Tag Archives: eating well

Soup’s On! Welcome to Winter!

The 21st of December was the winter solstice: the shortest day of the year. In some parts of the country, darkness falls before 4:00 p.m., and the thermometer rarely reaches above freezing.

As we covered in Darker Days, it’s much harder to eat healthily and stay fit during the shortest days of the season. Our bodies respond to the colder temperatures and lack of sunlight by trying to hibernate, driving us to eat more “comfort food” and sleep away the winter.

The cold weather and need for comfort during the winter often make us reach for soup. It’s warm and comforting, and it can be a filling meal. However, many soups are loaded with the very unhealthy ingredients we manage to avoid during the rest of the year. Our soup roundup can help you make the best choices while still feeling warm, full, and comforted.

Soup Guidelines

  1. Beware of sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG). In an attempt to reduce fat and calories, many canned and boxed soups load up on salt and MSG. As part of our The Right Choice…for a Healthier You™ program, USConnect’s registered dietician recommends that an entire meal should contain no more than 575 milligrams of sodium: less if you have high blood pressure. Too much salt can leave you feeling bloated and even affect your kidneys. MSG can trigger migraines, especially in people who are not used to it.
  2. Be sensible about fat and calories. Read the label of your soup (or pay attention to the ingredients). If a soup has 280 calories and 12 grams of fat, it’s not a healthy meal. Soups that aim to reduce sodium often do so by adding extra fat and calories. Look for options with no saturated or trans fats and a total fat count of two grams.
  3. Protein lasts longer; to keep you going throughout the day, your soup should have at least five grams of protein. If it doesn’t, try adding a half-sandwich, a piece of chicken, or hard-boiled egg.
  4. Fiber fills you up. Look for soups with lots of legumes, like beans and peas, to help you feel full and satisfied. Split pea soup, chili, and black bean soup are all good, stick-to-your-ribs choices for cold days.

Want to try to make your own? Start with our Bone Broth tips!

How to Set Realistic Resolutions in 2017

Almost half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet two years later, only 19 percent have been able to keep them. One significant cause of this loss of resolve lies in the resolutions themselves; unrealistic resolutions are almost impossible to keep.

Setting realistic resolutions for the new year

This year, start by getting your resolutions into shape before doing anything else. Check out these simple ways to make your resolutions more realistic.

Instead of “Lose weight,” try “Eat healthier.”

Year after year, people resolve to go on diets and swear off unhealthy foods. Yet before the summer, they’re back to their old habits. That’s because strict deprivation is almost impossible to maintain over the long term.

Instead of testing your willpower with a destined-to-fail diet, try making small, incremental steps to improve your overall eating habits. Before diving into a cheeseburger, eat a hearty salad first. You may still want the cheeseburger, but you might eat less of it if you’ve satisfied part of your appetite already.

When eating from USConnect’s Bistro To Go!® micro markets, make sure to look for the apple heart logo that indicates  The Right Choice … for a Healthier You items to help you make better choices.

Instead of “Go to the gym every day,” try “Be more active.”

Every January, gyms across the country are overrun by New Year’s Resolutioners: people who have resolved to go to the gym more in the new year and are getting a good start on their goals. However, by February, the crowds have thinned out, and by summer, half the equipment is empty again.

Going to the gym every day is just not realistic for most people. But walking an extra 10 minutes a day is, along with taking the stairs, doing some yoga every day, or myriad other small changes.

Fitness experts suggest that fitness goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Instead of “Be less stressed,” try “Work to improve my well-being.”

Stress and exhaustion can derail even the most realistic resolutions. Ordering yourself to be less stressed is counterproductive, but once again, there are many small steps that can help you achieve this goal. Tried-and-true methods include the following:

  • Get more sleep by turning off all electronics an hour before bedtime. Studies consistently show that the blue light of short-wavelength-enhanced phone and tablet screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Researchers have found that actively being grateful is strongly correlated with happiness and a sense of well-being. The act of thinking about gratitude can actually affect brain chemicals!
  • Try meditation. Meditation, mindfulness, and even just deep breathing exercises can reduce the amount of cortisol—a hormone linked to stress—in your brain.