What's in your child's lunch?

Include fruits and vegetables in your child's lunch

Here's one that may make you pause. A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics indicates lunches brought from home are often less healthy than those served in America's school cafeterias.

Researchers found that home packed lunches for elementary and middle school students living in the Houston area were higher in fat, sodium, and calories than the lunches served in the schools. They lacked adequate fruits and vegetables and often contained salty snacks, sweet desserts, and sweetened beverages, which aren't permitted in school cafeterias.

Do you need to create a healthier lunch for your child? Here are some tips:
  • When you go grocery shopping, pick out easy to prep vegetables that kids love: baby carrots, red or orange peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers. I like to prep my vegetables on Sundays and grab them throughout the week as I pack lunches
  • Include fruits as your sweet treat: sliced apples, clementines, grapes, strawberries, and bananas are favorites
  • Choose whole grain bread for sandwiches
  • For protein, try sending in a hard boiled egg or chicken strips
  • Strain some of the liquid from a favorite soup and send it in a thermos
  • Invest in some ice packs so you can send milk to school, or have your child buy his milk when he gets there
  • Skip the chips and pretzels and instead include healthy extras like nuts, cheese cubes, applesauce without sugar, dried fruits, and Greek yogurts 


Avocado toast

Avocado toast is a simple, healthy lunch

Last week I posted a picture of my lunch via Instagram, and it drew all kinds of attention: likes, comments, and copy cat lunches. Since my goal is to inspire healthy living, I loved it!

And so, I thought I'd repost here, just in case you missed it. Perhaps it will provide you with an idea  you can use to make a delicious and healthy lunch this week.

Avocado toast:

  • Toast a piece of whole grain or whole wheat bread
  • Mash up an avocado and spread on toast
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Add sliced, fresh tomatoes
  • Top with a poached egg. Top it with a pinch of Pecorino Romano cheese and a dash of pepper
Simple yet creative and yummy: that's my favorite kind of meal.


Your body's brain

This clip features Dr. Robert Schleip. He gives an easy to understand overview of fascia

Here's one I learned in December while studying for my MELT Instructor Training. I still find it mind blowing, so I wanted to share it with you:

Many neuroscientists believe your connective tissue is an extension of the brain.

Your fascial tissue, the largest sensory organ in your body, can be thought of as your body's brain. While it used to be considered superfluous cushioning, our connective tissue is now understood as protective, sensitive, intelligent, dynamic, and adaptive. It's not surprising, then, that our fascia's health determines whether or not we feel balanced, healthy, stable, and pain-free.

Fascinating, right? And it begs the question: what have you done to care for this tissue?


Pilates reduces chronic back pain

Do you need a compelling reason to get yourself to the Pilates studio this week?

I hope this is it: researchers found more evidence that Pilates can relieve lower back pain.  The study, published in Clinical Rehabilitation, found that patients who practiced Pilates twice a week for 50 minutes felt decreased pain and enhanced body function. Of course, this rewarded them with a better quality of life and a greater satisfaction with their treatment plans.

Less than two hours of exercise in exchange for less pain and a better disposition? I think that's a good trade-off, don't you?


Yikes! Stress Derails your Metabolism

Keep weight in check by managing stress

Here’s an unfortunate fact: women who experience stress burn fewer calories after eating meals than those who don’t.

I know. It’s not fair. But fairness and truth don’t always line up.

Researchers from Ohio State University, whose study was published in Biological Psychiatry, found that stress and depression affect your body on a cellular level, slowing down your metabolism.  The scientists showed that stressed out women burn 104 fewer calories after eating than their stress-free counterparts. With a low resting metabolic rate, these women will gain approximately 11 pounds a year.

Ouch. We all experience stress on some level every day. What can we do to avoid the bloat?

Here are a few tips for managing stress:
  1. Learn to say “no.” Manage your schedule carefully and be selfish with your time. You don’t have to work full time, manage the kids’ schedule, make every meal from scratch, organize date nights, clean the house, and volunteer at the PTO. You simply can’t do everything.
  2. Carve out time to decompress. If you have to, schedule baths, reading time, and an hour to sip a cup of tea.
  3. Get out with your friends. Book time to socialize and let loose.
  4. Pour yourself into your work to get things done, but try to compartmentalize as much as possible. Don’t be the stressed out mom texting, talking on the phone, and managing crises as you cook and help your kids with their homework.
  5. Go out with your significant other.
  6. Exercise.
  7. Whenever possible, take work breaks to walk around the block and drink up the fresh air.
  8.  Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be the one-woman warrior who’s going to “do it all.” I guarantee you can’t and then you’ll be the exhausted, cranky, stressed out woman who feels like a failure.
  9.  Breathe. This may sound funny, but many of us forget this. Deep breaths immediately relax the body and force us to pause and gather ourselves. It can help us refocus, make a plan, and move on with the day.

Stress is everywhere.  It’s difficult to manage, which is why we all suffer from it. Do your best and remember if you fail, tomorrow is another day.


What will you do in 2015?

It's 2015. It's a brand new, shiny year. The slate is clean. The map is up to you. What will you do to ensure a happy and healthy year?

  1. Will you learn how to cook some irresistible vegetable dishes?
  2. Will you vow to challenge your heart with cardio activity at least once a week?
  3. Will you make time to truly reconnect with your spouse every weekend?
  4. Will you try to quiet your mind with meditation and self reflection?
  5. Will you explore a mind-body exercise like Pilates or yoga?
  6. Will you get in touch with someone who can teach you how to enhance your body's own healing powers by rehydrating your fascial tissue and rebalancing your nervous system?
  7. Will you make an effort to hug and kiss your kids every day?
  8. Will you put down your cell phone and listen to the people around you?
  9. Will you walk or bike to work at least once a week?
  10. Will you carve out time in your busy schedule to take a vacation?
  11. Will you limit processed food in your diet?
  12. Will you support your local farmers, grocers, and restaurants by patronizing their businesses?
  13. Will you shower those you don't know with small kindnesses?
  14. Will you challenge yourself with aggressive business goals?
  15. Will you enter the world of others and expand your knowledge with good books?
The options are endless. What will you do?


Diet or exercise: what should you focus on to lose weight?

Set your kitchen up for weight loss success

If you want to lose weight, what should you focus on, your diet or your exercise plan?

According to Yoni Freedhof, MD, author of The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work, food choices are responsible for 70-80% of one's overall weight, whereas exercise is responsible for the remaining 20-30%.

What does this mean to you?

Continue to exercise in order to gain enormous health benefits, (improved mood, greater strength, healthy metabolism, cardiovascular fitness, better sleep, reduced risk of disease), but don't underestimate the importance of the food choices that you make every day.

Here are some healthy eating tips that will set you up for  success:
  1. Make healthy foods easy to eat. Wash and cut your favorite fruits and vegetables and store them in glass containers, at eye level, in your refrigerator
  2. Don't buy junk food that you know will be too much temptation for you
  3. When you do buy treats, put them in the back of your cabinets. People are more likely to eat the things they see first, not the things they have to dig for
  4. If you are pressed for time, buy bagged and washed produce to cut down on food prep time
  5. When you take the time to cook, make a double recipe and freeze the leftover for days when cooking isn't an option
  6. Skip sugary and caloric protein and sports drinks. Unless you exercise for over an hour each day at a high intensity, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated
  7. Avoid rewarding yourself with food. When you've achieved an exercise or other goal, treat yourself to a manicure or a massage, not a calorie dense latte
  8. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where whole, not processed foods, are displayed
  9. Surround yourself with like minded friends who are striving to eat well. Your friends can share tips and support you, making it easier to stay on track
  10. Ditch your oversized plates and bowls. Studies show that people fill their plates no matter what size they are: a smaller plate means a smaller portion
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