Health

Healthy Holidays Photo a Day Challenge

Join us for a healthy holidays themed photo a day challenge starting November 27!

PhotoADay

 

How to play:  Take a photo each day of the challenge, using the prompt for that day as inspiration.  Post your photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (or all three!) with the hashtag #DSMEHealthyHoliday.  Follow along on our  Instagram page for healthy holiday tips.

Daily Prompts:

Gratitude
What does gratitude look like for you?

Colors
Post a picture of something colorful you saw today.

Evergreen
Go outside sometime today and take a picture of an evergreen (or anything green).

Prioritize
What is most important to you during the holidays?

This makes me happy
What makes you happy during the holidays?

Relax
The holidays can be stressful. What’s something you do to relax?

Healthy Swap
What’s something you do to make a recipe healthier?

Exercise
There’s always so much to do during the holidays.  How do you fit in exercise?

Breathe
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a breath.  What does that look like?

Peace
What does peace look like to you?

Hydrate
Enjoy your holiday drinks, but don’t forget water! How do you remember to drink water through the day?

Moderation
The holidays are full of treats and feasts. How do you practice moderation?

Decorating
Share how you incorporate physical activity in your holiday decorating.

Sports
Do you enjoy winter sports? Share an outdoor activity you did today.

Unplug
Power down your devices for at least an hour today. Show us what you did!

Light
How is light used in your holiday celebrations?

Minimize
Trying to do EVERYTHING is a big source of stress. Show us how you keep your “to do” list from becoming too overwhelming.

Sleep
Getting enough enough sleep helps keep the immune system healthy which can protect against colds and flu.  How do you make sure you get in your 8 hours of sleep during the holidays?

Something I enjoy
What do you enjoy most about the holidays?

Mindfulness
How do you practice mindfulness during the holidays?

Fun and Games
Fun activities with friends/loved ones can help reduce stress. What did you do today?

Fresh
Post a picture of something new or fresh you saw or did today.

Anything you like
Wildcard! Post a picture of anything holiday related today

Acts of Kindness
Small things mean a lot. Share an act of kindness you experienced today.

Healthy treats
Do you have a go-to healthy holiday treat? Show us!

Cranberry
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C. Show us how you use cranberries in your holiday meals.  Or, take a picture of something cranberry colored.

Positive vibes
How do you stay positive in times of stress?

Memories
The holidays can be difficult for some. Post a picture of something that brings back a happy memory.

Tradition
What are some holiday traditions in your family?

Community
How does your community come together for the holidays?

recipes

Soybean Hummus

Have healthy snacks on hand for this weekend’s big game with this quick and easy hummus recipe from the Be Fit Program.  Serve with vegetables or whole wheat pita.

Ingredients:
1 cup shelled, frozen edamame (soybeans)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
dash of Tabasco (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Place edamame in a small saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes (or until beans are tender). Drain.

In a food processor or blender, combine edamame with olive oil, juice, salt, garlic, Tabasco, and parsley. Puree until smooth.

Yield: 9 servings ( Serving size ~ 2 tablespoons)

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 65 • Protein: 2g • Carbohydrate: 2g
Fiber: 1g • Fat: 5g • Sat Fat: 1g • Sodium: 270mg

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Health, Nutrition

Is Organic Produce Healthier?

By Lauren Beth Cohen
Dietetic Intern

A lot of confidence is put in the word organic. When playing the word-association game, you might hear things like: health, nutrition, clean, natural, expensive, and safe. But is that always the case? Before we fully answer this question (spoiler alert: the short answer no), we should breakdown what “organic” actually means.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certifies and labels certain foods as organic if they are produced “using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.” Pesticides and antibiotics are used to extend shelf life in the grocery store, reduce plant spoilage and mutation, and prevent illness in livestock. They are GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe to consume by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So, should you eat it? Well, the choice is yours.

Not a lot is known about the how these pesticides and antibiotics affect the human body. What we do know is that organic can be a great option, but is not always essential.

In an attempt to help you save some cash and become a more savvy shopper, let’s introduce you to the “dirty dozen.” These foods, tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), show a higher amount of pesticides than average and, if given the option, should be purchased organic. They include: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach/kale/collard greens, sweet bell & hot peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

Next time you head to the grocery store, go in armed with some of these helpful tips:

  • Buy organic for the “Dirty Dozen” and conventional for the “Clean Fifteen,” which includes; avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
  • Prioritize buying local over organic. Often times, local farmers are producing products in an organic fashion but can’t afford the accreditation. Support your local farms!
  • Check the country of origin. The United States only imports certified organic foods from Canada, EU, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, and Switzerland. Any other country with “organic” on the label may be a trick to get you to spend more!
  • Milk and seafood do not need to be purchased organic.
  • Remember: A cookie is a cookie. Even if it’s 100% natural and organic – it doesn’t make it a magically healthy cookie.
(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)
Health

Healthy Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays are a time of fun and excitement, but they can also be a time of added stress.

While stress is a normal part of life, it can have an impact on diabetes management. Stress hormones can raise blood sugar, and prolonged stress weakens the immune system and interferes with healthy self-care routines.

Stay healthy and enjoy the season with these techniques for managing holiday stress:

  • Prioritize – A common cause of holiday stress is trying to do too much at once. Focus on those things that are most important to you, and don’t be afraid to say “no” to taking on new commitments.
  • Take “time out” (Find a distraction) – Take a break and do something to clear your mind. Spend time with or call friends. Engage in some other activity you enjoy (like a favorite hobby).
  • Get Moving – Exercise is a known stress reducer, and sticking with your regular fitness routine can help with maintaining good blood sugar control. Small steps make a difference! Go for a walk, put on a yoga video or dance to a song on the radio.
  • Relax – Mind-body activities like meditation, deep breathing or positive visualizations elicit the relaxation response, the body’s built-in counter to the stress response.

Losing or maintaining a healthy weight is another source of stress for many during the holidays. The added pressures of the holidays can also contribute to emotional or stress eating (eating for reasons other than hunger). Signs of stress eating can be turning to comfort food after a difficult day, or mindlessly munching on snacks to burn off nervous energy. The downside is many comfort foods are high in sugar (which can raise blood sugar), fat, and calories. Distracted snacking makes it easy to take in more calories than expected. Consider preparing some healthy snacks to have accessible.

The techniques above can help with coping with stress eating as well, but if you’re still craving a crunchy snack or Mom’s Mac and Cheese go ahead and have some – just do so mindfully. Keep track of portion size, and eat slowly so you can really enjoy the food’s taste and texture.

It’s not possible to avoid all stress completely, but one final thing to remember is the holiday season (and the stress that comes along with it) is temporary. Slow down and enjoy the best the season has to offer. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or think you might be experiencing diabetes burnout, talk to your health care provider or a diabetes educator.

(Post content reviewed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine)