Healthier Feasting during the Holidays

Healthier Feasting during the Holidays

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…About Healthier Feasting

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, with winter holidays this month and next, are there any ways to make the feasting healthier?

A: You might anticipate some food indulgence between now and New Year’s Day, particularly because many families create special dishes that are enjoyed just once a year. Healthier FeastingGo ahead and sample them – with small portions.  If you are hosting a holiday feast, here are some suggestions for “lightening up holiday dishes without sacrificing tradition or taste” from Consumer Reports on Health:

  • FOR APPETIZERS, THINK FRESH – “Shrimp cocktail is festive and a better pick than fried hors d’oeuvres. Other healthy starters include spiced nuts or roasted chickpeas, pear or apple slices topped with a dollop of soft goat cheese (chevre) – which is lower in calories and fat than hard cheeses – and crudités with hummus or guacamole. If you prefer spinach or artichoke dip, use low-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.”

  • CHOOSE A HEALTHIER MEAT – “Roast turkey is the healthiest option, but if family tradition calls for pork or beef, the solution is to opt for healthier cuts.” (Beef tenderloin or top sirloin roast instead of prime rib; fresh ham instead of cured ham.)

  • SPICE IT UP – “If you use garlic, onion, and herbs (such as rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme) in a dish, you might not need to add salt. Acidic flavors, such as lemon or lime juice, can also perk up a recipe. (Lemon and garlic go with practically any vegetable.)”
  • BE SAVVY ABOUT SIDES – “Add fiber to stuffing by replacing half the bread with whole-wheat bread – or, better yet, quinoa or another whole grain –and add nuts and extra vegetables, such as celery, carrots, and onion. Cut back on the butter and use low-sodium stock to moisten.  For mashed potatoes, use Yukon Golds, which have a buttery flavor, and try swapping mashed cauliflower for one-quarter to half of the potatoes.  Make them creamy with evaporated skim milk in place of cream or butter….Instead of salty green beans or marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, try roasting carrots and parsnips or Brussel sprouts and red grapes.  Drizzle with olive oil, season, and cook until tender.   This brings out the vegetables’ sweetness and cuts prep time.”
  • LIGHTEN DESSERT – “You can often reduce the amount of sugar called for in recipes for cookies, cakes, and other baked goods by 10 to 25 percent with little difference in the outcome. (To cut 10percent, subtract 5 teaspoons for every cup of sugar in the recipe.) And to add some fiber, replace 25 percent of all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, or half the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat white flour.  Like regular whole wheat, it contains all three parts of the grain, but it’s lighter in color, texture, and flavor.”

Even if you try only one of these suggestions, you will be making your holiday feast healthier for family, friends, and yourself.  Happy holidays!


Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…About Diabetes Symptoms


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, how is it possible that a person could have Type 2 diabetes and not be aware of it?

A: Good question, particularly since November is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Here’s what Everyday Health has to say about how Type 2 diabetes symptoms may be hard to recognize:

“Signs of diabetes include frequent urination, fatigue, and sudden weight loss….  It’s not always easy to recognize signs of Type 2 Diabetes, especially because symptoms can develop slowly — or be mistaken for something else.

“For example, increased thirst may be chalked up to a hot summer, or fatigue may be interpreted as a sign of aging or stress. This is unfortunate, as even short-term high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) diminishes your quality of life.

“’High blood sugar means that there is an accumulation of glucose in Diabetes blood Glucose testthe blood that is not reaching its given destination in the body,’ says Monet Bland, CDE, at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. ‘Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to skin problems, gynecological problems, impotence, fatigue, and blurred vision.’

“And if high blood sugar stemming from diabetes persists for a long time, you may eventually develop complications, such as vision problems (diabetic retinopathy), nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), or kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) that cannot be completely reversed with improved blood sugar control.

“’It is important to note that often times the complications of diabetes can be worse than the diabetes itself,” Bland says.  To help prevent high blood sugar, Bland says, you can monitor your food intake by:


Keeping portion sizes in mind – Limit food portions and track your caloric intake to make sure you are not consuming too many calories for your energy needs.

  • Considering your diet choices – Carbohydrates have the largest effect on blood glucose, so you should track your intake and reach for complex carbs that are lower on the glycemic index, Bland says.
  • Incorporating exercise – Exercise is known to lower blood glucose.

 “Type 2 diabetes can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue even when you’ve slept well
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Irritability
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Blurry vision
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Excessive urination
  • Sexual problems
  • Sudden and unexpected weight loss

(Source: )


These are good reasons why Mr. Pedometer always signs off by saying…


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Breast Cancer

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, my dear friend refuses to get a mammogram because she is fearful of what she may find out.  Any suggestions as to how I might persuade her to have this annual screening?

A: Your question is timely, as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You might remind your friend of the sad fact that 1 of every 8 women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. (The rate is lower for men, but they also can develop the disease.) However, the good news is that the diagnosis no longer implies a death sentence, as it may have many years ago.  Here’s what the American Cancer Society has to say:

Early Detection

“When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%. World Walk To Wellness Ask Mr Pedometer about National Breast Cancer Awareness MonthEarly detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.”

By now, nearly all of us know someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer.  Happily, many of those are survivors.  This is a good month to remind all the women who are dear to you to schedule a mammogram.

Fairly recently, medical experts revealed that as many as 40% of women have dense tissue breasts, which means that they may need to have an ultrasound examination in order to “pass” their annual check-up.  After a mammogram determines that the person has dense breast tissue, the staff is required to notify the person how to obtain follow-up examinations.

Both detection and treatment of breast cancer have improved in our lifetime.  Encourage your friend to take advantage of an annual breast examination for her own peace of mind…and continued good health.


Get A Flu Shot- It’s not just to Protect Yourself

Get A Flu Shot- It’s not just to Protect Yourself

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…and Get a Flu Shot

September 25, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I’ve never gotten the flu, so why should I bother to stand in line to get a flu shot every year?             

A: First of all, “the flu” takes on new forms each year, so the vaccine changes accordingly. You are very fortunate not have had the misery of flu symptoms, which can last for three weeks (and sometimes lead to hospitalization). However, getting the flu shot isn’t just about you: It’s about protecting others you come into contact with – especially the very young, the elderly, and those who have chronic health conditions. For these folks, the flu can mean the difference between life and death. The more of us who get the flu shot, the less dire their chances.“Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes,” warns Kaiser Permanente health organization (

They encourage everyone 6 month and older to get a flu shot World Walk to Wellness on Getting a Flu Shotevery year, starting in September.

Their website notes that “vaccination is especially important for:

  • People 50 years and older

  • Children 6 months through 4 years old

  • Women who are or who will become pregnant during flu season
  • People with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care centers
  • Health care workers
  • People who live or care for anyone at high risk for flu-related complications.”

If you start experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue, you may very well have the flu. “Make sure to: 

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink enough liquids.
  • Stay home until fever-free for 24 hours.

Consult with your doctor before using over-the-counter products if you take medication for other conditions.

Follow dosage instructions listed on the product.”

Kaiser adds, “To avoid spreading illness:

  • Limit contact with others.

  • Wash your hands with soap often.

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.”

Here’s wishing you a flu-free season between now and March!


Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…on Walking

September 4, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you may have said this before, but please tell me again:  Why should we try to fit more walking into our life?

A: When Vivek Murthy was United States’ surgeon general, he “prescribed” a single activity for America to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Here are the nine reasons cited by Anna Almendrala, healthy living editor of the Huffington Post, for making walking an important part of your life:

LOWER RATES OF OBESITY – “A 2015 study found that even walking just 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of premature death by 30 percent, and the Mayo Clinic notes that 30 minutes a day burns about 150 calories, which can help you reach a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.”

PREVENT DIABETES – “Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn keep insulin levels low and diabetes at bay. Walking group adding steps to their dayIn fact, walking for 15 minutes after every meal helped regulate blood sugar levels just as effectively as one 45-minute walk per day, according to a 2013 study, which is good for Americans daunted by one big walking session.”

GOOD FOR YOUR HEART – “If you walk at a clip where it feels comfortable to talk, but not comfortable enough to sing, then your heart is getting a great workout, Murthy noted.”

GENTLE ENOUGH FOR NEARLY EVERYBODY – “Pregnant? Morbidly obese?  Arthritic?  Walking is gentle enough for most people who have these conditions, doctors agree, and the activity can ease the pain of chronic illness – even if you have to start off with just two minutes a day.”

IMPROVES YOUR MOOD – “Moving your body is a well-known way to release endorphins, a set of feel-good chemicals that dull pain receptors in the brain, sedate you, and even give you a feeling of happiness and euphoria.  That’s why exercise in general, and walking in particular, is recommended to help improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression”

HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER – “There’s a reason that travel experts advise you to walk around a new city on the day you arrive.  Exposing your body to the sunlight and staying outside until it grows dark helps recalibrate the hormone melatonin to your new surroundings and time zone.  As melatonin rises, so do feelings of sleepiness.”

WALKING IS AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE – “There’s no gym membership, fancy exercise clothing, or even walking-specific shoes you need to start.  You also don’t have to be trained to learn how to walk properly. All you need is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes!”

MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS – “One in two Americans don’t know their neighbors.  Remedy that today by taking a walk around your block.  You’d be surprised at how many friendly faces you see and meet!”

INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF SEEING BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND SUNSETS BY A MILLION – “This one isn’t a scientific fact, but it just makes sense.  Take a page from the immensely successful memoir Wild, in which Cheryl Strayed wrote, ‘There’s a sunrise and sunset every day.  You can choose to be there for it.  You can put yourself in the way of beauty.’”

I hope that any one of those good reasons will help you decide to schedule walks most days of the week.


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Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Plant Proteins are Better for Your Health

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 21, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, what do you think about a meatless diet?  I have heard that plant proteins are better for your health and provide nutrients lacking from our normal diets but should we eliminate meat?

A: We have all heard the warnings to eat less red meat. Many people have gone farther than that and get some or all of their protein from plant proteins because they are better for your health.  Consumer Reports on Health ( reports in their September edition that “only 5 percent of Americans call themselves vegetarians.”  However, more and more of people are shifting to getting at least some of our protein from plants.  Here’s why:

EVEN SMALL CHANGES HELP – “Replacing even just a few meaty meals with meatless ones Plant based protiens that are better for your health at World Walk to Wellness Blogcan lead to improvements in health, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and less fat around your middle.  (Large waistlines are associated with a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.)  A 2016 study of 131,342 people found that trading just 3 percent of calories for an equivalent amount of plant protein resulted in a 12 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.  If plant protein replaced processed red meat – such as deli meat or hot dogs – it equated to a 34 percent lower risk of death.”

PLANTS CAN PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTEIN – Foods like beans, nuts, and soy are the most concentrated protein sources, according to Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Protein is essential for keeping your muscles strong – something that becomes even more important as you get older, because we do tend to lose some muscle mass as we age,” Hunnes says.  And a 2019 study found that protein – especially from plants – helps control the low-level inflammation that increases with age and contributes to disease.  Older people should aim for at least 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day – about 90 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds.  (Exercise is also key for maintaining muscle).”

PLANT PROTEINS PROVIDE EVEN MORE –  Fiber from plant protein “can help to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, lower your risk of colorectal cancer, and prevent weight gain….Plant-based diets are also rich in potassium and antioxidants….Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure – something that becomes increasingly important with age. (More than 60 percent of people 60 and older have high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.)” Antioxidants may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. “A diet rich in plant-based foods helps provide a number of important nutrients that are lacking in the typical American diet,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania.

WHERE TO START? – Eliminating processed meat and limiting red meat is a good goal, the article suggests: Try to go meatless one or two days a week.    “The key is to experiment until you find healthy plant-based foods you love,” says Kris-Etherton.  “Then it won’t feel like a sacrifice to skip the meat.”

Next time you share a meal out with your vegetarian friends, why not try what they order?  You may discover that limiting red meat intake is not necessarily a burden. If you find you enjoy foods that provide plant-based proteins that are better for your health, you see timproved health at your check ups with your doctor.