Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Eating’

How to Eat Well While You Travel With Your Family

Eating well is difficult enough in the comfort of one’s own home, but it can feel especially challenging on vacation.  There are so many restaurants and snack stands, and if you’re traveling by air or train, you have to spend a lot of time stationary in close proximity to a lot of tempting food choices.  What is a health-conscious person to do?  Here are a few tips to keep you from blowing it in the food department when you go on a trip.

Airports and planes themselves can be major traps for unsuspecting travelers.  Understand that those restaurants in the airport are preying upon your boredom and depending on the fact that you didn’t come prepared to deal with a long layover.  The food is generally overpriced, and health is rarely a top consideration.  If you must eat at one of these restaurants, at least spend some time walking around to get a sense of which offers the healthiest choices.  This will also help you to get some exercise to offset what you are about to eat.  Preferably, though, you should just eat a large meal before you leave home and pack some healthy snacks to enjoy when the hunger pangs start to flare up.

fruit

If you are staying in a hotel and are able to choose which hotel you stay in, do a little research beforehand to find out whether there are any eateries or food stores nearby.  You should also find out from whoever is working at the hotel desk whether room service caters to those who specify dietary restrictions and whether it is permissible to bring a crock pot or other small cooking device into the room and use it.  You should also learn whether there is a free breakfast available at the hotel, as this can get your day off to a good start nutritionally as long as you select the right things. Often times these things can be difficult to determine. Fortunately, I recently was searching for information regarding hotels and found a great site called Gogobot that lists consumer reviews for each option in the area. This proved extremely helpful when I traveled to Las Vegas and was able to see a list of reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding not only their amenities and services, but also the restaurants in the surrounding area. This made it easier than ever to maintain my healthy lifestyle within and outside of the hotel even in the buffet ridden Sin City.

While you are making your way through the day on vacation, you should carry healthy snacks such as dried fruit and trail mix with you so that you can snack on those instead of giving in to the temptation of fast food restaurants and street vendors.  It’s also a very good idea to carry bottled water with you and drink it whenever you get thirsty.  Otherwise, you may be tempted to buy carbonated soft drinks, and too many of those sugary beverages can be very detrimental to your health and your waistline.

If you are traveling with others, explain to them that you are determined to eat healthy.  Not everyone may share your goals, so don’t impose them on others, but insist upon eating in restaurants that include at least a few healthy meal options.  Many restaurants have icons next to certain menu items indicating that they are low in sodium or good for heart health, so keep an eye out for these.  As long as you respect the dietary choices of others, you should have no problem sticking to your good eating habits while you are on vacation.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. 

President Obama, in a joint action with Congress, signed a proclamation naming September “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month”.  Obviously inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move”  initiative, the President says:

“Each of us can play a role in ensuring our children have the opportunity to live long, healthy lives, and by joining together in pursuit of that mission, I am confident we can build a brighter future for America’s youth.”

The statistics on soaring obesity rates in the US over the last four decades are sobering. Google “childhood obesity” to see the staggering number of children who are obese and the escalating toll it is taking on their health in terms of diabetes and hypertension. Further research will tell you about the relationship of obesity to bullying, educational malaise and the burden on our health care system.

It’s no coincidence that September was chosen as the month to raise awareness for Childhood Obesity. September marks the beginning of the school year and the season that we have the opportunity to help our children “Fall” into learning. So as they pick up pencils, binders, books and iPads, why shouldn’t they pick up some strategies to help them eat better and get some exercise? Just as we want their educational learning to last a lifetime it’s important that the lessons of healthy eating and active lifesytles last a lifetime too.

It is said that it takes a village to raise a kid, right? I would go a step further and say  that everyone in the village has a role to play in raising healthy, active kids. If we commit some energy to this, we have a unique opportunity to turn the epidemic around. This September, let’s focus on our kids, our families, our communities and our schools  and some easy, creative strategies to promote health and get kids moving.

 Here’s what we can do:

At Home
* The Food Pyramid is out and the healthy plate is in! Put a copy of the healthy plate on your refrigerator and together with your kids meet the challenge of preparing healthy meals everyday. Find the healthy plate at ChooseMyPlate.gov .
*Use ChooseMyPLate.gov as a resource for healthy eating
*Limit tv and video game time to 1-2 hours a day. Get your kids walking the dog, or going to the playground. Get in on the fun and take a jog or throw a ball with them!
*Talk with your kids about what they eat outside of the home.
*Use “the method of the Grandmother”. Encourage your kids everytime they tell you about making a healthy food choice.
*Give your children chores. Sweeping, mopping, mowing the lawn and dusting burn calories too!

At School
*Teachers and administrators be  role models by leading an active lifestyle.
*School staff have lunch with the students and let them see your healthy food choices.
*Use a period to tie your teaching subject to nutritous eating.
*Use a period to take students for a walk or engage in some form of exercise.
*Introduce a fruit or vegetable in class, have the students do research on why that food is good for them.
*Check out the Healthier US School Challenge and plant a school garden.
*Challenge your school to provide healthier and more satisfies food choices for the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs.

The Community
*Host nutritional seminars in places of worship, youth centers and YMCA’s. Once again using ChooseMyPlate.gov for building healthy menus.
*Offer weekly exercise programs in your congregation, community centers and health facilities.
*Organize people and solicit organizations to create a community food garden. USDA has a People’s Garden Website that can help. www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden
*Nudge your local elected officials; they have a unique ability to act on our behalf when they know we exercise our voting rights!

* People and organizations build relationships with grocery stores and retailers for better access to healthy food in underserved areas.  

The challenge in fighting this epidemic lies in the partnership between children and their parents or caregivers, their schools, and their communities. We all know that implementing changes and breaking unhealthy habits is not easy! Let’s start, this September, helping children understand the importance of making healthy choices and staying active. Our collective actions will ensure a healthy future for us all. 

References:

letsmove.gov
redOrbit.com
ChooseMyPlate.gov
healthierkidsbrighterfutures.org
www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden

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