Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Nutrition News: Malnourished and Loving It, Or Are We?

What is your food doing for you?  Is it fighting for you or is it fighting against you?  We often make fun of the party-goer who sticks by the vegetable tray and intentionally avoids the wings.  We try to persuade the guy who piles his plate at the potluck with the grilled chicken and veggies to have a little fun and eat dessert.  Most of us see food as either making us fat or helping us lose weight.  We see ‘bad’ foods as those that are high in fat and calories.  Good foods are those that taste like rabbit food or cardboard, but will help us lose weight.  Healthy seems to be synonymous with weight loss.  And to a degree it is.  But what most people do not realize is – healthy eating goes way beyond dieting and watching the scale.  Those ‘health foods’ aka fruits and vegetables also contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants that could actually help you lose the weight you want, give you energy that you feel you should have, and/or clear your foggy brain.  Many Americans are overweight, yet malnourished.  We can’t escape our addiction to the unhealthy food that feeds our emotions and pacifies our taste buds.  We fill our pantries with chips and cookies and our fridge with soda – all empty calories that end up hurting us on the inside way more than they do on the outside.  This junk food does not provide the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function and over time, our bodies react from the inflammation that processed, unhealthy food creates in our bodies.   

healthyfoodAnswer these questions:

  • Do you suffer from headaches?
  • Do you have joint pain or arthritis?
  • Do you have skin problems like eczema?
  • Are you tired more often than you think you should be?
  • Do you have digestion issues? 

What if you went to the doctor and instead of prescribing a drug, he wrote, ‘Eat 1oz of walnuts every day’.  Would you be mad?  Would you move to another doctor that would shell out pills?  What if we spent the money we use towards drugs on better food choices instead?  I’m going to guess it would be cheaper in the long run and a lot less physically impairing. 

Consider your diet as a contributor to your symptoms or maybe even the root cause of your condition.  If you were to discover the cure for your illness, wouldn’t you jump on board?  What if the answer was as easy as the food you eat?

Understand that supplements do not contain all of the phytonutrients and antioxidants that real food contains.  Are they a bad thing? No.  They may contain vitamins and minerals, but not the huge network of these phytonutrients and antioxidants that are the major ‘supporting actors’ making the movie a blockbuster, not just a great movie.  Take a look at the examples of super foods below and how they fight for your health. 

  • Broccoli:  Besides Vitamin C, fiber, and B Vitamins, broccoli contains lutein, sulforaphane, carotenoids, kaempferol, glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin.  Big words here equals big rewards for your body. These strange words are phytonutrients and antioxidants that help your body fight off cell damage that could lead to cancer.  They get rid of toxins that threaten inflammation and damage to tissues, protect your eyes from degenerating, and protect against inflammation to joints associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Walnuts : contain the amino acid L-arginine and the omega – 3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid, both of which help in the prevention of heart disease.  ALA works to prevent blood clots and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.  Walnuts also contain quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin. Pronunciation please!  What I can tell you – these antioxidants prevent cell damage and liver damage.  Walnuts also contain Vitamin E, folate, and melatonin to support optimal brain health.  Shall we say better memory?

These are just two examples.  Blueberries, kale, wild caught salmon, dark chocolate (72% or higher cocoa content), and beans are other examples of super foods that help your body fight inflammation and work at its finest.  Now, compare these to the ingredients of the foods you eat.  Do you see ingredients like monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated oil, sodium benzoate, red 40 or other dye colors, or acesulfame potassium in the foods that fill your plate?  All of these have been speculated as harmful to our bodies , not helpful. 

Questions to ask yourself at the end of the day:

  • Did you fill your body with disease and inflammation fighting foods or did you fill it with more foods that create inflammation and disease? 
  • Are there foods that could help you in your fight against arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic fatigue, etc?  What are they and how do I fit them into my diet?

It’s time to see food differently.  Food can be your functional friend.   Healthy food equals a better functioning body, mind, and spirit.  It’s worth the investment.   

For tips from our registered dietitians, follow #NIFSNutrition on Twitter!

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Topics: Food for Thought nifs nutrition news

NIFS: Top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie consumption

woman eating healthy resized 600We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, right? We hear it all the time that fruits and vegetables lower the chance of certain cancers, eating your spinach will prevent cataracts, eating fruits leads to longer life and beet juice lowers blood pressure. We also know that fruits and vegetables add color and texture to our dinner plate, they are low in calories and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for our body. So, if something is good for us, why don’t we embrace it and take it all in? Well, it is not as easy as it sounds. For many, it may be the taste factor and immediate satisfaction of good tasting food, overrides thoughts of long-term health. Were you forced to eat your vegetables when you were younger? Possibly the half eaten peas and carrots that were in your mouth became the new center piece at the dinner table? Bad experiences tend to keep us away from trying it again. So, what are the top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie intake? Why would I want to give these foods another try?

1) Fruits and vegetables provide benefits for my overall health.  This requires a change of thinking to actually believe that it will provide long-term health benefits, so the eating choices I make today will affect me in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Research has spoken and the results have been proven that fruits and veggies are good for us.

2) Maintaining at least half my plate with fruits and vegetables with protein and some small amounts of grains, provide steady blood glucose levels. I do not experience the high spikes of blood sugar that can be caused by eating a lot of foods that are on the high end of the glycemic index.  I feel better and have more energy by following this rule.

3) Eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less sugars and grains provide a healthy body weight. How much sugars and grains do you consume in a day? If you have been trying to lose weight and have had a hard time getting the weight off, you may want to look into what you are eating.

Whatever your experience was like, don’t give up on fruits and veggies. Give it another try. You may find that it is one of the best things you could do for your health. What are your reasons for eating more fruits and veggies? For ideas on how to incorporate fruits and veggies into your meals contact your fitness center staff.  

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: Food for Thought active aging nifs fitness management

Employee Health: What is in your diet... Food or Supplements?

 Food Supplements

Do you like what you see?  NIFS Monthly Bulletin Boards are available for purchase to utilize in your corporate fitness center or active aging community, contact us for more information.
Topics: NIFS Wellness in the Workplace employee wellness Food for Thought

NIFS Fitness Center: Green Nutrition Tips from Michael Pollan

describe the imageSo let’s talk nutrition. One of my favorite nutrition authors is Michael Pollan. His message truly comes from an environmental and sustainability platform, but it just so happens that when you are “green” you are also “lean.”
I know when choosing the food you eat you are bombarded by so many messages―from your health professional, the media, your family, and friends. I urge you to not only read the calorie content, but to know where your food is coming from. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” is one of Pollan’s most recognizable quotes and these are the strongest seven words when it comes to your nutrition. I prefer to change one of the seven words so that the quote reads, “Eat often, not too much, mostly plants.” This is how you can ignite the metabolic engine and keep it hot all day.
I would like to share an excerpt from one of my favorite Pollan books, Food Rules. This one should be on everybody’s bookshelf. In this book he covers 64 simple food rules that will not only keep you lean and healthy, but also provide direction on how our society should be eating. Here are six of his 64 rules:
#11: Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
#19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
#36: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
#47: Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
#58: Do all your eating at a table.

So after reading these six rules, I am sure you are reflecting upon your diet (well, I hope you are). Click this link and score your diet on nutrition, the environment, and animal welfare.

Topics: NIFS Food for Thought Go Green

Employee Wellness: The Science Behind Produce Stickers

man shopping in produce resized 600Reading food labels just became a little bit trickier! If you've gotten into the habit of studying the labels of your favorite foods for nutrition information, here's something else to include: produce stickers. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts generally bear stickers with special codes that tell the checkout person how much the food costs. But these labels also provide important information about where the produce came from. Here's what to look for:

  • Four-digit code number: These types of codes, which usually start with a 3 or a 4, mean that the food was conventionally grown and may have been exposed to different chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with an 8: A code like this tells you that the item has been genetically modified, which means technology has altered its genes. This is done for a variety of purposes, such as boosting immunity to insects, producing a bigger crop, making items appear bigger or tastier, etc. The safety of this practice is debated.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with a 9: An item bearing this type of code is organic. If you're looking for your safest bet in terms of avoiding chemicals, this is it.

Wondering when you should splurge for organic? When it comes to peaches, peppers, celery, berries, leafy greens, apples, cherries, and grapes, organic is best. However, foods such as sweet corn, avocados, onions, pineapples, watermelon, mangoes, asparagus, cantaloupe, and kiwi tend to be cleaner even when conventionally grown.

 

Next time you’re in the grocery store, put your knowledge to the test to see what type of produce offerings it provides!

Topics: employee health nutrition employee wellness Food for Thought Go Green

NIFS Wellness Coordinator and Dietitian loves the Farmers' Market

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, Wellness Coordinator and Registered Dietitian at NIFS. 

C  Documents and Settings kgootee My Documents Dropbox Images New couple at market resized 600One of my favorite things to do in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town.  As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.  Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmer’s market is a must.

1.  Support for the local community – Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy.   Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store. 

2.  Eating foods that are in season – Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season.   The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained.  Check out the downtown City Market website for what products are available during the months the market is open.

3.  It is good for you – The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  The current recommendations are 9 servings per day.  Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9 serving per day goal.  This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer fighting antioxidants too.  Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals also.

4.  You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat - You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it.  When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?

5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule – I love being able to go to the City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sampling the hot, fresh kettle corn, picking up sweet corn, and getting homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons.  Saturday mornings it is off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase bon bons from Holy Cow Cupcakes, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week.  To find out where the location of a farmers’ market is close to you check out this website .

Whether you are picking up items for dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store.  Try to get there early to get the best variety and options.  Not all vendors accept credit cards so be sure to have cash on hand.  Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

Topics: employee health health culture nutrition NIFS weight management healthy habits Food for Thought