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Dora’s Health Article: Organic or not?

People often wonder if there truly is a benefit to buying organic. The well known disadvantage is the higher price tag. Another problem is that organic produce tends to spoil much faster than conventional produce, which means frequent trips to the grocery store and often wasted food.  How should we choose whether or not to buy organic?

Health Consequences for Your Family
Many of the most frequently found pesticide residues are known immunotoxins, neurotoxins or endocrine disruptors. This means that pesticides found on foods can have potentially damaging consequences to your family’s health and cognitive development.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of pesticides since their cognitive and physical development is occurring at a much faster rate than adults. A team of scientists from Harvard University and the University of Montreal has recently found a connection between exposure to pesticides commonly found on fruits and vegetables and the presence of symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children (ADHD). Symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity and can adversely affect their learning ability.  The study focused on 1,139 children from the general U.S. population and measured pesticide levels in their urine.

EU Regulations on Pesticides
The EU has determined the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of pesticides for produce that is grown in or imported to the EU. However, of the produce that has been tested in Europe, about 5% consistently exceeds the MRL*.

Meat, fish and dairy can contain exceedingly high levels of pesticides since the pesticide levels from animal feed will accumulate in their muscles and fat over time.

Moreover, some fruits and vegetables have higher levels of pesticides than others. In the EU, those containing the most pesticides are:

  • Mandarins
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • pears
  • apples 
  • strawberries
  • beans
  • spinach
  • aubergines 
  • peppers

(This varies by geographical region – for those of you who are American, the  most contaminated produce in the US are: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, and carrots).



The big question is: what can we do to limit our family’s exposure to pesticides? Indeed, going all organic can be a stretch to your budget, so here is how I prioritize:

Since pesticides linger in fat and muscle, I try to buy only organic meat, fish, eggs, and milk.
Next I look for organic fruit, because bugs, just like us, prefer sweet, ripe fruit, which often means more pesticides.
For vegetables, I buy some organic (especially those on the list above) and some conventional, but only from the EU.  The list of pesticides allowed on plants is fairly well controlled in the EU, but the standards are quite different abroad.

To reduce your level to pesticide exposure of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables , wash  produce in a vinegar: water (1:3 ratio of vinegar,Tafelessig and water) solution.  Keep it handy in a spray bottle by the sink.  Spritz your fruit and veggies, allow it to sit a minute, then rinse thoroughly. For leafy veggies and berries, create a vinegar/ water cold bath with a good splash of vinegar, then rinse. Don’t worry about a vinegar aftertaste, it rinses away, I promise!  Peeling fruits and vegetables will also remove some contaminants.

For more information on pesticides in Germany and the EU, visit http://www.pesticide-residues.org/ and http://www.pan-europe.info.

*European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 2007 Annual Report on Pesticide Residues

Dora Meyer, RN, BSN, MSPH
Health Educator
www.healthy-start.net

Understanding the Gluten Free Trend

You may have heard something in the news or through a friend about cutting gluten out of your diet for health reasons. Perhaps you wondered if you should go “gluten free” as well.

Going gluten free is the newest trend on the dieting scene and
the food industry is catching on. On grocery shelves now you are likely to find an entire section dedicated to gluten free products. This is great news if you are gluten intolerant. Just a few years ago, it was all but impossible to find a selection of gluten free foods. But what about the rest of us? Are there health benefits to going gluten free?

First of all, what is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelt, Kamut, barley, rye and sometimes oats. It is what gives bread dough its elasticity. Most of us can eat gluten with no health problems. However, up to a tenth of the population suffers from some form of gluten sensitivity. The degree of sensitivity varies widely, and depending on how sensitive you are, you can suffer severe health consequences.

Below are the various degrees of gluten intolerance explained.

Gluten Intolerance (Celiac Disease)

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your body is unable to digest gluten and affects about 1% of the population. This leads to damage of the intestines and poor nutrient absorption, which over time can lead to malnutrition, other auto immune diseases, thyroid disease, and cancer. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease are never able to eat gluten foods; even a small amount will cause damage to their intestines.

A diagnosis for celiac disease is made after a positive blood test showing gluten antibodies and a biopsy of the small bowel.

Celiac disease is often undiagnosed for years, since there are over 300 symptoms for the disease. Remember, you know your body best. If you have been experiencing unexplained but persistent gastrointestinal  symptoms and suspect gluten intolerance, try eliminating all gluten from your diet for one week. If you notice an improvement, then press your doctor for a blood test to check for gluten antibodies.

Celiac disease runs in families. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with celiac disease, then other family members are also at risk and should be aware of the symptoms.

Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

When someone is diagnosed with non celiac gluten sensitivity, he often experiences similar symptoms as someone with celiac disease but does not suffer intestinal damage. Symptoms include headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and bloating that occurs hours to days after ingesting gluten. Some estimates suggest that around 1 in 10 people suffer from some degree of gluten sensitivity. Currently there are no diagnostic tests that can determine if you are gluten sensitive. The only way to find out if you are sensitive to gluten is by eliminating all gluten from your diet for one week or more and observing if symptoms improve.

Wheat Allergy

A wheat allergy should not be confused with celiac disease. When you are allergic to wheat protein, your immune system triggers an allergic reaction that can range from mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to life threatening symptoms (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.).
A wheat allergy is common among young children, and they often outgrow it. However, you will never outgrow gluten intolerance and must follow a strict gluten free diet for the rest of your life.

Should you go Gluten Free?

If you are not gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant then there is no reason to abstain from gluten in your diet, just as you do not need to avoid milk if you are not lactose intolerant. Whole grains containing gluten also contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you feel bloated or experience other gastrointestinal symptoms after eating bread or pasta then avoid gluten foods for one week and see if your symptoms clear up. If you notice an improvement of symptoms then you may indeed be gluten sensitive. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy a nice bowl of pasta guilt free!

To learn more about symptoms of gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity visit:
http://www.celiaccentral.org
http://business.time.com/2013/03/13/why-were-wasting-billions-on-gluten-free-food/
http://www.celiac.org/

Please be sure to check out my website for health tips and recipes at www.healthy-start.net. And thanks or reading!

Dora Meyer, RN, BSN, MSPH

The Role of Calcium in Preventing Osteoporosis

It is an unfortunate truth that about ¼ of Western women will suffer some form of osteoporosis in their older years. The fact is, once we hit our 40th birthday, we start to lose bone mass.  We have heard since childhood that drinking milk helps to build strong bones and protects us from the onset of dreaded osteoporosis. But studies in recent years have delved deeper into the theory that drinking milk = strong bones and have come up with some controversial results.

Does more Calcium = Stronger Bones?


This is what we know for sure:  Women who live in countries where the highest amount of dairy products are consumed have the highest rates of osteoporosis. This disease afflicts women living in developed and urbanized areas.  Sadly, as many Asian countries have adopted a Western diet and lifestyle over the past few decades, their populations have seen an explosion in the rates of osteoporosis.

In most of Europe, the recommendation is that women consume around 1000 mg daily before menopause and 1500mg per day after menopause in order to prevent loss of bone mass. However, a large study  in Sweden showed that increasing calcium intake over 700mg per day did nothing to reduce the rate of osteoporosis, and may even put women at a higher risk by actually increasing the loss of bone mass. How can this be?

Factors that affect Calcium Absorption

Have you ever taken an antacid after a particularly rich meal (or a night of one too many glasses of wine?)  Our stomachs are not happy in an acidic environment. Generally speaking, most animal foods are acid forming and fruits and vegetables are acid neutralizing.  The calcium carbonate in your antacid acts as a buffer and helps to bring your stomach pH back to an alkaline level. Some researchers believe that calcium in our bodies work on this same principal. In other words, when we eat acid forming foods, our body borrows calcium from our bones to neutralize the acid in the stomach. Over time this results in a loss in bone mass and increased risk of osteoporosis.

Following this theory, it would be counterproductive to rely on dairy foods (milk, cheese, and yogurt) as our primary source of calcium, since milk is an acid producing food. This was shown In the Swedish study mentioned above. The women met their increased calcium needs by upping their dairy food intake, which did nothing to reduce their risk of osteoporosis and increase bone mass.

OK, so why don’t we just take a daily calcium supplement? Not so fast! Calcium supplements, once prescribed to nearly every woman over 50, now come with a strong word of caution. Several studies show that calcium supplements increase your risk for painful kidney stones. What is worse, a large German study even showed that taking calcium supplements put women at a significantly increased risk for heart attacks! Excess calcium can build up on your arterial walls and lead to plaque formation and narrowing of arterial walls that can choke off the blood supply to your heart.

So, what are we supposed to do to reduce our risk of osteoporosis?  The most prudent advice is to limit our intake of acid forming foods (all animal foods) and increase our acid neutralizing foods (fruits and vegetables). Between 450-900g of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit per day is optimal.  We can also try to get some of our calcium from non-animal sources. Some of the best sources of calcium are sesame seeds, tahini, chickpeas, all dark green vegetables, soybeans, and almonds.

Also, let’s not forget the important role Vitamin D plays in bone health.  Just 15 minutes of sun exposure 3 times per week allow your body to produce all the vitamin D it needs.

Be careful about taking vitamin, mineral, and other supplements, unless your doctor has prescribed them for you to correct a nutritional deficiency. After more than a decade of faulty advice to consume mega doses of nutrients through supplements, we are now starting to learn that’ supplements are often found to do more harm than good. Our best option is also the simplest, to rely on real food for our good health.

Dora Meyer, RN, BSN, MSPH
To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.healthy-start.net

Sources for this article:

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1473,
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/26/news/la-heb-calcium-20110526
http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/osteoporosis/protein-osteoporosis-prevention_5826-1.html
http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/96/11.14.96/osteoporosis.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18065599

The Mighty Potato

(Image courtesy of 
Grant Cochrane/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Mighty Potato
With the emphasis on watching our carbohydrate intake in the past couple of decades, the potato has gotten a bad rap. Potatoes are empty calories, loaded with starch, and offering as much nutrition as a hunk of white bread, right?  I confess that I have been guilty of this sentiment. When my daughter was a baby and had a week long illness that left her dehydrated and underweight, her pediatrician recommended that I feed her potatoes every day.  I scoffed at the idea.  Potatoes? No way! I remember my husband asking me “are you sure potatoes aren’t good for you?”  I love a challenge, so I did some digging…

A Little History
Potatoes have long been a staple food in much of northern Europe. At first met with skepticism and believed to bring on leprosy, many historians attribute the widespread cultivation of the potato to the end of famine in Europe in the mid 18th century.

Legend has it that King Frederick the Great of Germany used a little reverse psychology to pique the interest of skeptic folk. He planted potatoes in the royal garden and ordered the fields to be guarded by soldiers. The common folk were naturally curious about the precious royal plant and stole samples to cultivate in their own fields. His plan worked, and the potato became a staple crop of Germany shortly thereafter. To this day, people leave potatoes on King Frederick’s grave to honor his contribution to German agriculture.

The Health Facts
Nutrient Rich 
Potatoes are complex carbohydrates that provide our bodies with just about every vitamin and mineral we need. In the 1800’s English and Spanish sailors stocked their ships with potatoes to fend off scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Potatoes are also a good source of folate, vitamin B, iron, and potassium, as well as essential and often under consumed nutrient fiber.

Nutritional Values for White Potato, Fresh, Baked (with Skin)Serving Size: 1 large baking potato (3-4″)

Calories 278
Fat <1 g
Saturated Fat <1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrate 63 g
Protein 6 g
Dietary Fiber 6 g
Sodium 21 mg
Vitamin C 37 mg
Thiamin <1 mg
Niacin 5 mg
Vitamin B6 1 mg
Copper <1 mg
Iron 2 mg
Magnesium 81 mg
Manganese <1 mg
Phosphorus 224 mg
Potassium 1,627 mg


Source:  http://home.howstuffworks.com/potatoes3.htm

What I found the most interesting is that potatoes are also a good source of protein.  In Peru, a study showed that children suffering from malnutrition were fed a diet with potatoes as their primary source  protein and calories. The study concluded that the children not only recovered from malnutrition but actually thrived on this diet. One large potato provides an impressive 6 grams of protein, about the same as an egg.

Stress Regulators
Did you know that eating potatoes can actually lower your stress? Spuds are packed with vitamin B6, which helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and regulate your mood.  Vitamin B6 is needed to synthesize dopamine and serotonin; powerful neurotransmitters that help you feel balanced and happy.

Important Tips for Enjoying Potatoes

As is often the case with fruits and vegetables, many of the nutrients can be found in the skin of the potato. For this reason, try to choose potatoes with thin skins and keep the skins on when steaming or mashing. Boiling causes a significant loss of vitamin C. Opt for steaming or baking instead. Adding them to soups is also a good idea since the vitamin C leaches into the soup broth.

To Peel or not to Peel?
You may have heard that the skin of the potato contains toxic substances called glycoalkaloids, which is a potato’s natural defense against fungi. For this reason, it has been advised in the past to peel the potato before eating it. The truth is, you would have to eat somewhere  in the range of 50 potatoes in one meal in order to consume a significant amount of the toxin . Glycoalkaloids are concentrated in potato sprouts, so keep your potatoes in a cook, dark place and cut out any sprouts that happen to grow. Do not eat a potato if it has turned green. In that case, it has been exposed to light and the toxin concentration can be much higher.

If you prefer a skinless potato, it is best to leave the skin on when cooking and peel  them just before eating to retain the most vitamins.

March marks the beginning of the new potato season, or Fruhkartoffeln. These are prized by many to be the tastiest of the year. They are less starchy and smaller, and are lovely steamed and topped with some chives and crème fraiche.

I, for one, will be welcoming the humble potato back to my table.  If you are looking for a new recipe for enjoying your potatoes, be sure to check out my website www.healthy-start.net and click on Tortilla Española or Roasted Leek and Potato Soup.

Thanks for reading!
Dora Meyer RN, BSN, MSPH
Health Educator

New Animal Welfare Label

Leaders in the field of animal husbandry, Germany rolls out a new Animal Welfare Label

My daughter has these fun German books, called Wimmel Bücher, which we love looking at together. There is no text; rather each page is a scene in daily life full of minute details.  One of my favorites illustrates life on a farm.  Here, clean, white chickens peck around the dirt as the farmer scatters bird seed; there a couple of cows roam the bucolic countryside. Happy pigs frolic in the mud.  It is all so idyllic, and not at all the picture of a modern day farm.

The Real Story
Are you ready for a surprising statistic? The average German eats
around 60 kilos of meat per year, about double what we ate just 50 years ago.   Due to our ever-increasing appetite for meat, many farms have turned toward factory farming practices. It is hard to put an exact percentage on the meat produced by factory farms in Germany, as there is not one clear definition. However, the number is somewhere between 90 and 97% of meat produced. And sadly, Germany is increasingly becoming the mass meat producer for the world.  We process around 1.2 million hogs each year, much of it for export.

Because of this, animals are forced to adapt to factory farming standards, rather than living a life in accordance with their species. This leads to unnecessary suffering and pain for the animals, as well as unexpected health consequences for us.  Factory farms become breeding grounds for diseases. When thousands of cattle are packed into feedlots full of manure, bacteria can get onto their hides and end up in the slaughterhouses. This can result in thousands of kilos of meat contaminated with E-coli or other bacteria.  Egg-laying hens, due to their crowded living conditions, can quickly spread Salmonella to other hens, which can result in untold numbers of contaminated eggs.

Cramped living quarters on farms has necessitated the widespread use of antibiotics. It is estimated that 96% of chickens are routinely given antibiotics.  The misuse of antibiotics in animal husbandry has contributed to a veritable crisis in germ-resistant bacteria worldwide.

But Germany has set the wheels in motion for change.  Starting January, 2013, a two-tiered animal welfare label will take effect.  This voluntary certification is the first of its kind worldwide. Germany has positioned itself as a leader in animal welfare practices, with the hope that other EU countries will eventually follow.

What Does the New Label Mean for the Consumer?
The label promises standards far higher than current EU guidelines. It indicates to the consumer significant improvements for the treatment of animals, not only during their lives, but also in slaughter and transport practices. A two-tiered approach means that the first level would represent improvements in terms of space, access to natural habitat, and living conditions. The second tier would demand more extensive improvements.

For example the average farm raises 24 chickens in a square meter of space, or about the size of a small shower tub. The first level would require that farmers raise around half that number in the same amount of space. The second level would require even more space per chicken. By giving each animal more space, the common practice of beak searing would decrease, as chickens would be less aggressive.

Isn’t this the same thing as Organic (Bio) animal products?
Organic animal products adhere to EU regulations. The EU organic label signifies a wide range of farming practices, but does not concentrate specifically on animal welfare. If fact, many animal rights advocates complain that animal welfare standards on organic farms are frequently not very different from conventional farming practices. You can read more about Organic animal husbandry practice at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/animal-welfare/husbandry_en.

Farms applying for the Animal welfare label would not necessarily be organic. In many ways, the Animal welfare label demands more stringent and humane animal husbandry practices.

The Bottom Line
Of course, raising animals humanely translates to far fewer animals per farm, and consequently, higher prices for meat, eggs, and milk.

The question is whether or not consumers would be willing to spend more for these products. Presently, only about 1% of meat sold in Germany is organic. Many people like the idea of humane animal welfare laws but are unwilling to pay for it. This label appeals to the consumer who feels convicted about current animal welfare laws.

If we were to adopt more humane practices on a large scale we, as a population, would have to seriously look at our current meat consumption and make some drastic changes to our diet. To begin with, we could work on reducing our meat consumption to the recommended 300-600g per week.
But at least this is a start.  And when it comes to what we eat, our most powerful vote is the one we make with our fork.

To read more about the new label, click on http://www.tierschutzbund.de/tierschutzlabel.html

Thanks for reading!
Dora Meyer, RN, BSN, MSPH
Health Educator
www.healthy-start.net

Exciting news from Healthy Start! My website has been converted into a food blog! Please click on www.healthy-start.net and be sure to subscribe to receive the latest posts on recipes and health tips. 

Resources:

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/massentierhaltung-deutsche-fleisch-fabriken-werden-immer-groesser-1.1575786

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/wirtschaft/landwirtschaft-wie-gefaehrlich-ist-massentierhaltung-fuer-verbraucher/6096778.html

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/wirtschaft/landwirtschaft-mehr-kontrollen/6096778-2.html

Strategies to Boost your Metabolism

Maintaining your weight can seem like an uphill battle.  I’m sure we all know people who seem to be able to eat anything they want and still stay slim.  This must have something to do with their metabolism, right?  What is your metabolism and what does it have to do with your weight?

Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns
calories to maintain its normal functions, such as your heart beating and your lungs breathing. It is affected by many factors including gender, age, diet, activity level, sleep, amount of body fat, weight, and genetics.

It is true that some people seem to have a faster metabolism than others. In other words, they seem to eat more and stay trim. But, truth be told, genetics only count for around 5% of the rate of your metabolism.  In fact, what you eat and how much you move has much more to do with how well you burn calories than your genetic makeup.

What Influences your Metabolism?
Below are just a few factors that influence how fast your metabolism runs and what you can do to speed things up.

Age
It is a sad but true fact:  your metabolism slows by 5% each decade. Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories per day at 35 and 200 fewer per day at 45. If you don’t make any changes to your exercise and diet, you could end up an extra 4 to 6 kilos heavier per year!  Your strategy to combat the metabolism slow down is to get moving through daily exercise!

Exercise
One of the best ways to rev up your metabolism is to exercise.  After aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling, your body continues to burn calories for up to 8 hours!  Exercise will help you build muscle, which burns up to 3 times more calories than fat.  Work up to between 30-45 minutes of exercise each day. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, meet a friend for a walk instead of a coffee.  To help build muscle, join a yoga course. You get the idea. Little changes each day can really add up.

Dieting
Restricting your calories sends a signal to your body to slow down your metabolism in order to conserve energy. Once you have finished the diet and resume your normal eating routine, you body is confused. Because your metabolism has significantly slowed down, it cannot burn off the extra calories you are now consuming. Therefore, those calories will be converted to fat and stored (often on your tummy or hips).

A smarter strategy to keep the weight off for good is to decrease calories sensibly by increasing fiber foods and decreasing dairy and meat products. All fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer as well as aids in fat metabolism in the intestines.  Some of the best foods to incorporate in your diet are berries, tomatoes, green leafy veggies, beans, lentils, and whole grains.

Eat breakfast!

Your metabolism naturally slows in the late afternoon and evening. After a night of fasting, eating breakfast helps to jump start your metabolism. Those who eat breakfast tend to eat between 100-200 fewer calories throughout the day. Your best choices? High fiber and protein foods such as nut butters with whole grain toast, or a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts to keep your energy up throughout the morning.

Sleep
Getting less than eight hours sleep per night is associated with a higher body fat percentage, which translates to a sluggish metabolism. In fact the amount zzz’s you get each night directly affects the hormones that influence your appetite and fat storage (like cortisol, leptin and insulin). Aim between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

You have the power to boost your metabolism through diet and exercise Not only will you keep that extra weight off and build muscle,  you will also have more energy  to enjoy the things you love doing!
Have a healthy and happy holiday!

To learn more about me, visit http://www.healthy-start.net.  Please email me with your ideas, questions, and suggestions!  Dora Meyer, Health Educator, dzuppe@yahoo.com

The Healing Power of Chicken Soup

A nasty cold has been making its way through my house, starting with my daughter last week and ending with my parents who are visiting from the U.S.  My mom asked me to make a batch of chicken soup. This got me thinking about why it is that we think of chicken soup as the perfect cold remedy. As it turns out, scientists have studied the benefits of chicken soup and have found that it actually helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms!

When we are sick, our immune system is working overtime producing neutrophils,
a type of white blood cell which increases the inflammatory process and makes us feel congested.  A study from the University of Nebraska, USA, showed that chicken soup helped to reduce this inflammatory response and decreased the production of mucus. Reducing congestion helps to relieve stuffy noses, coughs, and sore throats that often plague us when we are ill.

One reason why colds are more common in the winter is because viruses thrive in dry conditions. Just inhaling the steam from a hot bowl of chicken soup can help to soothe dry scratchy throats and irritated nasal passages. And drinking the soup broth helps keep you hydrated which thins out mucus and helps soothe your cough and irritated nasal passages.

Chicken, especially dark meat, contains zinc, which has been found to shorten the duration of the common cold.  The addition of vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery, and parsley, provides your body with vitamins A and C, powerful antioxidants which help your immune system battle illness.

Below is my grandma’s recipe for chicken soup. Enjoy and stay healthy this winter!
One soup chicken, Suppenhuhn
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 fennel bulb, diced (stalks removed and discarded),
½ lemon, left whole
½ cup barley (Gerste) or brown rice
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium potatoes, skins on, diced
150 grams frozen peas
Chopped parsley or chives to serve

Choose a large soup pot and add the whole chicken to the pot. Add all other ingredients except the peas, potatoes, and herbs. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken.  Allow soup to boil. Cover pot, and turn down to a simmer for about 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. Remove chicken and allow to cool until able to handle. Remove and discard lemon half.  Add potatoes and peas to the soup.  (continue to simmer until potatoes are cooked).  Remove the chicken skin and pull chicken meat off the bone. Add the chicken meat back to the soup pot. Just before serving, sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Dora offers nutrition and cooking classes to the English speaking community in Munich. To learn more about her, visit http://www.healthy-start.net.  Please email Dora with your ideas, questions, and suggestions!
Dora Meyer, Health Educator, dzuppe@yahoo.com

Sources:
http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/diet.fitness/10/17/chicken.soup.reut/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cold-remedies/ID00036

September Health Column by Dora Meyer, Health Educator

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Eating a healthy diet can prove to be a difficult challenge. Many of us know what we should be eating in order to be healthy. But puttng that knowledge into daily practice can be a daunting task! The key is to let go of our old habits and adopt new and healthy ones.
Developing new habits takes work. We have to break out of our old routine and keep repeating the new behavior until it becomes familiar.


You may wonder exactly what healthy eating habits look like. Read through the list below to see how many of these sound similar to your daily routine:

• You drink water as your main beverage rather than soda or juice
• Your daily snacks are fruits and vegetables, not chips or crackers
• You eat as a family for most of your meals (or at least once a day)
• Your meals contain a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and small amounts of dairy, fish, and 
lean meats
• Desserts are fresh fruit. Sugary desserts are an occasional treat 



Reflecting on Your Eating Habits 
Take a few days examine your own habits. Write down where you eat, how you eat, when, and with whom. For example, do you tend to eat standing up? Do you skip lunch and end up reaching for snacks by mid‐day? Do you eat too fast? Reflect on your habits and pick a few that you would like to work on.


Tips for Healthy Habits 
Below are 6 tips that can get you started on your path to healthy eating. 



Tip 1: Plan Ahead 


Write down 3 healthy meals per week before grocery shopping. Write the ingredients needed for those meals and bring the list with you the next time you go shopping. Gradually work up to planning for 4 or 5 meals per week. By planning meals, you have less of a tendency to grab takeout food because you find that you have nothing in the fridge. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables and fruits. Frozen foods are just as healthy as fresh as they are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and have high vitamin content. You can use frozen vegetables to prepare fast weekday dinners.
And speaking of planning ahead, the next time you make a batch of soup or tomato sauce, double the recipe and freeze the extra portion for a quick and easy meal later on.



Tip 2: Prepare


Take one day a week to wash and cut vegetables for the next few days. Cut up carrots, peppers, and cucumbers into matchsticks, break apart broccoli and cauliflower into florets, and wash and spin dry lettuce. After preparing the vegetables, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic airtight bag in the fridge. They will remain fresh for four or five days. (Most fresh veggies can be prepared in this way with minimal nutrient loss if protected from light and air).

Tips 3: Think in Color

Try to add lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal. As a rule, include at least 3 kinds of fruits/ veggies, or a combination of both with each meal.
Incorporate both raw and cooked vegetables. Imagine your dinner plate divided into 3 segments. Vegetables should cover about half of the plate; one fourth should be protein foods, and one third starchy foods such as pasta, potatoes, and rice.


Tip 4: Sleep

Wait, what does sleep have to do with eating habits? Think about the last time
What did you use as a pick me up in the afternoon? Perhaps a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, to give your body a sugar and caffeine jolt. On average, you require around 7.5 hours of sleep per night for your metabolism to function properly. What’s worse, sleep deprivation causes your body to release too much of one hormone, Ghrelin, that causes you to eat more, and too little of another hormone, Leptin, that signals your body to stop eating. This hormone imbalance coupled with a sluggish metabolism can mean extra kilos on your waistline.


Tip 5: Eat your Meals as a Family

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine showed that families who at together ate least 3 days per week were more likely to have healthier diets and consume less fat overall. This was especially true for children, who consumed higher amounts of key nutrients such as calcium, fiber, and iron. Eating together provides an opportunity to be a role model of healthy eating for your children.


Tip 6: Start Small

Do not try to make any huge changes to your diet or routine all at once. Commit to one small change and stick to it until it becomes a regular habit. For example, start by eating a piece of fruit every night for dessert instead of cookies, or nibbling on carrot and celery sticks for an afternoon snack rather than crackers. As new habits become part of your routine you can continue to add more healthy changes.

To learn more about me, visit http://www.healthy‐start.net. Please email me with your ideas, questions, and suggestions! Dora Meyer, Health Educator, dzuppe@yahoo.com
Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep‐disorders/excessive‐sleepiness­‐10/lack­‐of­‐sleep­‐weight­‐gain
http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/04/daily-­‐chart-­‐17
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2007/feb/15/foodanddrink.ethicalfood