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#nutrition

A Vegetarian Diet is Better for the Environment

Whether you choose to be a vegetarian for the environment, for your health, or for the animals, you have the power to reduce your ecological footprint, and save money, simply by changing your eating habits.

Each day, factory farms produce billions of pounds of manure, which ends up in lakes, rivers, and drinking water. The one trillion pounds of waste produced by factory-farmed animals each year are usually used to fertilize crops, and they subsequently end up running off into waterways—along with the drugs and bacteria they contain.

Many tons of waste end up in giant pits in the ground or on crops, polluting the air and groundwater. According to the EPA, agricultural runoff is the number one source of pollution in USA waterways.

Raising animals (including the land used for grazing and growing feed crops) now uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined.

Of the grain grown, more than half is fed to farmed animals. Think of how many people around the world could be fed with that grain. To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water.

According to a report by the California State Senate, “Studies have shown that animal waste lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can cause “inflammatory, immune, and neurochemical problems in humans.”

According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.   green-foods

Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and to grow grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states. In the “finishing” phase alone, in which pigs grow from 100 pounds to 240 pounds, each hog consumes more than 500 pounds of grain, corn, and soybeans; this means that across the U.S., pigs eat tens of millions of tons of feed every year.

Chickens, pigs, cattle, and other animals raised for food are the primary consumers of water in the USA.  A single pig consumes 3-5  gallons of drinking water per day, while a cow on a dairy farm drinks as much as 30 gallons daily. It takes more than 450 gallons of water to produce one  pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make one pound of whole wheat flour.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates that at least 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide can be attributed to “livestock and their byproducts.”

If the switch to a vegetarian diet seems too extreme, I suggest cutting back on your consumption of meat and poultry for a few days each week, by experimenting instead, with vegetarian meals.

Being a vegetarian is easier than ever before. I (again) made the switch to a vegetarian diet three years ago, and this time, I haven’t looked back.

Please share your ideas and your questions about vegetarianism and what it means to you.

Healthy Snacks for Children

Because children have smaller stomachs than adults, they need to eat more often to meet their needs for optimum growth and development. Between-meal snacks are an important way for your child to meet part of his or her daily nutritional requirements. After-school snacking provides about one-third of most children’s total daily calories during the week, according to Iowa State University Extension.

Involve your children in preparing their own healthy snacks. Photo Credit snacks image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com

Involve your children in preparing their own healthy snacks. Photo Credit snacks image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com

Variety

Healthy low-sugar snacks for your child can be found within the all of the food groups. This includes grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans. Vary the color and texture of snacks to hold your child’s interest while helping to meet his or her nutritional needs.

Considerations

In addition to limiting sugar intake, healthy low-sugar snacks should be high in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. Healthy low-sugar snacks should have less than 10 to 15g of sugar per serving. They should also have less than 10 percent of the Daily Value for total fat and sodium.

Choices

Healthy low-sugar snacks for children include fresh sliced fruits; fruits packed in their own juice,; fresh cut vegetables with low-fat dip; low-fat cottage cheese; low-fat string cheese or sliced cheese; popcorn; low-sugar cereals, such as toasted oats; whole-grain breads; animal crackers; graham crackers; low-fat granola; unsalted nuts and seeds; and low fat milk. Combine these foods to create delicious snacks such as trail mix, individual pizzas and low-fat smoothies.

Reheat small servings of leftovers from the night before to provide a healthy snack for your child. Healthy low-sugar snacks can still taste sweet. Offer frozen fruit bars, low-fat fruit yogurt or dried fruits, such as raisins, dried apples, apricots, pineapple or cranberries. To set a good example and avoid temptation, keep high-sugar snack foods out of the house.

Please share your comments, questions, and in particular, suggestions for future posts.

Bon Apetit!

 

Better Eating Habits in the New Year

toon-1446As a registered dietitian for more than 20 years, it seemed only natural to offer my clients nutrition counseling, in addition to career and relationship coaching in my practice as a life transitions coach.

Since I am a new life coach, having received my certification this past September, I expected things to be slow in the beginning.

To some extent this was true until a couple weeks ago, when I started receiving calls and emails from prospective clients who want to control their overeating and to “eat for the right reason,” in 2015.

I read recently that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the third week in January.  The plethora of reasons why many people overeat, including the many deep-seated psychological reasons, are, for the most part, beyond the scope of this article.

Having said this, I would like to offer some valuable, simple, and straightforward suggestions that are helpful:

1) Control your portion sizes by choosing cooked foods that come as a single serving. For example – a baked potato as opposed to pasta, rice or mashed potatoes. I say this because if you prepare a plain baked potato, once you finish eating the potato, there is nothing left, as opposed to cooking a pot of rice or pasta. If you prepare rice or pasta, take one serving and then create individual servings with the leftovers, to be eaten at a later date, or prepare only enough for a single serving.

2) Eat fruit that comes as a single serving. For example, an apple or an orange, instead of grapes or cherries. Once you’ve eaten the apple or orange, you are finished, not so with grapes or cherries, which are more likely to lead to binge eating.

3) Choose food that requires more chewing. An apple for example, takes longer to eat than a serving of applesauce, and it has greater satiety value. A salad takes longer to eat than cooked vegetables.

4) Serve meals by filling plates with food in the kitchen as opposed to serving meals family style with all the food spread out on the table. This gives you more time to think before getting out of your chair for second helpings.

5) Avoid cream sauce, cheese sauce, or excessive use of fat as a topping or in food preparation.

6) Don’t go grocery shopping or make a shopping list when you are hungry. Eat before you go shopping. Make your shopping list, and buy only what is on your list.

7) Drink a tall glass of water and eat a salad with low calorie salad dressing or a small amount of oil and a flavored vinegar, before meals. This tip is also helpful if you are going to a party where there is liable to be a lot of rich food selections. Mingle. Don’t linger next to the table where the food is spread out and just waiting to be eaten.

8) Slow down. Make your meal last at least 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that it is full. If you are a fast eater, take a break mid-meal to slow yourself down.

9) Sometimes the best exercise is learning to push yourself away from the table.

10) If  someone else is serving and they tend to re-fill your plate whenever it is empty,  you can avoid overeating, or offending them, by eating slowly and savoring the meal.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and healthy eating in 2015!