St. Patricks’ Day is known for green beer, leprechauns and pots of gold but why not take an even more green approach to celebrating. There are many options that don’t involve processed foods and alcoholic beverages that my raise your blood pressure. Try one of these healthier substitutes for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Green Beer: Swap out that beer for a green smoothie or green juice! Green juices typically include vitamins and antioxidants that can improve the health of your skin. The nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables will also give you more energy so you can enjoy the day to its fullest.
Green Food: Many families enjoy corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. While there is nothing wrong with this meal, maybe cut back on the portion of Corned beef as it is usually very salty and doesn’t help if you have high blood pressure. Try adding more greens to your plate like green beans, brussels sprouts or broccoli.
St. Patrick’s Day parade or Bar event: Why not go for a walk outside – where the grass is always greener than in a bar. The fresh air and cardio activity will help to reduce stress, regulating blood pressure and can aid in weight loss and maintain a healthy weight – we bet sitting on a bar stool won’t have as many benefits.
These changes, while small, can take you one small step closer to a healthier lifestyle. Irish or not, we hope you enjoy the day – and don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink more water.
Designer bottles are everywhere. They have catchy sayings, are ecofriendly and have cool features to keep your water cold for longer. But are you drinking enough? Everyone has heard the ‘8 glasses a day’ rule. There is more to it than just the number of glasses you drink because mom says so. read more →
The holiday season can be a really tough time to stay on top of your exercise routine. It’s cold out, and there are fun places to go and friends to see. Plus, managing your already-busy schedule can get tricky as you try to fit in holiday shopping, parties and family visits.
But considering the amount of rich and sugary food that are so common around this time of year — cookies, candies, eggnog, you name it — it’s especially important to keep moving. Here are some things I recommend this time of year to keep you going, even when all you want to do is curl up with more hot chocolate:
- Look for every opportunity to squeeze exercise in
You may feel like you don’t have time to manage your normal workout routine in between travel, shopping, family visits and friends’ parties. But you don’t necessarily need to carve out a full 30 minutes every day. Instead, take any spare moment as a chance to squeeze in a few crunches or planks. Take an extra lap around the mall on your next shopping trip, or walk home from a party with your friends instead of taking a cab. Even if you can only get a 10 minute brisk walk in twice a day, that’s better than nothing!
- Fire yourself up
This is something that I do to get me excited and motivated for the day ahead. It’s really simple — I make a checklist in the morning of the 10 things I want to accomplish that day. It’s amazing how gratifying it is to check tasks off that list as you get things done. Make your workout part of that list and don’t let yourself end the day without marking off that box.
- Follow through
Recruit others to help you stay accountable. Talk with a friend or your partner about your holiday fitness goals, and have them help you stay on track. Maybe you’ll get a workout buddy in the process, or just someone to text you reminders and motivation. Knowing that there’s someone else out there keeping tabs on your progress may spur you to keep up!
Some of my patients with diabetes ask me what’s the big deal if their blood sugar levels go up a little or they gain a few pounds over the holidays. They say they can always lose the weight afterward and get their sugar levels under control.
To an extent, that could be true. If you’re in good overall health, doing well with your diabetes control and manufacturing reasonable amounts of insulin, a day or two of indulging a bit more than usual in holiday food shouldn’t be a problem.
How long that overindulgence goes on, and how many times, though, are important factors. The holidays can easily extend well past New Year’s. If you slip into bad eating habits, you can do long-term damage, raise your blood sugars and gain weight.
You can keep your weight and blood sugar levels under control during the holidays using these tips.
- Maintain your schedule
If you overeat, trying to catch up by skipping a meal afterward may cause you to overeat when you have your next meal or if a snack is available. Even on your holiday and days away from work, try to get up, eat, exercise and take your diabetes and any other medications about the same time as you usually do.
- Check your blood sugar frequently
If you are taking insulin or medications that lower your blood sugar, check your blood sugar more frequently during the holidays, especially before driving a car or adjusting your insulin doses. Make allowances for the changes in your work and exercise schedules as well as your eating opportunities.
- Budget your sweets and treats
To keep your blood sugars from skyrocketing, include sweets and treats as part of your carbohydrate budget — not in addition to it. Choose the meat and side vegetables and salad at dinner. Your carbohydrate for dinner could be Aunt Emily’s nut roll that she only makes during the holidays.
- Watch your alcohol intake
Moderate alcohol intake can have a blood sugar-lowering effect, so don’t drink on an empty stomach. The amounts of calories and sugars vary significantly among drinks so it can be useful to search nutrition information about your favorite drinks. Recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. (One drink equals 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 1 ounce of distilled spirits.
- Download mobile tools
You can download mobile apps to your phone, including apps that help you count carbohydrates of certain dishes, and let you know how much insulin you need to take (if you use it before meals).
- Order smart in restaurants
You’d be pleasantly surprised how many restaurants offer healthy options not mentioned on the menu. Ask for options with less saturated fat, fried food and sugars. Substitute olive oil with fresh pepper for butter. You can also substitute sides. Ask for a baked or boiled potato (skin on) or fresh, steamed or stir-fried veggies instead of mashed potatoes.
- Cook light, healthy dishes to take with you to parties.
If you’re going to a holiday dinner, ask if you can bring a dish — one lower in calories and fat — such as a vegetable tray or vegetable-based appetizer. There are many delicious, diabetes-friendly recipes, like low-sugar pumpkin mousse parfait, that you can bring to holiday parties. You can find low-sugar recipes from the American Diabetes Association.
- Be ‘party smart’
At the party, enjoy some of the vegetable-based appetizers first, then the meat or cheese appetizers. Place your appetizers on your napkin instead of a plate and you’ll be less likely to overfill it. Another tip: don’t stand near the buffet table or food when talking at a party. It’s also important to stay hydrated. Drink water or club soda with a lime or lemon twist. Keep a calorie-free drink in your hand to keep your hands busy.
- Stay active
If you can’t stick to your usual exercise program during this busy time, do some fun activity with family or friends. If 40 minutes a day at one time isn’t possible, break your exercise up into 10- to 15-minute segments, two or three times a day.
- Remember the reason for the season
Put the focus on family and friends and not on food. Enjoy what you do eat. Savor each bite! Most important, remember to include time for exercise, meals and relaxation. The holidays will only be great if you’re in good health to enjoy them.
Bring out the fruits and vegetables
Focus on pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes or other orange vitamin-packed vegetables. Greens such as broccoli, spinach and collard greens all pack vitamin power too. Serve colorful raw veggies with low-fat dip as an appetizer.
Make smart substitutions
Use fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to moisten dressing. Use olive oil in place of butter or margarine. Mash potatoes with nonfat sour cream and low-fat milk. Use fat-free non-dairy creamers or evaporated skim milk instead of cream when you bake.
Don’t starve yourself until dinner
Have a healthy breakfast so you don’t load up at the big meal. When you sit down to eat, try just a little bit of everything and go easy on second helpings and dessert.
The benefits of exercise
Take a walk after dinner, or exercise sometime during the day to offset meal calories. Several studies have shown that moderate exercise after a fatty meal helps prevent fat from affecting your arteries. Take a 45-minute walk two hours after a high-fat meal, or three 10-minute walks over a three-hour period. But always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level, especially if you have medical problems or have been inactive. So, enjoy your meal, but prepare it with less fat and walk it off afterwards. Your arteries and your waistline will thank you.
Think it’s too late to “re-invent” yourself? Think again. According to Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging Magazine and executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s never too late to find a new career, a new sport, passion or hobby. Worthington is the creator of September is Healthy Aging Month, an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. Now in its second decade, Worthington says September is Healthy Aging Month provides inspiration and practical ideas for adults, ages 45-plus, to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being. read more →
An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a very famous saying. Now, you can add a new twist to this saying by replacing the apple with apple cider vinegar. A daily dose of apple cider vinegar is also very effective in keeping the doctor away. It is a quick and effective ingredient for your hair, skin, cleaning coffee makers, removing coffee and tea stains from ceramic cups, polishing armor, killing weeds, making pickles as well as used for salad dressing. Apple cider vinegar is such a useful ingredient that you cannot resist the use of this ingredient every single day. It is not just used for helping you out in the kitchen and for cleaning things, but it also has many natural benefits. It is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and fluorine. It is also rich in vitamins like A, B1, B2, C, E, pectin and bioflavanoid. It is such a useful ingredient that you need to use it in your daily routine. read more →
Learn about the foods that may help ease pain and inflammation and slow disease activity.
When you have arthritis or a related condition, getting the right nutrients can help to alleviate pain and inflammation and positively affect overall health. Research suggests that what you eat may influence the progression and symptoms of certain types of arthritis and related conditions.
Although there is no magic potion at the supermarket, studies have shown that certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties and specific benefits for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and osteoporosis symptoms. read more →
Stress is a part of life, and you can’t always avoid it. But you can try to avoid situations that can cause it, and you can control how you respond to it. The first step is knowing your own coping strategies. Try tracking your stress to record stressful events, your response to them, and how you coped.After you know what is causing your stress, try making some changes in your life that will help you avoid stressful situations. Here are a few ideas: read more →
Exercise and eating nutritious foods aren’t the only things that can help increase heart health; sleep is also a factor. The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. According to a 2011 study by the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease.
“Our study shows for the first time that poor quality sleep puts individuals at significantly increased risk of developing high blood pressure,” said Susan Redline, M.D., the study’s co-author, in a statement. read more →