Wellness Challenge Tips

Wellness ChallengesThe Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has provided some healthy tips to help people taking the Wellness Challenge before, during and after HIMSS18.

Breakfast a la Go

Busy mornings often mean no time to fuel up for the day. On Sunday night, pack your fridge with these quick breakfast treats by making your own breakfast bento boxes or just put the different items in small containers or plastic bags and then organize them in large plastic bags. They also make great snacks for later in the day if early morning eating isn’t your favorite.

  • Low-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers, grapes, apple slices (buy pre-packaged or spray with lemon juice to prevent browning).
  • Hard-boiled egg, small whole grain roll or breadstick, pear slices
  • Mini whole grain waffles, berries, yogurt covered raisins
  • Low-sodium ham and low-fat cheese roll-ups, whole grain crackers, banana

Mind-Body Techniques

More and more research is being done about the efficacy of mind-body techniques that can be used to help improve not only overall wellbeing but digestion as well. There are many different techniques giving a wide variety of methods for someone to choose.  Give a few different methods a try to find a technique that works for you. 


  • Meditation: In a world with a lot of noise taking time to be silent and meditate allows us to slow down and relax. Meditation can allow us to be more centered and peaceful.
  • Visualizations:  Visualizations allow us to picture what we would like for our health and welllness.  When we are able to visualize what we want it helps us to move forward to that goal.
  • Yoga:  There are many different forms of yoga which makes it easy to find one that suits your style. Yoga emphasizes movements that promote flexibility and strength as well as mindful breathing.
  • Biofeedback:  Biofeedback is all about becoming more aware.  Electrodes placed onto the skin send messages to a monitor which displays feedback on different bodily functions like heart rate.
  • Tai Chi:  Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that includes a series of low-impact moves that flow together and is helpful for reducing stress.
  • Mindful Breathing: Breathing mindfully helps to calm the nervous system and can be done anywhere and anytime.  This can be very helpful for people who eat fast.

Nightly meals a Challenge?

Busy families have what may seem to be a chaotic evening lifestyle –children’s activities, homework, daily responsibilities – who has time to cook dinner? Here are some basic tips which can ease the stress of preparing healthy meals for families:

  • Meals in a box: Try easing the burden one day a week by selecting a read to assemble meal. Meals-in-a-box companies now abound; they package one meal at a time so that families can assemble them in record times –and children can participate! Subscription plans allow for the meal to be sent directly to your home at a specified time. Directions are included and portion sizes generally limit the over-consumption of higher calorie foods.
  • Online Grocery Orders: This may seem way too easy – most large grocery retailers allow for online or call-ahead services.  Test one out – these options definitely limit impulsive shopping, and “standing in the checkout line” purchases.
  • Identify your family’s favorite healthy meals: Set aside a week’s worth of healthy recipes for your family – within reach of all family members.  Doing this nudges all members of a family to participate and know how to do the basics – chop vegetables for a crudité plate, mixing up low-fat dips, and cooking essential staples – such as macaroni or noodles.
  • Involve children in cooking at an early age: Children who grow up cooking are better prepared to select healthy foods, include vegetables and fruits and assemble a colorful plate for meals.  Toddlers can even participate in fun tasks such as breaking spaghetti noodles, washing vegetables and identifying the basics of a healthy meal: protein, starch, vegetable and fruits.
  • Allow for mistakes:  We all have tried some new food or recipe that just didn’t turn out quite like we had imagined.  Take a light attitude of lifelong learning – evaluate 3 things you might have done differently and move on. A positive attitude towards attempting new foods and recipes encourages more diverse food choices.

Processed Foods: What’s OK and what to Avoid:

Processed foods have a bad reputation; more sodium, preservatives and missing essential nutrients.

Processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:

  • Minimally processed foods — such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — are often simply pre-prepped for convenience.
  • Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
  • Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
  • Ready-to-eat foods — such as crackers, granola and deli meat — are more heavily processed.
  • The most heavily processed foods often are frozen or pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners

Select more from this minimally processed options –and look at the “big picture”: if selecting pre-cut salads and vegetables – which typically are more expensive –helps you to eat more vegetables – it is worth it.

Source: Eatright.org


Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Finding new ways to reuse what would have been food destined for the trash bin is not only good for the environment and the pocketbook but can have a new use.

  • Leftover Peels:  Next time you have leftover peels or the tops to veggies save them in a freezer bag and when you have enough you can now make a veggie broth.
  • Tea:  When you have finished your tea you can toss loose leaf tea into a compost bin or if using a tea bag that is compostable you can bury it into the ground next to your plants.
  • Overripe Bananas: Once that banana has passed its peak you can smash it up and use it to sweeten baked goods.
  • Glass Jars:  A lot of food is sold in glass jars, when you have finished that food peel off the sticker, wash it out, and use it as a new storage container.
  • Scrubbing:  When you get food that is packaged in mesh bag you can take off any metal pieces and scrunch it together to make a scrubber for dishes.

Age does matter.

Many “seniors” may not consider themselves as such.  While the true definition of a “senior” may vary according to the source, the caveat is that our nutritional needs change as we get older.  Just about everyone realizes that our metabolisms slow with each decade.  If you are forgetful, there could be a host of reasons, but diet definitely has a role.  Optimize all of the factors that are within your control for your brain health by keeping an eye to the basics:

  • Eat your veggies. You've heard this before.  Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones including broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, may help improve memory. Try a kale salad or substitute collard greens for a tortilla in your next sandwich wrap. Broccoli stir-fry is also an excellent option for lunch or dinner.
  • Be sweet on berries and cherries. Berries — especially dark ones such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries — are a rich source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may boost memory function. Enjoy a handful of berries for a snack, mixed into cereal or baked into an antioxidant-rich dessert. You can reap these benefits from fresh, frozen or dried berries and cherries.
  • Get adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Essential for good brain health, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, may help improve memory in healthy young adults. Seafood, algae and fatty fish — including salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring — are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Substitute fish for meat a couple of times each week to get a healthy dose. Grill, bake or broil fish for ultimate flavor and health. Try salmon tacos with red cabbage slaw, snack on sardines or enjoy seared tuna on salad greens for dinner. If you don't eat fish, discuss other food options and supplementation with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist.
  • Work in walnuts. Well known for a positive impact on heart health, walnuts also may improve working memory. Snack on a handful of walnuts to satisfy midday hunger, add them to oatmeal or salad for crunch or mix them into a vegetable stir-fry for extra protein.

Source: Eatright.org


"There’s an app for that!"

The world of health related apps has exploded in the past decade. While many may consider selection of a food or nutrition related app as overwhelming – here are a few tips for choosing what fits your needs:

  • Go to the experts: Food and Nutrition Magazine – is a popular, award-winning site which is written by food experts – Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
  • Preview and select the top three you like: Access an evolving review of nutrition-related apps
  • Lose the bells and whistles: As health related apps become more popular, many have more functions.  Once you find an app – select only those options which seem to fit your lifestyle.  Real time data and alerts can become distracting and frustrating until you find the settings function and choose exactly the prompts and data that helps guide you towards your goal.

      Follow @FoodNutriMag for nutrition news.


Not the same ole measuring spoon:

Baby boomers grew up with fairly basic kitchen devices: glass casserole dishes, metal measuring spoons and a well-used measuring cup. Not so in today’s world of food prep! Select a colorful new rendition of the basic tools for the kitchen as a gift to someone starting to cook. There are also – on-the-go options for those who want an Expresso during their travels, who want precise guidance of serving sizes or who just wants a whimsical addition to the stainless steel era of cooking. Access some new kitchen tools.


Digital Nutrient Analysis

As our world becomes more digital, wearables and other mobile tracking devices are providing more opportunities for us to gain insight into our eating behavior. But have you considered the source of the nutrition data provided in an app? For example, diet trackers may include crowd-sourced nutrition data, which is not verified for accuracy. Tracking eating behavior can be a valuable tool, but only if the resulting analysis is accurate. A reliable source for nutrition data is the USDA's nutrient database (ndb.nal.usda.gov). This method provides more relevant data on food than is possible with a single lab analysis. That is why the USDA nutrient database is considered the gold standard for nutritional data among registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). You can track your diet (or check the accuracy of your source) by using USDA's SuperTracker tool (m.supertracker.usda.gov).


Super Seeds: Mighty additions to a Healthy Snack

Let’s face it – there are times when we need a snack to tie us over to the next meal.  Consider Super Seeds!

At the forefront of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are recommendations to focus on varied proteins and heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Seeds provide all three of these nutrients and are plant-based sources of essential amino acids and minerals, including calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium — especially important in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Some you will recognize – others might be a surprise – either way, you have many healthy choices for a snack or meal accompaniment