." Most of the parents were overweight and even obese. My heart went out to them because what else are they supposed to do. When a hamburger is like a buck and large soda for another buck, they can feed their entire family using a small budget. Most "healthy" deli sandwiches are at least $5, so do you expect every person to afford that?

If we really want to get our nation on the road to being healthy we have to think about subsidizing healthier foods so that everyone can live a more worthwhile life!