Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Candy Overload: Healthy Celebration Tips

A walk down the Easter candy aisle this week offers a host of selections from fifteen types of jelly beans to peanut butter eggs and bunnies the size of our children themselves. A survey conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination shows that kids consume an average of 350 calories from added sugar each day – more than triple the recommended amount – and during holidays it can be even more! Why does it matter? Added sugar is a major contributor to childhood obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes down the road. Luckily, managing sugar during holiday weekends is easier than you think. 

These tips are helpful for Easter and any holiday where sugar tends to take center stage.

Follow the 80/20 Rule 
Classroom parties, cookie-toting grandparents, and other obstacles to health are inevitable, but we don’t have to completely let go and give up all hope of managing them. Make sure that the meals you eat at home (and pack for school) are super-nutritious to compensate for those occasions when we eat less-than-healthy fare. That means getting our sweet fix from fresh fruit instead of fruit snacks, ordering out less and cooking at home more, and drinking more water and no sweetened beverages.

Skip the Juice Entirely 
Just toss out the juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that juice is not necessary in anyone’s diet and even compares it to drinking soda. Juice contains virtually no fiber and is simply liquid calories. Instead, make water fun by adding sliced fruit to it or freezing berries into ice cubes for fun and flavor!

Make Homemade Treats Instead of Candy
Baking cookies is often a time-honored tradition for many families, pulling out Great-Grandma’s recipe and then, of course, eating the fruits of the labor! Update those recipes by substituting whole-wheat flour for white, slashing the sugar, and making only half of the recipe and smaller portions. In many cases, you can reduce the sugar by half and not notice a dramatic change in flavor, and having fewer of them will help decrease the number that get eaten.

Set the Example and the Expectation. 
Children are just like us when it comes to something we can’t have: they just want it more! As they see their friends eating sugary snacks or fall victim to marketing messages created to encourage children to ask for junk food, the grumbling will surely begin.  Be firm in your decision to stock the house with healthy foods, but sit down to learn about food with your children. Educate yourself and your family about food, sugar, what’s good and bad to eat, and why. Give them choices – a dessert tonight or at this weekend’s party but not both – and let them set boundaries for themselves. Then, of course, set the example by modeling healthy habits at home!

There are so many delicious treats surrounding us during special holidays, and it is surely difficult to resist them. But, keeping your eye on the prize - a healthy body and a healthy family – can make it seem less like work and more like a gift. Set limits, make some healthy swaps, and reduce sugar where you can to ensure that the only sweets in your holiday are those happy, healthy kids! 
Click here healthy Easter basket ideas, and be sure to log in to to track your healthy habits all weekend long!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What to look for on Nutrition Facts labels

Many times, unhealthy habits don't come from a lack of interest, but rather a lack of knowledge and time to put knowledge to work. We're busy, and a week of school, work, and other activities can quickly pass by with another promise to do better "next time." Well, next time is here! The next time you head to the grocery store, keep this quick lesson in food package labels in mind so you can do better this time.

The Nutrition Facts label can be quite confusing. Its hard to determine what serving size is appropriate for our needs, the numbers don't always add up, and mixed messages make us unsure of what a healthy choice is. Here's how to make the most of your limited time in the store and ensure that what lands in your buggy is a good choice.

1. Total calories per serving. The number of calories listed on a package may not seem like a lot, until you realize that the package actually holds 2.5 servings! This is the case on many convenience-sized snacks such as chips, crackers, and mixed nuts. If figuring out how much of the package is a serving is too much trouble, ditch it and grab an apple instead!

2. Total fiber. Fiber is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but package labels will tell you how much fiber is in a food as well. Look for fiber especially in cereals, pasta, and other grain products. Fiber is important for digestive health and can go a long way in helping with weight loss because it helps you feel full longer. How much fiber do you need each day? Likely between 25-35 grams! Here's another vote for avoiding packaged foods...many of them are low in fiber.

3. Amounts and types of fat. Take a look at the numbers for saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fats and choose those that contain little saturated fat and trans fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are healthy for you, but even those pack a lot of calories. "Fat-free" doesn't equal "calorie-free." Many fat-free and low-fat foods have added sugar, which brings us to our last highlight...

4. Sugar. Now commonly attributed for our national obesity crisis, sugar is a big bad dude. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends just 3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar each day for children. Four grams of sugar are equal to roughly 1 teaspoon. Take a look at the nutrition facts label and do some quick math to determine whether that box goes into the buggy or back on the shelf!

Nutrition facts labels are supposed to be helpful, not confusing. Take time this weekend to go through your pantry with an app like Fooducate that has a barcode scanner. It will "grade" your food and suggest healthier alternatives. Or, click here to use an interactive nutrition facts label tool that can teach you even more.

And as always, remember to log in to every day to track your family's numbers! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tenant #5: Hidden Sources of Sugar

Its in what we drink, its in much of what we eat, and it’s hiding in many foods that we would never suspect. Its in pickle relish, ketchup, bread, crackers, and nuts. Its in our peanut butter, coffee creamer, and yogurt. Its even in lunch meat! What is it? Sugar. And, as sugar has been added to many of the foods we buy and eat, our nation has become fatter and unhealthier.

Doctors, health experts, and 95210 all advise us to eliminate added sugar from our diets. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons (or 100 calories) while men shouldn’t consume more than 9 teaspoons (or 150 calories) each day. Many Americans consume an average of 475 calories of added sugar each day, sometimes by eating foods that they think are healthy!

The 95210 tenants recommend zero exposure to sugar for children. But that means more than just dumping our the candy jar and swapping soda for water. There are many places where sugar is hiding in our foods. Are these sugar-shocked foods in your pantry?

Reduced Fat Items

Reduced fat sounds good, but many times, sugar is added to replace the flavor lost when fat is removed. But, it's hiding behind the names of maltodextrin, corn syrup solids and molasses. Other names for sugar include:
  • agave nectar,
  • brown sugar, 
  • cane crystals, 
  • cane sugar, 
  • corn sweetener, 
  • corn syrup, 
  • high fructose corn syrup, 
  • crystalline fructose, 
  • dextrose, 
  • evaporated cane juice, 
  • fructose, 
  • fruit juice concentrates, 
  • glucose, 
  • honey, 
  • invert sugar, 
  • lactose, 
  • maltose, 
  • malt syrup, 
  • molasses, 
  • raw sugar, 
  • sucrose, and 
  • syrup
Sauces and Marinades
Barbecue sauce, ketchup, and marinades often add up to four teaspoons of sugar to our foods! Its easy to overdo it on these condiments, so use a teaspoon to measure out a portion for your meal, and calculate it when you are logging your calories. These seemingly minimal additions to our plate really add up in sugar and calories!

"Light" Salad Dressing
Just as in reduced fat items, foods that are promoted as "lite" or having fewer calories often have more sugar or are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to sugar cravings. Check the food label for the amount of sugar in your store-bought dressing or make your own with some of these recipes.

Cereal and Granola Bars
Cereal is a quick and easy go-to breakfast for busy mornings, and sometimes an even easier dinner for tired nights! But some bowls of cereal can add up to three teaspoons of added sugar per serving. Even cereals marketed to adults have more sugar than necessary, and in some granola bars sugar is one of the first ingredients. Check out these Worst Cereals for Kids and these Best Bets in the Cereal Aisle to make sure you are fueling with something good for you. 

Sugar is a necessary part of a balanced diet. Adequate carbohydrates are essential for brain functioning and sports performance, and there is a place for sugar in baking and other recipes. But, sweetness and sports fuel can be effectively found in fruits, vegetables, and wholesome foods. When you decrease the amount of added sugar in the foods you eat, your body benefits.

Read a few labels and take some extra time at the grocery store this week. You may find that sugar tenant is easier to reach than you thought!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Healthy Living on the Road

The 95210 tenants are all about healthy living at home, work, and school. But what happens when we hit the road? With Spring Break next week and summer vacation on the horizon, road trips offer an escape from the daily grind. But, they don't have to be an escape from your healthy habits. It is possible to be healthy on vacation, and this video is full of ideas for how to do it.

Healthy habits are portable! They come with us wherever we go. Pack yours up when you leave for vacation and return feeling healthy, vibrant, and energetic!

On the go or on the road, has a mobile site so you can access it on your smart phone. Log in each day and track your healthy 95210 habits no matter where you vacation takes you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tallahassee Hosts a Healthy Spring Break

The 95210 tenant of getting one hour of physical activity can be difficult to reach when you work full time and when kids spend much of their day inside. But, with Leon County Schools on Spring Break next week, its a great time to search out some active ways to spend your time. Many local camps offer active respite for classroom-weary kids, or if you are taking the week off as well, there are plenty of ways to stay active all week long. 
Check out these fun and action-packed opportunities for your kids to stay active during the upcoming break from school, as well as local exploring you can do as a family. This article is republished courtesy of

Day 1: Go Hiking!
Wakulla Springs, Forestmeadows Park, the Miccosukee Greenway, and Maclay Gardens all offer kid-friendly hikes that foster a greater appreciation of the beautiful natural resources of Tallahassee. Pack water bottles, granola bars, dried fruit, and wear sunscreen to make sure your hike is as safe as it is healthy and fun.

Day 2: ARTS After School
Karate, dance, conditioning, and playground games are balanced with art, music, sewing, and free play to provide a well-rounded day of healthy activity. Drop-in rates are just $37 per child, or you can attend for the week for $185. Bring a lunch and water to stay fueled for fun all day long.

Day 3: Lace up your skates!
Skate World is open for spring break from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, so head over for some fun, music-infused fitness. Skating not only improves cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and lung capacity, the American Council on Fitness reports that One hour on inline skates burns about as many calories as running while strengthening your leg muscles and connecting tissues.  It’s also really fun!

Day 4: Rock Out!
If a week at home watching television makes you feel like you’re about to climb the walls, try climbing the walls at the Tallahassee Rock Gym instead. They’re open at 3:00 pm each afternoon, and invite kids as young as five years old to come and try out their fun and unique workout. Kids will gain confidence as they learn a new skill, all while burning calories and gaining strength.

Day 5: Hit the Gym
International Gold Gymnastics has a spring break camp that offers full-day, half-day, all-week, or single-day options for kids looking for fun and fitness. $50 for a full-day and $35 for a half-day provides gymnastics, arts and crafts, snacks, and fun games. Gymnastics helps kids learn balance and coordination, and is a great way for them to just have fun being active!

Spring break is a great time to start thinking about how to spend summer vacation. These tastes of Tallahassee’s more active camp ideas might be inspiration for planning an active and healthy summer break, as well. Do you have a favorite active spot for kids? Share them in the comments below!

Monday, March 4, 2013

That Burned How Many Calories? Tenant #4: Physical Activity
Getting an hour of exercise each day is a great goal, and one that we all would agree goes a long way towards promoting better health. After all, the more exercise we get, the more calories we burn! And, exercise is also a contributor to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, stress levels, and body weight. There is no shortage of reasons to exercise.

Time, however, is another hurdle. We're busy! Its hard to find time to get to the gym and work up a sweat for 60 minutes every day. Well, there is good news - you may not necessarily need to. Check out the calorie burns for these common activities, many of which you probably need to do around your house!

Raking Leaves:  Go ahead and let those leaves pile up…for now. An hour of working up a sweat by raking them will earn you 275 calories.  Put some muscle into it and get a great upper body workout!

Bagging Leaves or Pine Straw: Bagging those leaves and hauling to the curb will add 255 calories to your daily burn.  Keep your core muscles strong by remembering to bend at the knees and lift heavy loads carefully. Doing these multi-functional squats will work your lower body including hamstrings, quads, and glutes!

Planting Shrubs: Planting saplings or shrubs, including digging holes and hauling plants around the yard, will set you back almost 300 calories an hour. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you work; fall may be around the corner but Southern temperatures still reach almost 90 throughout September. Stay cool  and hydrated to prevent overheating!

Chopping and Splitting Wood: Mild winter nights are perfect for spending time outside around a festive bonfire! So, you’ll be glad that you took time now to chop and split the wood you’ll need to build it. To reward your work, deduct 380 calories from your day for every hour spent at the axe.

Sweeping the Garage or Driveway: Once your fall chores are done, its time to clean up! Sweeping might not seem like much work, but an hour’s work will reward you with 250 calories burned. At that rate, you may be motivated to volunteer sweeping services to your neighbors, too!

Now, does doing these chores mean you can skip the gym? Not so fast! Making exercise a regular part of your day in an intentional way is an important habit to create. It strengthens your body and immune system, burns calories, and gives you valuable time to do something positive for yourself each day. Instead these examples may provide inspiration for finding other ways to make your day more active overall.

Look around for opportunities to squeeze in exercise...they may be hiding right in front of you!

Log your exercise time and more at each day!