Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Wellness Watch

Hey all! Welcome to week 4 of the Thursday Wellness Watch. Today we are going to spend some time talking about breakfast, lunch ideas, snack ideas, dining out tips, and healthy eating on a budget. If you need to catch up check out the original post, Week 1Week 2, and Week 3.

Breakfast aka The Most Important Meal of the Day


According to the American Dietetic Association, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast literally means to “break the fas"t” since your last meal. Studies have shown that people that skip breakfast tend to have a higher body weight. One of the reasons for this is because when we don’t eat for upwards of 18 hours (dinner at 6pm, skip breakfast, and lunch at 12noon) you are much more likely to1. not make mindful decisions for meal choices and 2. overeat. When we extend the fast for a longer duration than our bodies need we tend to make poor food choices because we need food and we need it now as well as overeat because we eat much more quickly. Eating breakfast aids in weight management and fuels the body and mind with energy for better concentration throughout the day. Here are some easy ways to eat “the most important meal of the day”.

Plan a Healthy Breakfast

1. First, choose a starch from the bread and cereal group.

Bonus: Make it a whole-grain, which is richer in dietary fiber, protein, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

2. Next, add a juicy and refreshing fruit or vegetable.

Note: Be wary of fruit drink labels, such as –ades, punch, or cocktails. These can be high in added sugar and calories. Instead, choose 100% fruit juice and low-sodium vegetable juices.

3. Finish up with a lean/low-fat protein source from the meat or dairy group.

Bonus: Can’t beat that craving for bacon or sausage? Try turkey bacon or sausage with all the same great flavor but less fat and calories.

Quick Breakfast Ideas

· Whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low fat milk

· Whole-grain, frozen waffles with sugar-free syrup or peanut butter

· Whole-wheat pita or tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs and veggies

· Oatmeal with raisins, nuts, and cinnamon

· High-fiber muffin with fruit

· Breakfast smoothie with fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt

· Low-fat granola with low-fat yogurt

· Whole-wheat toast or rice cake with peanut butter

· Lean ham on an English muffin

· Veggie omlet with low-fat cheese

· Bagel with low-fat cream cheese

· Low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit



Bringing a packed lunch to work is one way to ensure that you will have nutritious food at your fingertips. If you don’t think there’s enough time in your morning routine, try packing it the night before. When time isn’t a concern, you will find it can be enjoyable planning lots of healthy treats to enjoy the following day. Planning a weekly menu can help to guide you and ensure you have healthy options on hand all week long.

Getting bored with that same old turkey sandwich? Mix it up with these ideas:

· Salad with grilled chicken stuffed in a whole-wheat pita pocket

· Pasta salad loaded with veggies and dressed with a light vinaigrette

· Whole-wheat bagel sandwich with light cream cheese and a side of fruit

· Shake up the traditional sandwich—try peanut butter and banana, light cream cheese and cucumber, light cheddar cheese with pears or apples.

Tips for packing:

· Include: a fruit or 100% fruit juice, a vegetable, a whole grain (bread, crackers, pasta), a lean protein (peanut butter, skinless poultry, beans), and a fat-free or low-fat dairy product.

· Go easy on: fatty and salty lunch meats (instead choose low-fat, low-sodium lunch meats), mayo, and butter (which add 100 calories per tablespoon), chips, and soft drinks.

Healthy Snacking


It’s mid-afternoon and your stomach is growling, but dinner is still a few hours away. Having a variety of healthy snacks on hand can be a helpful way to manage hunger, make healthier choices, reduce bingeing, and stop you from going back for a second helping at your next meal.

· String cheese and whole-wheat crackers

· Low-fat yogurt with granola

· Low-fat cottage cheese with fruit

· Raw vegetables with low-fat dip

· Whole-wheat pita with hummus

· Applesauce

· Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit

· Whole-wheat crackers and peanut butter

· Air popped popcorn

· Pretzels

· Baked tortilla chips and salsa

· Sugar-free jello or pudding

Dining Out Tips


When life gets busy, we seek the convenience of take-out or dining at restaurants, but eating out doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Here are a few tips to enjoy your food and still make healthy choices.

· Eat half save the rest. Ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal and portion out half to take home. This way, you won’t be tempted to overeat when you are full; plus, you will have another meal already prepared for the next day—saving you money.

· Make substitutions. Most restaurants will be happy to let you substitute a vegetable, apple sauce, or a baked potato for fries or other high-calorie, high-fat sides.

· Pay attention to cooking. Avoid entrĂ©es that are fried, smothered in cream sauce, or cooked with added fats. Stick with broiled, baked, grilled, or steamed options.

· Get the dressing on the side. Save some calories but getting the dressing on the side so you are in control of how much you use and how many calories you consume.

Healthy fast food options:

· Opt for a grilled chicken sandwich, hold the mayo

· Swap a salad with light dressing instead of fries

· Choose bottled water or low-fat milk instead of a soft drink or shake.

· Plan ahead. Check out the restaurants website for the healthiest option.

Healthy Eating on a Budget


You may be surprised to hear that eating healthy does not have to cost you more money. Here are some ideas for ways to stretch your food dollar while still consuming healthy foods.

Best “Bang” for your Nutrition “Buck”

· Grains: Choose brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread and pasta, and oatmeal. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To decrease waste consider freezing bread to increase its shelf life.

· Dairy: Choose low fat or fat free milk, yogurt, and cheese. The vitamins and minerals found in dairy products help decrease bone loss, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and lower blood pressure. To increase self life and save money try using low fat dried or powdered milk for both cooking and drinking—try mixing the day before drinking for better flavor.

· Protein: When lean meats are on sale buy in bulk and freeze. Stretch your protein by adding it in dishes like casseroles, soups, and stews. The least expensive lean protein sources include: skinless white meat poultry, pork loin, beef top round, beef loin steak, egg whites, canned salmon or tuna in water, beans, and legumes.

· Fruit and Vegetables: For the most flavor and value buy produce in season; out of season frozen fruits and vegetables are nutrient packed, budget friendly options. Consider buying frozen juice concentrate and mixing it yourself—this can save up to 10 cents a glass.

Snacks: Swap chips, cookies, and soft drinks for healthier options such as raisins, nuts, low fat cheese, and whole wheat crackers

Make A Plan and Stick To It


1. Plan Ahead.

2. First, inventory your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer then make a list so you know what you already have.

3. Next, create a grocery budget that fits your life.

4. Then look at the grocery store flyers and coupons.

Tip: Sign up for a shoppers club card for lots of in-store savings.

5. Next, plan your breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks for the week. Plan meals based on what you already have and what is on sale that week—use cook books and websites for inspiration.

Tip: Use leftovers in a new meal; such as, adding leftover vegetables to a casserole.

6. Last shop for what you need and remember to stick to your list.

Tip: Do not shop hungry, this often leads to impulse purchases which damage your budget.

If you are struggling to put food on the table for you and your family, the USDA’s nutrition assistance programs may be able to help. For a complete list of all the nutrition assistance programs available please take a few minutes to visit

Check back next week when we will talk about cholesterol and blood pressure. As always please feel free to recommend topics or leave questions.

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