Tips to Get More Bone Building Foods into Your Diet

There are a handful of ways to maintain strong and healthy bones.  Weight bearing exercise is one of them. You could also consider reducing the stress in your life. (Cortisol is a bone-depleting hormone released in response to stress.) Another step you can take is to make a point to eat bone-building foods.

We’re talking about eating foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin D and calcium. While eating well is easy to talk about, it’s not always so easy to follow through on. Try the following tips to help you get more bone building foods into your diet and help keep your bones strong and healthy.

1. Know Your Food Sources and the RDA – Do you know what foods contain calcium and vitamin D? And do you know how much you’re supposed to get on a daily basis? This is the first step. The RDA for calcium is 1000 milligrams per day until age 50. After 50 you want to get 1200 milligrams. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU before age 70 and 800 IU after age 70.

Fortified orange juice and non-dairy products are good sources of vitamin D and calcium. Additionally, dairy products are good sources. Dark leafy greens, beans, cold water fish, and many seeds and nuts are also good sources of vitamin D and calcium.

2. Assess Your Intake – Once you’ve identified your food sources of calcium and vitamin D, take a look at the foods you regularly eat. Are they on that list? Are you already getting enough of both? If not, how much more do you need to consume each day?

3. Plan and Prepare – Once you know you need to boost your intake, you can begin to make changes. Identify food sources that you enjoy that are rich in the necessary bone building nutrients. For example, you may only need a few more milligrams of calcium each day and decide that spinach is an efficient source. Add it to your weekly shopping list and begin identifying tasty spinach recipes.  (Try a spinach, pear and celery smoothie - choose a ripe conference pear for the best taste!)

4. Make it Easy – Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to bulk up on calcium and vitamin D. For example, a bowl of fortified cereal with milk and a glass of juice may be all you need to consume for the day. Some fortified cereals have 100% of your RDA for both calcium and vitamin D.

5. At Every Meal – Change the way you eat. Add some nutrient-dense foods to your snacks and meals. For example, a handful of nuts as a snack or sprinkled on your salad can help you reach your goals. Enjoy a yogurt for dessert and eat dark leafy greens at least once a day.

Simple changes to your daily eating habits can make a huge difference in your bone health. Supplementation may be necessary if you can’t get your nutrients from food, however, natural is always best and your bone health is especially important to your wellbeing as you get older. 


Burning Off Post-Holiday Weight Gain

Airzone 38 Inch Mini Band TrampolineOne of the difficulties with post-holiday weight gain is that it happens to come about in the middle of winter. Which is not exactly an inspiring time to get out and move! The weather's often cold and wet, and the mornings and evenings are dark. It's tempting just to hibernate and wait until spring to get in shape.

The trouble is that excess weight may get harder to lose the longer it's on, and you might get used to it. So take advantage of the timing - it may be the middle of winter, but it's a new year, and that's a good time for a healthy weight loss program. Here are some tips for burning off that holiday weight.

Choose Your Exercise

During the winter, you may have to be more deliberate about exercising, but that doesn't make it less important. If you can't get outside for your usual walk or jog, try some of these options instead:

1.  Use a rebounder (or mini-trampoline) - the sort that's only about three feet across, to jog in place. It's easy on the joints, and the mini-trampoline can be stored fairly easily. Some of these trampolines come with upper-body workout attachments and timers to track your progress.

2.  Take to the stairs! If you live in a one-storey house, this may not be practical, but for those who have access to indoor stairs, you can design a workout around running up and down them. If you don't have stairs, you can use a stepper block to mimic steps and do your workout accordingly. In fact, you can find videos online and in stores to help you design a stair-based workout.

Eat Well

3.  Spice up your meals with low-calorie, high-flavour foods. Think salsas and spicy peppers, and condiments like Dijon mustard and horseradish. Use these flavourful condiments as replacements for higher-calorie, higher-fat items like mayonnaise or cheese. Also, spicy foods may mean you'll eat less, and studies have shown that some piquant condiments - mustard in particular - actually boost metabolism.

4.   Freeze leftovers - preferably in a deep freezer that's located in the basement or garage. Not many people can resist temptation, but if you put all those holiday chocolates, cakes, pies, casseroles, etc. in the freezer, they might well be out of sight and out of mind. And if you have to make the effort to go down into a basement or out to the garage on a cold day to get them, you may think twice before indulging that craving.

Another perk of freezing your leftovers is that you can dip into them slowly and carefully over the following months, making sure to share with friends and family. Leftovers can also make great 'emergency meals' months down the road, when one fattening meal won't set you back from your main goals. Speaking of goals...

5.  Experts say that making lots of little resolutions (instead of one big one) is best for weight loss goals. See if you can put together weekly goals that challenge you, but that still are reachable. You don't want to get discouraged and end up carrying that extra weight when the next holiday season comes around!

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Pick up your copy of 'Your Healthy Retirement' here


Cooking with younger grandchildren

There's beginning to be an emphasis, not only on families cooking and eating together at home, but also on teaching children to cook. It's actually very empowering for your grandkids to learn how to cook; it's a step towards independence, and they will take those skills with them throughout their lives.  So, next time you and your grandchildren are stuck inside on a rainy day, why not organise a cookery lesson?

For younger kids, you'll want to begin with easy recipes. This helps build confidence and teaches basic skills. Here are some easy recipes that you can 'cook' with your grandkids without them ever having to come into contact with a hot stove...

1. Fruit and Cheese Kebabs (Kabobs, in the U.S.)

Healthy and sweet, fresh fruit appeals to lots of children, and cheese tends to be a kid favourite. Supervise the use of sharp skewers carefully; other than that, kids can get use their own ideas about how to make the kebabs. Put out bowls of various chopped fruits (frozen and canned are possibilities, too; just make sure that the fruits are not too soft to stick on a skewer or too hard to thread onto it) and some cheese cubes. Let your grandchildren thread together kebabs in whatever combinations they like. Fruits you might use include:
 
* Fresh or canned pineapple
* Banana chunks (slices should be at least 1/2-inch thick)
* Melon
* Strawberries
* Peaches

2. Tuna Salad

Prepare a tasty tuna salad with your younger grandchildren by preparing the simple ingredients beforehand. In separate containers, place:

  • 1 can drained tuna
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Let your grandchild mix all these ingredients together in another bowl. Then he/she can see how separate ingredients create something completely different when combined!

To take it a bit further, the child can then use the tuna salad to fill his/her own cucumber boat, tomato half, or sandwich.

3. Banana-Peanut Butter Balls

These make great snack food or a healthy dessert.

In a bowl, your grandchild can mash together 1 small, ripe banana and 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter. He or she can then pour in 1/4 cup of flax meal and 1/4 cup of toasted wheat germ and stir it up. Both of you can form the mixture into balls about the size of marbles, and roll them in chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or whatever you'd like. Put coated balls on a waxed-paper-covered tray and refrigerate until firm.

You can adjust this recipe to accommodate allergies and food preferences; you can use other nut butters and coatings if your grandchild has a peanut allergy, for instance.

4. Salad

Teach them about veggies early! Salads are a pretty forgiving medium, and children often enjoy the bright colours. Supervised tasks your grandkids can perform include:

  • Shredding carrots with a vegetable peeler
  • Tearing lettuce
  • Adding pre-chopped ingredients, such as onions, radishes, and/or tomatoes
  • Shredding cheese (supervised to avoid shredding little fingers) or sprinkling on pre-shredded cheese
  • Tossing the salad

You can also grow tasty sprouts with your grandchildren and add these to salads and sandwiches. Apply the salad assembly idea to dishes like tacos and pizza, too.

Have fun!


Eat, drink and be merry?

As usual, the media is full of information about how to lose weight in the New Year.  I was reading an article about how new research has revealed that four in ten obese people here in the UK consider themselves to be a 'healthy' size and that many of us are 'blissfully unaware' of the true impact that our lifestyles are having on our health.

As is often the case, some of the comments on this particular article were more interesting than the article itself.  Here are two of them:

Fact: a person who drops dead of obesity related illness at 55 is lower cost to the public purse than a stringy 90 year old. One works until death (even if they need expensive healthcare), the other collects a pension for years and STILL needs expensive healthcare.

and

Why on earth does everyone complain about the growing old-aged population and then encourage everyone to live longer?? We would be better off if people spent their money enjoying themselves and died a little bit younger. In my late 50s, I am officially obese, but I can run up 100 steps and not be breathless at the top. I can cycle for 20 miles and be as fresh as a daisy. I can walk for miles and miles. I have no intention of dieting, because I enjoy food & alcohol - and if I die at 80 instead of 90, that will do me. I don't want an extra 10 years if I have to live like a monk. By spending on food and drink, I am helping the economy.

So, what do you think?  Would you rather enjoy yourself and die at a younger age?  Or practise restraint and hope to live longer?


Health News Round-up

From Mail Online: Eating lunch at your computer could make you fat: Snacking at your keyboard boosts your appetite later on

From BBC: New guidance on vitamin D recommends midday sunshine

From Mail Online: Hitting five-a-day fruit and vegetable target 'would save 15,000 lives'

From BBC: High income households among biggest alcohol drinkers

From msn.com: The worst fitness advice on the Internet


Pesticides - The best and worst vegetables to eat

Most people know by now that it's recommended that we try to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.  And most people believe that organic fruit and vegetables are a better option for us than conventionally-farmed fruit and veggies. 

In an ideal world, we'd probably all buy organic if we could afford it.  But if your budget won't stretch to all-organic, there are some fruits and veggies that have a higher pesticide load than others - which means that some are more important to buy organic than others (if you can). 

In this article, Dr Mercola looks at tests carried out by the Environmental Working Group to help guide you to the best choices when it comes to lowering your overall pesticide exposure.


The Health Calculator

Check out this new health calculator from the Daily Mail - it claims to provide you with everything you need to stay healthy and will calculate your BMI, your daily calorie, protein, carbs, fat and calcium requirements, and your target heart rate.  I'm not so sure that's EVERYTHING you need but it's a good start...  Now all I need are some bathroom scales and a tape measure...