Nutrition Notes: Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

by Nicole Hartig, Dietetic Intern

Vitamin D is a powerhouse of a vitamin, because it plays an important role in bone strength, our immunity, and cell growth. Adequate levels of vitamin D have also been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. On the other side, not getting enough vitamin D can cause a loss of bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. Getting enough vitamin D through all stages of life is important so that our bones and cells can grow and stay strong.

If vitamin D is so important, where do we get it? The sun! Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because our skin absorbs sunlight and turns it into vitamin D. In these cloudy winter months it can be difficult to get the recommended amount, not to mention that too much exposure to sunlight is damaging to our skin. Luckily, there are quite a few food sources that are packed with vitamin D to help increase intake. Only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but it is added to many products. Try fish (such as salmon and tuna), mushrooms, eggs, vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice or yogurt, to get your recommended dose of vitamin D.

Click here to read more information on recommended intake and good sources of vitamin D.

Make sure to get outside, and catch some rays, too! Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t require a lot of money. Check out this list of 25 FREE things to do in San Diego for a few ideas!

Nutrition Notes: Freshen Up on Produce Storage Rules

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition and Wellness Educator

How often have you opened the fridge to find spoiled produce or a funky odor that leads to the discovery of food products that have been forgotten? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American wastes 20% of the vegetables and 15% of the fruit purchased in and out of the home. Most of the time produce is discarded because it has gone bad before we are able to use it. In order to maximize the shelf-life of produce items, it is important that these items are stored properly.

Many fruits and vegetables should be stored only at room temperature because refrigerator temperatures can damage them or prevent them from ripening properly. For example, when tomatoes are stored in the fridge, they can lose their flavor and will not fully ripen. So, what should be stored where? Click here to view a chart that can answer all of your storage questions. This chart is a good option for printing and placing on your fridge as a daily reminder.

Freshen up your 2015 with water!

Nutrition Notes: Kick up the water intake a notch this year!

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

The new year is in full swing, and of course, with the new year, many people are on journeys to start new habits or kick old ones to the curb to make room for your best year, yet!

Many of us know that it is very important to drink plenty of water each and every day, but there always seems to be an excuse or two as to why many of us never reach the recommended daily amount. This year, try to start off on the right foot and make staying hydrated a priority. Although, recommended water consumption differs for each individual, the average healthy adult should aim to drink about 10-13 cups of water each day.

Not sure how to get that many cups of water into your daily routine? Try adding citrus or fresh fruit to create your own spa water. Citrus water gives plain water some extra flavor, and also provides a few additional health benefits. Water flavored with citrus provides extra vitamin C, aids in digestion, freshens your breath and can help cleanse your systems by helping to flush out excess toxins in your body. Enjoy a few new spa water recipes to try out in 2015, maybe you will find a new favorite. Better yet, do you have any favorite ways to spice up your daily water intake? Or if you have other healthy New Year’s resolutions, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Nutrition Notes: Survive the Holidays Without the Weight Gain

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Holiday waistlines have a habit of growing in size over the cooler months. The season of weight gain generally starts with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving feasts and continues through the December holidays to New Year’s. According to the National Institute of Health, the average American gains about one to two pounds of weight during the holidays. Although this may not seem like a lot, this weight gain builds up after a couple of years. So this year, try to incorporate a few of these tips to help you enjoy some of your holiday favorites without sabotaging your waistline.

1. Make sure to stay hydrated. Before heading out to a holiday party, try drinking a full 8-ounce glass of water accompanied by a piece of fresh fruit or a vegetable snack. This way you don’t arrive thirsty or hungry and head straight for the appetizer table.

2. Switch up your favorites. If you can’t live without gravy on your mashed potatoes or a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, try substituting ingredients during the cooking process to decrease the calorie content.

3. Fill your plate only once. Although holiday gatherings often consist of food and treats, try to only visit the buffet line once. When you are filling up your plate, aim to fill up on fruits and vegetables.

4. Keep moving. Incorporate some sort of exercise into your holiday routines. Consider taking a walk with family or friends to observe neighborhood holiday decorations.

How are you balancing your holiday food fun? Hopefully, a few of these holiday tips can help you feel armed and ready for all of the festivities that come before New Year’s. Sending best wishes to you and yours during the holiday season.

Turkey dinner

Nutrition Notes: Enjoy Thanksgiving Safely

Katie Jones, Dietetic Intern

Gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving is just a few days away! With delicious dishes at the center of many Thanksgiving traditions, food safety is important during this food-filled holiday. Below is a food safety guide related to thawing, cooking and stuffing a turkey, as well as leftovers to help you and your family enjoy a safe and tasty holiday.

Thawing a Turkey: It is not safe to thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature. A turkey can be safely defrosted on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, submerged in cold water or in a microwave. Allow approximately 24 hours per 4-5 lbs. of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw in cold water. Place turkey in a leak-proof plastic bag, submerge in cold water and change water every 30 minutes until thawed. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction when defrosting a turkey in the microwave.

Cooking a Turkey:
Set the oven to 325°F and cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F checking with a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving. Approximate cooking times are as follows:

  •  8 – 12 lbs. 
    2 ¾ to 3 hrs. (3 to 3 ½ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 12 – 14 lbs. 
    3 to 3 ¾ hrs. (3 ½ to 4 hrs. if stuffed)
  • 14 – 18 lbs.
    3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hrs. (4 to 4 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 18 – 20 lbs.
    4 ¼ to 4 ½ hrs. (4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 20 – 24 lbs.
    4 ½ to 5 hrs. (4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)

 
Stuffing a Turkey: For optimal food safety, do not cook the stuffing directly inside the turkey. Instead, cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish. If you do choose to stuff your poultry, be sure to frequently check the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure the temperature stays at 165°F.

Leftovers: Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours and consume within 3-4 days. Always reheat cooked leftovers to 165°F, checking with a food thermometer, and reheat sauces and gravies to a rolling boil.

This food safety information was derived from http://food.unl.edu/safety/thanksgiving-food-prep. Click on the link for more detailed instructions related to Thanksgiving food preparation and safety.

Looking for a fun Thanksgiving Day activity? Join us for the annual San Diego Run for the Hungry 5k & 10k, and support a good cause while burning a few calories before indulging in your favorite holiday dishes. There are still a few days left to register! Click on the link for more information: http://sdrunforthehungry.org/.

Healthy fats do exist!

Nutrition Notes: The Skinny on Fat

by Katie Jones, Dietetic Intern

It’s time to put an old myth to bed. Eating fat will not make you fat! Consuming an excess amount of any type of calories can lead to weight gain and related health concerns.

Fat is an essential nutrient required for normal body function and is an important part of a healthy diet. Generally, fat should make up 20 to 35% of your total daily calories. However, moderation is key! Fat provides nine calories per gram and small amounts add up quickly. When selecting foods, it is wise to choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat. All fats are not created equal!

Incorporating healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, into your diet can decrease your risk of heart disease and promote heart health, whereas saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease and negatively affect your health. Foods high in healthy fats include plant-based oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Below are five tips to improve your fat intake and selection.

1. Use liquid plant-based oils for cooking and baking. Plant-based oils, such as olive or canola oil are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

2. Eliminate trans fat from your diet. Read food labels and choose foods that are trans fat free. Limit fried foods and baked goods that are often high in trans fat.

3. Switch from butter to soft margarine. Butter is high in saturated fat. Choose a product with zero grams of trans fat and no partially-hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.

4. Eat good sources of omega-3 fatty acid. Include fatty fish (such as salmon or albacore tuna), walnuts, canola oil and flax seeds in your diet regularly.

5. Limit red meat. Beef, pork, and lamb are high in saturated fat, eat these meats in moderation. Opt for leaner protein sources more often such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts.

What is your recommended daily fat intake? Click on the following link, Health Calculator, for further guidance on your recommended daily fat intake that will match your diet and lifestyle.

Do you have any tasty recipes featuring a healthy fat? Share a picture or idea with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Nutrition Notes: Fall into Healthy Habits

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Cool crisp mornings, early dark nights… it seems that fall has crept up on us this year! Fall offers so many varieties of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and it also marks the beginning of a long holiday season. Often times, we start eating more during this time, as well. It is important to keep our health in check during the cooler months and remember that fall foods offer great benefits to a balanced diet! Fall foods are packed with great nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals that help keep our immune systems strong. Here are a few tips to incorporate some typical fall favorites (soups, stews, breads, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, apples and greens) that are sure to keep the season tasty and healthy!

Fall back with a plan: With the clocks set back, it is important to remember that it will soon be getting dark earlier. This often means that there are less outdoor activity options in the evenings. Be prepared this year. Consider joining a gym, walking at a mall or well-lit area or you can even consider rising early to get some activity in before starting your day!

Soup’s on: Use this time to experiment in the kitchen. Soups are great meals that can be filled with hearty vegetables, and they are easy to throw in the crockpot so meals are ready for the week.

Snack attack savers: Football and new fall TV shows are in full swing which is often paired with snacks. Avoid overeating by portioning out snacks and have fruits and vegetables prepared and easily accessible for healthy snack options during the big game.

Make a plan to stay healthy this fall and winter season. Here are a few Quick & Easy Fall Recipes to inspire healthy eating during these cool months.

Trick or Treat the healthy way!

Nutrition Notes: A few tricks to manage Halloween treats

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Trick-or-treat! With pumpkins, costumes and candy galore, we all know Halloween is right around the corner. Halloween is a fun-filled family holiday loaded with pillow cases full of candy! It is fine to enjoy some sweet treats on Halloween, but often times it is easy to overdo it! This year, before your ghouls and goblins hit the streets, try to remember these tips to avoid sugar highs followed by those upset tummies.

Eat a healthy snack before trick-or-treating. This tip seems simple enough, but it is often forgotten. By providing a healthy meal such as a peanut butter sandwich, fruit or a cheese stick, it can reduce over snacking on sweet treats.

Think outside the box. When your doorbell rings what will you be passing out this year? It doesn’t have to be candy. Try something new such as: cereal bars, snack packs of fruit, nuts or trail mix, gold fish, raisins, popcorn, etc.

Go ‘mini.’ Candy bar calories add up quickly so opt for the bite size candy bars.

Post trick-or-treating candy inventory. After hitting the neighborhood and wondering how to manage all of the candy at home, consider letting the kids choose a couple of candy pieces each day and try to pair it with a healthy snack such as a fruit or vegetable.

Get creative. If you are having a Halloween party, have the kids help in the kitchen. There are plenty of healthy Halloween snack ideas. Check out a few examples here: Healthy Halloween Treats & Halloween Treats Kids Will Love.

Most importantly, remember to have a safe and fun Halloween weekend with friends and family. If you have any fun Halloween recipes, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Food Bank Nutrition & Wellness Educator, Jenna Olson, teaching the importance of eating healthy.

San Diego Food Bank makes senior nutrition a top priority with SONDAS

by San Diego Food Bank staff

Through the Food Bank’s SONDAS (Solving Obesity and Nutritional Disease Affecting Seniors) Program, impoverished San Diego seniors receive the nutritious food they need, the nutritional education they lack and the personal support necessary to make lasting changes to their lifestyles. Guided by the experienced hand of the Food Bank’s Registered Dietitian, Jenna Olson (pictured in the photograph above), the SONDAS Program has seen the implementation of our first-ever nutrition curriculum specifically for seniors and increased the distribution of fresh produce to this targeted population. The series of workshops and presentations kicked off in March and covers a variety of topics that are relevant to our senior population including:

- Eating Healthy on a Budget
- Making Healthy Eating Part of Your Lifestyle
- How to Navigate a Grocery Store
- How to Incorporate Physical Activity at Home
- Steps to Shake the Salt and Sugar Habit

Attending seniors receive nutrition-related handouts of the material discussed in class as well as various recipe cards that often coincide with the fresh produce participants receive at three out of the six sessions.  Senior participants have shown eagerness to take steps to improve their lifestyle while attending these classes.  For example, seniors have reported that they are using the MyPlate guide for making meals for their grandchildren. While other anecdotal examples of the program’s positive impact include reports from participants that show they have created a meal plan reflecting a better, more well-rounded diet, have tried new fruits and vegetables that they have not tried before and some seniors even starting to work in their apartment complex’s garden a couple of times a week alongside neighbors.

The Food Bank’s SONDAS Program is part of a larger Senior Initiative that is an important component of our comprehensive efforts to address hunger and food insecurity throughout San Diego County.  In a very short time period, hundreds of seniors have added more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets and received the relevant nutrition education that underlines the importance of eating right and regular physical activity.  As SONDAS continues, we expect to see thousands of seniors benefiting from the work of the Food Bank team and the healthy approach to aging they promote. The Food Bank’s senior nutrition education initiative is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation and by a grant from The Walmart Foundation.

Interested in learning more about the SONDAS program, volunteering with the program or having the classes at your site? Contact Jenna Olson, RD for more information at 858-863-5197 or jolson@sandiegofoodbank.org.

 

Time to get healthy before flu season kicks up!

Nutrition Notes: Flu-Season Survival Guide

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As everyone starts to stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues in preparation for flu season, it is important to remember that healthy eating during cold and flu season is essential to avoid getting sick. It is always important to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet following MyPlate guidelines, but the next few months call for extra nutrient-packed defense systems! When the body is healthy inside and out, it has an easier time fighting off infection. In order to prepare the best protection, it is important to remember that staying healthy doesn’t end at the dinner table. In order to boost your overall health, remember the following tips:

Get plenty of rest. Sleep is important for all ages and the proper amount can directly influence how you feel as well as daily performance at work or school. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, while school-aged children get at least 10 hours of sleep.

Eat a well-balanced diet.  Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into meal and snack time provides immune boosting nutrients that help shield the body from infection. Get some snack-spiration here.

Exercise regularly. If exercise hasn’t found a home in your daily routine, try to make room for it gradually. It is best to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. It is important to never get discouraged if you get off track with your exercise routine. It is never too late to restart your journey to a healthy and happy you!

Decrease stress. Work, traffic, family, house work… it all adds up and without an outlet, the body runs on overdrive and the stress can be an additional avenue for a sickness to form. Try to find 5 to 10 minutes each day upon waking and/or before bed to meditate or take self-reflection time to de-stress. If you have additional time, try incorporating some yoga or balance poses.

Cut back on unhealthy habits. It isn’t time for New Year’s resolutions just yet, but it is the perfect time to cut back on bad habits. Try to make one simple healthy change over the next 30 days. Some examples: read for 30 minutes every day, try a new fitness class, have a fruit and vegetable with every meal. It takes about 20 to 30 days for a habit to form, so you will be well on your way to a healthier you just in time for the holidays!

Over the next 30 days, challenge yourself to make one, maybe two simple changes that will aid in a healthier & happier you. Here is a short video for some inspiration: Try Something New for 30 Days. Share your 30 day small changes with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and stay healthy this flu season!

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