Eating Habits That Help Kids Do Better in School

Get ready for school!

Get ready for school!

Have you started your back to school shopping yet? It’s almost that time of year again!  But before you prep your kids with new notebooks and pencil cases, how about getting them ready for school success with better eating habits?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, good eating habits can help children perform better at school.  The University of Alabama provides sound advice for simple ways that you can feed your children to help them perform better academically.

What’s for Breakfast?

Cereal is easy, but it’s not always the best choice, says Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. In a news release, she explains that many breakfast cereals contain too much sugar which can cause a quick high and then a crash .  Instead, she recommends starting the day with fruits, proteins and whole grains.

“A balanced breakfast will fuel the body for a long period and help sustain their attention level through lunch, when they need to eat well again,” Casazza said. “This will hold them until dinner, and they won’t snack ravenously after school.”

Better Snack Choices

If your kids are normal, they’ll still want to snack.  With so many unhealthy choices in vending machines, on store shelves and at fast food restaurants, it’s hard to steer them in the right direction.  Casazza offers these tips

  • Offer healthy choices like yogurt, fruits and veggies.
  • If they want “kid stuff,” baked chips can be an option, in moderation.
  • Drink water. Soda lacks nutritional value.

If you start to modify your eating habits during the lazier summer months, then the habits will already be in place when fall hits and your schedule becomes more hectic.  Do it now for best results.

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Set a SMART Goal to Lose Weight

file000722756864One of the best ways to reach your goals is to invest some time into setting them.  What’s the best strategy?  Experts believe that the best goals are SMART goals.

How to Set a SMART Goal
Make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

  • Specific. Define the exact change you want to make. For example, instead of setting a goal to eat a healthier diet, set a goal to eat veggies at two meals each day.
  • Measurable.  Decide how you will know if you have reached your goal. For example, instead of saying that you are going to exercise more often, commit to walking for 20 minutes after dinner each night.
  • Attainable.  If you’ve never been 50 pounds thinner, that may not be an attainable goal.  Start with a 5 pound weight loss goal and go from there.
  • Realistic. You probably aren’t going to lose 30 pounds in a month, but you can set a reasonable goal to lose 1-2 pounds per week.
  • Timely.  Set a limit for the completion of your goal.  For example, commit to walking during your lunch break every day for one month.

SMART goals are more likely to be successful goals. Take 10 minutes to set yours up today.

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Television Viewing Hours May Determine Weight Loss Success

What's your number?

What’s your number?

Do you know how many hours of television you watch each week?  Many of us underestimate the number of hours we spend sitting on the couch in front of the tv.  And who really keeps track of the number anyway?   Weight loss researchers do, that’s who.  And those scientists have found that people who lose weight and keep it off share certain patterns when it comes to television.

How Does Your Number Measure Up?

Most successful losers watch 10 hours of television per week or less.  That’s according to the National Weight Control Registry, a collection of information about people who have lost a significant amount of weight and have kept the weight off.  Researchers are interested in the habits of successful losers so that they can conduct research to help other dieters lose weight and keep it off.

The average American watches nearly 39 hours of television each week.  Older adults watch the most television averaging 47.5 hours per week and teenagers (12-17 years old) watch the least amount of television, averaging about 24 hours each week. Of course, other forms of sedentary screen behavior was not measured in the Nielson Survey that provided these numbers.

Take The Test, Improve Your Outlook

You might think you know how much television you watch, but chances are good that the number in your head is too low.  Take a week-long test and see how many hours you really watch.  Keep a log and record the amount of time spent in front of your television (or computer).  Then compare your number to the 10-hour number that is shared by successful weight losers.  Is your number too high?

If it is, that doesn’t mean you have to give up television completely.  That plan is unrealistic and likely to backfire.  Instead, commit to taking one television viewing hour each day and doing something active instead.  This is a perfect time of year to get outside and go for a walk.  Visit a farmers market to get fresh food for dinner. Take the kids to the park.  Just enjoy the fresh air away from the couch.

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Study Suggests Prescription for Healthy Aging

stethoscopeIf you read this blog on a regular basis, you already know that we all need to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity in order to keep our hearts and bodies in good shape.  But a new study suggests that the prescription for healthy aging should include more than just exercise.  We need to stop sitting, as well.

Don’t Just Sit There!

A study released this week in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise evaluated the way in which exercise and sedentary behavior (like sitting) are connected to heart health in older adults. Researchers evaluated almost 2000 older adults aged 65 and over.  They found that even though exercise was associated with lower body weight, blood pressure and other positive health markers, it didn’t offset the negative effects of sedentary behavior.  As a result, study authors suggest that the prescription for healthy aging should include both exercise and avoiding long periods of sitting.

How to Be More Active

Exercise is great, but don’t forget about the rest of your day.  Start to pay attention to the amount of time you spend sitting in your favorite chair or lounging on the couch.  Do you watch a lot of television?  Set a 1-2 hour limit and set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move.

Need ideas? Make a commitment to take the dog outside for a walk 2-3 times each day.  Help your wife fold the laundry.  Stand up and wash the dishes by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher.  Get creative.  Remember, if it takes you out of your chair or off the couch, it’s probably good for you.  These little changes may improve your longevity and your overall heart health!




Get Fit and Healthy at Open Streets Minneapolis

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERANeed an excuse to get outside and exercise? There’s a new Twin Cities event that will help you do just that.  It’s called Open Streets Minneapolis and it’s a great opportunity for you to get outside to bike, walk or dance in your neighborhood.

What is Open Streets?

Open Streets Minneapolis is based on a tradition called Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia.  For nearly 40 years, the city takes a day to shut down streets in the city so that residents can wander around by bike, by skateboard, however they please.   The tradition has become a worldwide phenomenon and now it’s in your backyard.

There will be four local Open Streets Minneapolis events taking place throughout the summer.  Visit the Open Streets Minneapolis website to find the location that is closest to you.   Event organizers, in partnership with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, will shut down traffic for a day so that residents can gather, get some exercise, participate in spontaneous play activities, and get to know one another.  You can even bring your dog!

Make Open Streets a Daily Routine

Of course the official event will only take place for a day.  But it’s a great way for you and your neighbors to generate ideas and inspire each other to make healthy activity a part of your everyday lives.  While you are celebrating, why not organize a weekly walk with other neighbors on your block?  Older kids can organize a weekly bike ride.  Parents with young children can arrange to meet at a local park for healthy outdoor playtime one day each week.

Need more ideas about ways to exercise at home?  Visit the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website and learn how to start an exercise program.




Is My Workout Too Short?

file0001089134058Do you know how long your exercise session should be?  How do you measure whether or not the workout is really effective?  To answer these questions, you need to have a specific goal in mind for your physical activity.  The guidelines for weight loss and for heart health are different.

Exercise Guidelines for Weight Loss

To lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that you get between 150 – 250 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week to achieve modest weight loss.  For greater weight loss, the organization recommends more than 250 minutes.  If that seems like too much exercise, don’t panic.  First, keep in mind that any exercise is going to help.  Then, break down the 250 minute goal into manageable chunks.  A sample schedule might look like this:

  • Monday: Bike ride with family (30 minutes)
  • Tuesday: Short walk after work (20 minutes)
  • Wednesday: 3 ten minute walks during work breaks (30 minutes)
  • Thursday: Yoga class (60 minutes)
  • Friday: day off
  • Saturday: Afternoon swim (20 minutes)
  • Sunday: Long hike in the woods (90 minutes)

Total: 250 minutes

Exercise Guidelines for Heart Health

If you don’t need to lose weight, the ACSM recommends 150 minutes of physical activity each week for good heart health.  That can be broken down into 5 30-minute sessions throughout your week.  Schedule a post-dinner walk each night during the week and your exercise goal has been met!

Want to learn more about starting an exercise program? Watch these short videos about how to workout at home.  And be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Vacation Diet Tips: Eat Better on the Road

It’s summer vacation season and many of you are hitting the road, the airways or seeing the sights in your own hometown as part of a “staycation”.  While some people let their diets relax during this time, smart dieters follow a few simple rules for healthy eating on the road.

3 Healthy Travel Tips 

  • If you’re traveling by car, try to skip the drive-thru and find a grocery store instead.  Most markets have salad bars where you can fill up on veggies.  You’ll also be able to find hard boiled eggs, low fat yogurt or deli sandwiches to eat in the car.
  • At the airport, grab a snack before you board your plane.  My favorite pre-flight snack is a banana and unsalted almonds.  I usually find them at Starbucks or another coffee shop.  And be sure to grab a bottled water so that you’re tempted to fill up on soda when you’re stuck on the flight.
  • If your travels keep you close to home, explore new restaurants in your area.  But keep portion control in mind when you do.  In this video, North Memorial registered dietitian Deb Vevea gives tips for eating smart when you eat out.

Deb Vevea

Have you checked out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.