A new term in the world of diets is the Flexitarian Diet. The mission of the Flexitarian Diet is to add more plant-based foods to your diet. Flexitarians eat less meat than they used to, but don’t give it up completely. The Flexitarian Diet has benefits like those seen with vegetarian diets—a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The American Heart Association encourages the Flexitarian Diet as a good compromise to promote heart health. This way of eating can be fun—and may save you money!
Try these simple tips:
- Find ways to replace meat at your meals with legumes or soy products. For example, have a black bean burger instead of a hamburger.
- Start out small, by making just one meal each week meatless. You may find you enjoy the variety.
- Visit the Extension Store to download a free copy of Dried Beans, Peas, and Lentils Can Help You Save $$.
- Find vegetarian recipes on the American Heart Association website.
- When you do eat meat, select a lean cut. Lean cuts of meat include the words “loin” or “round.” After cooking, rinse ground meat with water and drain to reduce fat content. Limit your daily intake to 6 ounces.
Melina V., Craig W., Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(12):1970–1980.
American Heart Association. Vegetarian, Vegan and Meals Without Meat. Last Reviewed January 27, 2017.
The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey reported consumer confusion about food and nutrition. Eighty percent of survey respondents stated they have come across conflicting information about food and nutrition, and 59% state the conflicting information makes them doubt their food choices.
It is no wonder consumers are confused. There is an explosion of nutrition and food safety information readily available, making it difficult to sort fact from fiction. One reliable source is the IFIC Foundation. The IFIC Foundation’s mission is to effectively communicate science-based information on health, nutrition, and food safety for the public good. The public nonprofit organization partners with credible professional organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions to advance the public understanding of key issues.
Topics recently explored on the IFIC Foundation’s website and blog include the following:
- What’s the Carnivore Diet?
- Google Can’t Diagnose Your Food Allergy
- Everything You Need to Know About Aspartame
- Snacking Series: Do Snacks Lead to Weight Gain?
Food Advocates Communicating Through Science (FACTS) is a global network of the IFIC Foundation that can help consumers understand the science behind the myths and truth related to food, nutrition, and food safety.
Learn more about the IFIC Foundation or about FACTS.
Source: IFIC Foundation
Intermittent fasting (IF)—the practice of abstaining from food for limited periods—is growing in popularity as a dieting fad. Two main types of IF are the 5:2 diet and time-restricted feeding. On the 5:2 diet, a person eats normally five days of the week and then eats just one meal a day on two nonconsecutive days. Time-restricted feeding involves fasting for about 16 hours a day, with an 8-hour eating window, usually from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Some people are attracted to IF as a way to lose weight because it doesn’t require calorie-counting. However, fasting can cause headaches, fatigue, and lightheadedness. Fasting at certain times may lead to overeating at other times. This practice is dangerous for people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes.
In the short term, according to the American Heart Association, IF does not help people lose weight or lower their cholesterol levels any more than conventional methods of dieting do. The long-term effects of this way of eating are unknown.
If you are interested in exploring proven and safe methods of weight control, visit the Weight-control Information Network (WIN). Consult your doctor before beginning any weight-control program.
Sources: www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0218p34.shtml; www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/intermittent-fasting; www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/not-so-fast-pros-and-cons-of-the-newest-diet-trend
Summer is the time to get out the camping gear and head outdoors. In addition to the hot dogs and s’mores, consider packing some of the following choices to balance out meals and snacks.
- Fruits and veggies. Sturdier fresh produce that holds up well includes apples, carrots, snap peas, and oranges. Dried fruit also makes a great snack.
- Whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain and is an easy snack to take along. For cereal bars, check the nutrition label and choose those made with whole grain and that have a lower sugar content.
- Dairy. If you have adequate refrigeration, hard cheeses, cheese sticks, and yogurt tubes are much easier to pack than a carton of milk.
Preparing fresh produce can be easy when you have the information you need and a few skills. The Produce Basics information found on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website and app describe how to store, clean, and prepare various fruits and vegetables. Check out this link: spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/. Search for Spend Smart. Eat Smart. at your app store and download the free app today!
The claims sound believable, so it can be tempting to try the latest diet you hear about. While a diet plan may sound tempting, an eating plan should be the goal. To manage your weight and maintain a healthy nutritional status, it would be wise to consider these questions:
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss without exercise?
For most healthy adults, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following exercise guidelines:
- Aerobic activity – Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises – Two or more days per week.
Keep activity exciting by doing different things you enjoy.
QUESTION: Are there particular foods, or food groups, excluded or consumed excessively?
Use MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) to guide your food intake. All food groups are important.
QUESTION: Does the plan require you to purchase pills, bars, or shakes?
A sustainable eating pattern is based on food readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets.
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss of more than 1–2 pounds per week?
Losing 1–2 pounds or less a week is gradual, healthy weight loss. Weight lost more rapidly than this tends to be regained even faster.
QUESTION: Does the plan sound too good to be true?
If it does, it probably is.
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium carrot (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
- 2 teaspoons garlic (peeled and minced; 3 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
- 1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
- Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
- Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
- Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
- Stir kale, salt, and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein
Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating a variety of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white—provides the best mix of nutrients for your body, not to mention being more pleasing to the eye. Recommendations regarding how much people need depend on age, gender, and amount of physical activity. To learn more about your daily recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day. Remember, all product forms count—fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice. By eating more fruits and vegetables, your risk of chronic disease is reduced.
Tips to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet:
- Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them so they are ready to eat. Consider dividing into individual servings so they are easy to grab and go.
- Have veggies and low-fat dip for a snack.
- Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, and soups.
- Choose fruit for dessert.
- Add veggies to sandwiches.
- Enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.
For more tips, visit SpendSmart.
Source: Fruits and Veggies – More Matters
Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, and following directions. Here are ideas for cooking with children:
- Teach them to wash their hands. Provide a step stool or chair that children can stand on to reach the counter where you are working.
- Choose tasks that are appropriate for their age. Explain clearly, in simple instructions, what you would like them to do and show them. For tips on what children can do, watch How to Include Children in the Kitchen.
- Children can help plan menus and suggest foods they like. They can check the pantry or refrigerator for foods on hand.
- Children can help at the grocery store by looking for certain foods, shapes, and colors. Children can help put groceries away when you get home.
There are benefits when you involve children with meals and snacks!
- Children are more likely to eat foods they have helped plan and prepare.
- Children develop fine motor skills, self-confidence, and independence.
- Working with your children in the kitchen provides quality time together. You can teach them why nutritious foods are important.
- Food preparation is a great way to help them use their senses—look, touch, taste, smell, and listen.
Try child-friendly recipes such as Crunchy Apple Roll-up, Scrambled Egg Muffin, Fruit Pizza, and Pizza on a Potato.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup dry oats | Serves: 1
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (or less for thicker oatmeal)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raspberries, frozen
- Combine milk, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a container or jar with a lid.
- Add oats and mix well.
- Gently fold in raspberries.
- Cover and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
- Enjoy cold or heat as desired.
Tip: Frozen blueberries or strawberries may be used in place of raspberries.
Nutrition information per serving: 311 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 7mg cholesterol, 86mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 21g sugar, 17g protein
Source: USDA – What’s Cooking