Let’s start with our Soda Free Summer campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce consumption of soda and sugary drinks among children and adults in Boston.   As the summer temperature rises so does the consumption of these drinks. The average person eats almost 100 pounds of sugar a year, and the largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet is sugary beverages. This campaign is to raise awareness that these drinks typically have lots of calories and no nutritional benefits.  

Consumption of soda and sugary beverages has been shown to increase risk for obesity and other chronic health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These issues are very much a reality for Boston residents, as 52% of adults in Boston are overweight or obese, and almost half of Boston high school students are overweight or at risk of being overweight.   

 

Just how much sugar are we drinking?

A 12 ounce can of non –diet soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

A 20 ounce bottle of non-diet soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.

To put this in perspective, drinking one 12-ounce can of soda per day can result in a weight gain of 15 extra pounds per year. Drinking one 20-ounce bottle of soda can lead to 25 extra pounds in a year.

Any reduction in consumption is a step in the right direction. Replacing soda with healthier options such as water, water with fruit slices, unsweetened tea, low fat dairy, or seltzer will have positive health benefits. The greatest benefit will be seen by those who reduce their consumption the most, or eliminate soda entirely. To support selecting a healthier option, CLICK here for the quick and easy Raspberry Sprizter. For other helpful information on selecting healthy beverages, CLICK here
 The Soda – Free Summer campaign is a fun way to encourage individuals and youth organizations to take the pledge to be soda free for the summer.     When taking the pledge, individuals have two options:

  1. I pledge to not drink soda this summer
  2. I pledge to reduce the amount of soda I drink this summer

 

Take the Soda-Free Summer Challenge and re-energize your life!

www.bphc.org/sodafreesummer  or www.Facebook.com/HealthyBoston

The second exciting thing about summer is that local produce is now available at Boston‘s farmers’ markets.  The array of produce is fresh-picked so it has not lost any nutritional value in the time it takes to travel long distances that may happen at grocery stores.  The variety of produce makes this the perfect opportunity to try new vegetables such as garlic scapes, which are the early tops of garlic as it’s growing. It’s great chopped as garnish or to add a mild garlic flavor to dishes.   Right now scallions, summer squash, cucumbers a variety of lettuces and salad mix are available.  As the summer progresses, I personally can’t wait for fresh tomatoes.Most of markets around the city have the capacity to accept EBT for individuals using food stamps.  If you would like more information of Boston‘s farmers’ markets dates and times as well as the Boston Bounty Bucks  program  CLICK  here.

 So let’s get out and have fun in Boston this summer, drinking healthy beverages to quench our thirst, and eating local produce to energize ourselves.

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Healthy eating and physical activity are two of the most important lifestyle changes that can be taken all year long to prevent or reduce complications of diabetes.   National data show that 1 in 4 people do not know they have diabetes because they don’t know their risk and have never been tested.    The first step is to complete a Risk Assessment.

To find out Are You at Risk?   Click here http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/diabetes-risk-test/ 

In keeping with our theme of healthy foods on a budget and this month’s topic,  and increasing awareness of diabetes,   here are simple and inexpensive   Steps You Can Take to Prevent Diabetes:

Calories count to cut your risk for diabetes;  be aware that  fruit drinks,  which are  often mistakenly viewed as healthier alternatives to soda, are calorie packed with little or no nutrients.   Reducing the consumption of soda, juices, iced teas, and other sugar-sweetened drinks and switching to low –fat milk, water, or flavored seltzer water is  an easy switch that  can be helpful to you and your whole family to not gain more weight and reduce their risk for diabetes.

counting

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Incorporate DAILY physical activity to reduce your risk and, achieving 30 minutes a day is was easier if you broke it down to three 10 minute exercise breaks.  Ten minutes of walking in the morning, a brisk 10 minute walk at lunch time and ten minutes of fast paced walking in the evening.  This amount of physical activity added up to     3 ½ hours a week.  Exercise improves insulin use and lowers blood glucose levels, which is important for preventing diabetes.

walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement every day!  Researchers have found that low intake of both calcium and vitamin D is linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Supplementing with calcium and vitamin D was most protective for people with risk for developing diabetes, and experts advise getting 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 or more international units of vitamin D.  These supplements are reasonably priced and can be taken any time during the day.

vitamin 

 

 

 

 

 

Get enough “shuteye”;  Did you know that lack of sleep can trigger insulin resistance for diabetes even in healthy people?  Reports from University researchers have linked poor sleep to increased risk for type 2 diabetes.    By going to bed one hour earlier, and aiming  for 7-8 hours of sleep,  you can felt more alert, have  more energy to be more physically active, and able to handle stress better, all of which help to reduce your  risk for diabetes.

 sleep

For more information about other LIFESTYLE CHANGES, visit: owww.diabetes.org; or

www.health.gov/PAGuidelines.    To learn more The Boston Public Health Commission invites you to learn about risk factors, symptoms, common myths, and prevention tips at our next free community workshop. Diabetes: Defeating the “Sugar” Crisis will be held from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18 at the Shelburne Community Center, 2730 Washington Street, Roxbury, MA 02119. Light dinner and childcare will be provided. To RSVP, please call 617-534-5690

The federally-funded Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program, better known in the community as WIC, is making history!  This month, the WIC Program has expanded the foods it offers to include a variety of healthy foods from every food group.  This is the first major change for the WIC Program in its 35 years of serving the community! 

 WIC Logo

 

 

 

 

 

The WIC Program serves nearly 9 million low-income women, infants, and children, providing them with a number of services including breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, and checks to purchase healthy foods.  Since the WIC Program serves such a large number of families, the potential impact WIC can have on family food choices as well as the general health of the country is great.  

 

Foods that were chosen for WIC families were based on recommendations found in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The foods offered along with the messages that they send are beneficial for all Americans, not just WIC families.  After all, each of us could use more fiber, additional vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat in our diets.

veggie basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foods that are now being offered through WIC include fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, tortillas, baby foods, and a whole lot more!   WIC’s key messages:

 

–          Offer a variety of healthy and appealing foods to your family  

–          Lower the fat: offer fat free or 1% lowfat milk to loved ones over the age of 2

–          Eat more fruits and vegetables—you have always known it is the right thing to do!

–          Make half your grains whole—switch to brown rice and whole wheat bread

–          Drink less juice and sweetened beverages

–          Breastfeed—babies were meant to be breastfed

 

These are messages any family or individual can benefit from.  Which message or messages will you bring home to your family?  We’d love to hear from you!

 

Share on Facebook. and thanks to Kara  for contributing to the blog this week.

Did you know?  

The first apple developed in America was grown in Roxbury, MA, known as the “Roxbury Russet”.   From this humble Boston beginning to now, apples have exploded in cultivation and popularity.   There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the US, with Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji being the five most commonly consumed varieties.

Roxbury Apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?

An “apple a day” is a great way to get some important nutrients.  Apples are rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant.   Whenever possible, be sure to leave the peel on: that’s where two-thirds of the fiber and many of the antioxidants are found.  The apples’ skin also adds fuller flavor.

In terms of In a nation survey of dietary patterns, people who reported consuming apples (in any form) within the past day were 27 percent less likely to have symptoms of metabolic syndrome—like high blood pressure or a large waist measurement—compared to those who didn’t. The apple eaters also had lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that suggests an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. This study was cross-sectional (that is, it didn’t prove that eating apples was the cause of these benefits), but  it and others add  to the growing evidence indicating  eating whole apples  and apple products (without too much added sugar)  can be  beneficial for our bodies.

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Buy local or pick your own – it’s the season.

 Earthworks in Boston is hosting apple cider pressing and harvest festivals – what a great activity for the whole family to watch cider pressing and sample some of Boston’s fresh apples!  Click here for dates and locations.  http://www.earthworksboston.org/

 If you’re interested in local apple picking, check out http://www.applepickingboston.com/ 

 Want ideas of what to do with all the fresh local apples that you might pick?

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Here‘s a couple of good sites for recipes to try.

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_cooking_guides/apple_buyers_guide

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/fall/cooknow_apples

Happy fall and enjoy one of nature’s tastiest fruits!

Well, we have gotten the pens, pencils and back to school clothes ready to go!   Let’s also make sure we are set health wise!

  • Every year we hear “Must start off the day with healthy breakfast”, sounds great, but what’s a hurried parent to what do we’re rushed to catch the school bus, as well as get ourselves ready and out the door. 

Here some general tips :

Prepare as much in advance so that you’re not getting things ready in the morning. Set out cereal bowls and high fiber cereal the night before so in the mornings just pour the low-fat milk.

 Have handy easy to go fruits, such as bananas, peaches nectarines that can be easy eaten as you go.   

On the weekends, prepare these easy grab and go breakfast treats to save time during the week.

 toasted cerealOh Parents don’t forget to grab some for your breakfast too!

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During the day, kids need to stay hydrated, water is the best way.  To save  money and cut down on amount of plastic going into the environment , purchase the aluminum water bottles and fill them with water to swap out those sugary drinks.  These cool bottles come in a variety of colors and designs so I’m sure you can find one that will appears to your kid too!  

  • Check your school lunch menu.  With all the nutritional concerns about childhood obesity schools have really stepped up and are making lots of improvements.   So talk to your kids about giving school lunch a positive try.   

  Don’t forget to complete the forms to have your child receive lunch in school.

 If you do have to prepare lunches here‘s a couple of sites with great ideas for packing healthy lunches that will provide nourishment to your kids but not break your budget. 

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_eating_kids

http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/home_22366_ENU_HTML.htm

 

 Be careful of those convenient highly processed lunch items.  They are high in fat and salt with limited fiber. These products are just advertisements with little nutrition to support healthy kids learning.

  • Another health essential that we don’t want to forget is hand sanitizers.  What an easy way to cut down on sick days!   Stock up on the little packable ones or the individual packets.   Be sure to talk to your kids about covering their mouths when coughing, and using the sanitizers multiple times during the day if they don’t have an opportunity to wash their hands with soap and water.

After school activities and snacks are just as important as the school day.  At some schools, kids sometimes eat lunch long before noon, which means they’re ready for an energy booster by 3 pm.  It’s easy for them to reach for the wrong foods if healthy options aren’t quick and easy for them to grab. One way is to provide tempting grab-and-go snacks that contain protein, iron, calcium and fiber to help power them through an afternoon.  Check out these healthy snacks ideas that are enjoyed by kids. 

 A cheesy chicken quesadilla (recipes follow) is a kid-friendly staple that serves as a perfect mini-meal. The chicken and cheese provide protein, while the seasonings add plenty of flavors. Using whole-wheat tortillas adds fiber and fills kids so they don’t they have to eat the whole thing — a quarter might be just enough for a little afternoon pick-me-up. 

Chicken quesadillas

 Home-made energy bars are great for any time of day.  In this recipe your can substitute with any other dried fruit that your child will enjoy.  The walnuts and oats provide protein and fiber, and the honey gives an extra kick of sweetness.  

chocoberrybarsFor a snack on the go, sweet & salty crunchy munch combines Chex cereal, popcorn, goldfish and bagel chips. Throw some in a plastic snack bag for your child to eat almost any time. If you think your children need a little more protein, you can add some unsalted peanuts and cashews.

crunchy muchIf you have any question on healthy food on a budget just post your questions

It’s summer and it’s time for grilling! However questions doe arise- how can I create safe and healthy meals?

If you are debating on whether to grill using gas or charcoal, gas is environmentally cleaner while charcoal does release soot and carbon monoxide into the environment.   Many people still prefer the taste from charcoal grill, in this case, it is so it is recommended that you use   “additive-free lump charcoal” as opposed to traditional briquettes.   Set the charcoal together and place tightly wrapped paper or small twigs to start the coals.   Try to avoid using lighter fluid at all because the vapors escape into the environment and are also absorbed by the food. This leaves your food with traces of contaminations and decreases the taste quality. 

Start by pre- heating the grill, with gas this take about ten minutes and with charcoals approximately 15-25 minutes.  After the grill has been preheated, always clean the grill top using a grill brush.  Grills tops are easier to clean when hot.   Final preparation step is to oil the cleaned grill using a brush or thongs with cloth dipped the vegetable oil.   Using oil helps to prevent your food from sticking. Avoid the use of cooking sprays, which could cause the flames to rise.

 The other question that comes to mind, are there harmful health effects from grilling?  The answer is yes. When the high heat from the gas or coals is exposed to the muscle of the meats, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) carcinogens form.  The best way to reduce the effects of HCA is to marinate meat for one hour or more.     According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent. Select marinates that contains olive oil or citrus juices. Recently scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs of the Lamiaceae family (Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage) used in marinades reduced HCA formation dramatically. These herbal antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals (bad stuff) when meat hits heat. Attached is a simple BBQ marinade that is beneficial in reducing HCA, low in calories and big on flavor. 

Another potential carcinogen to be aware of when grilling is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are released from the charcoal when the fat from the meat drips and creates flare up or intense heat.  The effects of PAH are reduced by  selecting meats that have less fat or by removing visible  fats from meats to reduce dripping  on to coals.   Use moderator heat to avoid flare ups which tend to char the meats.  Turning the meat regularly also helps reduce flare –ups and, creates less charred meat. If meat becomes charred slide it off, and do not eat the charred parts. However, always make sure that you cook meats to the appropriate internal temperature.

Healthy grilling also includes vegetables and fruit. Grilled vegetables really are healthier than those that are broiled (where they will lose some nutrient in the water) or fried which add only fat. Unlike meats, produce doesn’t contain the HCA, however you do want o turn your vegetables often to avoid the affects of charring.

 

 For grilling, select vegetables with low water content, such as onions, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers and asparagus. You can either grill the vegetables directly on the grill or wrap them in a piece of foil first. If you wrap them, you won’t need to add any fats or oils.  Fruits grill nicely, and the taste becomes greater because of heating the natural sugar found in fruits. 

  Another way to take advantage of the summer produce is to create salsas.   A variety of salsas can add interest too many grilled meats.   See salsa recipes attached

 Healthy BBQ Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato Salsa

 

Apple Pear Salsa

 

CantaloupeSalsa

 

MangoManiaSalsa

So for healthy BBQ:  

1. Follow the steps of healthy grilling.

2.  Be sure to  provide your family or  guests with plenty of grilled vegetables rather than the traditional pasta and potato salads, that often are heavy laden with calories from  mayonnaise and other dressings with fat.   

3. Offer fresh summer fruits in the form of salsa or offer grilled fruit for a lighter dessert.

4.  After the meal, go and have fun doing some physical activity.   Play ball, or go for walk.   

 

 Contributor to this blog, Tara Dorsey, Simmons Student volunteering with BPHC this summer.

 Sometimes we think farmer’s markets are not cheap and in this economy everyone is watching their budget tightly, however farmers’ markets are beneficial for both your personal finances and for your local economy.  Farmers’ markets provide closer, fresher, and more nutritious foods for just slightly more than or equal to the price of produce at a supermarket. 

 For some neighborhoods in the inner city, supermarkets are usually far away.   If you cannot pay the extra transportation costs, this leaves people with the limited selections offered at small grocery stores, convenient stores and fast food restaurants.   All of these are places where prices are high, products are processed, and fresh fruits and vegetables are poor quality or non-existent.     Since the smaller stores lack the ability to buy in huge quantities like chain supermarkets, they pay more for the products and produce they sell.  Their prices may also be higher due to higher property costs, higher security costs, higher shrinkage (loss of products due to theft and waste), and higher employee turnover, these costs are all pass onto the consumer.

 When a farmers’ market in your community is open, residents should take advantage of the opportunity to buy some of highest quality food available for themselves and for their family.  The farmers do not have to charge for transportation and middle-men costs. In addition, most  of them take WIC and Senior coupons.  Half of them take EBT, and if you are using EBT, check out Boston’s Bounty Bucks’ to find out how you can double your purchasing power!   

Perhaps the most interesting financial benefit of shopping at farmers’ markets is the impact it has on the local economy.  A lot of people don’t think about where their money goes after it is spent.  When you buy produce from supermarkets, the majority of the money you spend goes to the supermarket corporation, whose headquarters may be thousands of miles away.  Only a fraction of every dollar goes back to the farmers themselves.  This is part of the reason why most large farms are subsidized by the government.  They are actually running at a deficit because of the low return they receive for their products.

 When you buy produce directly from the farmers, they get 100% of the money.  They then reinvest a lot of this money back into their local or regional economy.  Small farms are more likely to buy equipment and supplies from other small businesses in the area, and are also providing jobs for local residents.  Local farms stands and businesses are also more likely to stock and sell products from other local merchants.  Since the money you give them stays and re-circulates in your neighborhood, you actually reap more of a benefit from it in the long term. A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every pound (or dollar) spent on local goods generates nearly twice as much income for the local economy as money spent in national chain stores

 So contrary to popular belief, farmers’ markets are more beneficial to you than supermarkets.  For the same money that you would spend at the supermarket on produce that has been sitting in warehouses and on trucks, you can by fresh, delicious, and more nutritious produce. Often you can find a greater variety of produce at the farmer’s market, because the grocery store purchases on volume and cannot store different varieties in small quantities.

 Shopping at your local farmers’ markets can impact your health, as we had discussed in one of the past blogs, but it can have an even deeper impact, because you will be helping to support your neighborhood, small farmers, and your wallet! 

 The sight of fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farm, and the interaction with people who grew them, leaves a good taste in your mouth for the summer, but it might offer a reconnection to nature and to where food actually comes from all year long. 

 Come join us at many of the farmer’s markets in Boston.  Here’s the listing of times,  and location.