When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key.

Nutrition Notes: 6 Tips for Controlling Portions

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long-term, portion sizes are key. An issue that we tend to ignore is the alarming ways in which we eat extra calories numerous times throughout the day – a slightly larger slice of toast, an extra teaspoon or two of dressing or simply eating from larger utensils are just a few of the ways in which our portions tend to gradually increase over time, along with our weight.

However, the good news is that once you have a much clearer idea of what a portion of food should be, it becomes easy to cut back and ultimately improve your health!

Tips to Control Portions

1. Don’t skip meals. When you are overly hungry, you tend to eat larger portions. Try to avoid going longer than 5 hours without eating, and if possible try to incorporate a healthy and light snack throughout your day in order to satisfy your hunger until your next meal.

2. Know how to estimate food sizes. 1 cup of cereal should be the size of your fist, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or potatoes should look like 1/2 of a baseball, 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry should be the size of a deck of cards, 1 teaspoon of margarine should look like 1 dice, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter should look like a ping pong ball.

3. Pay attention to serving sizes on packaged food. If you typically consume an 8 ounce tub of ice cream, but the serving size on the label is for a 4 ounce serving, then you have just consumed double the calories, fat, and sugar that is on the nutrition facts panel. It is crucial that you be aware of serving sizes on packaged foods when learning how to correctly portion your meals. Ignoring the serving sizes on packages can lead to weight gain, so beware!

4. Avoid mindless eating. Try to avoid hanging out in the kitchen or in areas where there are unhealthy foods readily available. By avoiding these types of atmospheres you will be less likely to over eat. Try making the healthy choice, the easiest choice. For example, keep healthy snacks visible rather than unhealthy foods.

5. Mini-size plates. Reduce plate sizes from a 12″ standard plate to a 9-10” plate. This will cause a decrease in calories consumed by over 20%. Additionally, leave the pot of food on the stove rather than at the center of the table, this will reduce the chance of going for a second helping. Remember, “out of sight, out of mind!”

For more information on portion control, please visit the portion distortion webpage on the department of Health and Human Services Website by clicking here.

San Diego Food Bank CEO, Jim Floros, and Direct Services Manager, Daniela Solano, personally thanked employees from Surrogate Alternatives for their generous donation to our Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.

Thankful Thursday: The Introduction

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

“Thank you.” We grow up learning these are “magic words” that should be used to express gratitude and appreciation.

At the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, it is not magic that enables us to provide nutritious and critically-needed food to low-income community members. No, the secret to our success is the hundreds of partners and the thousands of contributors who have chosen to generously share their resources of time, talent or treasure in order to positively impact this community.

Every day, organizations, companies, foundations and individuals make contributions to the Food Bank that enhance services to low-income families, financially struggling seniors, dedicated military personnel and their dependents, and veterans. And, while the Food Bank regularly thanks the people behind each and every one of these gifts, we have decided to introduce a new and public forum to thank our giving partners and contributors.

What Is “Thankful Thursday”?

Starting this month – Hunger Awareness Month in San Diego – the Food Bank welcomes in “Thankful Thursday.” The idea is a simple one – every Thursday we will publicly highlight individuals and organizations working with us to alleviate the food insecurity issues faced by our low-income neighbors.

The Food Bank’s Facebook page and Twitter feeds will see gratitude expressed the best way we know how – with sincere and heartfelt thank yous. Throughout the day, we will highlight a few of the many acts of kindness, big and small, that make a profound difference for those struggling to put enough food on the table or worried about where they’ll obtain their next meal.

We may not be able to make hunger disappear with the wave of a wand, but we can ease the food and related nutrition challenges affecting those in need through the generous support and hard work of nonprofit partners, corporations, foundations and individuals – caring folks just like you.

Making Kids Lives Easier

To get our Thankful Thursday campaign started, the Food Bank would like to say “Thank you” to Surrogate Alternatives.

A group of employees from  Surrogate Alternatives in Chula Vista came together recently to collect food and backpacks for children in the Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. The local company was inspired to give back and get involved after one of their employees saw a flyer at their local Starbucks talking about the Food 4 Kids program – a Food Bank program that provides 1,630 children from low-income families with a weekly backpack of child-friendly food to ensure they have food to eat over the weekend when school meals are unavailable.

Together, the folks from Surrogate Alternatives packed 25 backpacks filled with nutritious food (171 pounds) – all of which was donated by the surrogacy company and its employees.

The Food Bank sincerely appreciates your donation and involvement, Surrogate Alternatives. Thank you for making a huge difference to children in our community.

Climb the pyramid of physical activity!

Nutrition Notes: Let’s Get Active!

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

Are you interested in adding years to your life, and life to your years? Well then, I have the perfect solution for you – physical activity! Regular physical activity can provide health benefits for people of all ages, shapes and sizes by reducing both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me!

Many Americans seem to associate the words physical activity with the gym, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Physical activity can be achieved in any type of setting and at any time ranging from a brisk walk to a long run on the beach!
Physical activity includes:

- Any type of aerobic activity that increases your heart rate. This can be achieved by doing something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest spot from the front door as possible.

- Walking, jogging and gardening is considered moderate physical activity.

- Elliptical training, biking and participating in aerobic sports is considered vigorous activity.

I recommend preforming the talk test in order to assess whether you are participating in moderate or vigorous activity. If you are able to easily talk to the person next to you during your workout, your activity is considered moderate. If you are unable to speak due to intense breathing then you are performing at a vigorous level.

- Any type of muscle strengthening exercise such as lifting weights, using machines, bands, or your own body weight to target major muscles including legs, hips, back, arms, chest, and stomach. These forms of physical activity are typically considered to be vigorous.

- Balance and stretching activities such as yoga, martial arts and dance, which promote physical flexibility.
So how much is enough?
Adults ages 18-64 should participate in moderate aerobic activity for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week or vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week in order to achieve the necessary health benefits.

Think 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.
Extra tips!
It is best to spread this aerobic activity throughout the week rather than completing it in just one work out session.

If your goal is weight loss, you should double the amount of time per week in which you participate in physical activity (5 hours of moderate activity or 3 hours of vigorous activity per week).

For more information regarding the benefits of physical activity, click here!

apple on suitcase

Nutrition Notes: Stay Healthy and Save Money Traveling This Summer

by Jenna Richter, Dietetic Intern

It doesn’t matter who you are, even with the slightest mention of “airplane food,” a collective groan or general look of disgust is bound to emerge. I get it. It’s easy to grab a quick burger from a fast food joint while you’re shuffling between terminals or driving in the car, but let’s be honest, even if fast food was primarily healthy, having it every day while you’re on vacation gets old pretty quickly.

The good news is, with a little planning ahead, you don’t need to rely on what’s in the airport or off the side of the road for a bite to eat during your summer travels. What some people might be unaware of, is that in the United States (and in most other countries), you are allowed to bring your own food with you to the airport and onboard the plane (yes- something you can do on a plane. Cue the applause!)

Below you can find some TSA-approved snack ideas that can easily be packed and transported with you on the plane, the car or any other mode of transportation you so choose:

1. Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper, and stored in a quart-sized plastic bag (that part is specific to plane travel.) Remember that all food that you carry on a plane will need to go through the x-ray machine, so be sure not to use any foil.

2. Dips and sauces such as hummus, salsa and almond butter can come on the plane, but remember, they need to be in a 3.4 ounce container or smaller and placed into a quart-sized plastic bag. The travel-size packs that are available from some brands are perfect!

3. Fresh fruits and veggies, such as apples, bananas and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. You can also bring a butter knife with you if you’re traveling by plane (believe it or not.) Keep in mind however that if you’re traveling internationally, fresh fruits and veggies may not be allowed through customs, so for these trips you may need to just pack enough to get you through your flight, otherwise you’ll be forced to throw away any extra food. If you’re traveling by car, these items should ideally be kept in a cooler in the backseat of your car as opposed to the trunk where they are less likely to be kept cool by the air conditioner.

4. Crunchy snacks such as crackers, popcorn, kale chips, etc.

5. Dried fruit and raw nuts- these make a great snack while you’re on the go. You can make your own mix: 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries or raisins, and raw walnuts. Airports and convenience shops usually have trail mix available for purchase, but they often contain inflammatory oils, or other additives.

6. Pre-made salads. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container (again, for traveling by plane only.) However, a great tip is to simply pour your dressing in the bottom of the bowl or container first, and then layer your greens on top for mixing in later so you don’t need to bring a separate container for your dressing, and your salad stays minimally soggy. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork- and yes, this too is allowed to be carried on the plane with you!)

7. Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security in an airport, or when you’re on the road and make periodic stops for water. Bringing your own refillable water bottles will also save you money as opposed to buying bottled water. If you’re going to any countries where you fear for the safety of their tap water, there are special water bottles available with filters inside. Check out this site to see if the tap water in the country you’re visiting is considered safe or not. Tip: Bring your own tea bags in your bag with you, and enjoy something warm and soothing to drink during your busy travel days!

For additional information about what is allowed on board your plane, check out the TSA’s website and search for specific foods or other items. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you review any customs restrictions for the country you’re visiting- these may differ from TSA’s rules.

You may be thinking, okay great I’m allowed to bring all this food with me but how will I carry it all? There are actually plenty of carry-on-size, travel-friendly coolers that you can count as your second carry-on bag, or conveniently keep in your car! Tip: you can use frozen berries or other frozen foods to keep perishable food cold inside your cooler, and not waste space with excess ice; plus, if you bring some plain, low fat yogurt with you, you can top your yogurt with berries after they’ve defrosted a bit! The TSA does allow frozen food (including ice) as long as it’s completely frozen upon coming through security (again, going back to the “no more than 3.4 ounce liquid rule.”) Still wanting some healthy snack ideas to bring with you? For some specific food items to consider packing, check this list out, and this one too!

Remember! Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet is critical each day, but especially while traveling. Being in close contact with so many people may compromise your immune system, especially if you’re not receiving adequate immuno-boosting vitamins and minerals from your diet. Also, staying sedentary for long periods of time may upset your body’s usual digestive processes. It’s important to take walks whenever possible, drink plenty of water, and do your best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure an all-around, pleasant travelling experience- your tummies will thank you!

Tips and tricks adopted from Food Babe, and http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/lifestyle/travel/health-takes-flight.

Take your dining outside this summer.

Nutrition Notes: Pack a Picnic

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Summer is here and beach season is upon us! Cookouts and picnics are longtime summer traditions, generally a time for family and friends to socialize and have fun while enjoying food and sunshine. Since these gatherings most often occur outside, food safety is very important. Hot summer temperatures can easily cause food bacteria to multiply quickly and can quickly ruin summer afternoon plans. Remembering to prepare and store food safely this summer can keep your picnics safe and fun. Below are the four important food safety steps to follow this summer:

Clean: Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including utensils, your hands and cutting boards. Make sure to always wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm and soapy water. Always use clean utensils to prevent the possibility of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria. Also, when you are preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them even if you plan to peel them. It is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside of the produce to the inside once you peel or cut them open.

Separate: Always keep raw poultry, eggs and meat separate from your fresh read-to-eat foods. This prevents the possibility for cross-contamination at any potential time of contact. When storing these items in the fridge they should always be stored in containers or plastic bags and placed on the bottom shelf to prevent the possibility of their juices dripping onto fresh produce items.

Cook: Cooking food to the proper temperature is very important. Bacteria grows the quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. Always make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can learn more about BBQ food safety here: Barbecue and Food Safety. Also, it is important to know what temperatures are considered safe when cooking, please refer to this list: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.

Chill: Once your picnic is over it is important to cool foods properly to prevent food borne illness. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; however, in the summer months, it is best to get food into the fridge within an hour. Also, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, this common practice is very risky. Instead of thawing foods on the counter you have a few food safe options:

1. Thaw in the Fridge: This is the safest way to thaw meat. Place the item on a plate or in a pan, and place it in the fridge to thaw.

2. Thaw in Cold Water: If you need to thaw something a bit quicker, place the frozen item in an airtight plastic bag and submerge it under COLD water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold.

3. Thaw in the Microwave: Each microwave has individualized instructions for thawing so check your owner’s manual. If thawing by cold water or microwave make sure to cook the item immediately after thawing.

4. Cook without Thawing: If you don’t have enough time to thaw, you can cook your food from a frozen state but make sure to check the final temperature before eating since it does take longer to cook fully.

By following the four food safety steps listed above, you can ensure that you have a safe picnic and cookout this summer. Feel free to find additional information related to food safety as well as the ability to have a few food safety myths debunked by clicking here.

This site has provided 76,700 pounds of USDA commodities, equivalent to 63,916 meals, in the past year.

Imperial Beach United Methodist Church selected May Nonprofit Partner of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

The Imperial Beach United Methodist Church supplies emergency food to the Imperial Beach community. This site has provided 76,700 pounds of USDA commodities, equivalent to 63,916 meals, in the past year. There is limited access to food resources in this area and this agency helps to ensure access to food for more than 200 households each month.

Pastor John Griffin has taken a unique and innovative approach to fighting hunger in this community. He has initiated a movement of cross-sector supporters to help. From local businesses to government entities, he wants to ensure everyone in the community pulls together to create a safety net for those people facing hunger. Meeting on a regular basis, this group coordinates food drives, fundraising efforts, and raises general awareness to the needs of the community. Pastor Griffin’s leadership is inspiring!

Janice Sartoria-Bollas leads this group’s distribution with confidence. She is incredibly dedicated to fighting hunger in the Imperial Beach community. We honor Imperial Beach United Methodist, because of her organizational skills, open communication and dedication.

Thank you to Imperial Beach United Methodist Church for your hunger-relief partnership. We are proud to honor you as EFAP’s May Nonprofit Partner of the Month.

Protein really packs a punch when it comes to nutrition!

Nutrition Notes: Protein – Why is it Important?

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

We all need protein, but how much is enough? Most people (ages 9 and older) should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein-rich foods each day. What does 5 to 7 ounces look like? Well to keep things simple here are some common portion size equivalents:

- 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry is equivalent in size to a deck of cards or iPod
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus is equal to 1 ping-pong ball (2 ounces)
- ½ cup cooked beans is equal to the size of 1 baseball (1 ounce)
- ¼ cup of nuts is equal to the size of 1 golf ball (1 ounce)

Protein comes in many forms whether it is from meat, poultry, and beans or dairy, so why is protein an important component of a healthy diet? Proteins are made up of amino acids and play many critical roles in the body. Protein is the building blocks of all of the body’s cells. They are important for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. So without enough protein in our daily diets, it could lead to detrimental effects on the entire body. Some examples of not obtaining enough protein include:

- Being tired or experiencing less energy
- When injured it can take much longer to recover
- You may get sick more often

We all need protein, and it is also recommended to vary our protein sources, which would include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds). Frozen proteins are also beneficial as well because they last longer and can generally be used for multiple meals (i.e. a whole frozen chicken can be eaten for a meal, leftovers stored and the bones can be used to create a soup stock). Looking for additional protein tips and ideas on how to switch up your protein routine? Check out 10 Tips for Choosing Protein.

Did you know? The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.

Nutrition Notes: Get Out and Move to Celebrate Earth Day

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Wednesday, April 22, marks the 45th annual Earth Day! With summer poking its head out and the weather warming up, it’s time to get back outside and move! According to a study published in Medicine Science Sports Exercise, being physically inactive is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Being active helps control weight, diabetes, and blood lipid abnormalities. It also strengthens bones and muscles which in turn prevents injuries. Physical activity is also known to improve your mood and mental health.

Being physically active is different for each person. Some people love to run; others may enjoy biking, kayaking, skating, walking, playing basketball, hiking, and so on. If you have kids don’t just watch them play, play with them! I encourage you to get moving! For those that already are active and for those that aren’t, challenge yourself daily to improve your overall health. Feel better, look better, and be healthier by incorporating moderate to vigorous activity daily. Live longer, move easier, and be happier! Looking for a few ideas to give back to Mother Earth, below you will find a few Earth friendly activity ideas.

- Start your own compost
- Plant a tree, new flower or vegetable plant
- Start Meatless Monday in your household
- Shop your local farmers market

In honor of Earth Day, check out the Earth Day Network where you can learn more about the history of the Earth Day environmental movement.

Volunteers not only bag fresh produce, but they also put together boxes of nutrient-dense food for low-income seniors.

Volunteers receive All-Star recognition during National Volunteer Week

by Stephanie Schauer, Communications Associate

National Volunteer Week is here, and it serves as the perfect opportunity for nonprofit organizations like the San Diego Food Bank to give thanks to the people who play an important part in our mission to end hunger in San Diego County.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit – but with the SD Food Bank, they are an integral part of everything we do. Without their dedicated support, there is no way that we could spend 94% of every dollar on providing food to the 370,000 people we serve every month. We love our volunteers,” said Food Bank President and CEO, Jim Floros.

Last year, the Food Bank’s warehouse was visited 25,155 times by folks looking to help out their community, and together they spent a grand total of 53,727 hours assisting where needed.

Our awe-inspiring volunteers do everything from inspecting and sorting food donations to bagging fresh fruits and vegetables to packing nutritious meals for our senior client population. Sometimes, they can even be found lending a helping hand at one of our many food distribution sites giving fresh produce and nutritious food to those who face hunger in various neighborhoods.

“You come face to face with those in need and see how what we do in the warehouse directly affects the community we serve,” said longtime Food Bank volunteer, Paul Amberg.

The Food Bank will be honoring dozens of its volunteers like Amberg at its first-ever Volunteer Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, April 15.

Are you interested in making an impact? Click here to register to be a volunteer for the San Diego Food Bank , and remember to check in on Facebook to share your experience with friends.

Nestor Methodist Church (Image provided by Google Maps)

Nestor Methodist Church selected as April Nonprofit Partner of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

In the past year, the equivalent of more than 82,000 meals (98,963 pounds of food) have been distributed by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers of Nestor Methodist Church’s food program. Each month they provide nearly 300 households with emergency food, reaching more than 1,300 people facing hunger.

This site provides monthly EFAP packages in the South Bay area. Congratulations to the Nestor Methodist Church team for the amazing work you do!

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