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Healthy Eating

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

    School Lunch is Not Meeting its Goal

    food tray

    Are you a parent who constantly hears your child speak about hunger after school? Throughout America, students are complaining about not being provided enough food for lunch. The Federal Nutrition Standards of the USDA in school nutrition needs to change. The portion size of school meals needs to be increased.

    All throughout school we are told that cafeteria food is meant to be healthy and nutritious.Although that may be true, the portion size is simply not enough for students. In 2012, a radio interview was held with Jessica Donze Black, director of Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, Pew Charitable and she says “The United States Department of Agriculture updated the standards for school lunches. In fact most of the standards people are really supportive of. It’s more fruits, more vegetables, more whole grains, low-fat, no-fat dairy, the things we know kids need more of. The standards are intended to meet one-third of the needs of the average child”(Black). With this in mind, I understand that the USDA want students to be healthier, but students are constantly hungry after eating a school lunch after a few hours. Also if the standards are only intended to meet one-third of students,then the majority is not being affected.This defeats the purpose of the Standards. 

    In addition,parents are beginning to realize that their kids are not receiving enough food from school meals.Further on in the radio show, a parent argues back and she claims that her children have been commenting that they are very hungry and that they have noticed that they can’t eat as much at school.She’s had to actually supplement their food with a snack. She sends them a snack every morning so they can eat and not be starving when they get home.This reveals that health is no longer the issue with school food.The issue is the amount of food students are recieveing.As a student, I can see that the food is healthier,but on the downside it is lighter,and it no longer fills up the majority of students.

    Furthermore,the portion size of school lunches has been changed to reduce childhood obesity. This goal is being accomplished, but children are complaining more about being hungry. In Maury Thompson’s article: School Lunch Regulations Still Leaving Students Hungry. Thompson says “The new lunch standards are part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to reduce obesity. In these new standards restrictions have been applied. One example for this situation would be that some cafeterias used to serve 1 and a half grilled cheese sandwiches with a total of two ounces of cheese. Now students receive one sandwich containing 4 ounces .showing an increase of protein but decrease of bread. Critics say these restrictions are too drastic and leave students hungry.

    The USDA is ignoring the problem of in-school hunger. They are addressing one problem, childhood obesity, and creating another, in school hunger. They are overly focused on obesity rather than creating standards to balance out obesity and in-school hunger.

    In addition, students whose stomachs are full or nearly full in class, improve in academic performance. In school when a student is hungry they tend to focus on thinking about food. Scientists have observed that food affects the brain’s function. If a child is hungry, it is harder for them to do their best work. If the USDA provide students with larger amounts of food,it would throw out the distraction of hunger in students. We have all been in class at a point in time trying to learn, but then our stomachs growl and we shift our thoughts to food, or simply become unconcerned about the lesson. The worst part about this is students are complaining that the hunger occurs after they have just eaten cafeteria  lunch.

    In the same way that academics are being lessened, so are athletics. The decrease of portion sizes are hurting our student athletes. Nearly 8 million high school students are athletes. At the beginning of the 21st century the public health community discovered and explained that being overweight and obese is a problem in the nation’s youth. In 2015, an article Are School Lunches Starving Student Athletes was published on beyondchron.org, a site that provides coverage of ignored activities happening in the country. In this article Donna Woldow speaks about the issue of student athletes not being provided with enough to eat. She says that “school lunches are failing to meet student athletes’ nutritional needs” (Woldow). With that being said we learn that student athletes are being ignored, and the players are beginning to realize that very few are concerned about their situation.

    Ultimately, the USDA must increase the portion sizes given in school meals. After eating lunch students should no longer have the complaint of hunger, but as stated the complaint has risen.The USDA has done a great job of lowering childhood obesity rates, but has created the issue of in-school hunger. Students need to eat a satisfying portion of food because it creates successful students. Teachers, and parents it is your turn now. Students all over America have attempted to be heard, but they are being ignored. Stand up for your students get the USDA to change the school meal standards.The positive result of this change will limit the complaints of students being hungry.

  • Articles, Food, GirlSpring.com, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle, Local

    A Gluten Free Guide To Birmingham

    Gluten Free Pancakes

    I have been gluten-free for a little over four years. A first, I struggled to find much to eat at restaurants beside the classic GF meal, a hamburger with no bun. I turned sixteen two years ago and decided that now that I could drive I was going to start finding new restaurants that offered a better variety of GF options. Now, I have found many restaurants that offer GF options without giving up delicious flavor. I wanted to share a list of my favorite GF foods you can find in Birmingham, AL! 

    Breakfast Options:

    • Another Broken Egg has the best GF chocolate chip pancakes. They are so good that sometimes my sister will order them over the regular pancakes.
    • Magic Muffins offers a GF muffin. It is a nut/raisin muffin; though I wish they had a few different options of flavors, it is still a really yummy option.

    Lunch / Dinner Options:

    • Delta Blues is a 100% gluten-free restaurant, and let me tell you, it is my all-time favorite restaurant in Birmingham. They are known for their hot tamales (I recommend the Mississippi Mud tamale), but they also have chicken fingers, wings, and more fried foods that people on a GF diet can’t ever have. I highly urge everyone to try Delta Blues, gluten-free or not.
    • Slice Pizza and California Pizza Kitchen both offer a GF pizza that is quite delicious and worth the splurge.
    • P.F. Changs has an entire GF menu (you just have to request it once you sit down) that offers a lot of the meals on the regular menu with just a few modifications. 

    Snack / Dessert Options:

    • Church Street Coffee’s GF lemon poppy seed bread is unbelievably good. The first time I had a piece of it, it was so good that I questioned to make sure it was actually gluten-free!
    • Red Cat Coffee has a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and lots of other yummy GF baked treats that are all very yummy.
    • Cookie Fix’s #1 selling cookie, The Healthy PB Cookie, happens to be GF! There is a reason it is their best seller!

    I hope that if you are already GF or looking into what it is like to be GF, this list helped you realize how many options for a GF diet there are in Birmingham! It has been so fun to try new GF goodies and not have to always order the same thing whenever I eat out.

    Looking for more healthy eating options? Go to www.girlspring.com!

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

    The Smoothies You’ll Need to Cool Down this Summer

    smoothies

    Smoothies are such a fast, easy, and healthy way to beat the summer heat. Here are five of my favorite recipes:

    1. Orange cream smoothie
    smoothies

    Blend together these ingredients:

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 1 orange peeled
    • Honey, to taste
    • 1 cup almond milk, soy, or coconut
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or vanilla yogurt (for extra flavor!)

        2. Peanut Butter Banana

    smoothies

    Blend together these ingredients:

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened or vanilla)
    • 1 ½ tablespoons of natural peanut butter
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Honey, to taste
    • ½ cup plain greek yogurt or vanilla yogurt

    3. Strawberry banana smoothie

    smoothies

    Blend together these ingredients:

    • 1 frozen banana
    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • 1 cup almond, soy, or coconut milk
    • ½ cup vanilla greek yogurt
    • Honey, to taste

    4. Mixed Berry Smoothie

    smoothies

    Blend together these ingredients:

    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • ½ frozen banana
    • 1 cup mixed berries
    • 1 cup almond, coconut, or soy milk
    • ½ cup vanilla greek yogurt
    • Honey, to taste

    5. Pina Colada Smoothie

    smoothies

    Blend together these ingredients:

    • 2 frozen bananas
    • 1 cup pineapple chunks 
    • 1 cup coconut milk (from the can)
    • Honey, to taste
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

    Here are some other healthy snacks that are great for the summer!

  • 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