Hello Loyal Soup People! The ice storm over the weekend that wreaked havoc in our region got me thinking about staying safe in icy conditions. I’m not even going to attempt to tell people how to drive in the ice and snow, other than to say stay home if you can! Unfortunately, our region is prone to receiving lots of freezing rain and ice which can make driving AND walking very dangerous. I wanted to provide a few tips to help you walk safely in the ice:

– Change your gait. Bend a bit at the waist so your center of gravity is over your feet. Walk very slowly, taking short, flat-footed steps. You’ll look a bit like a penguin. But let’s be honest – penguins are pro’s at walking on ice!

– Wear gloves and keep your hands by your sides instead of in your pockets. This will help you keep your balance and also help break your fall if you slip.

– Wear shoes that have good traction. Heels and flats are terrible for walking on the ice. If you need to wear nice shoes, pack them in a bag and change into them when you reach your destination.

– Beware of black ice. This type of ice is almost impossible to see. The road or sidewalk may just look wet, when in fact it is covered in ice.

The worst way to ruin the holiday season is to end up in the emergency room. Stay safe and take it slow!

*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! We often hear that the key to controlling weight is portion control. Unfortunately, we are trained at a young age to clear our plates, regardless of whether or not we are still hungry. This learned habit haunts us as we grow up because we are not listening to our bodies. Rather, we eat until there is nothing left on our plates. The solution? Put less on our plates! There are several ways to do this:

– At home, use smaller plates and bowls. Yes, it is that simple. If you serve your main course on a salad plate, there just isn’t as much room to put the food. You are forced to serve smaller portions.
– Never eat directly from a package. It is nearly impossible to eat a single serving of anything if you are munching directly from a bag. If you are eating chips, nuts, or anything that comes in a large bag, remove a single serving and put the package away.
– When eating out, immediately put half the meal in a to-go bag. By simply removing the food from the plate, you’ll eat less!

It is also important to understand serving sizes. Keep in mind these handy comparisons:
– A one ounce serving of chocolate looks like a 9 volt battery.
– A two tablespoon serving of peanut butter or hummus is the equivalent of a golf ball.
– A serving of dry spaghetti is the same diameter as a nickel.
– A half cup serving of beans or rice fits in a cupcake wrapper.
– A full cup of soup, cereal, cooked pasta, or a casserole is the equivalent of a baseball.

Keep in mind these visual cues when thinking about servings. Serving sizes are often smaller than we realize! But comparing them to familiar objects, we can keep a closer eye on what we eat.

Of course, the best tip is to listen to your body. Eat slowly. Put down your fork or spoon in between each bite. Simply stop eating when you are no longer hungry! Unfortunately, this is hard for most of us to do! Practice makes perfect!

*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! I’m always talking about how important it is to eat more fruits and vegetables. The more the better. But, because we’re all busy people, sometimes its just hard to squeeze proper nutrition into every meal. It does, indeed, take some time, effort, and thought. So this week, I’d like to talk about nutrient dense foods. If we focus on eating these types of foods, we can squeeze the equivalent of several servings of fruits and vegetables into one meal!

Nutrient dense foods provide the highest amount of nutrient content per calorie. When you’re trying to get the most “bang for your caloric buck,” these foods are essential. A few examples of nutrient dense foods are:

– Microgreens – Very trendy and very nutritious. These “baby” versions of regular vegetables (kale, arugula, radishes, etc.) can contain up to six times the amount of certain vitamins (C and E, for example) as contained in the mature plants. Just a few bites of microgreens pack a powerful nutrient punch!

– Healthy fats – Many studies show that eating healthy fat significantly increases your body’s ability to absorb essential, disease-fighting cartenoids found in vegetables. Adding a bit of fat (avocado, nuts, olive oil) to your salad will help add nutritional value to each bite!

– Frozen fruit – Fruits that are frozen are picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen. They therefore can sometimes contain even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. Sometimes fresh berries have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles before reaching the shelves of your local grocery store. The longer they are off the vine, the more nutrients they lose. Their frozen counterparts retain all their nutrients.

While there is no magic pill for living healthfully, there are certain shortcuts we can take to help fit nutritious food into our busy lives. Now, if only there were an app for that!

Hello Loyal Soup People! I think it is about time that I finally write about this election. Specifically – how it is impacting our health! No, I’m not endorsing anyone in my column! I’m more concerned about a report just released by the American Psychological Association (APA) that says that 52% of American adults say that this election cycle is a somewhat or significant source of stress.

Millennials, in particular, are reporting the highest levels of stress because they are the most actively engaged in social media.The reported stress is equal across party lines. Quite frankly, everyone is an anxious mess right now!

The APA recommends several tips to manage your stress until the election:

– Get off social media. Obviously! Stop scrolling through Facebook and Twitter – especially before bed. Anything that can be read late at night can also be read in the morning.
– If you do read something that upsets you, go for a walk. Exercise releases those wonderful endorphins which are natural mood boosters and stress relievers.
– Get involved and volunteer. A lot of anxiety is related to feeling helpless in this crazy election cycle. Get involved in a local campaign! And related to this topic – vote!
– Get focused on other things. Instead of a campaign, volunteer for a local charity. Local animal shelters always need dog walkers! Get outside with a furry friend!

And remember, whatever happens on November 8th – life will go on! I think!!

*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! After watching the devastation from Hurricane Matthew and seeing people have to evacuate their homes, I began to think about what we would do in such a situation. Fortunately, we live in an area that has minimal impact from violent storms. However, it is always a good idea to be prepared for an emergency. I recommend that families always have a “go-kit” on hand in case you need to leave in a hurry. Don’t leave important decisions about what to take and leave when in a crisis. Plan ahead. A well stocked “go-kit” should have:

– A first aid kit – In addition to having basics such as antiseptic, band aids, and gauze, have back up prescription medication (insulin, etc.).
– Keep copies of important documents in a waterproof container. You may want to include copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, bank information, and any other vital information you may need.
– Food and water – Keep a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water. Stock one gallon of water per person, per day. Non-perishable food ideas include canned beans, dried fruit, nut butters, crackers, etc.
– Tools and supplies – Have a Swiss-army type tool that can open cans and bottles, and can also act as a screwdriver etc. Have back up toilet paper, tissues, handy-wipes, and a crank radio in case you lose power or Internet.
– Clothing – Pack layers of clothing and undergarments. Always remember hats and gloves.
– Cash – have at least $200 or more of money on hand in case there is a power outage and you need to purchase anything. Those who lived in New York during the great black out of 2003 always remember the need for cash! Keep the cash in a waterproof container as well.

Of course, some items depend on your family’s needs. If you have a baby, have back up diapers and baby wipes. If you have a pet, keep spare food and a water dish handy.

Of course, always keep your gas tank at least half full. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use your “go-kit.” But knowing it is ready will give you peace of mind.

*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! I come to you this week with even MORE good news about eating a plant based diet. According to research published by Harvard University, eating an overall plant-based diet resulted in a 20% decreased risk of diabetes. People who consume a health-focused plant-based diet (people who specifically focus on eating a LOT of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains) have a 34% decreased risk of diabetes.

It is important to note that those who followed an unhealthy plant-based diet had a 16% increased risk in developing diabetes! This means that if your diet consists of Twizzlers, potato chips, fries, and bagels, you are not eating healthfully. Yes, you are avoiding meat, but it takes a little more than that!

While this research isn’t groundbreaking (how many times have I written about eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains??), we can never hear it enough. And apparently researchers at Harvard agree!!

Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I want to share a very personal and, hopefully, inspiring story with you. We talk and talk about all the benefits of healthy living, but to share results – that’s really impactful.

This week I’d like to talk about my daughter, Soupergirl! Sara used to be “mostly” vegan, but definitely “cheated” here and there with cheese and dairy. She’s been vegetarian for over 15 years, but truly vegan for three. During her vegetarian years her cholesterol was extremely high – hovering between 220 and 230. We all shrugged it off (including her doctor) and attributed it to genetics. After all, everyone on BOTH sides of the family has very high cholesterol and most of us are on medication to lower it. Sara refused to go on medication – she’s a stubborn girl!!

Fast forward to today. She had her blood tested last week. Her new cholesterol number is 180. Her HDL’s (the good cholesterol) are up and her LDL’s are very, very low. No medication. Nothing intrusive. Just diet (purely plant based, heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts) and exercise resulted in a 30 point drop in her cholesterol.

There’s not much else to say – the story is incredible. Inspiring. And definitely has me examining my own little indulgences. I’ll take a natural cure over medication any 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!

Hello Loyal Soup People! I’ve just read about another study that shows the powerful effects of exercise and all around healthy living. Harvard researchers published results of their study in JAMA Oncology. According to the study, nearly HALF of all cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans met four lifestyle goals:

– not smoking
– maintaining a healthy weight
– limiting or avoiding alcohol
Рexercising moderately  for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorously for at least 75 minutes a week.

In the study of 136,000 nurses and other health professionals, one-fifth met all four goals.The women in this low risk category were 25% less likely to develop cancer and 48% less likely to die from it than other women. Low risk men were 33% less likely to develop cancer and 44% less likely to die from it.

The researchers surmised that the general American population would see even greater results than the study participants because medical professionals tend to be health focused and lead healthier lifestyles. If the average American were to adhere to the four goals, their cancer risks could drop even more.

The researchers conducted a second study that primarily focused on exercise. They found that physically active people are at a lower risk for 13 of 26 major types of cancer.

It is important to note that exercise and healthy living is certainly not guaranteed to prevent you from getting cancer. In fact, a healthy lifestyle was not at all associated with a decreased likelihood of breast or prostate cancer. However, it was associated with a reduced chance of dying from these diseases.

There are so many factors that contribute to disease – environment, genetics, and reasons that we simply don’t know. However, the knowledge that we could, somehow, help protect ourselves against disease, certainly keeps me moving! Yet another reason to get exercising and eat healthfully!

*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! A lot of us are trying hard to lower our salt intake these days. Excess consumption of salt is linked to hypertension and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Many people’s palates are accustomed to a lot of salt, and when they reduce it in their diet, they find that food can taste bland. The key to successfully reducing salt while still enjoying food is to add as much natural flavor as possible to what we eat. The best way to do this is to cook with herbs and spices.

Not only do herbs and spices add wonderful natural flavor, but they have incredible health benefits! Fresh herbs are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants). Spices such as turmeric, cumin, and chili powder are getting noticed for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

When cooking, add spices in the beginning of the heating process to release their flavors into your food. For example, when making a stir-fry, add your spices with your garlic (just be sure not to burn them!). Add herbs at the end of the cooking process (right before serving!). Or, add them fresh to salads. Nothing is better than basil on ANYTHING in the summer! Add mint to your watermelon! The possibilities are endless. No matter how you add herbs and spices, you’ll find that when you cook with them, you’ll need less and less salt. Flavor AND health – the perfect combination!

*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 return to the topic of supplements. As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of getting your nutrition through pills. I strongly believe in eating a well balanced, healthy diet to fulfill your nutritional needs. Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, relying on pills isn’t the best idea. I’m particularly wary because the food and supplement industry will always hop on the latest food trend and try to convince us that we need another pill to be healthy.

The latest supplement I’ve read about is green-tea extract. A lot of studies do indeed seem to point to the healthy benefits of green tea. Observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers have fewer obesity related illnesses and also have higher bone density. However, more research needs to be done to understand the connection between green tea and these benefits.

The supplement industry hopped on this research and now sells green tea extract pills. They boast all sorts of benefits – from promises of weight loss to keeping your bones strong. However, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, these pills had no impact on bone health or weight loss. There was no difference in body mass between participants who took placebos and those who took the green tea pills. Zero benefits. Yet, because of the lack of supplement regulation, these pills remain on the market, claiming unsubstantiated or completely false health claims.

If you are looking for vitamins, eat a salad. If you are looking for the potential health benefits of green tea, brew a pot. If you need more fiber in your diet, eat oatmeal and chia seeds! Health cannot be found in a pill!

*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!