Phone: 717.531.1440

Archive for the ‘Eating Healthy’ Category

Decadent descriptions make veggies more appealing

Original source:

You know veggies are good for you. But do you tend to find them a little boring? If so, maybe it’s all in your ear.

A new study suggests that labeling veggies with flavorful foodie terms, like “dynamite,” “sweet-sizzlin'” or “twisted,” can make even basic dishes seem more indulgent. And that may lead people to eat more veggies.

What’s in a name?

The study took place in a college cafeteria. Each day, researchers labeled different featured veggie dishes in one of four ways:

  • Basic. For example, “green beans.”
  • Healthy restrictive. For example, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots.”
  • Healthy positive. For example, “healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots.”
  • Indulgent. For example, “sweet-sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots.”

Only the labels changed—not the way the veggies were prepared or served.

Researchers found that more people chose the vegetable when the labeling was indulgent:

  • 41 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy restrictive label.
  • 35 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy, positive label.
  • 25 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a basic label.

According to the researchers, the findings could be a first step in busting a commonly held belief: that healthy foods aren’t as tasty as less-healthy choices. Labeling foods with exciting descriptions may make us feel like we’re indulging—not depriving—ourselves. And in the future, this approach may coax more people to eat healthy in many different dining situations.

The findings appear in a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Beyond superlatives: 3 ideas for making veggies more exciting

Try these ideas from the Produce for Better Health Foundation to entice your family to eat more good-for-you veggies (and don’t forget fruit!):

  1. Bring the heat. Add sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes and onions to sliced green and yellow squash. Mix in some chopped jalapeño, sauté and serve over brown rice.
  2. Give spinach salad a fruity twist. Add your favorite fruits (consider cherries, mangoes or berries) and chopped walnuts to fresh spinach. Toss with an orange vinaigrette.
  3. Grill them up. Drizzle grilled zucchini with a little bit of olive oil. Add oregano or your favorite spices.

For even more exciting ideas on making tasty fruits and vegetables, check out this infographic.

Family meals help kids’ physical and mental health

Original source:

Designed by Bearfotos / Freepik

The value of a family dinner isn’t exaggerated, according to a new study. It found that children who eat meals with their family benefit from better physical and mental health.

Sharing a family meal has been linked to children having a better diet. Research has also suggested that these meals promote language development in children.

Study follows kids and meals

In the new study, researchers followed a group of about 1,500 children in Canada. They already knew a lot about these kids, so they felt they could determine if family meals were making a difference.

When the kids were age 6, the researchers asked their parents about the family meal environment. They focused on the family’s enjoyment of the meal and if it felt like a chance to talk. Families were also asked if they could confide in each other or if they had bad feelings toward one another.

When the children turned 10, the researchers focused on their well-being. They asked the children, their parents and their teachers about academic success, eating habits, and behavior at home and school.

Benefits of family meals

The results were telling: Having better-quality family meals was linked to better physical fitness in the children. It was also linked to drinking less soda.

Kids who had a higher quality of family meals were less likely to fight, attack others and dominate other children. They were also less likely to be defiant, steal and tell lies.

The study didn’t find a link between family meals and success in reading and math. But the researchers noted that teacher and student relationships, which affect academic success, are often related to the family environment.

Why do family meals have such a positive effect? The researchers said family meals give parents a chance to connect with their children and monitor their activities. Parents can act as role models for healthy eating. And family meals may give kids a sense of belonging, as well as a chance to talk about issues that bother them.

The study was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Bring your family together

The researchers pointed out that family meals aren’t the only characteristic of a good home environment. But it’s an easy place to start to improve a child’s well-being.

Making an effort to share family meals is worth the effort, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says. If you don’t share family meals already, you can get started with one meal a week. Keep the menu simple, and ask your family to help prepare the meal.

To learn more about the positive influence of eating together as a family, you can read this article: “Family meals: A time for health and happiness.”

Infographic: Pick your produce by the season

Original source:

Whatever the season, there’s always produce to pick from. Finding out when your favorite fruits and veggies are in season. Learn ways to incorporate them into your diet throughout the year with the interactive infographic below.

Click here for recipes that will shake up your routine with refreshing fruit smoothies or veggie-packed meals

New Year’s Resolution: Drink more water

Soon after the ball drops (or the bologna as we know New Years in Lebanon County), the next thing we usually do is proclaim our New Year’s Resolution.  Swearing off that last holiday cookie and promising to shed those extra five pounds put on over the holidays, we welcome in a new year.  This predictable tradition is the time when we get back on track to healthier eating and exercise.  However, as we realign ourselves, what about our children?  Will they also commit to the same New Year’s resolution?

While sugar consumption in children has increased, the holidays can’t be credited for this.  According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, 16% of children’s daily calories come from added sugar-this goes well beyond an overindulgence of holiday cookies and candy.  In fact, since the mid 1970’s the average intake of sugar among children has been slowly rising and the primary culprit—sugary beverages (colas, soft drinks and high sugar juices).  Furthermore, as the consumption of sugary beverages has risen the amount of milk and water children consume has decreased—therefore denying much needed nutrients for bone density and growth.

That is why that throughout the past year the staff at Lebanon Family Health has been out teaching about the 5210 concept.  It’s a simple daily diet concept for parents that recommend children get 5 fruits/vegetables a day, less than 2 hours of recreational screen time, get 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugary beverages each day.

While encouraging a 5 year old to drink water instead of the red drink at the holiday party is a challenge, the staff at LFHS have been teaching children to drink water in a fun and entertaining way.  “Potter the Otter”, a helpful friend that likes to drink water is introduced to kids.  He teaches children and their parents about the sugar content in popular drinks such as soda, juices and chocolate milk.  Lessons on sugar content are also available for parents.  For more information on the “Potter the Otter” and other nutrition education lessons available at Lebanon Family Health, visit our website at

America’s food security problem and how to fix it

By American Heart Association News

In South Dallas, the heart health statistics are grim. More residents die from heart disease and diabetes than elsewhere in the city, and being hospitalized for high blood pressure is much more common.

The Bonton neighborhood of South Dallas is among the poorest, with an annual per capita income of between $13,000 and $17,000. Its residents are mostly African-American and are among the 19 million Americans who live in a food desert—meaning they live at least 1 mile from a grocery store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables. The nearest grocery store in Bonton is more than 3 miles away.

Five years ago, resident Daron Babcock planted a vegetable and herb garden in a lot next to his house to give the community fresh produce options. In 2014, Babcock and other residents broke ground on a city-owned lot to start Bonton Farms.

The 52-year-old executive director said the farm’s purpose goes beyond making healthy food accessible—it’s also about making it affordable. Bonton residents pay less for the heirloom tomatoes, sweet onions, okra and other produce than customers from other parts of the city.

“Food security is the bigger issue and it’s the thing we should be talking about,” said Babcock, who recently learned the city approved the farm’s final plans to build a brick-and-mortar grocery store and café on a lot next to the farm.

“In communities like Bonton, even if you had a grocery store, the things people can afford are the processed foods. It’s a much more complex issue than just access. It has to be access to affordable nutritious food,” he said.

It is a view backed up by research.

A study published last week in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that income is a much stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease risk than proximity to a grocery store.

Cardiologist Arshed A. Quyyumi, M.D., co-director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, led the study and said the findings suggest that “giving people [access to] food is not going to be the answer necessarily. This is a much deeper problem which has much more to do with understanding and education, affordability and so on.”

There has been a push by federal and local governments in recent years to bring grocery stores that carry healthy foods to communities where they are scant. Programs in Louisiana and Minnesota, for example, hope to entice grocers to sell produce in low-income and rural areas.

[Healthy food movement gaining steam with food trust funding]

In Louisiana, a state with high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, the New Orleans-based nonprofit Market Umbrella is working with the state government to bring local fruits and vegetables to rural areas.

Executive director Kathryn Parker said those efforts are a win-win for farmers and Louisiana residents.

“We can do a lot to have more fruit and vegetable production in our state to feed our people,” said Parker.

In addition, grocers may help the economies of areas where local produce is hard to come by because they generate jobs, Parker said.

Many U.S. households do not have consistent access to enough healthy food for all household members. Data averaged for the past three years show 15 states have food insecurity rates above the national average. (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

As studies on food security and health ramped up during the past two decades, researchers found adults in households that can’t regularly buy nutritious foods are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, according to a recent report on food insecurity from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those facing food insecurity are also more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Such news has serious long-term health implications for the 16 million American homes considered “food insecure,” meaning they can’t regularly buy nutritious foods.

The USDA’s Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Ph.D., a food security expert who co-authored the report, said “food deserts may be a factor in food insecurity, but they’re not one of the most important factors affecting whether a household is food insecure or not.”

Bonton Farms sales and marketing director Patrick Wright grew up in the South Dallas neighborhood, which along with the surrounding area has a population of roughly 3,100. He has relatives and neighbors, whose families have lived there for generations, with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Bonton Farms sales and marketing director Patrick Wright talks to children who visited the farm in late July about the proper way to pick heirloom tomatoes.

The 49-year-old father said working at the farm has helped him and other residents improve their eating habits. His meals of baked chicken, squash, tomatoes and other produce from the farm have come a long way from the fried foods, sodas and sugary buns he used to eat.

“We are living beings and we need live food,” said Wright. He said the farm plans to offer cooking classes at the market for residents.

“We got the fresh healthy food, it’s here,” said Wright, who helped clear the land for crops. “But that’s not good enough, just to provide it. We also have to educate people on it.”

Families who eat dinner together are doing more than feeding their bodies

By Youth Advocate Programs

Families who eat dinner together are doing more than feeding their bodies. Parents who take the time to plan and prepare family dinners regularly promote love and bonding and contribute to a lifetime of good emotional and physical health for their children. Children who eat dinner regularly with their families enjoy:

  • Better academic performance
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater sense of resilience
  • Lower risk of substance abuse
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancyLower
  • Lower risk of depressionLower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower rates of obesity (

Family dinners naturally bring families together with an immediate reward for hungry children-dinner! With busy lives and hectic schedules, family dinners require planning, coordination, and commitment. Here are some steps to help you pull off routine family bonding around the table.

  1. Involve your Kids-Allow your kids to contribute to the planning of the menu to ensure meals they will eat. This provides a great opportunity to help your children learn to plan. Prepare a shopping list and take your kids to the grocery store. Allowing your kids to help prepare dinner is fun, provides time for bonding, teaches life skills, and give children something to be proud of.
  2. Be positive-If your family is not accustomed to family meals, they might resist at first. Be positive and resist nagging. Instead, tell your children you love them and you want to spend this time together. During dinner, tell your family about your day and ask about theirs. Offer praise and resist criticism.
  3. Plan-Schedule dinners for days and times that work. Get agreement from family members to attend dinner. Be realistic as well. Your family may not be able to share dinner 7 nights a week. Shoot for 3-5 nights per week. Make sure to let them know what’s on the menu.
  4. Unplug-Shut off the TV and don’t allow electronics at the table. Be sure to model the desired behavior through your own actions.

Making mealtime a priority, and keeping it positive will have a lifelong impact on your children and offer routine opportunities for your family to come together and enjoy each other.

Upcoming Events