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HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition

Enjoy cranberries all year ‘round

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Nutrition, Recipes
Find out how cranberries add color, flavor, and nutrition to your meal plan.

Cranberries are especially popular during the holidays but can be a healthy part of your meal plan all year long. They’re good sources of vitamin C and fiber and contain polyphenols, which might lower your risk of heart disease.

There’s some evidence that cranberry juice can help reduce the recurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in those prone to such infections—important because UTIs can be debilitating, and more than 60% of women experience at least one. However, there’s no proof that it has any benefit for an existing UTI. Keep in mind that drinking juice hasn’t been proven to effectively treat infections.

Still, cranberries can be an easy, healthful way to add fruit to your meal plan. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), males (ages 19–50) and females (ages 14–50) consume less than one cup of fruit (including juice) daily—roughly half the recommended amount. So enjoy berries whole, dried, in sauces, and in juices. Tip: Purchase whole berries in the fall when fresh and store them in the freezer for future use.

Cranberries are tart, and some sugar is needed to make them edible, so watch how much sugar and other sweeteners you consume at any meal that includes cranberries.

  • Breakfast. Drink 4–8 oz cranberry juice or toss a spoonful of dried cranberries on your cereal or oatmeal. Or add ½ cup raw berries to your favorite quick bread recipe or boxed mix.
  • Lunch or dinner. Spread cranberry sauce instead of mayo on your turkey or chicken sandwich. Or sprinkle dried cranberries on your salad. Stir dried cranberries, cooked apple, onion, celery, toasted pecans, and sage into wild rice for a tasty side dish.
  • Snacks. Mix ¼ cup dried berries with 1 Tbsp nuts.
  • Cranberry relish. Combine 12 oz uncooked cranberries with one unpeeled, chopped orange in a food processor or blender. Pulse to mix, being careful not to over process. Add sugar to taste. 

November is National Diabetes Month

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Diabetes, Food safety
This holiday season, protect your immune system and practice food safety.

Over 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and they’re especially at risk of infections due to weakened or damaged immune systems, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tracts. It’s important to exercise extra caution and practice food safety to avoid foodborne illnesses and food poisoning. So, pay attention to how you handle, prepare, and store what you eat.

During the holidays, many share food at office parties, favorite restaurants, or other gatherings with family and friends. You also might receive home-cooked treats as gifts. Remember your overall health and well-being. Here are some ways to maintain it.

  • Avoid certain foods. Some holiday foods—such as unpasteurized apple cider and homemade eggnog—can put you at risk of illness. Some raw foods—such as cookie dough, eggs, sprouts, meat, fish, and poultry—can cause food poisoning too. Make sure that uncooked vegetables and fruits are handled carefully as well as seafood, ham, and chicken salads made with mayonnaise. These foods easily spoil or risk contamination. If something doesn’t look or smell right, don’t take a chance.
  • Practice safe food handling. If you’re taking food to a holiday dinner or party, make sure to keep cold foods cold. Fill your cooler with ice and keep the temperature below 40°. Transport hot foods in an insulated container, and make sure the temperature is at least 140°. Refrigerate all perishable leftovers within 2 hours of serving, and reheat them to 165° before eating.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page for resources and tips to help raise awareness about National Diabetes Month. And see your healthcare provider if you suspect you have a foodborne illness. In the meantime, read the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services guide, “Food Safety for People with Diabetes,” to learn more about diabetes and your immune system.

Eggs: the “right stuff”

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Eggs are making a comeback! They’re healthful, easy to prepare, and economical too.

Add protein-rich eggs to your meal plan! They contain amino acids—essential to performance because they build lean body mass—especially important for athletes, children, and the elderly. In addition, these nutrient powerhouses contain lutein for eye health, choline for brain function, B vitamins, zinc, and iron.

In the past, many avoided or limited their egg consumption, thinking of eggs only as a food that raises cholesterol rather than one packed with nutrients. However, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other evidence suggest including eggs as part of a healthy diet. Eating 1–2 eggs daily can increase your intake of important nutrients. Eating eggs doesn’t necessarily increase your risk of heart disease or type II diabetes, and it might even lower your risk of these illnesses. Scientific research also has shown that eating eggs at breakfast can help you “feel fuller” because of their high protein content. This might contribute to weight loss when combined with other dietary strategies too.

On average, an egg costs about $.20, which is a bargain compared to other proteins. Eggs also can be a satisfying meal anytime and extraordinarily easy to prepare, especially for breakfast.

  • Vegetable omelet. Beat one egg with 1 Tbsp milk. Pour into a small, heated nonstick skillet. Using a spatula, gently push the cooked egg away from the pan’s edge to allow the liquid egg to run underneath until it’s no longer visible. Place ½ cup cooked vegetables and 1 Tbsp cheese on one half, and then fold over.
  • French toast. In a shallow bowl, whip one egg with 1 Tbsp milk. Put one slice of whole-wheat bread in the mixture and then flip to coat both sides. Place in a heated nonstick skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with fruit and syrup.

Enjoy eggs more frequently and remember to pair them with healthy sides!

Make healthy nutrition habits

You want to eat more healthfully. Try these tips and make a new “healthy eating habit” one small step at a time!

Turn small nutrition goals into healthy habits! A habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition. It’s an action associated with a cue that’s associated with a performance. For example, service members always cover their heads before stepping outside. The cue is “going outside,” and the action that follows is “putting on your cover.”

Once you form a habit, you do the action without thinking. And if you don’t do it, you likely will realize that something isn’t quite right. These same principles can be linked to changing healthy eating behaviors. So, use these tips to make a new “healthy eating habit.”

  1. Set a small goal. You might think, “I’ll eat an apple every day.”
  2. Plan a simple action you can do daily. You might think, “Every time I work out, I’ll eat an apple afterwards.”
  3. Choose a time and place to perform the action. You might think, “I’ll go to the gym every afternoon.”
  4. Do the action during the designated time. The cue is “working out,” and the action that follows is “eating an apple.”
  5. Write it down. Sometimes it helps to keep a written record while you’re working on a new goal. Doing so can help you track progress and celebrate successes.

It’s commonly thought that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. However, recent evidence suggests it actually takes 66 days to 10 weeks before the habit’s yours for good. Remember: It gets easier each day that you do it. Before long, you won’t be thinking about it at all. The more you tie your actions to cues and make the actions automatic, the easier it will be to include the habit into your daily life.

Still, you might experience setbacks along the way. Don’t get discouraged. Try again the next day. Take the time to make one new eating habit, which will give you confidence to make other healthy changes!

Fuel up with apples

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Discover new ways to enjoy nutrient-rich apples every day. Learn how they can help keep you fueled and lower your risk of some illnesses too.

Eating an apple every day might “keep the doctor away,” but apples can be a perfect choice for those who want to eat healthy and perform well. They contain flavonoids, which can help reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. Apples also can help lower cholesterol and blood glucose, which is especially important for those with diabetes. Trying to lose weight? Apples are good sources of fiber, helping you feel fuller longer.

Unlike most fruits, apples are available year-round and generally less expensive. Since there are over 7,000 varieties in the U.S., you might find some favorites. And remember to eat the peel because it contains valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

On average, Americans eat one apple each week. Why not add apples to your daily eating routine?

  • Breakfast. Grate and stir into pancake mix or oatmeal for added flavor.
  • Lunch. Chop and add to your favorite green salad. Or mix with dried cranberries and chicken or turkey salad.
  • Post-workout snack. Enjoy with nut butter to help rebuild muscles and replenish energy stores. Or simply eat one out of hand.
  • Dinner. Slice and bake with pork chops for a tasty fall meal. Or add some to your holiday stuffing. Tip: Mix grated green apple with purple-cabbage salad mix, ⅓ cup cider vinegar, and 1 Tbsp sugar for a colorful, crunchy coleslaw.
  • Dessert. Core and fill the center with raisins, 1 tsp brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. Microwave until soft and then top with vanilla frozen yogurt.

Become a seafood lover!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Learn how seafood can be a healthy add-on to your diet—whether you catch it yourself, buy it from the commissary, or order it at your dining hall or favorite restaurant.

Seafood is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients that can boost your heart health and performance. It also might reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and even depression.

Aim for two 4-oz servings each week. It can be as easy as opening a can of tuna, sardines, or salmon or thawing a bag of shrimp or fillets. Select fresh when possible, but frozen and canned varieties are often cheaper and more convenient. By varying your choices, you can fit seafood in your budget and find new kinds to enjoy. Remember: If it’s already in your pantry or freezer, chances are you’ll eat it more often!

  • Choose from several varieties. These include fish fillets, shellfish (such as crab, shrimp, and lobster), oysters, mussels, and clams. Fatty fish—rich in omega-3s that boost heart health—include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. Select shrimp or a mild-tasting fish such as tilapia or flounder if you’re eating seafood for the first time. In addition, young children and women who are pregnant or nursing should consume fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
  • Make it lean. Grill, broil, or bake your seafood instead of breading and frying it. Experiment with different spices and herbs too.
  • Cook once and eat twice. Use leftovers to top salads, fill tacos, or toss with whole-wheat pasta. Here are a few quick recipes: Add one cup of fresh or frozen corn to your favorite seafood chowder for an easy meal. Or mix one egg, 2½ cups prepared mashed potatoes, 1 Tbsp parsley (chopped), and ½ cup green onions (chopped). Add 14½ oz canned salmon (drained and flaked). Hint: Use a fork to crush the salmon bones for an extra boost of calcium! Mold into 8 patties, dip in bread crumbs or panko, and cook in a nonstick pan until golden.

Football season fitness

Football season is well underway. Make sure your healthy habits don’t take a hit on the weekends.

Brisk fall weather means it’s the perfect time to hit the couch for a weekend of watching football. But don’t let all the hard work and smart decisions you’ve made during the week go to waste. Avoid weekend binging and (too much) lazing by staying active during commercial breaks and making healthy choices when it comes to snacks.

The average football game consists of about 11 minutes of actual play—so you’re watching huddles, replays, and commercials in-between. Use that downtime to your advantage, call an audible, and get moving during time-outs!

  • Complete a quick DIY workout during commercial breaks.
  • Go for a jog around your neighborhood during halftime.
  • Remember to make healthy food choices too.

Check out A Football Fan’s Guide to Food and Fitness for ways to stay healthy and active during football season.

Eating abroad

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Food safety, Travel
Learn how to practice food safety and avoid illness—whether you’re preparing for an overseas deployment, PCS move, humanitarian aid mission, or vacation.

Eating in an unfamiliar culture can be adventurous but sometimes daunting, especially if you’re unprepared. You’ll find foods that are surprisingly familiar, such as sauces, soups, and pastas. However, the spices might be different. You’ll also find foods that are quite different from your usual fare. Keep familiar favorites in your meal plan while you enjoy the variety of special foods each culture has to offer.

You might have concerns about food and beverage safety in some locations, so heed the training you receive for specific areas. To maintain operational readiness and prevent gastrointestinal distress, pay close attention to what you eat and drink. You’re at risk of foodborne illnesses if you consume food or drinks containing certain bacteria, parasites, viruses, and toxins. Still, there are ways to stay well.

  • Eat only cooked produce that’s served hot. Wash all fruits with treated water and peel them yourself. Avoid salads, raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized juices.
  • Eat thoroughly cooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Avoid foods served from food carts unless they’re cooked in front of you.
  • Enjoy pasteurized dairy products and hard cheeses. Avoid soft cheeses and unpasteurized yogurt.
  • Choose foods with little moisture, such as bread and crackers. Packaged dry foods are generally considered safe.
  • Drink beverages that are bottled and sealed. Check the seals because some merchants might fill empty bottles with tap water and reseal the caps with glue. Boil tap water for at least 3 minutes before making tea or coffee. And serve it steaming hot. Avoid ice too.

There might be times when you’re an invited guest, so you’ll be expected to eat what’s served. Be mindful of local eating customs, so that you’re respectful and safe while enjoying your meal.

By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to thrive in your new locale and return home with great eating adventures to tell.

Whole grains 101

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Diet, Grains, Nutrition
Try these tips to enjoy more whole grains in every meal and snack.

Whole grains—such as brown rice and oatmeal—keep you fuller longer and provide sustainable energy to boost your performance throughout the day. Those who eat whole grains daily have a lower incidence of prediabetes, heart disease, cancer, respiratory and infectious diseases, and mental decline too.

Make sure to make at least half of your grain choices whole grains daily to get the vitamins and nutrients they contain and that are missing from refined and processed grains. The more processed grains you eat, the more important nutrients you miss out on. Read more...

Raise healthy eaters—Part 2: Age-specific tips

Part 2 of HPRC’s “healthy eater” series explores age-specific tips to get your kids to eat healthy.

Children need guidance from their parents about eating a well-balanced diet. As they grow, your interactions with them around food will change. They’ll take on more responsibility for feeding themselves too. Still, you’ll continue to influence their eating preferences through the foods you prepare and offer to them. Read on for age-specific tips to encourage your kids’ healthy eating too. And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to read Part 1 about general nutrition tips for helping your children learn how to be “healthy eaters” at all ages. Read more...

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