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Deciding on a Balanced Diet

Eating a Balanced Diet

Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.

The Importance of Healthy Eating

Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Include in a Balanced Diet

A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:

  • Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving  size.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
  • A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans,  soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
  • Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.

Limit in a Balanced Diet

  • Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.

A Balanced Diet with MyPlate

MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.

This chart can help you divide your own plates appropriately: MyPlate

Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.

Making Smart Choices

Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.

Tracking Your Food

Then, you can target the number of servings you should be getting of the different food groups.

These can help you figure out calorie counts and limit sodium and sugar.

This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.

Making and Meeting Food Goals

  • Start small.

Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:

  • Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
  • Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
  • When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
  • Plan for all of the places you go in life:
    • Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
    • If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
    • When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
    • Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
    • Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.

Results and Rewards

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.

Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.

  • Plan your cheat day.

Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.

  • Find healthy ways to treat yourself.

For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.

Up Next:

Now that you know the value of a balanced diet, learn to prepare before you go grocery shopping and shop smart to meet your goals.

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Surviving the Sandwich Generation

Vantage Point: The Importance of Support While in the Sandwich Generation

My husband and I are starting to talk about future property purchases, which has led to many conversations about what we would want in a house or property. I want land. He wants something that he doesn’t have to fix up. Our conversations have swung from a giant, ridiculous wish list to then coming back to reality about what’s on that wish list.

One theme that I’ve been consistent with in all of our talks is that I want a place to take care of my parents when they get older in the future. This is so true for my mother, as her family has often lived into their 90s.

This notion of caring for them on my property has been solidified even further with how unsure Medicare is, how expensive the healthcare system is, and the fact that I want them to have the best care while staying close to family. I figure I can achieve this by buying a property that’s big enough to parcel out a place for my parents.

I haven’t really thought of all the logistics, but the plan is stuck in my mind, and it’s framing what kind of property and home I want. This type of thinking has also led to conversations with my father about what he thinks they would like and need, if and when the time comes for them to sell their home and live with us.

When this happens, if not a little before, I’ll officially be smack dab in the classification of the sandwich generation, the people who are responsible for not only caring for their own kids, but also for their aging parents. According to the CDC, as of 2008, there were 34 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States. I’m sure that figure is much higher now.

I saw my mother do this with her mother, so I’m not afraid of the season when it comes; I just want to be prepared. Being prepared means thinking now about what will make life easier for all of us in the future.

It’s also about knowing and looking out for the pitfalls. I’ve heard from many others that this season of life can be so rewarding while you’re in it, but it can also be very taxing, so it’s important to be extra vigilant in taking care of yourself. In order to keep loving others, we have to keep loving ourselves.

This means that sometimes you need a break! This break could be a spa day, a long walk, a furious cardio kickboxing session, or just talking to others who are in similar situations. It takes a village, right?!

I’ve compiled a list of some support groups for those who are in this situation. Some support groups are local, and some are virtual, but they are all there as resources for support. And if you want something more local that fits what you’re going through, you can always start your own support group. There are tons of advice and tips online on how to make a new group successful. I think the best advice I saw when researching this article was to keep it simple and to feel accomplished even if only 1 or 2 people show up.

Local Support Groups

Memorial Hospital’s support groups

Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Support Groups

Granger – For Spanish-Speaking Caregivers – Starting Soon
Estela Ochoa
Call 206-529-3877 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Yakima – For Caregivers
Location: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
4105 Richey Rd.
Yakima, WA 98908
Meeting Time: 2nd Thursday of the month, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Contact Elaine Krump at 509-969-3615 before attending.

Yakima – For Spanish-Speaking Families
Call Manuel at 509-833-3334 before attending for location, time, and further details.

Online Support Groups

Caring.com has a broad list of caregiving groups for you to choose from. Access to these groups requires a free member account.

AgingCare.com has some groups for you to choose from, and you don’t have to become a member to access these groups.

Caregiving.com has online caregiving support groups, daily caregiving chats, and blogs written by family caregivers.

 

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

Spring Cleaning Your Home

Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week

It’s National Cleaning Week and the perfect time for spring cleaning your life. And we can help!

Martha Stewart’s comprehensive spring-cleaning checklist can help you make a plan.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

Not a deep-cleaner? This Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide can help you clean things you’ve never considered.

Deep-Cleaning Done Right

 

The kitchen is one place that needs lots of attention. These ideas can help you tackle it.

Hate cleaning? These spring-cleaning shortcuts can help speed up the process.

Speed Spring Cleaning Up

 

If doing a little a day will keep you motivated, this 30 days of spring cleaning guide is right for you.

A Little Cleaning Each Day

 

You might not think of cleaning outside your house, but it’s the perfect time before the weather heats up.

Tidying Outdoors

 

Take the time to clean things you’ve never thought of for a sparkling house.

Spring Clean Everything

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Protection to Prevent Burn

Burn Awareness Week

It’s Burn Awareness Week. Burns continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental death in the U.S. and can cause lasting pain and disabilities in survivors.

Don't Get Burned

 

Avoid burns and scalds while cooking with these tips.

 

Use the back burners while you cook, and turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.

Back Burners to Avoid Burns

 

Use oven mitts and pot holders, and make sure you replace old and worn mitts.

Children, elderly people, and the disabled are at the highest risk for burns, and almost 1/3 of all burns happen to kids under 15.

Preventing Burns and Scars

 

Children under 5 are 2.4 times more likely than the general population to suffer burn injuries that need emergency treatment.

Protecting Kids from Burns

 

Never carry children while preparing or drinking hot liquids (or foods) and teach them burn safety.

Making Health Fun

Healthy Weight Week 2017

Last week was Healthy Weight Week. If you’re already at a healthy weight, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key as you age.

Making Healthy Weight Week Count

 

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of many health problems, including some cancers.

Many experts believe eating a healthy diet is the biggest part of the battle to lose weight.

Eating Your Way to a Healthier Weight

 

It’s important to lose weight in a healthy way, not by starving yourself.

Learning a Healthy Lifestyle

 

Even moderate exercise can have great health benefits. Getting active is the other half of weight loss.

Benefits of Moderate Exercise

 

Reduce your kids’ risk of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and more with these tips.

Start a Healthy Lifestyle Now

 

Don’t feel like you can do it? These people are living proof that it’s possible.

Making Fitness a Priority

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Skipping the Sweets

Sugar Awareness Week

For Sugar Awareness Week, we’re helping you learn about sugar and make healthy sugar choices.

Do you know which of your foods have added sugar in them? There are some you might not realize!

Hidden Sugar Awareness

 

Make sense of added sugar in processed foods to make better choices.

Making Sense of Processed Foods

 

Do you have a problem with sugar? Take the quiz and find out!

Your Sugar IQ

 

Experts are warning people about the dangers of sugars, but how much is too much?

Balancing Sugar in Your Diet

 

Kicking the habit of too much sugar in your diet can be difficult. What can you do to cut back?

Making Smart Sugar Choices

 

Take the Sugar Awareness Challenge and test how dependent on sugar you are.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Start cutting back on sugar with these easy tips.

Cutting Back Sugar without the Sacrifice

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Preparing for the New Year

Healthy Meal Planning

As you get ready to take on a new year, we can help you start meal planning for success.

Use these tips to get started.

So You Want to Start Meal Planning

 

Interested in trying a vegan diet? This meal plan can help you make a smart effort.

Weekly Vegan Meal Plan #1 (Shopping List Included): Zero waste and less effort

 

Learn to mix and match for the perfect meal.

 

Prepare to shop for a smooth trip to the store.

Before You Shop

 

These tips can help you make smart and healthy choices at the grocery store.

Grocery Shop Like a Pro

 

Looking for healthy meals you can prep in advance? These freezer meals are perfect for you.

24 Healthy Freezer-Friendly Dinner Recipes

 

Not much of a cook? Try some of these No-Cook Meal Prep ideas.

No-Cook Meal Prep for the 1,800–2,100 Calorie Level

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