Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | December 1, 2010

New Years Resolution.

The new near will soon be upon us.  Each New Year’s many people renew  their hope of a better life by exchanging old habits for new ones in the form of (New Years resolutions).  I was thinking this year if all America would resolve to eat fast food only once a month our health as a nation would improve tremendously. (There’s your health care plan president.) What a message this would send to fast food chains. If they wanted to stay in business they would be forced to offer what the public wants.  With this in mind we as a public can and should dictate what we want by what we are willing to buy.

 The idea that everyone will stop buying yummy high fat, high sugar, high sodium food is unrealistic, so all we can change is what we do and encourage our families and friends to do likewise.  So family and friends, this is my New Year’s resolution challenge, if your willing to take it. Fast food is only allowed once a month. We can do this, jump on board. You can do it!  Here are some tips for keeping this great New Year’s resolution.   Limit your resolutions.  Lets have just one this year and it is to limit fast food to once a month. Break the habit of leaving your resolutions behind. To break a bad habit, you should substitute it with an array of good habits.  Pack your lunch so you don’t have to stop for food. Use a crockpot so your dinner is waiting when you get home. Make sure you can attain your goals. Set attainable goals and reward yourself for any successes that are achieved. Okay, maybe some of you need the goal to be fast food just once a week. That would be ok if that is what will be attainable.  Practice for success. Keep practicing good new habits that inspire the achievement of success. They say it takes 6 weeks for something to become a habit. Enlist support. Obtain maximum support from family and friends that have similar resolutions to accomplish. That is what I am doing.

I just want to remind everyone that obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. Twenty six point seven percent of the  U.S. adult population is obese.  Not one of the states met the healthy people objective of 15% for obese adults in 2009. Fast food is a contributor, it is calorie packed and it is the high calories that make us fat, when we eat more calories than we burn.  So Have a happy and fast food free new year!

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | November 29, 2010

Eating Together!

     Eating together is a financial benefit and is healthier in so many other ways. One study showed food purchased outside the home compared to meals prepared at home cost almost double. The main purpose of my blog is to get the point a crossed that it is more affordable to eat healthy home prepared foods, and there are so many other benefits to eating together as a family. BYU did a study in 2008 that showed working moms at IBM showed less stress after a family meal.  It has been shown that kids who eat at home do better in school, are less likely to get involved in substance abuse, are less likely to be overweight and have better nutrition.  They also are more likely to eat and enjoy vegetables and be more open to new types of foods. Girls who eat dinner at home at least five times a week are less likely to have eating disorders.

      Eating together establishes the habits of eating healthy and wards off the bad and addictive habits of fast foods and high processed foods. There are so many benefits from eating together such as family cohesion and open communication. It is a way to show your family that they are a priority. The list of benefits goes on. President Bush pushed for Americans to eat together as a family.

     Let everyone have input on the menu, and share the responsibility of shopping and  cooking.  This may help to keep everyone interested in family meals. Cooking together can be fun. It is important to teach, especially children, healthy cooking skills  will serve them for life. 

      Turn the tv off during dinner.  Families should be shown the same courtesy as an important celebrity, so turn your cells phones off. It is easy to let the outside world in your home though the constant bombardment of technology, but for  30 minutes or so turn it off, don’t answer it and let your dinner group be most important. Talk about family plans and activities. Talk about school or their day. Touch basis with them daily through dinner time. It is a time to laugh and have some fun enjoying what we all need to nourish our bodies. So do it! Eat together!

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | November 28, 2010

Policy Change

Fast food has come under a lot of criticism.  I guess my blog is really no exception. It has not been my intention to criticize the industry. I would never make a claim that I have never eaten at a fast food place.  I believe they fill a need in our society.  The occasional quick meal is always necessary, and when it is occasional, it is not going to kill you and it can be very fun.  The problem has become that too many of us eat fast food regularly and even daily. I would say that cooking nutritious affordable food is becoming a lost skill. This is another downside to the vast amounts of fast food establishments that are tempting us at every corner. The question becomes whether government is responsible to legislate the fast food industry, and if not, who will or should.  The industry is in business to make a profit in the best way that seems fit will not want to regulate itself. I don’t claim to have the answers.  I warmly ask your opinion on the subject. Recently the city of Santa Clara  prohibited fast food restaurants from offering toys with their kids meals. One out of every four kids in Santa Clara is overweight so this is the action they decided to take, and by “they” I mean the law makers of Santa Clara. Baldwin Park, the home of the first In-N-Out burger, has placed a ban on new drive thru type restaurants. The purpose of this ban is to encourage a healthier community.  The question is will this approach work?  New York City’s approach was to make nutrition labels mandatory for the consumers.  I personally like the menu labels at least if I am going to eat something high in fat, sugar or salt I should be able to know. Bottom line is we in America have a bigger bottom line. That is the fact. We need to make the healthier choice for outsleves and our country.  So take 30 minutes extra tonight, make dinner at home.Talk to your family over dinner about their day.  A meal together will do your body and soul some good.

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | November 23, 2010

Buy The Turkey Now!

Turkey is cheap if you buy it now during the Thanksgiving holiday. Smith’s Market Place has a great deal if you spend $25  in groceries. You can buy a 16 to 20 pound turkey for $8, but wait it is even better. If you buy 5 packs of coke product for $14, you get the turkey for $3.  That is 20 pounds of turkey for $3.  Even if you aren’t having a big group for Thanksgiving, cook the turkey and you can eat it for a while.  After you cook the turkey, take all the meat off the bones and put it into zip lock bags. Save one out for leftovers. The other bags you can put in the freezer for using later in sandwiches, soups and casseroles. Check out my stuffing and turkey casserole in my recipe tab, it is a great way to use left over turkey.

The other great thing about turkey is that it is one of the most low-fat, low-calorie meats you can eat, and it’s a good source of protein.  If you don’t have the freezer space for a whole turkey you might consider buying just the turkey breast. They are running about a $1.29 a pound right now.  Get two or three if you can and save them for later.  You can find a ton of recipes using turkey on the internet.  Turkey is an awesome cheap healthy meat. Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | November 20, 2010

Brown bag it!

For the Last 30 years I have made a lunch everyday for my husband to take to work.  He deserves a big reward for eating my sack lunches over these many years. I have tried to give him variety by changing the vegetables out. His current favorite is grape tomatoes and baby cucumbers. Often times I will send salad; he always appreciates that.  The reason we choose to do sack lunches was not initially for the  sake of health–it was purely financial. My husband works for a company once owned by the late James Sorenson, who was one of the wealthiest men in Utah. One day Mr. Sorenson  told him that he acquired his wealth by saving money on sales trips by packing lunches. He invested the money saved into real estate.

Financial advisers will tell you that packing your own lunch is a great way to be money smart. I have calculated that by packing my husband’s lunch we have saved, modestly  $30 a week that translates to $1,620 a year and $48,600 over the 30 years. Again I have to say  thank-you to a willing husband. You may think this sounds funny but there have been times when co workers have teased him for always bringing his lunch and declining lunch invitations. An added bonus is he has been able to used this time to read things that he wouldn’t otherwise have the time to read.

The money saved isn’t representative of the real savings, when compared to long term health costs and quality of life.  My husband has over three months of sick leave saved,  he never misses work because of sickness. He rarely goes to the doctor, but the most important thing is that we can spend quality time together and with our family. We are both fairly healthy and in the end that is worth more than all the hamburgers in the world. Another bonus is the calories saved compared to calories in fast food or restaurant fair.

Tip For brown bagging it:

Try not to get in a lunch rut. A varied lunch at work gives you something to look forward to everyday, instead of something to dread. When you do the math and figure out just how much a lunch you bring from home can save you, lunch making becomes worth doing.
Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | November 12, 2010

Healthy Holidays

I was talking to my son, who is away in Ohio doing graduate school, about my infectious disease class and all the things I was learning.  He asked me if I could tell him what was going on with him. Lately he had been feeling fatigue, headaches, and sometimes  getting sporadic dark brown blotches on his skin. I put on my thinking cap and started considering all the terrible things that could be happening to my son. My mind was going through all the possibilities.  He then told me it was from eating chocolate muffins from Sam’s club. I had a really good laugh!  With this in mind, it is now holiday time and we are busier than ever. It is easy to grab the fast breakfasts, like a chocolate muffin, that aren’t always the best choices. The sugar highs start with Halloween and run right through New Year’s Day.  Some of the treats that make the holidays special can be fine but if we eat everything offered us, or buy everything that temps us, not only will we gain weight, but our immune systems will be weakened and we won’t feel as well.  This will dampen the holiday spirit and take away from what we really want to enjoy during the holidays, like family and friends. One thing we can do is not to bring home any packaged or processed foods during the month. Stay away from anything processed and packaged. Eat fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, salads and other nutritious foods when you are home. Packaged and processed foods have too much sodium, sugar, preservatives and other chemicals. For the quick, healthy breakfast for the person on-the-go, to remedy my son’s chocolate muffin disease,  you can buy bananas and frozen mixed berries at Sam’s Club instead.  One cup skimmed milk, one banana and one cup frozen berries blend for a yummy smoothie. This quick and easy smoothie will give you three servings of fruits and one serving of dairy. The berries are high in antioxidants.  Some people will have to add a couple of pieces of toast and a boiled egg to hold them until lunch. Check this out for lots more healthy smoothie ideas.

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | October 22, 2010

Fast Food Addiction

When we hear that fast foods and foods high in fats and sugars are as addictive as cocaine do you  wonder how? I know I have.  Then I learned what chemical reaction takes place in the body to cause such a strong addiction. In the middle of our brains we produce a chemical called dopamine. This wonderful hormone makes us feel joy and pleasure. Foods high in fat and sugars trigger production of dopamine and after we eat them we feel good so we eat more. The problem is the more we eat the more we need to produce the same amount of dopamine, we find ourselves eating more and more and more. Dr.David Bull explained this in easy to understand terms on the “Rachael Ray Show”.  The problem is that in today’s society it is easy for us to obtain fast food laydened with fat and sugar. It becomes a real hard problem to overcome, but if we understand why then we will be better equipped to deal with the addictive behavior.

Sugar we know is particularly addictive.  Sugar is a quick energy so our bodies use it before it converts other nutrients into energy. Not only is it addictive, but in large quantities it is harmful to many of our body functions. It increases  insulin levels, depresses the immune system, causes tooth decay, upsets the mineral balance, and contributes to weight gain among other things.  The average american eats 2 to 3 pounds of sugar each day. In the past 26 years sugar consumption has increased from 26 pounds a year to 135 pounds per year.  This is largely due to the amount of sugar in all of our processed foods.  One way to cut back on sugar in our diet is to cook at home with fresh ingredients, this will save money too.

Right now zucchini is vary plentiful let’s use it, even the big ones that got left in the garden maybe a little too long. I have a great receipe for stuffed  zucchini check it out in the receipe tab above. This is a very filling yummy way to use zucchini and you can eat a big portion and not feel the least bit bad. So let the stuffed zucchini stuff you.

Posted by: Mary Ann Herbst | October 9, 2010

Forget fast food lets cook.


     Obesity is becoming the leading cause of death from chronic diseases in America. The American Medical Association declared obesity an epidemic in 1999. The movie Supersize Me brought eating fast food as a major contributor to obesity to the attention of the public.

As a student of public health, I hear over and over that poverty is a leading cause of obesity. The reason given is that it is cheaper to buy fast food than healthy food. I believe it is easier to buy fast food for someone who has limited time because of work schedules. I believe fast food is filling but addictive. These are problems that need our concern. In this blog I want to address the affordability of healthy food. With a little effort and creativity we can cut out the fast food that is killing us and not go broke doing so. Hopefully we can love the good food and recognize that we don’t have to starve eating it.

Fall is the perfect time to begin cutting out fast food. There are so many fruits and vegtables available at reasonable prices. One of the funnest things to do is to go to a farmers market on a Saturday. A great hard squash to stock up on is butternut squash. It will last in a cool place for months and months. An average to large butternut squash will make a big pot of butternut squash soup, which is my family’s favorite. It is very easy and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. You can find the receipe under my receipe tab. Right now you should be able to get a medium to large squash for around two dollars. You can add a hearty bread or grilled cheese and a glass of milk for a warm dinner on a cool fall night. This whole meal won’t cost more than five dollars, much less than fast food especially when you factor in the thousands of dollars in medical expenses down the road. The point being that we really can’t afford fast food either finacially, physically, emotionally, or as a nation.