9 tips for eating sanely during the holidays

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, … but Thanksgiving dinner got the better of me this year. Continue reading “9 tips for eating sanely during the holidays”

Spring brings nutritional tidings

National Nutrition Month

We are officially in March – only a hop, skip, and a jump away from spring! As I sit here writing this now, we in Arizona are experiencing a seasonally appropriate rain and thunderstorm, good for all those backyard gardens and local farmers in the prickly desert.

March is also a very active holiday month, health-wise. It is the official national month for nutrition, in its 40th year! National Nutrition Month was first started as early as 1973, with the tag line “Invest in Yourself—Buy Nutrition.” After 40 years, those words still ring true. As a student member of the American Dietetics Association, I couldn’t pass up a chance to remind everyone just how important nutrition is in everyone’s quality of life – now, and in the future. If you’re investing in healthy, “whole foods” (as in, not processed, in a box or in a can, and is a recognizable food by itself) now, will guarantee a much healthier you as you age.

Today’s Standard American Diet (SAD) has increased the rates of Americans developing cancer, heart disease, problems associated with obesity (diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.), and stroke. And it’s all pretty much preventable, if you are putting the right things in your body so that it can work right for you.

Sure, everyone knows they should “eat better,” but not everyone knows how. Here are some resources from the American Dietetic Association that will help you get a leg-up on educating yourself on food. Or if you’re not into a lot of heavy reading, there’s always magical YouTube!

I, personally, am subscribed to several YouTube channels, including:

And there are probably many, many more for healthy cooking, eating, and excerising. Get your learn on, and invest in yourself!

I am also posting this at the tail end of School Breakfast week. I have already ranted and railed about the benefits of eating breakfast, so I won’t repeat myself *grin* But as a way of celebrating school food, check your local theatre listings and educate yourself on hunger in America and its effect on children with a new movie that opened up last week, called A Place at the Table.

It’s a great month to start eating right. It’s spring, when many ancient cultures used to honor as their “New Year.” It’s a time to turn over a new leaf along with the trees, bushes, and plants this season! So take a class. Watch a video. Make an appointment with a dietician. Throw a few seeds in the ground and start a garden. The time is right.

March Food Holidays

• Maple Sugar Month
• National Nutrition Month
• National Frozen Food Month
• Great American Meatout Month
• National Peanut Month
• National Sauce Month
• National Flour Month
• National Noodle Month
• International Hamburger & Pickle Month

• School Breakfast Week (Mar 3 – Mar 9)
• Chocolate Week (Mar 10 – Mar 16)
• National Agricultural Week (Mar 17 – Mar 23)

March 1
National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

March 2
National Banana Cream Pie Day

March 3
National Mulled Wine Day

March 4
National Pound Cake Day

March 5
National Cheese Doodle Day

March 6
National Frozen Food Day

March 7
National Crown Roast of Pork Day

March 8
National Peanut Cluster Day

March 9
National Crabmeat Day

March 10
National Blueberry Popover Day

March 11
National Oatmeal-Nut Waffle Day

March 12
National Baked Scallops Day

March 13
National Coconut Torte Day

March 14
National Potato Chip Day

March 15
National Pears Helene Day

March 16
National Artichoke Hearts Day

March 17
National Green Beer Day

March 18
National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day

March 19
National Chocolate Carmel Day

March 20
National Ravioli Day

March 21
National French Bread Day

March 22
National Bavarian Crepes Day

March 23
National Chip and Dip Day

March 24
National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

March 25
National Lobster Newburg Day

March 26
National Nougat Day

March 27
National Spanish Paella Day

March 28
National Black Forest Cake Day
Something On A Stick Day

March 29
National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

March 30
Turkey Neck Soup Day

March 31
National Clams on the Half Shell Day
Oranges and Lemons Day
Tater Day

Health Awareness Holidays

• Save Your Vision Month
• Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month
• National Nutrition Month
• American Red Cross Month
• Eye Donor Month
• Mental Retardation Awareness Month
• National Brain Injury Awareness Month
• National Endometriosis Awareness Month
• National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
• National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month
• Great American Meatout
• Hemophilia Month
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
• Colorectal Awareness Month

• Brain Awareness Week
• Root Canal Awareness Week
• National Sleep Awareness Week
• National School Breakfast Week
• Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week
• National Patient Safety Awareness Week
• National Problem Gambling Awareness Week
• National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week
• National Poison Prevention Week
• Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week (Mar 10 – Mar 16)
• Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Week (Mar 3 – Mar 9)
• Save Your Vision Week (Mar 3 – Mar 9)
• Brain Awareness Week (Mar 10 – Mar 16)
• Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week (Mar 17 – Mar 23)
• Poison Prevention Week (Mar 17 – Mar 23)

• World Kidney Day
• American Diabetes Alert Day
• No Smoking Day (United Kingdom, second Wednesday in March)
• World Water Day or World Day for Water (March 22)

March Gardening Holidays

• March 11: Johnnie Appleseed Day
• March 20: National Agriculture Day
• March 21: National Flower Day
• March 21: National Fragrance Day

February fêtes for foodies!

It’s February, already folks! Welcome to the month of Canned Food, Snack Food, and Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket (I’m not kidding about that last one, either).

But I feel that one of the more important observances this month is National Hot Breakfast Month. Frukosten_av_Amalia_Lindegren_1866Skipping breakfast: Don’t deny it, you’ve probably done it on more than one occasion. Maybe you never eat breakfast. According to an article in the Huffington Post, 31 million Americans skip breakfast each day.

I know I was once a member of that club (thinking that two meals a day meant fewer calories to worry about). Through most of high school, college, and a majority of my 20s, I rarely ate breakfast. I’d roll out of bed, down a quick, but potent coffee, and run out of the door to start my day.

But once I got on the breakfast wagon, I realized how wretched I had been all those years. I was always ravenous and rather desperate not even halfway to lunchtime (often breaking down and eating lunch at work just shy of 11 a.m.). So I would eat MORE than usual, because I was in feast vs. famine mode. I would be fairly useless through the morning in class or at work, until I got food into me. My answer? More coffee, please! And having a coffee on an empty stomach – that never led anywhere good. Between a rebellious stomach and coffee shakes that would show up on the Richter Scale, skipping breakfast made me pretty miserable.

When you “starve” your body like this, as many dieters know, your next meal becomes a make-up session. Like we are biologically programmed to do, when food is present and it thinks it’s in a famine, it craves and tells you to stock up: It feels like it may not see another full stomach for days! So while in famine mode, your body begins to tighten its belt, so to speak, on its calorie spending. Just like someone who has had their hours cut at work, budgeting commences. You begin to count your pennies and spend less. Your body is no different.

So, when depriving your body of a satisfied, full stomach regularly through skipping meals (especially breakfast after a LONG night of no food!) or dieting, your body holds on to every precious calorie it can. Your body produces more insulin, so that whatever precious glucose is in your blood for energy use, is scooped up by your body’s cells.

A morning delight...with chia seeds.
A morning delight…banana, Greek yogurt, and chia seeds.

Bottom line? You’re putting yourself more at risk for weight gain. That’s because your body is trying to “store up for the winter,” and it slows down your metabolism to retain any fat or weight for use in lean times. And then when you DO have food set in front of you, you’re more apt to gorge or overeat to make up for the meal you didn’t eat that morning.

Breakfast is not a four-letter word. It helps your body to work at full capacity without feeling threatened about food resources, you feel better and won’t overeat at lunch or resort to quick-fix snacks throughout the morning, and you’ll actually be able to function mentally and physically first thing in the morning.

It’s a good thing. Yay February! Let’s start eating the most important meal of the day!

Other great February observances

Food Holidays

• National Potato Lovers Month
• National Hot Breakfast Month
• North Carolina Sweet Potato Month
• Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State Month
• Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
• Canned Food Month
• National Cherry Month
• National Snack Food Month
• Great American Pies Month
• National Grapefruit Month

February 1 – Baked Alaska
February 2 – Heavenly Hash
February 3 – Carrot Cake Day
February 4 – Homemade Soup Day
February 5 – National Chocolate Fondue Day
February 6 – National Frozen Yogurt Day
February 7 – National Fettucine Alfredo Day
February 8 – National Molasses Bar Day
February 9 – National Bagels and Lox Day
February 10 – National Cream Cheese Brownie Day
February 11 – National Peppermint Patty Day
February 12 – National Plum Pudding Day
February 13 – National Tortini Day
February 14 – National Cream Filled Chocolates Day
February 15 – International Gumdrop Day
February 16 – National Almond Day
February 17 – National Cafe Au Lait Day
February 18 – National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day
February 19 – National Chocolate Mint Day
February 20 – National Cherry Pie Day
February 21 – National Sticky Bun Day
February 22 – National Margarita Day
February 23 – National Banana Bread Day
February 24 – National Tortilla Chip Day
February 25 – National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day
February 26 – National Pistachio Day
February 27 – National Kahlua Day
February 28 – National Chocolate Souffle Day

Health Awareness Holidays

• American Heart Month
• AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
• National Wise Health Consumer Month
• National Children’s Dental Health Month
• International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month
• Give Kids A Smile Day
• National Wear Red Day
• National Donor Day
• National Condom Week
• Children of Alcoholics Week
• National Burn Awareness Week
• Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week
• National Eating Disorders Awareness Week