4/14/08- 4/18/08


Friday, April 18, 2008

Tofu Or Not Tofu – That Is the Question

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I was invited to a lunch recently by one of our farm organizations. They were having fried catfish and all the stuff that accompanies that fare. I joked to a colleague that I bet they didn’t have any tofu and rice cakes on the menu. I don’t know about you, but tofu is not one of my favorite items. In fact, it is in the bottom three. It has no taste, and I don’t like the consistency. It may be good for you, but I can’t see myself anxious to have tofu for any meal any time real soon. Rice cakes too. It’s like eating cardboard. If you put peanut butter and jelly on it, which destroys the low-calorie idea, it still doesn’t taste good.

In designing a nutrition plan with the long-term goal of a healthy lifestyle, we need to design meals around the things we like. It would be ridiculous for me to add tofu and rice cakes, even though some of you might find that totally acceptable. I used to eat a lot of fried food – chicken, fish, shrimp, etc. But even though I like those things, in the fried form they don’t fit the plan. Long-term planning is based on the premise that you make fundamental changes in your habits and adopt meals that you can build into your regime for the balance of your life. It makes no sense to eat things just to lose weight and once you’ve lost a few pounds to go back to the old eating style.

Think long-term. Short-term fixes just don’t solve long-term problems.

If you like tofu, then by all means incorporate it into your nutrition plan. For me, I’ll stick to better-tasting items that I know will be a part of the long-term lifestyle change.

I must confess, however, that I ate some of the fried catfish – in moderation, of course.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Eating tofu, also known as soybean curd, is a great way to celebrate National Soy Foods Month in April. Tofu is a soft, cheese-like food made from soymilk and is rich in high-quality protein, low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Tofu is a good source of B-vitamins and iron and low in sodium. When the curdling agent used to make tofu is calcium salt, it is an excellent source of calcium.

Studies have shown that foods containing soy protein included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels. Based on this research, the Food and Drug Administration approved use of a health claim on soy food product labels for the role of soy protein in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Try this fruit smoothie recipe for a quick, easy and delicious way to use tofu:

1 (10.5-ounce) package soft lite silken tofu

1 medium banana

2 cups unsweetened orange-pineapple juice, chilled

1 (8-ounce) can unsweetened crushed pineapple, chilled

Combine all ingredients in electric blender; cover and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

(Per serving (1 cup): 144 calories, 5.8 grams protein, 25.8 grams carbohydrates, 3.2 grams total fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 mg sodium)

See more tofu recipes.

Rice cakes are crunchy, portable, low-calorie snacks, which usually have only 35 calories per cake. Most are made from puffed rice and may be either plain or flavored, including apple and cinnamon, cheese and taco-flavored. Rice cakes may be eaten plain or with toppings, such as peanut butter, bean dip, guacamole, etc

Although rice cakes are low-calorie, crunchy snacks, there are better foods to satisfy your snack attacks. Fresh Louisiana strawberries are a great example. Louisiana strawberries are naturally sweet and tasty. Since they're grown locally, they require less shipping time than those grown out of-state, helping to ensure a fresher, higher quality product.

Strawberries are naturally high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidants, low in calories and practically fat- and sodium-free. Ounce for ounce, strawberries have more vitamin C than citrus fruit. One cup of strawberries provides 46 calories, 85 mg vitamin C and 2.9 grams fiber.

According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, strawberries have been used in several types of animal and human health studies over the last 10 years, including cancer, heart disease, anti-inflammatory and aging processes. These studies show that the anthocyanins, red pigments, and other phenolics present in strawberries have healthful properties. Strawberries contain a unique phenolic group, ellagotannins, which are effective in preventing initiation of esophageal cancer. Strawberries also contain flavonoids, which have been shown to help prevent inflammation and platelet aggregation and help confer strength to capillaries in the human body.

Read more on Louisiana strawberries.

Beth Reames


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Adding Weight Training

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4-4-4. That is the basic plan. Exercise a minimum of four times a week for 40 minutes. It was recommended to me that I use the treadmill and do my 40 minutes at level 4, which is a 15-minute per mile walk – thus 4-4-4. If you are thinking about starting such a program, see you doctor first. I keep an exercise log. And looking back over the past six weeks, I have been able to maintain the 4-4-4 plan. Because the weather has gotten better, I take some of the walks outside. I end up walking longer than 40 minutes while still trying to maintain the 15-minute per mile pace, which as I recall from fourth grade math is about 4 miles in an hour.

In April I have tried to incorporate some light weight training into my exercise routine. I would like to do the weights twice a week, but I haven't succeeded in getting that incorporated into the routine yet. I have about two weeks left in April to do so and will report on that progress at the end of the month.

There is a lot in the literature that supports the positive effects of weight training in an exercise routine. Discuss this with your health-care professional. Choose a weight-training method best suited for you. Add it to your walking, running, swimming and biking or whatever aerobic exercise routine you use. Below you will find a lot of good information about weight training and some thoughts that might help you in adding to your exercise enjoyment.

I had a wonderful walk early this morning – 50 minutes on the treadmill at level 4.0 - 4.1. What a great way to start the day!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Research has shown that regular resistance training can increase your basal metabolic rate by up to 15 percent. So for someone burning 2,000 calories per day, that's a potential 300 extra calories burned every single day. Furthermore, weight (or resistance) training can greatly reduce a number of health risks. It has been proven to have a positive effect on insulin resistance, resting metabolism, blood pressure, body fat and factors that are linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days each week. It is recommended that 8-10 exercises be performed on two or more nonconsecutive days using the major muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, legs, arms, abdominal muscles). To maximize strength development, choose an appropriate amount of weight (resistance) that will allow you to perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise resulting in volitional fatigue. Muscle-strengthening activities include a progressive weight-training program, weight bearing calisthenics, stair climbing, and similar resistance exercises that use the major muscle groups.

Do not be disheartened if initially you seem to be staying at the same weight or gaining slightly. Muscle weighs more per square inch than fat, so while your weight might not be dropping quickly, your clothes are feeling baggier and you are seeing a healthier, slimmer and better toned you in the mirror. That's far more important than anything those nasty scales have to say any time.

Michael Zanovec


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eat Less, Save Money

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As if you needed another motivational factor to eat smart (and less), here’s another reason. Food prices are increasing. I read one report stating that eggs were up 25 percent, poultry up 7 percent and milk, 13 percent. The USDA indicates that food prices are up 4 percent in 2007 and expected to go even higher in 2008. As it turns out, making smart choices makes economic sense as well a healthy lifestyle sense. Reducing your nutrition plan by a few hundred calories a day and eating smarter will contribute to both your lifestyle and your pocket book. If we take the opportunity to walk rather than jump into a car and drive some place, we can accomplish multiple purposes – become healthy and offset the higher gasoline prices.

Proper meal planning will help with the nutrition plan. In our fast-paced society, we often eat rather than plan to eat. The results are eating too much and too much of the wrong things. We resort to fast food items and simply consume too many calories. Our abundant society, which many of us attribute to our obesity problem, isn’t geared to meal planning. When we can afford it, we live to eat rather than eat to live. If you don’t believe me, keep a food log and have a dietitian analyze what you consume. You will be surprised as I was at the number of calories you are consuming. And, like me, if you look at your waist line, you see where those calories are going.

Get yourself a pedometer and start walking rather than driving everywhere. I got one and use it often. It is very accurate and helps you determine just how much you leisurely walk and how much you walk for exercise specific activities. As an affluent society we just don’t walk much anymore.

The program I have been writing about is based on good nutrition planning, not a diet. It involves getting vigorous and consistent exercise and making smart choices. It is simple, and the vast majority of us under a doctor’s supervision can move into a healthier lifestyle.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response
 The rise in food gasoline costs can put quite a burden on the average family. One way to control your spending is to use some of the tips we share with you in our Smart Choices curriculum.

Here are some tips to save money:

  • Make a budget.
  • Make a shopping list to avoid unnecessary, impulse purchases.
  • Use coupons. You’ll be surprised by how much you save per month. Some stores even have a double coupon day.
  • Choose generic brands.
  • Check out the cost per serving. Most stores have this included in the shelf price label. It is generally located in the upper left hand corner.
  • Buy seasonal. When produce like strawberries or sweet potatoes are in season, they are usually less expensive.

Denise Holston

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Death, Taxes and Healthy Lifestyles

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What was it a famous person once said? “The only two things that are certain are death and taxes!” Of course, it must have been someone from Mississippi who added kudzu to the list. Today, we are reminded about taxes. Although not as famous as the original certainties, healthy lifestyles are getting a lot of attention these days, too. When I’m out of town I enjoy reading newspapers about local issues. Recently, I’ve been running across lots about healthy lifestyles. The gist of these articles is similar to the topics in this blog – making smart choices in relation to nutrition and exercise. We sure seem to struggle with something so simple: smart choices and exercise.

My early enthusiasm about the good weather had a small setback with the cool stuff we are experiencing. But by the weekend things will get warmer. I am reminded when I think about the weather, our schedules, stress and all the other things that seem to interfere with our desires to eat right and exercise, we seldom have a perfect day. We have to overcome the obstacles of everyday life to fight through the temptations and get it right.

It’s important to make smart choices about nutrition regardless of whatever else is going on in our lives and to exercise just like it is a part of our daily schedules. It is this type of permanent lifestyle change that will ensure your and my success in this movement to a healthy lifestyle. So, regardless of the cool weather, get out and move around. No excuses.

I’m struggling to break the 220 barrier and drop into the teens. I’ve been hovering close for a couple of months. The last two weeks of April just might be the time I break through.

Bill Richardson


Monday, April 14, 2008

Lifestyle Change at Work

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I mentioned in a blog last week that the LSU AgCenter has launched the first of what I hope are many fitness challenges to help our own employees change to healthier lifestyles. It helps to have buddies when you undertake a lifestyle change. And those buddies can be your co-workers.

“Live Fit for Life” is part of the AgCenter’s overall wellness program. So far, we have more than 70 teams and approximately 400 of our 1,500 employees participating. I consider that an excellent start. The challenge revolves around increasing physical activity and consumption of healthy foods and an optional weight-loss track. Because the challenge is based on making improvements from where you are now, anyone can participate, regardless of current habits. Some employees want to lose weight; others just want to get healthier. Plans for the challenge also include educational programs and sharing of ideas on how to make changes. 

The AgCenter began developing its wellness program a little over a year ago. The program has three features. First, give attention to overall wellness: physical health, financial health and mental health. Second, use the program as a vehicle to bring to our own employees the wealth of information we bring to so many others around the state concerning topics like nutrition, diabetes and exercise. We recognize that it’s easy to become so busy taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Third, make the program accessible to all – one that meets people where they are. 

I spent much of last month on the road meeting with employees about various administrative issues, but we also talked about how obesity affects the state, what the AgCenter is doing to address obesity, and the benefits of our internal wellness program. At many of our field locations, our family and consumer sciences agents had arranged for health agencies to be on-site to do various screenings. For a few employees, the results were a wake-up call. For those who didn’t receive a wake-up call, perhaps the program will be what prevents them from getting one in the future.

I encourage you to find buddies to help with your lifestyle changes, including your co-workers.

Bill Richardson

2/10/2009 1:16:36 AM
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