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.  Pedometer.com 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!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND STAY WELL

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.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

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Are you dehydrated?

Are you dehydrated?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…”Are you dehydrated? How do we know?”

July 24, 2019

A:  Are you dehydrated? As we are experiencing hotter days of summertime, it’s important to stay hydrated and know the signs of dehydration.  Here’s what Nancy George wrote in an article for everydayhealth.com:

Dehydration, occurs when the body Are you dehydrated? Two people drinking water to stay hydratedhas insufficient water and other fluids to function properly. This can lead to blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal complications.  Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have adverse effects on mood and energy.  That’s why it’s so important to catch dehydration early on. Unfortunately, the signs aren’t always obvious ones like thirst and fatigue.”  Here are some less obvious indicators that you might be dehydrated:

  • BAD BREATH – “Saliva has antibacterial properties in it. Dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva. When you’re not producing enough saliva you can get bacteria overgrowth. One of the side affects of that is bad breath from chronic dehydration,” says John Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, and chief of cardiology at Lyndon B General Hospital.

  • DRY SKIN –   “A lot of people who get dehydrated are really sweaty.  Going through the various stages of dehydration, you become very dizzy, and you don’t have enough blood volume so you get very dry skin,” Dr. Higgins says.  He adds that because the skin is dry and not evaporating as well, you can also experience flushing of the skin.

  • MUSCLE CRAMPS – “The hotter you get, the more likely you are to get muscle cramps. This is from a pure heat effect on the muscles.  As the muscles work harder and harder, they can seize up from the heat itself.  Changes in the electrolytes, changes in the sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramping as well,” according to Higgins.

  • FEVER AND CHILLS – “It might sound counterintuitive but if your body is severely dehydrated you may experience symptoms like fever or even chills.  Fever can be especially dangerous, so be sure to seek immediate medical attention if your fever rises over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.”

  • FOOD CRAVINGS, ESPECIALLY FOR SWEETS – “When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for some nutrients and organs like the liver, which uses water to release some glycogens and other components of your energy stores. The result is that you actually can get cravings for food,” Dr. Higgins says.  Causing you to crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack. Cravings for sweets are more common because your body may be experiencing difficulty with glycogen production, he says. Snacking on fruits and vegetables with high water content can help. (Cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, cucumber, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers are suggested). Yogurt also can supply helpful water.

  • HEADACHES – “The brain sits inside a fluid sack that keeps it from bumping against the skull,” explains Higgins.  “If that fluid sack is depleted or running low because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.”  Drinking alcohol, energy drinks, or caffeine can cause dehydration.

  • COLORED URINE – “If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear with a tinge of yellow,” Higgins explains.  “Yellow chardonnay and orange are the ‘warning’ colors to watch for.  When your body is about three percent dehydrated, your urine will be noticeably yellow.  Whereas when your body is about five percent dehydrated, your urine will appear chardonnay-colored.  If your body is more than five percent dehydrated – which is considered severely dehydrated, – your urine will appear orange.”

As we “Walk ‘n’ Talk” together this summer, we can help each other recognize symptoms of dehydration.  Bringing along a water bottle is a good idea if the forecast is for weather over 80 degrees during our morning walk time.

 

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Do We Need a Survival Kit?

Do We Need a Survival Kit?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…Do we need a survival kit?

July 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, hearing about the recent earthquakes in southern California reminded me that the same jolting experience could happen here.  Do we need a survival kit? What items would we need in case of an earthquake or other emergency where we would need to evacuate our homes?

A: That’s a very timely question!  We found a suggested “readiness kit” list from FEMA posted by Pleasanton Patch.  Some of us feel that we do need a survival kit and have begun gathering items to store in the trunks of our cars (in case we have to evacuate our homes), but we tend to forget to update and refresh them.  Here are some items to consider storing:

  • WATER: A gallon per day per person for three daysDo we need a survival kit? Full backpack with water bottle sitting on log at sunrise

  • FOOD: 3-day supply of non-perishable items (including for pets)

  • FLASHLIGHT, radio, batteries, and cell phone charger

  • FIRST-AIDE KIT and medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter)

  • BATTERYBACK-UP power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs

  • CLOTHING and blankets

  • WHISTLE (to signal for help)

  • FIRE EXTINGUISHER

  • CASH (in case ATMs are not working after an earthquake)

Now is a good time to check to see if the batteries or food you have stored away need replacing.  Let’s hope we never need to use our “readiness kits”!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Do We Need a Survival Kit?

What Do We Need in a Survival Kit?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…What Do We Need in a Survival Kit?

July 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, hearing about the recent earthquakes in southern California reminded me that the same jolting experience could happen here.  Do we need a survival kit? What items would we need in case of an earthquake or other emergency where we would need to evacuate our homes?

A: That’s a very timely question!  We found a suggested “survival kit” list from FEMA posted by Pleasanton Patch.  Some of us feel that we do need a survival kit and have begun gathering items to store in the trunks of our cars (in case we have to evacuate our homes), but we tend to forget to update and refresh them.  Here are some items to consider storing in your survival kit:

  • WATER: A gallon per day per person for three daysDo we need a survival kit? Full backpack with water bottle sitting on log at sunrise

  • FOOD: 3-day supply of non-perishable items (including pet foods)

  • FLASHLIGHT, radio, batteries, and cell phone charger 

  • FIRST-AIDE KIT and medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter) 

  • BATTERY BACK-UP power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs 

  • CLOTHING and blankets

  • WHISTLE (to signal for help)

  • FIRE EXTINGUISHER

  • CASH (in case ATMs are not working after an earthquake)

Now is a good time to check to see if the batteries or food you have stored away need replacing.  Let’s hope we never need to use our “survival kits”!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Older Americans still have a lot to contribute

Older Americans still have a lot to contribute

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends….

May 1, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, May is Older Americans Month which means people over their 65th birthday. Many of us are retired or retiring but we still have a lot of years left in us to contribute to society. Any ideas on how to move forward from here?  

A: Welcome to May, which is – among other things – Older Americans Month. Older woman speaking to a young boy at a community service festival for volunteersWhen this special designation was given to May in 1963, “only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays,” according to the Administration on Aging. “About a third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were few programs to meet their needs.”  As of 2015, 47.8 million people had reached their 65 birthday which is 15% of the population. This number is expected to rise to 19% by 2030.

Our research came up with the following:

“Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. We are pleased to announce the 2019 theme, Connect, Create, Contribute, which encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.

  • Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.

  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

“Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.”

Mr. Pedometer was unaware that we had an Administration for Community Living (ACL), so looked up what they were about:

Mission & Strategic Plan (of ACL):

“All Americans—including people with disabilities and older adults—should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions. To help meet these needs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in 2012.

“ACL brings together the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging (AoA), the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), and the HHS Office on Disability to serve as the Federal agency responsible for increasing access to community supports, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities across the lifespan.”

Mission

“Maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers.”

Each year, the White House issues a presidential proclamation regarding Older Americans Month. This year’s proclamation included the following:

“Older Americans enrich our lives in innumerable ways. Their diverse experiences and time-tested wisdom guide younger generations, connect them with our country’s history, and empower them with the confidence to face the future. Older Americans devote themselves to their families. They lend their experience in the work place. They volunteer for religious and community organizations. In every context, they deepen our appreciation for country, they model selfless service to others, and they remain vibrant and contributing participants in the American experience.”

In keeping with the 2019 Older Americans Month theme of CONNECT, CREATE, AND CONTRIBUTE, Mr. Pedometer notes that those of us who  “Walk ‘n’ Talk” together on Saturday mornings are fulfilling the three C’s in an easy, enjoyable way!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.