9 Tips to Avoid Snacking

If they had an Olympic event for snacking I would definitely be on the podium receiving my gold medal!  This past holiday season I must have seemed as if I was in training for such an event as I do not believe an hour went by where I wasn’t eating something.  Now, I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy all of those munchies, but there comes a time when enough is enough.

If you, too, have determined to say NO to snacking (and give up your hopes for that Olympic gold medal), then here are some tips from Livestrong.com on how to avoid snacking.

  1. Brush your teeth.  When you feel the urge to grab a snack, reach for your toothbrush instead.  Be real – nothing tastes that great when it follows toothpaste.
  2. Avoid social media food temptations.  A 2009 study by Yale University found a strong link between increased snacking and exposure to food advertisements.
  3. Put cravings in “time out”.  When you feel the urge to snack, change your focus.  Go to a different room, take a short walk, listen to some music.
  4. Give your food some love.  Think of food according to its purpose – providing fuel and nourishment for your body.  Pay attention to your food as you eat it by turning off distractions and focusing soley on the good.
  5. Store trigger foods out of sight.  Put healthy foods, such as fruits and veggies forefront so you’ll be more likely to reach for them as opposed to that hidden bag of chips.
  6. Keep track of what you eat.  There are several apps out there that will allow you to record what you are eating and will let you see what that high calorie snack looks like in conjunction with all your other food.
  7. Invite your cravings into your daydreams.  A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University found that imagining the food you’re craving can help you feel satisfied enough to forgo it altogether.
  8. Make the most of your meals.  Pack your meals with protein, fiber, and health fat.  They provide satiety and help regulate blood sugar during and after eating.
  9. If you must snack, mini-size it.  If you just can’t get your mind off the tempting treat, then have just a small portion.  Cornell University found that just a bite can greater satisfaction than eating the whole thing.

 

Source: http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1007997-9-sneaky-ways-trick-yourself-out-snacking/

Veggie Vitals:  Zucchini the Great Houdini

zucchiniLike Houdini, zucchini is a great illusionist.  It has a very mild taste, so much so that it is almost indiscernible taste-wise when used in a dish.  I would not say that it is invisible as the texture is evident, but the taste tends to disappear as zucchini picks up the other flavors from the dish.

A great example of this switcheroo is Zucchini Mock Apple Pie.  (See recipe below.) With a sleight of hand the apples are replaced with zucchini and presto-chango  everyone thinks they are eating apple pie.

Do not let all this hocus pocus fool you, though, into thinking that a lack of individual flavor means a lack of nutritional value.   One cup of zucchini is incredibly low in calories – just 20 and offers the following health benefits.

Vitamin C – protects cells from free radicals and aids in nerve communication, helps the body metabolize cholesterol, and keeps your tissues strong.  (1 cup = 25% of recommended daily intake)

Lutein & Zeaxanthin – promote healthy eyesight by filtering light rays as they enter your eyes

Manganese – protects tissues from free radicals and promotes healthy tissue development.  (1 cup = 10% of recommended daily intake)

And, if you’d like to get into the magic act yourself, August 8th is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.  You can use this day to make some zucchini disappear from your garden and reappear on your neighbor’s porch.

Zucchini Mock Apple Pie

  • 6 -8 cups zucchini (peel, cut lengthwise, remove seeds, slice 1/4-inch thick)
  • 34 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 14 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 14 teaspoon fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 12 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons flour
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white and apple cider both are good)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2  pie crusts
  • 12 teaspoon sugar, for topping the crust

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cook zucchini slices in boiling water until barely tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from stove and drain very well and cool.Remove as much moisture as you can with paper towels.
  4. In a bowl, toss zucchini with sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cream of tartar, cornstarch or flour, and salt until well coated.
  5. Place lightly floured pastry in a 9-inch, pan.
  6. Fill with zucchini mixture.
  7. Dot with butter, drizzle with vinegar.
  8. Top with crust.
  9. Brush top crust lightly with water and sprinkle crust with sugar.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 425.
  11. Reduce heat to 350 and bake about 45 minutes.
  12. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  13. Or serve chilled.

 

Veggie Vitals – Asparagus, A great weapon in your arsenal of healthy foods!

AsparagusThe asparagus spears – get it? Weapon – spears?  Anyway, these spears pack quite a punch when it comes to nutritional benefits and they have been doing so for over 4,000 years.  It was declared a food of the gods by Pharaoh Ikhnaton and his wife Nefertiti and was well liked by the Greeks, Persians, and Babylonians.

Asparagus does take a bit of time, however, to grow into maturity.  It is planted in the ground 3 years before it can be harvested for a full season.  But, once it does start growing, it does so with gusto.  A mature plant is harvested all season – approximately 90 days, and can sometimes grow 6 to 7 inches in one day.

Whenever I pick up some asparagus from the store, my husband always says, “I don’t like the green asparagus, I like white!”  Obviously he is not aware that green and white asparagus come from the same plant.  Sunlight is what causes the spears to turn green.  When the spears puncture through the ground, dirt is piled on top of them to shield them from sunlight.  They continue growing underground and when finally harvested the stalk is all white.  FYI – purple asparagus comes from a completely different plant and if cooked for a prolonged period of time will turn green.

Asparagus is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.  Apparently there is an Arabian love manual from the 16th century that provided an asparagus recipe for the stimulation of erotic desires.  I did some Googling, but couldn’t find the recipe.  But I did find some scientific rational as to why it might have been considered as such.  Asparagus contains high levels of vitamin E and foliate which are necessary for histamine production and histamine is related to easy sexual orgasm, both in men and women.  Recommendations are that it be consumed over 3 consecutive days for the most powerful effects.

One cup of raw asparagus contains approximately 27 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.  That same cup also provides 70% of your daily vitamin K needs, 20% of vitamin A, 17% of folate, 16% of iron, 13% of vitamin C, 13% of thiamin, and smaller amounts of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, and potassium.

Here are some of the benefits indicated by the Juicing for health website.

Acidity, Blood:  The high alkalinity of this wonder juice is effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanses the tissues and muscles of waste.

Arthritis and Rheumatism:   A unique phytochemical in asparagus that produces anti-inflammatory effect helps relieve arthritis and rheumatism.

Bowel movement:  Consume asparagus regularly for its mild laxative effect and dietary fiber that provides for regular bowel movement.

Cancer:   Asparagus is a prime source of anti-oxidant and glutathione that can help prevent the dreaded cancer.

Cataracts:  The anti-oxidant and glutathione in asparagus prevents the progression of cataracts and other eye problems.

Diabetes/Hypoglycemia:  The healthful minerals in asparagus juice make it an important diet for people who are controlling their blood sugar levels. However, it is not to be taken by people with advanced kidney diseases.

Diuretic:  Asparagus is a wonderfully diuretic vegetable and its efficacy is more pronounced when it is taken in juice form.

Heart disease:  Drink a small amount of asparagus juice mixed with raw honey three times a day daily to strengthen a weak or enlarged heart.

Kidney:  The diuretic and alkaline properties of asparagus help prevent or dissolve kidney stones. It helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.

PMS symptoms:  The diuretic effect of asparagus juice helps relieve premenstrual swelling and bloating. The magnesium in this wonder juice also help relieve irritability, fatigue, depression, etc.

Pregnant women:  The high content of folate, calcium and other minerals in asparagus are important in reducing the risk of birth defects and low birth weight. The diuretic effect of the juice is also a big help in reducing water retention in pregnant women.

June 11 is Asparagus Day!

Veggie Vitals: Beans Won’t String You Along

GreenBeansGreen beans are a favorite of my family – well I should say home grown and home canned green beans are a favorite.  I made the mistake a few years ago of picking up some store brand green beans and well let’s just say that the words blah and yuck were heard quite a bit that day.  Anyway, green beans are a favorite and actually one of the few “green” veggies that my husband will eat.  So, I got to wondering what kind of health benefit they had to offer.

Low in calories and no saturated fats – approximately 31 calories per serving.

Dietary Fiber – one serving equates to 14-16% of the recommended daily allowance.  Fiber helps to protect the mucous membrane in the colon by decreasing its exposure to toxic substances.

Vitamin A – Helps to protect against aging.

Vitamin C – helps to speed up the healing of cuts and bruises and is important when it comes to cancer prevention.

Vitamin K – This vitamin plays a prominent role in blood clotting and healing of wounds.  It also aids in absorption of calcium and maintaining strong bones in the elderly.

Flavonoids – aid in the reduction of heart disease.

Silicon – a key element in bone regeneration and overall bone health.

Chlorophyll – which can block the carcinogenic effects of that result when grilling meats at high temperatures.  Good to know with summer approaching.

While fresh is best, benefits can be still obtained from frozen or canned.  If you do opt for the canned version make sure to rinse and drain to reduce the sodium content.

Veggie Vitals – I do not like broccoli

bush-broccoli“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” George H. W. Bush

The above quote was made when then President Bush banned broccoli from being served on Air Force One.  While I can certainly understand not like something – sauerkraut has never been served in my home – President Bush was definitely missing out on a good thing with broccoli.  It has been touted as a super vegetable.

  • Potassium – helps maintain a healthy nervous system and optimal brain function, promote regular muscle growth
  • Magnesium and calcium – helps regulate blood pressure
  • Vitamin C – fights free radicals and effective antihistamine for easing discomfort of common cold
  • Vitamin K and calcium – important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis
  • Beta-carotene, zinc, and selenium – strengthen immune defense actions
  • Glucoraphanin – processed by the body into sulforaphane which rids the body of H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase risk of gastric cancer
  • Fiber – aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.
  • Carotenoid lutein – helps prevent age related macular degeneration and cataracts and may also slow down or prevent thickening of arteries.
  • B6 and folate reduce risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

So, before you side with President Bush and ban broccoli from your home, consider the many health benefits this vegetable offers.  Maybe with a little bit of garlic and parmesan cheese you’ll be able to consume this veggie and reap the benefits of this super food.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Veggie Vitals: Carrots are a Punishment

I don’t know about you, but carrots seem to be the number one diet food.  Going on a diet?  Stock up on carrots.  Which might be why my co-worker views carrots as a punishment and not a pleasure.

Carrots, however, should not be reserved for diets alone.  They provide a number of health benefits that can be enjoyed year round.carrots

  • Improves vision – beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the liver and the vitamin A is then transformed by the retina to rhodopsin which is necessary for night vision.
  • Helps prevent cancer – Studies have shown a reduction in the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.
  • Slows down aging – beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism.
  • Promotes healthier skin – vitamin A and antioxidants protects the skin from sun damage. Helps prevent infection – shredded raw or boiled and mashed can be used on cuts.
  • Prevents heart disease – Studies have shown diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Cleanses the body – Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing toxins from the body.
  • Protects teeth and gums – They scrape off plaque and food particles and stimulate gums.
  • Prevents stroke – Studies show that people who are more than 6 carrots a week are less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate 1 or less.

So, go ahead and “punish” yourself by eating carrots.  The health benefits make it definitely worth it.

 

Veggie Vitals: To Beet or Not To Beet

A couple of years ago I went to a healthy cooking demonstration here on campus.  The goal of the demo was to introduce different ways that veggies could be incorporated into a meal.  They started out with a beet smoothie.  Beets were not something that I had incorporated into my diet at that time, but I’m always game to try new things and I like smoothies, so I gave it a try.

Now, before allowing us to sample the smoothie they instructed us that we should carefully wash the beets and they recommended peeling it to remove the earthly taste.  They also suggested adding strawberries or some other fruit to add a bit of sweetness. They passed round the samples for us to try and well let’s just say I was not impressed.  To be honest I felt it tasted like dirt.  Blah!  Needless to say I was not enamored with the beet.

Fast forward a couple of years and I have joined an organic co-op, where they deliver a bag of fresh veggies to me every week.  And one week – yes, they include beets.  Not just the bottom portion which is what I would have considered to be the beet, but the whole plant, leafy greens included.  I must admit I was baffled.  Why not cut off the greens?  Were they just being lazy?  Or is this part of the organic thing – to give you the whole plant?

I did a bit of research and found that the whole plant is edible and that the greens offer benefits as well as the bulb or root.  Here are some of the health benefits of a beet as a whole:

raw-beets-6

  • Low in calories with zero cholesterol and a small amount of fat
  • Rich source of glycine betaine which can lower your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases.
  • Raw beets (ugh, think dirt) are an excellent source of folates which are necessary for DNA synthesis within cells. Cooking, however, significantly reduces the folate levels.
  • Rich source of B-complex vitamins.
  • Moderate levels of potassium which lowers heart rate and regulates metabolism
  • The greens are an excellent source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant.
  • The greens are an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoids antioxidants, and vitamin A which is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision.

I have now embraced the beet, all of it, bulb/root and greens.  I, however, choose to roast the bulb with a bit of olive oil and garlic powder.  This removes the earthy taste and actually makes it kind of sweet.  The greens – those I put into a smoothie with a banana and berries.  Much, much better than the bulb!

I should caution you, however, that there is a very noticeable side effect from eating beets.  A day or so after consumption you will see a noticeable color change in your stool and potentially in your urine as well.

Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Go ahead – Eat the Ears, Dark Chocolate is Good for You

Bunny Ears

I have always been a fan of chocolate. Ok, so maybe an obsessed fan.  With Easter approaching, and of course, chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and well just CHOCOLATE in general, I thought – hey how about a blog on the benefits of chocolate.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that dark chocolate – my favorite, by the way – is included in the Healing Foods Pyramid.  This particular pyramid focuses on foods that have healing properties and essential nutrients.

Dark chocolate has been shown to:

  • Decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Reduce risk of blood clots
  • Increase blood flow in arteries and the heart
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve mood and pleasure
  • Protect your skin
  • Decrease inflammation
  • And, believe it or not, those who eat a little bit every day have lower BMIs (body mass index) than those who don’t.

Of course, you do have to consider the chocolate that you are eating in order to realize the health benefits.  Turn over that chocolate bar and check out the ingredients.  Make sure the first item listed is cocoa and that it contains at least 60%. Try to avoid anything that contains the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

And don’t forget, chocolate does contain a lot of calories.  Try to limit it to no more than 1 ounce a day, which should be about one ear of that chocolate bunny.  Enjoy!

https://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.htm

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Nibble Nuts in the New Year

What is the deal with nuts?  Since when did nuts, and pistachios in particular, rate their own commercials?

As it turns out, there’s a good reason to include nibbling nuts as one of your resolutions this year.  They can help you live longer.  Take a look and see how….

 

What’s up with Vitamin D?!

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of hype lately.  It’s been in the news, docs are talking about it, and we at Student Health Services even offer an OIY (Order it Yourself) Vitamin D test.  Vitamin D is something that is made by our bodies from the sun, so why is there all this talk about vitamin D deficiencies?

It turns out that living in Ohio is not very conducive for vitamin D production, at least not in the colder months.  The amount of vitamin D you can get from exposing your bare skin to the sun depends upon 4 factors:

  • Time of day
  • Where you live
  • Color of your skin
  • Amount of exposed skin

Time of Day:  Think of the whole sun rising in the east and setting in the west thing.  When the sun is rising and setting it’s coming at us from an angle and it turns out that is not a good thing as far as vitamin D goes.  When the sun is angled the atmosphere blocks the UVB part of the rays which are what produces vitamin D.  The closer to midday the better the angle and the more vitamin D.

Where you live:  The closer to the equator the easier is it to produce vitamin D.  Again back to the angle thing – the further from the equator the greater the angle and the less UVB exposure.

So, consider Ohio in the winter.  Yeah.  Far from the equator and the sun is almost always angled which means rarely is there an opportunity for UVB exposure.

Color of your skin:  Melanin in our skin protects us from skin damage from too much UVB exposure.  As a result darker skin with more melanin allows less UVB to enter the skin, meaning less vitamin D is produced.  The darker the skin, the more time that must be spent in the sun to product vitamin D.

Amount of exposed skin:  It’s going to take a lot longer to made vitamin D if just your face and arms are exposed than if your back is exposed.

OK, so putting this all together, and assuming that 25% of your skin is exposed and its summer in Ohio, an individual with pale skin that tans fairly easily would need approximately 1 hour of exposure to the sun during midday to produce 1,000 IU.  An individual with dark skin would need approximately 2 hours of exposure to produce the same amount.  During the winter, it’s not possible to make vitamin D, regardless of skin type.

Oh and if you’re thinking that you can hang out in a nice air conditioned sun room and get your vitamin D through the glass – forget it!  Glass blocks all UVB.

So, how much vitamin D do you need?  The institute of Medicine recommends that adults ages 19-70 get 600 IU daily.  Not a problem if you spend time outside during the summer, but what to do in the winter?  Vitamin D can be obtained from foods, but it’s nearly impossible to get enough.  Foods that contain vitamin D are:

  • Fatty fish
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified milk and orange juice
  • Fortified cereals

The only other option is supplements.  If you choose to take a supplement make sure that it is D3, not D2.  D3 is what would be produced by your body when exposed to sunlight.  The amount to take varies depending on where you look, but a good rule of thumb is 600 IU daily. 

If you have concerns about your vitamin D or believe that you might be deficient, come see us at Student Health or schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.  They can test your vitamin D levels and direct you as to your best course of action.

For more information on Vitamin D, check out the Vitamin D Council website.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.