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Healthy Eating

  • Articles, Food, GirlSpring.com, Health, Healthy Eating

    My Experience as a Lifelong Vegetarian

    Whenever people find out that I’m a vegetarian, I usually receive a series of similar questions and comments. These remarks can range from “Isn’t it so hard to survive? By the way, you’re totally missing out on bacon!” to “Wait, so you still eat fish, right? Gotta get that protein somehow!”

    I’ve been vegetarian forever

    I always love talking about my experience as a vegetarian because I have been one my entire life. A vegetarian, by definition, is someone who abstains from the consumption of meat. There are multiple forms of vegetarianism, and I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian (the most common type). This means that while I do not eat any type of meat, I do consume dairy and egg products. I, however, personally try to limit my consumption of eggs just to baked goods/other items that include them as an ingredient. I have found it easy to be vegetarian because I grew up as one, and I plan to practice vegetarianism for the rest of my life.

    My parents are from India, a country where a good portion of the population is vegetarian. My parents and extended family are vegetarian because of ideological reasons. So, it is only natural for me to be a vegetarian, too. Although I was born and brought up in the United States, I have grown up with South-Indian vegetarian delicacies prepared by my mother, such as bisibelebath, a lentil-based rice dish, and masala dosa, a rice pancake filled with a spiced vegetable filling. Being a vegetarian is easy since home-cooked meals are meat-free, and my family and I go out to restaurants with vegetarian options (other than salad). I feel that as a vegetarian, I’ve also been able to make healthy food choices very easily, and that makes me happy.

    Thinking about becoming vegetarian? Here is where to start!

    What comes with being vegetarian

    Being a vegetarian my whole life, I cannot imagine NOT being one. I didn’t really have much of a say in the decision to be one but I am glad that my parents brought me up this way. Over the years, I have learned about the several benefits of vegetarianism, ranging from health benefits to animal rights and protection. As a vegetarian, I always think about an animal’s feelings and the pain that was potentially imposed on it when I see meat. It’s my automatic mindset. It has to do with how I was raised and videos I’ve watched about animal cruelty in the meat industry. I don’t want to hurt animals, and I will have this in the back of my mind. If I am ever encouraged to try meat in the future, I will remain a vegetarian.

    Although vegetarianism can come with health benefits, vegetarians must always be particularly aware of their nutrient intake. I’ve always made sure to get an adequate amount of certain nutrients—especially vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, and protein— which are often more easily found in animal meat/products. I take vitamins each day to ensure that I am getting sufficient vitamin intake, and my parents have always made sure to prepare meals that have a good amount of protein and are healthy.

    Being vegetarian on my own

    Going from my senior year of high school to my freshman year of college will be a huge transition because I will be on my own and will have to take greater responsibility for my health and well-being. I know I will have to be more watchful of what I eat and always make sure I am eating balanced meals that have enough of all the necessary nutrients. Additionally, I won’t be able to regularly eat my mom’s home-cooked vegetarian meals, so I will have to try new vegetarian foods and/or learn how to do some basic cooking on my own in the years to come.

    I have friends who have become vegan in college (although this probably is not going to be me — I love dairy products too much!) and others who have massively expanded on their cooking skills, making all sorts of vegetarian recipes. I am excited to see where my vegetarianism takes me in the next few years!

    Thinking about becoming vegetarian or even vegan? Look at our interview with two vegan athletes and get some more perspective!

  • Cooking, Food, GirlSpring.com, Health, Healthy Eating

    My go-to healthy snacks

    image of snacks

    1. Banana and Peanut Butter

    This is my favorite snack. It is healthy and easy. Banana’s give you potassium and help with digestion. Peanut butter provides you with protein, which keeps you full for a few hours!

    2. Yogurt and granola

    My favorite yogurt is either Chobani plain with honey and granola or Chobani Vanilla with some granola. This is my favorite pair, I get healthy bacteria for my gut and the granola has protein which helps me stay full.

    3.  KIND Bars

    I love kind bars, they don’t have a lot of ingredients and I can just grab them when I am running out of the door. They are made with simple ingredients, include protein, and aren’t packed full of sugar. They are my guilt-free snack.

    4. Grapes and Reduced-fat cheese stick

    There is no better pair than grapes and cheese. I love both of these. I love incorporating lots of fruit in my diet… I get a sugar boost from grapes and cheese is low-carb and also a good source of protein.

    5. Rice cake and avocado

    This is a new combo for me that I’ve found is really good and really filling! I love avocado toast but when I am cutting back a little bit on bread, I use a plain rice cake and it’s still really good!

    These are all of my favorite snacks that I like to rotate throughout the week, they are all pretty healthy and give you a boost so you can make it through the day and make it to your next meal.

    Happy snacking!

  • Cooking, Health, Healthy Eating, Tips

    5 Tips On How To Eat Healthy

    You’ve heard of em. The Atkins Diet. The Zone Diet. Vegetarian Diet. Vegan Diet. Weight Watchers Diet. South Beach Diet. Raw Food Diet. Mediterranean Diet. With all these different types of diets, it can be overwhelming and hard to choose! But don’t worry- I’m here to help. The diet I think you should be on? None of them. I don’t think you should be on a diet! I think you should feed your body with things that are good for it- not that punish it. Too often, young girls get caught up in dieting because they feel this is the only way to get healthy! But that’s far from the truth. Here’s 4 tips on how to eat healthy- without the diet.

    1. Eat clean

    The hardest part about eating healthy is actually doing it. Once you’ve started eating healthy and you see the way your body looks, and the way your body feels, it becomes much, much easier. So, what exactly does eating clean mean? It means nourishing  your body with foods that will help it, not hinder it. I know Mcdonalds is good. I know how addicting a bag of chips is. I know how good cheese is.. trust me. But these foods will not help your body!

    1. Drink (lots of!) water

    One of the hardest things for me is drinking water throughout the day. Did you know you should be drinking half a gallon on water.. per day? Especially in the summer heat, water intake is essential to your health. Drinking water may not be the most exciting thing- but the positive affects it has on your body are amazing!

    1. Focus on on quality, not quantity

    A myth about eating right is that you have to eat a lot less- which is NOT true! Don’t worry too much about how much you’re eating, worry about what you’re eating. When you decide to eat healthy, you shouldn’t be hungry all the time! You can eat as much as you used to- just make sure it’s healthy food.

    1. Find foods you like

    It’s important to find healthy foods that you like, so that you aren’t constantly eating food you don’t want to be eating. This summer, experiment and find some healthy foods and recipes that you can try that will fuel your body! A good place to find healthy meals is Pinterest, which you can follow us on!

        5. Keep everything in moderation 

    If you decide to eat healthy, your life is not over. You can still have everything you want- just be sure to keep it in moderation! Don’t look at foods like desserts as bad for you, because you will feel guilty every time you splurge and have one. Treat yourself to some pizza, brownies, or ice-cream- just don’t make it every meal! If you keep everything in balance, you won’t feel guilty for anything you eat.

  • Health, Healthy Eating

    Tips for healthy eating

    Tips for healthy eating

    Eating healthy can make your body feel great. And it can make you feel pretty proud of yourself, too!

    Does eating healthy feel tough? You can make it easier by taking a few steps at a time. Learning about nutrients is a great way to start. Another helpful tip is to learn how to read the Nutrition Facts label. You might also want to read our delicious and nutritious snack ideas. And check out the helpful tips we’ve cooked up for you below:

    Healthy Eating Ideas

    There are lots of ways you can try to eat healthier. Two great ways are:

    • Don’t supersize. Americans often eat very big portions. Eating too much food can lead to being overweight and lots of related health problems. When eating out, avoid “jumbo” and “all-you-can-eat” specials. When you eat from a food package, check the label to see what counts as a serving size. Then put the amount you plan to eat on a plate instead of eating straight from the bag or container. It’s easier to avoid eating more when the food is not in front of you!

    • Get good nutrition from the calories you eat. Too often, kids eat a lot of what some people call “empty” calories. That means a food may add to your weight but will add little or nothing much to your health. Foods with empty calories have a lot of added sugars or unhealthy fats (or both!). Here’s an example: If you eat a piece of carrot cake, you won’t get very much to help your health. But let’s say you eat the same number of calories in the form of carrots. In that case, you get the calories plus a whole bunch of great nutrients.

    • Keep in mind that most girls should aim to eat no more than 120 or 160 empty calories a day. How can you avoid empty calories? Try cutting back on sugary sodas, fruit drinks, ice cream, cookies, and cake.

    Here are some more healthy eating tips:

    • Choose water instead of sugary drinks. Add a slice of lemon for taste.
    • Drink low-fat or non-fat milk instead of whole milk.
    • Work with an adult to cook foods in healthier ways. Try baking or broiling rather than frying.
    • Ask your family to try to buy less junk food, so you are not tempted. Even better, join the shopping trip and pick out some good-for-you foods.
    • Check out suggestions from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
    • Use our healthy eating checklist to choose and track some smart steps.

    Eating at School

    Here are some steps you can take to be smart about food at school.

    • Choose the salad bar, but go easy on toppings like cheese, cold cuts, and regular salad dressing. If your school doesn’t have a salad bar, ask about getting one.
    • Try to limit sugary treats, like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and brownies.
    • Pick more fruits and veggies. Try to fill half your plate with them.
    • Limit things like regular mayonnaise, salad dressing, and gravy that can make a meal less healthy. Choose low-fat versions of such foods instead.
    • Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast. That way you won’t be so hungry at lunch that you can’t think through your choices.
    • Check out the school’s menu at home the night before instead of waiting to decide at the last minute.
    • Consider bringing lunch and healthy snacks from home. That way you will know exactly what you’re getting. You might mix things up by packing some leftovers. Try using different kinds of breads for sandwiches, like a tortilla wrap, whole wheat roll, or multigrain bagel.

    Idea: Get Growing

    One great way to eat more fruits and vegetables is to start your own garden. Your food will be fresh — and sprinkled with a little pride! Plus, you can get a little extra exercise, too. If you don’t have a lot of space, try a small potted tomato plant.

    Building Better Habits

    You may want to make healthy choices. You may even know what foods to pick. But that doesn’t mean healthy eating is easy. (It’s not just a piece of cake!)
    Here are some tips to help:

    • Try not to make too many changes at one time. You might just get frustrated and give up.
    • Think about which kinds of changes would work well for you. Maybe you could switch from ice cream to low-fat frozen yogurt. Or maybe it would be easier for you to start drinking fewer sodas.
    • Make a plan. Think carefully about what you want to do and how you will do it. For example, if you want to eat less fat, decide that you will crunch carrots instead of chips. And writing down your plan can help make it work.
    • Set yourself up for success. Certain situations can make people eat more. For example, try not to eat while watching TV. You may be too distracted to realize how much you’re eating. Also, don’t wait until you are very hungry to eat. You probably will just grab something without thinking.
    • Have some food fun. Get your friends involved with a pop quiz, for example. See if they can guess how many chips equals a serving or how much sugar is packed in your cereal.
    • Make it a family affair. See if your whole family can try some healthy habits, like eating a nutritious dinner together at least a few times each week.
    • If you don’t stick with a healthy plan, try not to criticize yourself too much. Nobody makes great choices every time. Just keep trying.

    Eating Well & Saving Money

    It may seem like healthy foods can be expensive. Here are some ways to eat well and save money.

    • Help out your family by clipping coupons. You can look for them in the newspaper or online.
    • Buy in bulk. Small packages often wind up costing more. For example, you can buy a big bag of pretzels and then put single servings into small, resealable bags.
    • Go meatless. Beans are a great source of protein and are not very expensive.
    • Try frozen or canned fruits and veggies. They last longer than fresh produce. (Try to use low-sodium canned veggies, though.)
    • Use the “unit price” to find bargains. The unit price tells you what the food costs per pound, quart, or other measurement of the food in the package. It is usually posted on a small tag on the shelf below the food. Compare brands, and buy the one that has the lowest price per unit.

    From: Girl Health

  • Articles, Healthy Eating

    Two Fun and Easy Summer Recipes by Ashley Mosley

    White chocolate popcorn and watermelon lime water:

    Recipe #1
    1 bag of Popcorn
    1 bag of white chocolate chips
    1 pot

    Directions:
    Pop the Popcorn
    Melt the white chocolate chips over the stove. Make sure to keep stirring it, to keep it from burning.
    Add the popcorn to the melted chocolate chips
    Put in the freezer and let it freeze for 45 minutes. Once frozen, take out and enjoy!!

    Recipe #2
    Watermelon or watermelon chunks
    1 lime
    Water
    Glass

    Directions:
    Mash up the watermelon and pour the watermelon juice into a glass
    Squeeze the lime into the water
    Pour over ice cubes and enjoy!
    It makes a yummy and pretty way to make sure you are getting your H20 in!

  • Articles, Healthy Eating

    Healthy Weight Loss Tips by Megan Flint

    It’s finally officially summer! While that means beach time and ice cream, it can also mean more anxiety and self-consciousness because our bodies are more revealed in the heat. I know a lot of girls worry about their bodies not measuring up to others’ and some go to drastic measures to lose as much weight as they can.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there about losing weight. Here are a few good tips to help you lose any weight you desire in a safe, healthy way.

    1. Drink more water. Sometimes, we eat because we think we’re hungry but in actuality we’re thirsty. Also, the more water you drink, the less likely it is that you’ll hold on to water weight and get bloated. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Our bodies hold on to water when they’re dehydrated, even if it’s “only a little” dehydrated. If you drink enough water and are hydrated, your body will stop holding onto extra water weight, and you’ll feel better as well as your body runs better. (Don’t drink too much water, though. If your urine is clear, that means that you’re drinking too much water and you need to cut back.)

    2. Find a physical activity you enjoy doing. This is hard for some of us, because if you don’t like running, walking, or the machines at the gym, you might feel a little defeated. But there are so many other kinds of activities out there. Maybe try skating, either roller or ice. If that’s not your thing, try a dance class. There are so many types of dance, and they all give you a good workout. Belly dance, tap dance, hip hop, or ballet — it doesn’t matter what kind you’re doing, as long as you’re moving your body.

    3. Swap sweets and junk food for healthier foods. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating everything fun. You can still indulge in that Ben and Jerry’s pint that’s in your freezer. But maybe try swapping out potato chips for vegetable sticks or a couple handfuls of nuts. A chocolate bar could be replaced by some apple slices. Try substituting these healthier choices once or twice a week, and you might see a difference.

    4. Stop eating because you are bored. If you’re not sure if you’re truly hungry, try focusing on another activity — whether that’s writing, reading, drawing, whatever — and see if the hunger goes away. So many of us sit in front of the television and eat way too much as we’re zoned out, trying to entertain ourselves. Try doing nothing else while you eat, and you might find that you’re eating too much because you’re trying to distract yourself.

    The biggest thing to remember when trying to lose weight is that you should never decide how much you’re worth based on how much you weigh. You’re beautiful now, and if you lose weight, you’ll be beautiful then, but even if you don’t, you’ll still be beautiful. As cliche as it sounds, it really does matter what’s on the inside, not the outside.

    (Picture from usamasalman at DeviantArt)

  • Articles, Health, Healthy Eating, Travel

    My Trip to Italy: An Insight on the Future of Food

    My trip to Italy is one that I will not soon forget! I was exposed to many things – a new culture, a new location, new smells… but most importantly, I was exposed to a new way of viewing food. Most of us in America pop food in our mouths without taking a second to consider where it comes from, what ingredients are in it, if the way it was made damaged the environment at all, or if it could possibly even be making you sick. In Italy, however, things are almost the opposite. For the most part, restaurants and ordinary people in Italy are much more conscious of the details of their food. For example, when we were eating at a place known for their traditional pizzas, we asked the owner where he gets the cheese from. He immediately gave us directions to a local mozzarella farm where his business gets all of their cheese. It was less than 15 miles away! We then went to the mozzarella farm, where we found lots of cows and cheese being made. I immediately noticed a difference in how dairy cows are treated in Italy versus how they are treated in America. At the cheese farm in Italy, the cows were roaming a grassy field, being fed grass and hay; meanwhile, if you visit a dairy farm in America, you are likely to witness cows stuffed back to back in an area that is way too small for them, being fed nothing but corn. All the cheese tasted incredibly fresh- not processed or packaged at all. Imagine if all restaurants and grocery stores in America could tell you exactly where they got their food from.

    Next, we visited an organic lemon grove. This lemon grove produced more than just lemons, however, they also produced oranges, olive oil, and honey. And all of it tasted absolutely divine! None of it tasted like what I was used to it tasting like! It was truly an experience that changed my life. When I asked one of the farmers why they taste this way, he told me it was because their farm refused to put any pesticides onto their plants, and instead use entirely organic methods of farming. When I asked him why they did this, since the alternative was obviously much easier, he simply said that it is because it is healthier for the consumer, and that is the top priority of their farm. He then invited me to eat full slices of lemons – peel and all! I was hesitant at first, but after I did, I immediately went in for another. The lemons were so fresh! And the peels were not bitter and waxy to eat! It really shows you what a little extra care for a crop can change.

    We then later went to a three-day summit where we delved into the problems of food even deeper. We discussed how food affects the environment, culture, technology, health and wellness, and the economy. We then all split into teams and all came up with new innovative ideas to address these problems. It was overall an incredible experience where I learned a lot and changed many perspectives that I had about food. We also had the honor of meeting and listening to three amazing guest speakers – Stephen Ritz, Raj Patel, and Anthony Bourdain. All who had very different and interesting approaches to food. Stephen Ritz, who is a school teacher from the Bronx, noticed how unhealthy his students were becoming. He realized that the environment, and the food options, that his students were growing up with were unacceptable. He decided to take matters into his own hands and created a school garden that the students would help take care of, urging students to make better food choices by eating what they grow, instead of relying on processed “foods”. The results were incredible, more and more students started attending school, and more and more kids were getting healthier instead of becoming sicker. But Mr. Ritz didn’t stop there, he then continued making more and more gardens to install in the rest of the community, making The Bronx look greener, and directly affecting the community’s morale. Just by using the power of plants, Mr. Ritz was able to turn a school that hardly had an attendance, into a community with a goal of making the world greener.

    Our next guest speaker, Raj Patel, was a scholar in public in public affairs, and he has written many books on the topic of food justice. He offered amazing insight on how food problems across the world are all connected by some of the same rooted problems. He told us how in order to solve food problems for the long term, it is going to take more than just shipping food. In order to solve a problem for one issue, it requires attention to all issues. He also has an exciting series of documentaries coming out very shortly that talks about these ideas. One of his quotes that really stuck with me was, “Food will not end hunger. Change to access to food will

    And lastly, our guest speaker Anthony Bourdain is one that is widely known. For those who do not know, Anthony Bourdain is a celebrity chef who is known for his shows “Parts Unknown” and “No Reservations”, where he goes to exotic locations and tries the traditional foods of that culture. In his speech, he discussed how food is apart of the culture. About how, when you are going to another country and trying a dish of that area, you are consuming a piece of their culture. Their family. What their grandmother’s made them. And about how dishes that contain foods that we aren’t accustomed to, such as bugs and snakes, are not weird but are just different.

    My favorite quote of his was, “It is easy to go into another country and see something abhorrent by our standards and try to correct them. The conversation ends there.”

    This was truly an experience and an opportunity that I will never forget! The knowledge and realizations that I have gained through this immersive trip are some of the most valuable tools that I will have on changing my community back at home. I cannot wait to bring the people of Birmingham this amazing insight! Si se puede!

    Stephen Ritz’s TedTalk

    Raj Patel’s TedMed Talk

    More Information on Anthony Bourdain