Staying Mobile Into Old Age

Mobility is something you need to maintain as you age. Failing to focus on your mobility and to take action to sustain it means increasing discomfort and limiting independence. While regaining mobility after significant losses is challenging, you can do it, and focusing on healthy habits before losing mobility can mean you reduce the amount of decline you experience.

Staying Active To Maintain Mobility

While there is little to be done to negate natural decline, there is a lot you can do to minimize the effects. Human biology is not designed for prolonged athleticism. Your body takes on a use-it-or-lose-it approach to function as you age, meaning you need to use it to prolong mobility.

One thing many seniors overestimate is how much physical activity is necessary to repair mobility or maintain it. Experts suggest that seniors receive at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, including walking. Additionally, you do not have to perform that 30 minutes consecutively. You can do 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon or evening.

The best way to fight decline is to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Get outside and walk. Go to the grocery store. If you can, take a yoga class. Stay active to stay healthy.

Visiting Your Doctor Shouldn’t Become Optional

Many people hate going to the doctor; the feeling can stem from a fear or anxiety issue. Visiting your doctor is one of those things that you should want to do. Granted, many people have bad memories about hospitals and doctors’ offices, but in the grand scheme, a physician is there to help improve your health and prevent future problems.

People who routinely visit with their doctors experience less preventable health disorders because these problems are typically caught early. Additionally, from a mobility standpoint, your doctor can address mobility issues early, potentially slowing or preventing significant decline.

Additionally, if you have been living a sedentary life for many years, you should speak to your physician before starting any program. Getting into a fitness regimen that your body is not ready for can do more damage than good. So, talk to a professional about where you should be starting.

Balancing and Bodyweight Exercises Might Be the Best Options

As people age, their balance tends to fade. Many seniors get into life-threatening situations because they become off-balance and fall. While medical alert devices can help and do provide life-saving services, it is best to avoid falling altogether.

Balancing and bodyweight exercises can help seniors maintain mobility, control, and confidence in their movements. Yoga, Pilates, and other activities are excellent forms of low-impact exercises that help older individuals maintain flexibility and mobility.

Finding Support and Motivation

Exercise is a challenge for anyone at any age. The primary difficulty is committing to the activity, so finding support through groups, family, or friends is often the best motivation. If you do not have family close by to support your newfound life goals, consider looking into senior centers in your area, many will offer exercise classes and groups.

Maintaining your mobility as you age should be a priority, and it essentially comes down to remaining active and healthy. Keep in touch with your doctor, find local groups, and focus on mental and physical wellness.

What are your best tips for maintaining mobility as you age? Leave a comment below.

Childhood Obesity: The Epidemic and Cure

More and more children are becoming obese. While alarming, the cause is not surprising. Like adults, obesity in children results from the consumption of too many calories, leading to a BMI measurement that places them into a category beyond the ideal weight classification for someone their age and height.

The rising numbers are alarming because medical professionals are beginning to see younger patients presenting with high blood pressure, liver disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and more. While medical researchers continue to dig into potential treatment options for obese children, the primary treatment remains preventative.

If parents want to protect their children against the potential health consequences of obesity, they must take responsibility and control for incorporating a healthy diet in the home. Additionally, parents can help children maintain efficient physical activity every day — a minimum of one hour per day.

Exploring the Underlying Causes of Childhood Obesity

Not all factors of obesity stem from unhealthful eating; there are also genetic and medical conditions to consider before diagnosing the underlying problem. However, despite other contributors to weight gain, most cases of obesity, especially among children, stem from unhealthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Understanding the lifestyle and genetic predisposition of children will help determine the cause of the growing crisis of obese children. Still, it is not as simple as saying eat less and exercise more.

To understand the problem, it is necessary to break down obesity into several factors: behavioral, environmental, medical, and genetic. Behavioral factors contributing to weight gain include eating a nutrient-poor diet, consuming more significant portions, spending too much time in front of a computer or television, and spending too little time being active. Environment factors include access to junk food over healthy food and limited access to parks or physical activity. Genes also play a role in the risk of obesity, but they do not determine the outcome. Finally, certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain, including specific treatments and medications for those conditions.

Is Childhood Obesity Really a Problem, or Is It Overblown?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 19.3% of children and adolescents or 14.4 million young individuals are considered obese by BMI measurements. While that number might not sound too jarring, it has tripled in the past 30 years and continues to grow.

Even among two to five-year-old children, the number is growing and is currently sitting at 13.4%. The percentage increases to 20.3% for children ages six to 11. These numbers are not overblown, and if they are anything, they are a favorable estimate, meaning real numbers are likely higher than these estimates. Additionally, those numbers only worsen when factored into the socioeconomics, with lower-income and minority communities showing a greater presence of obese children.

Something has to be done to curb the numbers and improve the health of children. Without intervention, children are sure to experience negative symptoms and consequences throughout their lives.

Symptoms and Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Children will suffer psychologically and physiologically from poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. In many cases, children begin to suffer from depression as they hit their teens. They may suffer from body-image issues. Additionally, they will experience greater health risks, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and reproductive problems later in life.

Prevention is the most effective tool to prevent childhood obesity, meaning healthy eating and exercise. Parents must instill their children with a nutritional foundation to make the best choices as they get older.

Do you have any advice for concerned parents? Leave a comment.

Overcoming Your Fear of the Weight Section at the Gym for a Healthier Stronger You

Walking into a gym is often intimidating, especially for a newb. To a beginner, there is nothing more frightening than the weight section, the place where all the muscled-up bods are flexing and grunting away, showing off their skill and physique. While this section of the gym can seem intimidating, it is also where you get lean and build muscle mass. In other words, it is the area of the gym that provides the most advantage to getting in the shape you want.

The weights section is not reserved for people with 0% body fat or who could win a Mr. or Ms. Universe pageant. It is an area for all gym members. Instead of fearing the section, embrace its potential. To embrace it, though, you need to understand where the fear comes from. For most people, the fear stems from believing they don’t belong or will make a mistake.

First, you absolutely belong; a gym is a space for all genders and body types. Second, you will probably do something wrong, but nothing bad is going to happen. You can’t expect to get everything right when trying something new. However, to help you minimize risks and optimize your odds of success, follow the straightforward four-step plan for overcoming your fear of the weight room.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The key to squashing your fear is to remember that everyone started where you are now. Sure, they might look like professionals now, but think about where they were years ago. Additionally, despite the intimidating physiques, most people at the gym are friendly and willing to lend a hand to a fellow member in need.

If you are unsure how to do an exercise or which exercise is best for legs, chest, back, or whatever, ask someone in the weights area. Most people will happily offer advice. However, even if the first person you ask is not that friendly, try the next. No harm will come to you, promise.

2. YouTube Is Good for More Than Cat Videos

If you want to get serious about lifting weights, check out YouTube for instructional videos. Many channels are dedicated to beginners, showing the proper form and techniques of several popular free-weight exercises. Many YouTube instructors will even talk about variations of specific exercises so you can focus on building the fundamentals before getting into heavyweights. However, make sure you check out the person’s qualifications to avoid bad advice.

3. Work With a Trainer

A personal trainer is an investment. Some people cannot afford a trainer right away, or they can’t justify the expense. However, when you can afford one, it is money well-spent. A trainer or teacher can help you develop a comfort level with the weight room. They will also help you design a routine for your body and capabilities. Remember, you do not have to keep a trainer forever; it is a temporary expense.

4. Remember, Your Experience Is a Shared Experience

Every bodybuilder, weightlifter, or average lean Joe started where you are starting. You cannot build muscle and a healthy exercise habit without embracing the weight room. Instead of shying away from the weights, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you belong. Sometimes, a bit of self-motivation can go a long way.

The weight room is an intimidating place for most newbies, but you can get over your fear with practice, preparation, and knowledge. How did you overcome your fear of the weight room? Leave a comment.

Personal Sleep: Understanding the Best and Worst Ways To Sleep for You

For most people, finding a sleep position is about finding the most comfortable position possible. Sometimes, you end up sprawled out across the mattress on your stomach, and other times, on your side with your knees tucked into your chest. However, despite the various options, you likely favor one position over others, and that position will typically fall into one of three categories: back, side, or stomach sleeper. Which position is right or wrong depends on the individual.

The Back or Supine Position

Sleeping on one’s back is often touted as the superior sleep position because it reduces stress on the body, improving muscle or joint pain symptoms. Additionally, adjustments to this position, like raised feet, can reduce swelling and risks associated with congestive heart failure. However, the supine position is not for everyone.

People who struggle to breathe at night or are diagnosed with sleep apnea will find this position challenging and even life-threatening. The position allows the tongue and lower jaw to shift backward, potentially obstructing the airway. Sleeping on the back can also lead to louder snoring.

The Side or Lateral Position

Sleeping on one’s side, either the left or the right, can circumvent the potential problems of the supine position. Many side sleepers find it easier to breathe in the lateral position and report less snoring and reduced sleep apnea symptoms. Additionally, for individuals with joint or knee pain, especially when it affects one side more than the other, sleeping on the opposite side with a pillow between the knees can relieve pain and improve sleep.

The primary cons of sleeping in the lateral position are increased pressure, shifting organs, and the potential of increased shoulder, hip, and lower back pain. When you sleep on your side, gravity automatically pulls on your internal organs, putting pressure on the heart from the lungs. The effects of pressure on the heart include heart strain and increased kidney output.

The Stomach or Prone Position

Not many people sleep on their stomachs. The prone position often requires the head to be turned to either side, with the arms in any number of positions and the legs straight out. The advantages of prone sleep include the avoidance of many of the supine problems and the organ shifts of the lateral position. Additionally, a prone position can provide greater comfort, especially when the sleeping surface is not ideal.

However, the prone position is not the best position to sleep because of the risks of neck, shoulder, and back injuries. The need to twist the neck to one side or the other puts pressure on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It can also make it hard to breathe. Sleeping on one’s stomach means the body’s weight is restricting the motion of the ribs and pressing down on the lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Which sleep position is best? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer because everyone is unique. You might not have a problem breathing at night, meaning that a supine position is superior, or you might struggle with knee pain, making a lateral position more favorable. Essentially, the position that is best for you is the one that allows the most comfortable and uninterrupted night’s sleep. You can visit a sleep specialist if you want a more specific answer.

What is your favorite sleep position? Leave a comment below.

The Benefits of Vitamin C For Your Skin: A Simple Guide

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; it is these underlying advantages that result in comparisons of Vitamin C to the holy grail of skincare. The question: is there evidence to support the rumors? According to the research, vitamin C can brighten complexion, repair skin damage, prevent premature aging, heal wounds, and improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. If vitamin C is the holy grail, how do you take advantage of it?

Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

Your body cannot make vitamin C on its own, which is why it is necessary to include the vitamin in your diet through foods or supplements. Vitamin C is capable of incredible things, including:

  • Counteracting sun damage

  • Improving overall immunity

  • Treating skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne, scars, wrinkles, and fine lines

How To Take Advantage of Vitamin C

If you have heard enough, it's time for you to make your skin glow. What you eat and apply can help you achieve that happy, glowing complexion of your dreams. Vitamin C can be found in sources such as oranges, grapefruits, papaya, lemons, limes, berries, and fortified cereals, like yogurt and granola. The highest food sources of the vitamin are found in citrus fruits. It is these foods that are particularly powerful when used as skin-care ingredients, which leads to the other source of vitamin C in topical treatments.

What Skin Conditions Can Vitamin C Help With?

In general, vitamin C can help reduce the effects of several conditions, including acne and premature aging. However, the full impact of vitamin C is achieved when you consume or use enough of it, and there are plenty of ways to get enough of the vitamin. If you want to consume vitamin C in your diet, focus on fruits and vegetables; if you want to include it in what you drink, look to orange juice. However, if you want to use vitamin C at high and effective levels, look to supplements and topical treatments. 

Vitamin C, when applied topically, accelerates collagen and elastin production. Using topical treatments helps to keep skin firm and plump, ensuring a youthful appearance and preventing premature aging. 

Every skin treatment requires adherence to the instructions to achieve desired results. However, before using any skincare supplement, check with your dermatologist to ensure your skin is capable of the regimen.

After following the basic steps of the vitamin C topical application, how do you ensure that you are getting the most out of this little beauty treasure? No matter the technique, choosing the right Vitamin C-based skincare products, the proper application technique, and making sure you are adding the proper amounts to your diet, you will be rewarded with improved, smooth, and glowing skin.

Obviously, vitamin C is not the only thing you need to ensure healthy and beautiful skin. A dermatologist can help you determine the right creams and treatments to achieve your best skin. However, vitamin C is a highly effective vitamin, and it does provide several research-backed benefits when applied or consumed correctly.

What do you think of vitamin C as a skincare holy grail? Leave a comment below.

Is Deodorant Dangerous? 5 Ingredients To Watch For

Whether you prefer spray-on antiperspirant, roll-ons or classic stick deodorant, these beauty products come with a long list of chemical ingredients. Some of the names are so long and confusing that you can’t even pronounce them, like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex. Should you be worried about these chemicals? Is deodorant dangerous?

How Dangerous Is Deodorant?

The answer backed by many scientists is that you have nothing to worry about. According to the available data, most women can whatever deodorant or antiperspirant they like without worrying about developing serious health issues such as breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, there aren’t any solid studies linking cancer and antiperspirants, and “very little scientific evidence to support this claim.” The National Cancer Institute takes things a step further, saying that “no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer.”

Why Do Some People Worry Anyway?

Just because scientists can’t definitively prove a link right now doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Also, there aren’t many studies on deodorant because it’s not a priority.

Even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can make mistakes. A study found that out of over 200 products approved as safe by the FDA, about 30% needed to have safety warnings added later. Three of those products that were “safe” ended up being pulled from the market.

Something similar happened with Teflon, which used a chemical called PFOA to make nonstick cookware (remember those pans?). For almost 60 years, this chemical was considered to be perfectly safe. Now, scientists understand it’s linked to everything from cancer to diabetes.

Another problem is that the US approaches chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty.” It takes a lot of evidence to get a chemical banned in the United States. More than 40 countries worldwide have banned 1,400 chemicals used in cosmetic products. What about the U.S.? Just 9 chemicals are prohibited here.

What Deodorant Chemicals Do Some People Avoid?

Now, I’m not telling you about this to scare you. After all, it's impossible to completely avoid chemicals in today's world. I just think it's important for you to be able to make an informed decision that you’re comfortable with. Here are a few ingredients some people prefer to live without:

  • Parabens: These preservatives are used in many skincare products, including some deodorants and moisturizers. Some scientists worry they may mimic female hormones and contribute to cancer problems.

  • Phthalates: These chemicals help fragrances stay on your skin. They may interfere with hormones and potentially cause problems with fetal development.

  • Denatured alcohol: Cheap alcohol ingredients such as denatured alcohol, isopropanol and propanol are very irritating for skin.

  • Aluminum: Some scientists think that aluminum (found in most antiperspirants) may make it easier for breast cancer to grow. If you have severe kidney problems, you should talk with your doctor before using antiperspirant because your body may have trouble getting rid of the aluminum.

  • Fragrance: Manufacturers can include practically any ingredient and label it as “fragrance.” That makes it hard to know what chemicals you’re putting on your skin. For some people, synthetic fragrances cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

The good news is that If you prefer to avoid certain ingredients, there are plenty of options on the market. You can choose a fragrance-free alternative or look for “paraben-free” and “phthalate-free” on the label. Put simply, the fewer strange chemicals on a product’s label, the fewer things you have to worry about.

 

The Health Benefits of Speed-walking: Why You Should Try It

Speed-walking or racewalking is an Olympic sport. This year, it is gaining some attention as Mexico continues to show its power as a competitor and champion in the endurance activity. While you might not follow the Olympics and might not care who is the reigning speed-walking champion, you might be interested in the health benefits from the activity. Speed-walking is a low-impact, moderate aerobic activity that can improve overall health and mobility. Additionally, it can benefit weight loss goals.

Why Speed-Walking Is Healthy

Although the activity is associated with intense cardio, speed-walking is likely more related to moderate levels of oxygen and blood flow. That means it can help with circulation, allowing your heart to beat at a slower pace and helping you avoid the shortness of breath that can be common with vigorous cardio workouts.

As opposed to high-intensity cardio workouts, speed-walking offers lower levels of oxygen intake that help the heart and blood vessels do their jobs. The low intensity of the exercise means you can sustain the activity for a longer period without becoming winded or fatigued. Therefore, speed-walking ultimately provides a longer duration exercise at sustained levels, which is beneficial to weight loss, balance, and mobility.

How Does Speed-Walking Compare to Other Exercises?

Categorized in the same class of low-impact aerobic activities like walking, jogging, and running, speed-walking is an interval-type workout that can help you build strength and endurance in your muscles, work on your balance, improve your mood, and improve your sleep. In addition, it can help you burn calories and reduce stress.

While speed-walking is an easy and enjoyable exercise for any age and fitness level, you should still be cautious and do the proper research, ensuring you are physically ready for the activity. Like a long-distance run, speed-walking can help build stamina and endurance but can also lead to injuries if you are not properly trained and are not mindful of your body. Before starting any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to determine if it is a good fit.

The Benefits of Speed-Walking

There are many benefits to this physical activity, and it does not need to take up a lot of time to reap the rewards: 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week. While the exercise is an endurance workout, it has several benefits beyond stamina. Researchers have found that speed-walking can reduce the risks associated with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis by strengthening the bones and muscles in the legs. Additionally, walking has been shown to boost heart rate and increase blood flow to muscles, aiding in cardiovascular fitness. Walking can also improve insulin sensitivity and aid weight loss efforts.

Speed-walking might be experiencing some added interest from Olympic coverage, but it will always be an efficient form of exercise. The simple truth is that walking is more accessible than running, and it is less dreaded than other forms of aerobic activity. If you are interested in burning calories and improving cardiovascular health while increasing your stamina, speed-walking is for you.

What are some other unique exercises you have heard of and want to try? Leave a comment below.

Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Immune System!

Exercising is good for your heart, your muscles and your mood. Did you know it’s also amazing for your immune system? Recently, scientists discovered that working out boosts your defenses against infections.

Why Is Exercise Important for a Strong Immune System?

There are several reasons why exercise is good for your immune system. When you put them all together, you feel happy, healthy and energized.

1. Physical Activity Reduces Stress Levels

Anxiety weakens your immune system. When you’re not sleeping at night and you feel stressed all day, your body is vulnerable to illness. Exercise to the rescue! Any kind of physical activity can lower stress hormones and get your immune system back on track. Even something as simple as getting some fresh air and going for a walk helps!

2. Exercise Strengthens Your White Blood Cells

White blood cells are the most important part of a healthy immune system. They detect and destroy viruses, bacteria and toxins. When you exercise, your body produces more white blood cells and it speeds up your blood circulation so these defenders act quickly. When your immune system catches harmful invaders right away, you don’t get sick.

3. Working Out Gives You a Mini Fever

Viruses don’t like it hot. That’s why your body triggers a fever when you have an infection: it kills off the invaders. Exercise has a similar effect. As your heart rate increases, so does your core body temperature. That may help destroy viruses before they have a chance to attack.

4. Staying Active Alleviates Inflammation

Regular exercise can lower inflammation all around your body — from sore muscles to tender joints. When your body is fighting a war against chronic inflammation, it has to use a lot of “soldiers.” That can leave your body’s defenses wide open for invaders. By reducing inflammation, exercise lets your immune system deploy “troops” to protect you against viruses instead.

The science doesn’t lie! According to one study, people who exercise at least three times a week are 25% less likely to get a cold.

What Are the Best Exercises for Your Immune System?

The goal with exercise is to boost your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. I like to do a blend of cardio workouts and whole-body strength training.

Excellent Cardio Exercises

What I love about cardio is that it gives you a chance to recharge emotionally while you’re increasing your heart rate. If you have the chance, do these exercises outdoors and watch the stress melt away (and fat, too)!

  • Brisk walking

  • Jogging

  • Mountain biking

  • Cycling

  • Swimming

  • Jumping rope

  • Fitness dancing (like Zumba)

My Favorite Strength Training

These are some simple exercises anyone can do at home. Buying a resistance band or free weights isn’t necessary, but they do help with your results. For an extra boost to your strength training exercises, hold each position for a few seconds:

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Push-ups

  • Planks (like push-ups but holding the position using your elbows)

  • Arm raises

  • Leg raises

  • Side leg raises

You should feel the burn, but you don’t want pain. If lunges make your knees hurt, for example, do leg raises on your back instead.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Any level of physical activity has benefits for your immune system, but you should aim for moderate- or high-intensity exercises. Start by exercising for 15–30 minutes, three to five days a week. This slims your tummy and helps your body feel great at the same time!

Why I Am a Fiber Enthusiast

There always seems to be some new discovery in the world of health and nutrition, doesn’t there? Every so often, we hear about a new and exotic ingredient that can solve all our healthcare woes and help us finally slim down and enjoy optimal health. But what if the most effective solutions aren’t new at all?

I assert that fiber is one of the familiar ingredients we’ve highly underestimated in our society. While we’ve been searching for the newest and greatest health-promoting ingredients, fiber has been waiting around and hoping we’d slow down and notice its incredible health qualities. Unfortunately, 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber in our daily diets. In fact, few of us come close to the recommended 20-30 grams of fiber we should be eating every day.

If you don’t know what fiber can do for your health and weight goals, you’re in for a surprise! Here are a few of the top reasons why I am now a fiber enthusiast.

Fiber Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

Who doesn’t want to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight? The battle of the bulge is a challenging one for many of us, which is why we should try to consume the recommended amount of fiber every day.

Foods that are high in fiber tend to fill us up more effectively than foods with little to no fiber. So if your current diet leaves you feeling famished all day long, the secret may be as simple as eating more fiber! High-fiber foods also tend to have fewer calories than the same volume of low-fiber foods.

Fiber Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels

It’s no secret that keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range can be challenging as you grow older But fiber can help. Studies reveal that foods high in soluble fiber (such as flaxseed, beans and oats), may lower “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and total blood cholesterol levels. It may even help reduce inflammation and blood pressure while it’s at it!

Fiber Normalizes Bowel Movements

Nobody likes to talk about their bowel habits, but if you struggle to stay regular, it’s time to eat more fiber! Dietary fiber softens the stool and increases its weight and size so it passes more easily. Eating sufficient fiber can also help you out if you tend to get diarrhea often because it absorbs the excess water.

Fiber Helps Control Blood Sugar

If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, eating high-fiber foods can slow down your body’s absorption of sugar and help control your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have diabetes, eating a healthy diet that includes sufficient insoluble fiber may help prevent you from developing the disease in the first place!

Fiber May Prevent Certain Diseases

We are all destined to die sometime, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for greater longevity. Consuming dietary fiber (especially cereal fiber) is associated with a reduced risk of death from certain diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease).

How Much Fiber You Should Take

Here are daily fiber intake recommendations for adults (as provided by The Institute of Medicine):

  • Men (ages 50 or younger): 38 grams/day

  • Men (Ages 51 and older): 30 grams/day

  • Women (Ages 50 or younger): 25 grams/day

  • Women (ages 51 or older): 21 grams/day

You can determine how much fiber you’re getting each day by looking at food labels and looking up the nutrition information of foods that aren’t prepackaged (such as produce).

Good Sources of Fiber

There are a lot of delicious sources of fiber you can turn to if you need to increase your intake. They include:

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Whole-grain products

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Peas, beans and other legumes

It’s best to get your fiber from whole foods whenever possible. If you’re ready to start experiencing the many health benefits fiber can offer, start digging in to healthy, fiber-rich foods today!

How To Have a Healthy but Savory Cookout

Nothing says “end of summer” like a good, old-fashioned cookout. While you, like the rest of world, may enjoy the ambiance of burgers cooking on the grill and ‘mellows roasting over an open flame, there is no denying that the foods and sweets associated with a summer bar-b-que can weigh heavily on your heart and your waistline. While you may struggle to reconcile the terms “healthy” and “cookout” — and to get partygoers excited about a wholesome menu — rest assured in the knowledge that it is possible to have a fun, savory and nourishing get-together by following a few simple tips.

Keep It Lean

Chances are that few people on your invite list follow the same diet as you, so it’s the courteous thing to do to present options from the various meat families. However, just because you so kindly serve beef or pork along with your chicken and turkey doesn’t mean that your guests can’t dine healthy, too.

Choose lean cuts of meat with ratings of 90% or more. If you plan to grill chicken drumsticks or turkey legs, opt for skinless. If you’re confident in your prep and cooking skills, try turkey burgers with flavorful ingredients mixed in. Think shallots, cilantro and chili sauce, or oregano, pepper and feta cheese. While bean-based, tofu or tempeh burgers are probably your healthiest option, you should serve these vegan alternatives along with the real deals.

Keep the Salads Simple

Yes, it’s true, everyone loves a creamy potato salad and a savory macaroni salad, but neither of these dishes are very healthy. Switch up the salad game a bit by serving leafy greens topped with fresh, homegrown ingredients. You cannot go wrong with a bed of butter lettuce topped with thinly sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and a sprinkling of olive oil. Nor can guests argue with a spinach, strawberry and balsamic vinaigrette salad. Avocado is always a hit, so find ways to incorporate it into the side and main dishes.

Serve Roast Veggies

Veggies such as corn on the cob, red peppers, summer squash and cherry tomatoes become delicacies when marinated and roasted in just the right ways. The simplest way to roast veggies is to coat them in olive oil, season them with herbs and roast them on a grill pan or in tin foil. However, more sophisticated (but still easy) recipes can surprise your guests in the best possible way. For instance, grilled Portobello mushrooms marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and garlic and served along with slices of onion, tomato and lettuce can serve as a savory substitute for grease-laden burgers.

Grill Up Dessert

Instead of roasting marshmallows over the campfire, try serving up a different type of dessert on a stick: Grilled fruit kabobs. Not only will grilling fruit create a fun and unique experience for your guests but also, it can bring out each piece’s unique flavor profile. While you can’t go wrong grilling just about any fruit, some that scream “summer” more than others include watermelon, pineapples, strawberries, kiwi and peaches. You can serve up slices on a stick or mix them together with a balsamic glaze and fresh mint or, if you’re feeling particularly playful, melted dark chocolate.

When You’re the Guest

You can’t know, for sure, what is going to be at another person’s cookout — and it would be rude of you to submit special requests for food — but that doesn’t mean you should forgo the end-of-summer fun for health reasons. If you’re worried a cookout will only have burgers, hotdogs and pasta salads to eat, eat before you go. Doing so will prevent you from caving in to your cravings when your stomach starts to grumble.

Another option is to bring a healthy dish or two to pass. Not only will this option ensure you have something healthy to snack on while you’re at the party but also, your host will appreciate the kind gesture.

A healthy cookout does not have to be a boring cookout. Use the tips above to throw an end-of-summer bash that will impress your guests and have them leaving feeling light, energized and all-around good.