Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to focus on sodium. I know there have been some conflicting reports about whether or not it is truly bad for us. However, I just read about some research published that links higher sodium intake to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the research presented to the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, there was a 43 percent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes for every extra gram of sodium consumed. Personally, I had never associated sodium with diabetes, but this research shows there is definitely a link!

To put things in perspective, every 2.5 grams of salt contains one gram of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends that we consume no more than 2.3 grams of sodium every day (about 1 teaspoon!).

This is just another point in a long list of reasons to stay away from highly processed, salty foods. Chips, pretzels, canned goods, etc. – these are all foods that are loaded with added sodium. Sweet potatoes, carrots, apples… enjoy with gusto! No sodium risk with fresh fruits and vegetables!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! During this time of year, I like to remind everyone of tips to stay healthy during the holiday season. Or, even during one holiday meal – like the one coming up on Thursday. While I certainly don’t think that indulging in one big meal is going to derail your healthy eating plan, it doesn’t hurt to have a few tools to help you stay a bit more on track.

In the past, I’ve written about a number of tricks and tips. But really, what it comes down to is your plate – the size and contents. It’s that simple:

– Plate size: Keep it small. Use a side or salad plate. Quite simply, you can’t fit as much food on a salad plate as you can on a dinner plate. Smaller portions = fewer calories = less likely to overeat.

– Plate contents: Fill half of your salad plate up with… salad! Or roasted vegetables, grain salad, etc… you get the idea. The less room there is for stuffing, the less you’ll eat!

Once you’ve cleared your plate, sit for at least fifteen minutes before going up for seconds. Let your body decide if you’re still hungry or if you are just mindlessly eating. After fifteen minutes, if you still want more food – enjoy!

And whatever you do, don’t punish yourself if you go a bit overboard. Life is short. Have a piece of pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to chat about the mid-afternoon energy slump. So many people lose steam by early to mid afternoon and have a tough time getting through the day. I’m a big proponent of a 15 minute mid-day nap. However, sometimes our eating habits are the culprits when it comes to energy slumps.

When planning our meals, it is important to incorporate foods that will keep our bodies energized well after we’ve finished eating. Eating complex carbohydrates, including whole grains, legumes, along with fruits and vegetables will keep our bodies satiated and energized. These foods are filled with fiber, which slows the digestion process. Fiber-rich foods provide a steady supply of energy throughout the day.

Simple carbs, on the other hand, will cause a quick energy rush followed by a crash soon after. You can become fatigued and moody. All from a bag of pretzels!

Dehydration is another culprit in the energy slump. So often, we’ll go through the day and realize we’ve hardly had any water or other fluids. Even mild dehydration can slow our metabolism and decrease our energy levels. Be sure to constantly sip water and stay hydrated.

Paying attention to what we eat can impact every aspect of our lives – including our energy levels! Plan your meals smartly, and you’ll be energized throughout the day!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

As we get deeper into fall, I feel like our lives get busier and we often end up slipping out of our healthy eating plans. The lazy days of summer are over, and we’re back into work and school mode. I find that the first thing that can slip is our lunch plan. While there are many new and healthier lunch places around these days, the truth is that eating lunch out can be a very unhealthy decision. Often the portion sizes are way too large and even salads and bowls can have a lot of added salt and fat. The best way to stay healthy during lunch is to pack your own. Here are a few suggestions to make that easier:

– Embrace leftovers – Whenever you cook dinner, put aside a bit extra. Package it up in single serving containers so you have lunch ready to grab in the refrigerator.

– Cook a big batch of something delicious on the weekend – Stews, casseroles, grain salads – these all last for days in the refrigerator. Cook two big batches of something fun, portion them out, and switch your lunch back and forth between the two items.

– Have back ups on hand. Always have chopped vegetables, hummus, nuts, fruit, grains, and greens on hand so you can throw together something last minute. Have fun and toss everything in a mason jar, shake it up, and have a delicious salad!

– Make it fun – Make your lunch more enticing than the anything you can purchase at the lunch places nearby. If you have something delicious waiting for you in the fridge, you are far more likely to eat that then go out to a restaurant.

– Focus on the benefits – Prioritize packing your lunch! You are making an excellent choice for your health and for your wallet. You’ll probably spend less than half on your homemade lunch than you would on something you can purchase.

Even if you pack a lunch only 2-3 days a week, you can make a major difference – financially and healthfully. Start small, form new habits, and start seeing the change!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

This week I’d like to chat about bone health. We’ve all heard a lot about foods that can help strengthen our bones. However, did you know that there are plenty of foods that can actually weaken our bones? We need to take this very seriously. Women, especially, struggle with bone density loss as we age. So, it is very important to pay attention to those foods that can either strengthen or weaken our bones.

Foods that can weaken our bones include:

– Soda and other types of caffeine. Sorry, coffee and soda lovers! The caffeine and phosphoric acid in soda can interfere with the ability of your bones to absorb calcium.

– Beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol can reduce Vitamin D’s ability to help your bones absorb calcium.

– Excessive sodium. Too much sodium can increase the amount of calcium that is excreted in your urine.

Some studies also suggest that a diet high in animal protein may be linked to calcium loss.

Every day our bodies create new bone and lose old bone. However, after the age of 50, the bone loss is greater than the rate of bone growth. So we need to eat bone-building foods to help promote further growth. Focus on eating leafy greens such as collards, kale, and spinach, along with legumes, beans, and nuts. Of course, weight-bearing exercise is essential. A day of hiking and weight training followed by a salad and a bowl of veggie chili is just what the bone doctor ordered!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

This week I’d like to chat about exercise. I’ve seen several articles published lately that refer to the fact that exercise will not help you lose weight. Personally, I think this is an oversimplification of the connection between exercise and weight loss.

It is true that you’d need to work out for a very lengthy period of time every day to burn off more calories than you consume. For example, someone might hop on the treadmill and burn 250 calories. These calories are added right back into our bodies through one or two glasses of wine or a piece of bread. My issue is that the goal of exercise isn’t to burn off more calories than we consume. Rather, exercise should be viewed as absolutely essential to living a healthy lifestyle! When a person decides to embrace healthy living, regular exercise must be included as part of the plan.

The benefits of exercise are endless. Just a few include:

– Increased focus and creativity at work
– Better sleep
– Anxiety reduction
– Increased happiness and general mental well being

Exercise also helps your body fight disease. Honestly, the benefits of exercise are too many for me to summarize in this column. Regarding weight loss – when we exercise, we are inspired to eat more healthfully. It is rare to see someone embrace a new exercise routine while simultaneously devoting themselves to a fast-food diet!

Exercise regularly. Eat healthfully. Your body will respond. I promise!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

This week I’d like to chat about plants. In short, they are IN! Every day I read more and more articles about chefs putting vegetables at the center of their dishes, not just as sides. More and more people are embracing plant-based eating habits. One question I see a lot of people asking is, what’s the difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet? So, I decided today to break down the definition for everyone:

Vegetarian: This typically refers to a lacto-ovo diet. People who call themselves vegetarian usually exclude all animal flesh, but will eat dairy and eggs. It requires a lot of attention to hidden ingredients (i.e. gelatin, etc.) but is less restrictive than a full vegan diet. Some vegetarians also eat fish. They are sometimes called pescatarians.

Vegan: This diet excludes all animal derived food – including animal flesh, dairy, and eggs. Many vegans also avoid eating honey. Being vegan requires paying special attention to the ingredient lists of everything from vitamin supplements to baked goods. Many times dairy, eggs, or fish derivatives are hidden deep in the ingredient list – sometimes under deceiving names. Many vegans also adhere to their “diet” outside the food world. They don’t wear animal derived clothing (leather, wool, silk), and don’t use cosmetics or lotions that come from animals or use animal testing in their research.

No matter how you identify, the benefits of putting an emphasis on vegetables in your diet become more clear every day. In fact, the latest official Dietary Guidelines suggest eating a vegetarian diet as one of three diet patterns for optimal health. Other recent, large studies have shown that the more plant-based your diet, the better equipped you are to fight obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, and other diseases. And it is becoming increasingly clear that choosing plants over meat can immensely help the planet.

You don’t need to identify yourself as anything! Go vegetarian a few days a week! Try being vegan certain hours of the day. Simply incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet. The more you do, the more you, and the planet, win!

Hello Loyal Soup People! You know what is great this time of year? Watermelon!! I know that my daughter eats copious amounts from July through early September. And I think that’s great, because, as it turns out, watermelon is incredibly good for you!

Watermelon is over 90% water which means it is very hydrating. This is so important during hot summer months. It’s also a great source of vitamins A and C, lycopene, potassium, and essential amino-acids.

When selecting a watermelon, choose one that is heavier than it looks, sounds hollow when you tap the outside, and hopefully, grown locally! We recommend the watermelons from our friends at Garners Produce. We use theirs in our delicious Watermelon Gazpacho!

Fun fact – the watermelon rind is also incredibly healthy. Be sure to wash the watermelon thoroughly with vinegar and water because it probably sat in a dirty field. Once clean, chop the rind up in a slaw or pickle it! And those seeds we always spit out? They are loaded with iron, zinc, magnesium, and protein! Drizzle them with olive oil and roast them as a snack!

However you eat watermelon – plain, in gazpacho, in a salad, or in a smoothie, you are making an incredibly healthy food choice. Thank you, mother nature!!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! As many of you know, in this column I often highlight steps we can take to get healthy and minimize the risk of disease. This week I’d like to talk about something that most people overlook – alcohol. Unfortunately, the news really isn’t great. While many like to point to the anecdotal study that links *very limited* wine consumption to heart health, the risks and unhealthy factors far outweigh any benefits.

Did you know that alcohol is a carcinogen? Lots of people paid attention when deli meats were identified this way. But no one really speaks of the fact that alcohol is a carcinogen and has been linked to cancer – specifically mouth, pharynx, larynx, colorectral, and liver. When alcohol and tobacco are mixed, the risks of mouth and throat cancers dramatically increase.

These risks are not only linked to heavy drinkers. When compared with non-drinkers, those who consume over 4 alcoholic beverages per day are anywhere from 50 to 500 times more at risk of various diseases. However, those who have a few drinks per week are also at an elevated risk for disease.

I also haven’t even addressed the extra empty calories associated with alcohol! Avoiding soda and other sugary beverages is great – but if you load up on wine every night, you are adding hundreds of liquid calories to your diet!

I do find alcohol consumption somewhat fascinating. Those who are otherwise extremely health focused – devoted exercisers and healthy eaters – seem to overlook the unhealthy side effects of alcohol. However, if we are truly to face the facts, the healthiest choice you can make is to really limit your alcohol intake.

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to talk about a healthy habit I’m noticing around town, that comes with some inherent dangers – biking! I’m so happy to see people choosing bikes over cars to commute to work. The bike share programs that are popping up all over the country are great for people’s health, as well as the planet’s! However, I do not like seeing so many people biking around without helmets. To put it bluntly, riding without a helmet is irresponsible and dangerous. Seventy-five percent of bike fatalities are due to head trauma. So many of these fatalities could have been prevented with a proper helmet. I use the word “proper” because in order for a helmet to provide adequate protection, it must be correctly fitted. Otherwise, the helmet is not likely to help you in an accident. Keep these tips in mind when choosing a helmet:

– Choose one that has the stamp of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These helmets will be more expensive. Do you really want to look for a bargain when it comes to protecting your head? If it doesn’t have the CPSC stamp, do not buy the helmet.

– Choose a bright color. Make a fashion statement. A black helmet might look cool, but you can’t see it after dark, making it difficult for drivers to spot you.

– Make sure your helmet fits. Ensure that it is comfortable, sits mid-forehead, and comes within one to two fingers’ width of your eyebrows. Don’t let it tilt back on your head (something I see too often). The helmet shouldn’t move much if you try to rotate it or shake your head. Adjust the straps to make sure it is properly attached to your head. A helmet that is not snugly fitted to your head will do little to help you in an accident. Double check the fit every time you put it on.

– Don’t leave your helmet out in the heat. This can cause damage to the helmet.

– Replace your helmet every few years or after an accident. You might not see visible damage, but a helmet is usually good for one big impact.

A few years ago Soupergirl was in a bad accident. She was thrown off her bike and landed on her head. Thanks to her helmet, she was absolutely fine, and in fact, continued with her bike ride.

Happy and safe riding, everyone!

*NOTE – Soupermom is not a licensed dietitian, doctor, personal trainer, or anything like that. She’s just extremely knowledgeable about healthy living!! But if you slip and fall while taking her advice, it is not her fault!