Saturday, December 24, 2011

Go-Go Eating /Exercise and Stress

This post is dedicated to Mark, who specifically requested information for those over 55 who need to exercise and how to eat healthy when they are constantly on the go.

To the first request, the Feb. 10, 2011 post covers exercise. But as to eating, well that’s a bit more complex.

Since it’s Christmas Eve, and this blog’s focus is on chronic conditions, a quick reminder that in this time of excess food and drink, what you put in your body can impact how you handle medications, how you feel and how you heal. For example, eating cranberries can increase the effectiveness of coumadin (Warfarin). Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which is also a diuretic, and can decrease the effect of sleep medication or increase blood pressure. Mixing alcohol with medications is a bad idea as it can block the effect of some medications, increase gastrointestinal bleeding and so forth.

There is no time like the present to think about how you use food to celebrate events, holidays etc. Think about options other than food, e.g. in honor of your new promotion, great test results, birth of a grandchild you go to see a play instead of having a big dinner.

Since chronic conditions very significantly, I’m the last person to tell you what foods to eat or even when, as medication schedules and interactions with certain foods are real issues for many. Clearly, it is important to check with your medical provider, as well as a dietician about what’s right for you. Also, organizations focusing on your condition will include diet programs and suggestions. However, most important is paying attention to your body.

Another resource to consider is the Diet & Nutrition section of the University of Minnesota’s “Taking Charge of Your Health.” Note that as research is published on nutrition, exercise and other topics relating to chronic conditions, I post them to the Healing Whole Facebook page.

I digress. Mark’s specific request was how to eat healthy when you have little time to shop, are in the car a large part of the day, and since we live in a rural area, when shopping options are limited. So to that request, here are some very doable suggestions, even for someone who is on the go as much as Mark:

Plan meals in advance and shop accordingly. Not much on meal planning? Check out Meal Planning 101.

Use your local CSA (community supported agriculture): A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. If you don’t know where your local CSA might be, check Local Harvest. There are almost two million farms in the USA, so there is bound to be one close to you. Have a last minute Christmas gift to purchase? Why not a share or a partial share at your local CSA.

• Shop Locally: Farmers’ Markets abound. Check your local newspaper for dates, time and location or use one of the apps-Locavore or Ample Harvest. While this is a great way to get locally grown produce and meats, as well as support your local farmer, it’s a good time to socialize with others in your community.

Prepare snacks in advance. If you know you’ll be traveling quite a bit in the coming week, or you have a variety of medical appointments, prepare five days of healthy snacks on Sunday night. You can do this while watching the football game. Such items may include: almonds and cranberries (a portion size is generally twenty almonds and a 1/4 cup of cranberries-check label for serving information). Other ideas for healthy snacking:

Snacks: How they fit into your weight loss plan from Mayo Clinic

The Best Healthy Snacks in Your Supermarket: 24 snack ideas to satisfy your cravings from WebMD

The Healthy Snacks Blog

Cook once, eat two or more times: When you do have the time to cook, prepare enough for the freezer. That way on days you are very busy, it’s a simple matter of heating up a meal.

Use a crock-pot: Slow and low is the way to go! I use mine at least two or more times a week. Put it on before you leave for work and when you return enjoy a wonderful home cooked meal. So if you aren’t familiar with this magical device (you can pick them up for cheap at your local thrift store), check out the Food Networks Eleven Tips for Slow Cooker Meals.

Crock-pots aren’t just for making stews. I make beans, soups, sauces, jelly and much more in mine. You can easily adapt favorite recipes, but if you want something new, check out the following:

Best Crockpot Recipes

Crock Pot Recipes from

Easy Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes

Buy in season and freeze: Frozen fruits and vegetables keep very well. On the subject of freezing, if you live alone, there are now many single serving choices for frozen vegetables.

Restaurants are an option. You can eat quite healthy even at fast food restaurants. Use the USDA’s Healthy Restaurant Eating guide to help you make choices that are healthy. And yes there is an App for that. Try Weight Watchers Mobile is also another option. Of course there is the ever popular Eat This, Not That.

While Mark and I discussed various strategies for eating and exercising, one of our colleagues mentioned that he found the most helpful thing for him, more than exercise and eating, was managing his stress. I realize that this is one topic that I discuss frequently (each Wednesday is “take a break” day) but have never dealt with in-depth. A post for January for sure. In the mean time, check out the following links, which do address holiday stress.

Holiday Songs Can be good Reminders for People With Chronic Conditions

Holidays: Over Do the Laughter and Under Do the Stress

A Merry Christmas to all and a special greeting to Mark and those working in FAR today and tomorrow.

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