Monthly Archives: January 2015

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Doing?

The holiday decorations are put away, and the stores are starting to carry Valentine’s Day new years resolutionscandy; it’s the time of year when many people’s New Year’s resolutions go south. Many of us, after embarking on unrealistically Spartan regimens, fall off the wagon with a vengeance. After a month or so of abstaining from practically everything we enjoy, we are much more likely to binge on unhealthy food and to completely abandon fitness programs.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Part of the problem is in setting unrealistic goals from the outset. If you aim, for instance, to cut out all fats and sugars and to exercise for at least an hour every day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That kind of regimen is just not realistic for most people to maintain.

Even if you’ve abandoned your resolutions, it’s never too late to take some baby steps and make some healthy changes. Rather than aiming to eliminate all sugars and fats, try reducing them. At US Connect vending machines, look for the apple/heart logo of our nutrition program: The Right Choice… For a Healthier You™.  Instead of a plain salad with just vinegar, try a healthy, protein-rich salad with whole grains and chicken breast. Or boost energy with the healthy fats in nuts; just avoid those that are coated with sugar or salt.

Most busy professionals don’t have the time to exercise a full hour each day. However, that’s no reason to abandon exercise completely. Even a 30 minute walk a day can have significant health advantages. If you can’t dedicate a large chunk of time to exercising every day, try walking for five minutes at the end of every hour. Go take a walk around the block, or if the weather is lousy, even spend five minutes walking around the office or up and down the stairs. Not only will you be getting some exercise, but you’ll also be helping your back from the strain of sitting all day.

It’s almost February, but that’s no reason to flush New Year’s resolutions down the toilet. Make a new resolution today to take small steps for your health; your body will thank you!



Looking for a Different Pick-Me-Up? Try Tea!

In the United States, coffee is most people’s hot beverage of choice; a recent study shows that Americans choose coffee over tea by a ratio of three-to-one. In England, however, this statistic is reversed, and prior to the American Revolution, British American colonists still preferred

Tea has an ancient and storied history. According to legend, tea was “discovered” in 2737 BC when Chinese emperor Shen Nung was drinking boiled water beneath a tree. When leaves blew into the water and began to steep, Shen Nung tried the drink and was impressed by its taste and health benefits.

Today, researchers have shown that tea indeed has health benefits—including reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Although results do not yet tie tea directly to better health, long-term studies have found high levels of chemicals called polyphenols in tea, especially green tea. Polyphenols are antioxidants, which reduce levels of harmful oxidants in cells.

All tea contains some level of polyphenols, although levels are highest in green tea. However, just drinking tea isn’t enough to stave off disease; a healthy lifestyle is required for that. And doctors warn that dosing even strong green tea with excessive sugar would probably offset any benefits that the polyphenols would bring.

The following are several of the most common types of tea. With so many varieties, there are plenty to choose from!

  • Black Tea: The most common tea, black tea is made from fermented Camellia sinensis leaves. It has the most caffeine of any tea (40 milligrams per cup), but still not as much as coffee (50 to 100 milligrams per cup).
  • Green Tea: With green tea, the leaves are not fermented, leading to a less bitter flavor and a higher level of antioxidants. Green tea has about 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
  • Oolong Tea: Oolong is fermented for less time than black tea. It has about 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and it has been linked to weight loss through the activation of an enzyme that dissolves triglycerides.
  • Herbal Teas: Technically not teas at all, herbal infusions usually include a blend of fruits, herbs, flowers, and seeds. They are caffeine-free and may have specific health benefits; chamomile, for instance, helps many people fall asleep, while peppermint is linked to aiding digestion.

Many teas are healthful, and drinking them certainly won’t do you any harm, with one big caveat—sweet tea, instant iced tea, and many bottled tea drinks are loaded with sugar and other additives. If you’re drinking tea for your health, make sure to read the ingredients first. But if you’re brewing your own, drink up, and enjoy the benefits.

Organic Food – What Exactly IS It?

Organic food was once the bailiwick of only a handful of health food stores: a specialty itemorganic classification available to only a small niche market. Now it’s a multi-million dollar industry, and organic items are available everywhere from Walmart to your local convenience store. Increasingly, organic items are available in the workplace as demand continues to rise, but what is organic food, and what explains its rise in popularity?

The term organic refers to a set of agricultural processes used to produce the food in question. Most developed countries have regulations governing the practices that must be used in order for a food to be labeled organic. These regulations vary from country to country, but they generally ban pesticides and chemical fertilizers as well as processing that involves additives.

In the United States, the US Department of Agriculture certifies products as organic with a special label. Products can carry the USDA Organic seal if they are at least 95% organic. If they are at least 70% organic, they can carry a label that says “made with organic ingredients,” but they cannot carry the seal. Consumers looking to eat organic foods should make sure that foods carry this label; claims that a product is “all-natural” have no legal meaning and often serve to confuse consumers.

So why should you worry about organic labeling anyway? Researchers are still debating the nutritional benefits of organically grown food versus that which is conventionally grown. However, it is certain that eating more organic food reduces consumers’ exposure to the chemicals used in conventional agriculture. For this reason, more and more consumers are choosing organic food. According to a 2014 report, the US organic food market is expected to grow at a rate of 14% through 2018.

This trend is reflected in the workplace, where US Connect members continue to expand their organic offerings. Our Bistro to Go® marketplaces serve organic choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for snacks. Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) are entering the workforce in ever greater numbers, and these young consumers are among the primary drivers of the expansion of the organic food market and one of the reasons US Connect makes sure to offer these options.