3/17/08- 3/20/08


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring for a Walk This Weekend

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Nutrition Fact No. 2: The best nutrition advice is based on science. Before adopting any changes to your nutrition planning, be sure the information is based on scientific fact. Go to MyPyramid, Smart Choices and Smart Portions for good, sound scientific facts.

I’ve had a good week of exercising so far. Three quality walks and prospects for three more over the long holiday weekend. As I’ve implemented this lifestyle change, I’ve realized the need to make exercise part of my daily routine. Of course, it helps with the weight loss plans. But more importantly, it helps with my general health and well-being. If I follow the plan given me by the doc, 4-4-4, or four times a week for 40 minutes at level four on the treadmill or equivalent for a walk outside, the potential for long-term health and well-being is greatly enhanced. Check with your doctor and get on with it.

Remember the sage advice I gave you regarding Halloween candy? Same applies to your Easter candy. Rationalize if you wish that you are saving your kids from the candy by eating it yourself. I like those baby snickers, but I can’t eat just one. Chocolate-covered peanuts and chocolate turtles are wonderful, but you would have to walk hours to burn off those calories. Moderation, moderation and more moderation. A little Easter candy for your kids, if you must, and fruit for you. Then get out and take the family on a walk.

Today is the first day of spring. What a glorious time to exercise. If you haven’t started your exercise program, what time is better? I’ll share with you what I was able to accomplish over the holiday break and hope that you too enjoy your time with family.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

How do you determine if information is based on science? First, always looks for the source of the information. If you are reviewing a book, look to see if the author has any credentials. For example, is the author a medical doctor, a registered dietitian or a self-proclaimed expert? When using the Internet to find information, look for Web addresses that end in .org or .gov.

The LSU AgCenter’s site ends in .com and not .org. The materials and information provided on our Web site are from reliable, scientifically based sources. Look at the credentials of the authors. For example, you can click on my name at the end of this blog and view my professional credentials. Look for references to the information provided on Web sites or the credentials of the authors providing the information. Remember, even if the information is reliable, still consult with your personal physician before starting any exercise or nutrition program.

Listed below are some websites that contain reliable, scientifically based nutrition and physical activity information:

American Dietetic Association
National Agriculture Library, USDA
Food and Nutrition Information Center
American Heart Association
Pennington Biomedical Center
Centers for Disease Control
US Department of Health and Human Services and Executive Office of the President


Denise Holston

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Turn Off TV, Burn Off Calories

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The relationship between how much you move around or not and weight gain sure appears to be connected. Using the old formula that if you burn more calories than you consume, then you will lose, or at least not gain, a little weight. Common sense also tells me that if I am sitting on the couch watching TV eating popcorn and or ice cream with chocolate on top (with some good Louisianan pecans crumbled over), I will not be in a weight-loss mode.   

Watching TV is definitely sedentary. How much TV watching do you do? The average for males is about 29 hours per week and for females 34 hours per week. And how many TVs do you have in your house? More than one, I bet. TV watching appears to lower your metabolic rate. About the only exercise we get while the TV is on is wrestling over how control the remote. Let’s see, ESPN or HGTV? 

A recent study entitled “Television Watching and other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to  Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in Women” points out that it is well established that TV watching is associated with childhood obesity. I am reminded of the old adage, less is best. Less TV watching, less munching, less sedentary lifestyles, more activity, more healthy eating. We need to move around more. 

My suggestion and one that we try to follow is turn the TV off and go for a walk. If you snack, find a healthy one. As was noted in the blog from yesterday, fresh fruits make a perfect snack. Clean out a closet or, heaven forbid, ask the kids to clean their rooms. That’s a good thousand calories burned in itself. Walk your pet! Whatever, but move around.

Today we will start a new feature in the blog, top 10 nutrition facts. Move over late night TV.

Top 10 Fact No. 1: Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Use Mypryramid.gov to develop a personalized plan for lifelong health.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

As the chancellor states, eating does not have to be complicated with proper planning. And there are plenty of excellent, research-based tools out there to help us to eat better. The www.MyPyramid.gov site is a wonderful resource to use to plan healthy meals.You can go to a MyPyramid Menu Planner to plan full menus, MyPyramid Plan to see the number of food groups you should have in a day, or MyPyramid Tracker to assess your food intake at the end of the day.

The meal plans from this Web site are individualized. When you access the site, it asks questions on age, weight, height and gender to know how many portions to assign from each food group. It also asks how much exercise you are doing. Is it less than 30 minutes a day? From 30 to 60 minutes? Or more than 60 minutes? If your weight is above that what is recommended for your height, it will state that your weight is above the healthy range and if the menu should be for your current weight or if you want to move toward a healthier weight.

There is a tremendous amount of research that has gone on over the years in formulating the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid plan. The Dietary Guidelines and the MyPyramid Plan are there to help us reduce the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer so prevalent today. I encourage all of you to check out the Web site and take advantage of the most researched meal plan on the Web. It has been proven that it works and results in reduced incidences of chronic diseases.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, March 18, 200

Personal and Community Value of Growing Foods – Guest Blogger

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blog is from horticulturist Dr. Carl E. Motsenbocker of the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences in response to the chancellor’s health and wellness challenge.)

Dr. Richardson: I appreciate your initiative on wellness, eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more. My family eats fairly healthy at home, cooking our own meals with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, many grown in our garden and the community garden at the Hill Farm on the LSU campus or purchased at the local farmer’s market.

Your session reminded me that gardening fruits and vegetables has many benefits for the individual: exercise, stress release and having access to seasonal fresh produce. Studies have shown that those who grow their own tend to consume more fruits and vegetables.  The consumption of fruits and vegetables is important as in general they contain various essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that are beneficial for human health while they are low in calories. Encouraging the transformation of vacant urban/rural properties into gardens and market garden production sites could benefit to the community and individual consumers. 

During your presentation I also thought about the need for a focused initiative on community food programs and urban agriculture in Louisiana. Such a focus would really benefit many Louisiana citizens such as the youth, elderly and urban poor who lack easy access to healthy, nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables. Many residents live in neighborhoods often called “food deserts” where there are no grocery stores, and access to fruits and vegetables is limited.

Recently, I was fortunate to work with the New Orleans Food Policy Committee as we developed 10 concrete, achievable recommendations aimed at both New Orleans and the state to increase access to affordable, nutritious food. More action is needed in Baton Rouge and statewide to increase access to fruits and vegetables for our residents.

In 2006, a group of community members and LSU AgCenter faculty in Baton Rouge established a model summer urban agriculture program for youth (the Summer Experience) in the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood. This program is loosely based on similar programs in other parts of the country. This year, the third year of the program, we are fortunate to receive funding from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to support this model community food program. The youth participants develop leadership, business and life skills while being actively involved in the community. They learn about nutrition, cooking and gardening. They gain experience as young entrepreneurs by harvesting produce, making and selling hot sauce and working at a farmer’s market. 

An additional benefit of community food programs is that the programs support local fruit and vegetable farms, most of which are small- and medium-scale sustainable farms that have an opportunity to sell directly through farmer’s markets, to restaurants and, perhaps, in the future, to schools. These farms, in general, do not receive federal tax monies/subsidies, yet they support and sustain our rural communities. There is a great opportunity for expansion of these small businesses in Louisiana. At present, I have seen very little in the way of support of these farms and markets unlike the neighboring states of Mississippi and Alabama. A recent survey indicated that more than 75 percent of Louisiana residents have a favorable opinion of farmers and farming – businesses we need to support. 

Louisiana is a bountiful state with many agricultural assets, human resources and incredible statewide pride to build upon. The health of Louisiana citizens, its economy, and land has the opportunity to grow and flourish the more we strengthen the connections between the land and the people.  There is a lot that we can do as Louisiana residents to support small- and medium-scale farms as well as insure that we all eat healthfully. A concerted effort to increase youth, school, community and market gardens as well as community food programs in general will go a long way to achieve these goals.

Carl E. Motsenbocker


Monday, March 17, 2008

Catch Up on Sleep

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It’s almost here! A long weekend! For many it is a chance to sleep in or at least not have to answer the alarm so early. Snooze without feeling guilty. Take a little extra time with the morning coffee. Read all the paper! But most importantly, sleep. Maybe even an afternoon nap! Weekends, especially long ones, sometime offer time to do those things that we can’t do during the week because of work restrictions. With many people, however, sleep and more sleep is paramount. I am a morning person, and I get up early – weekend or not. I do, however, like the occasional opportunity to not set the alarm clock. And I do love afternoon naps. 

Recently, we had National Sleep Awareness Week. Like most of you, I missed the sleep celebration until one of our specialists gave me the notice. Reading over the information and looking into the research about sleep, it is apparent that what we take for granted in knowing that sleep is good for us is really more critical for good health than we might assume. The seven to eight hours that have been pounded in our heads since elementary school health classes is still good advice. I find it interesting that some people fight sleep; others can’t get enough, indicating to me that we are as different as we all look. Our internal clocks vary. Some people are in bed by 9 p.m. and up at 4 a.m., while others can stay up most of the night and still function. 

I need my sleep. I feel better and am most of the time in better moods. Research on the relationship between sleep and obesity is starting to gain national attention.

As this holiday weekend approaches, please do catch up on your sleep. But more importantly, give some thought as to how you can make a lifestyle change, if needed, to consistently get more quality sleep. 

It’s finally spring and there will be more fresh fruits and vegetables on the market. We’ll discuss fresh fruits and vegetable tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

2/10/2009 1:16:38 AM
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