I'm a family doctor at Swedish's South Lake Union Primary Care Clinic - if you're into new year's resolutions, here are five healthy ones to try:
(Listen to the end for a 'bonus' resolution)
Swedish recently shot and produced a short video featuring two recipes for quick, easy and healthy Holiday drinks.
The more that has been done to a food, the less it has to offer you. Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains, enjoyed as close to their natural state as possible this holiday season, will keep your energy levels high, your appetite content, and weight gain off your worry list.
These next few months feel like the fast-forward button is stuck on…work demands remain high, yet family and friends require a significantly greater share of your attention. I fully support the extra shot of espresso to fill your tank this season, as long as you put the brakes on and slow way down at the dinner table.
It takes at least 20 minutes after you start eating for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s receiving food and to slow production of hunger hormones (ghrelin) and kick up production of leptin (satiety hormone). If you are shoveling food in your mouth like you are training to take on Takeru Kobayashi (hot dog eating champ), you are going to end up miserable. Slow down. Take time to chew thoroughly, put your fork down between bites, breathe, and enjoy the company.
Speaking of company…unfortunately when we are graced with the presence of loved ones, we tend to eat much more than we would by ourselves. Eating with just one other person encourages you to eat about 35% more, and in a group of 7 or more, you’ll eat roughly 96% more than you would if you were eating alone. Now you have an excuse not to invite that bizarre cousin right? Kidding. For those of us blessed with large families and parties of friends, make sure to pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table (anyone in a highchair is fair game), start eating last, and determine how much you are going to eat before you sit down. We eat about 92% of what we dish up in the buffet line, so now is the time to be chintzy (not on your Uncles gift). If there is a choice in plate size, go for the smaller one. Just a two-inch smaller diameter plate (from 12 to 10”) reduces your consumption by 22%. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you have reached the point where you are too full (it’s too late).
During the holidays we do a fine job getting our fix of fruits (apple pie, wine), grains (gingerbread), and meats (duck, turkey, or whatever other animals we aren’t willing to prepare the other 360 something other days a year). What about our true friends that are packed full of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber), while contributing few calories and little fat? Vegetables! Displace 20% of your plate with these guys and you will save a couple hundred calories. There are 3,500 calories per pound, so do the math: Over the next two month celebration marathon, that’s a new years resolution besides losing weight gained over the holidays!
Embrace the season – focus on seasonal winter vegetables, such as:
In order to be successful in school, our children need fuel. School lunches can be tough. We have to balance what is healthy and what our child will eat. There’s also the distraction factor. They have 20 minutes and a cafeteria or gym full of other kids who are all talking and eating. The distraction is enough to delay nutritional intake past the time when lunch is over. (To see what I'm talking about, Try to fit in a lunchtime visit to your child’s school sometime. Prearranged with your child and the office. You'll be amazed.)
So, we need something tasty and quick and easy to prepare, but nutritionally sound and easy for our kids to eat quickly.
The start of Spring doesn’t just mean we can now justify complaining about the weather (as I did, starting March 20th). It is the exciting start to a vibrant produce season! You may have received the hint from bundled asparagus spears taking over the produce displays at your local supermarket that the season has indeed changed. Aren’t you curious to know what else will be taking the place of those winter root vegetables on your plate?
Some of the produce you will be seeing this season includes rhubarb, chives, bamboo shoots, asparagus, Chinese vegetables, lettuce, radish, and spinach. Berries will be beginning to make an appearance by the end of the season.
Why eat seasonally?
If you are eating according to season, you are probably eating locally as well. Besides the obvious benefit to the environment, if your food isn’t traveling far, you will be saving money and will get a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. You will enjoy your produce at the peak of ripeness, so your taste buds will thank you as well.
What do I do with…?