5 WAYS TO FOLLOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
March is National Nutrition Month (NNM), and what better way to dig in and learn more about all things wellness! Our parent company, Compass Group, has a tremendous amount of information on their website! Learn more about NNM here (https://www.weeatlivedowell.com/national-nutrition-month-2022/).
In ForLife, we are continuing to highlight the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle. Here are 5 ways you can implement the lifestyle's practice into your weekly routine!
1. Add a serving of vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds every day. Plants are the stars of the Mediterranean diet! Vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are some of the most important to incorporate into your diet due to their association with positive health outcomes. Replace some of your processed snacks and animal protein-rich meals
with additional servings of these recommended foods.
2. Replace 2-3 servings of red meat per week with seafood, lean poultry or vegetarian proteins. Mediterranean countries focus mainly on seafood, dairy, eggs, poultry and plants as their protein sources. Seafood, especially fatty fish such as salmon, has a high unsaturated fat content, beneficial for heart and brain health when eaten in place of the saturated fat found in red meat.
3. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Whole grains are rich in protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, folate, and several other essential nutrients. When grains are refined, they are stripped of many of these benefits. Aiming for half of your grains each day be whole grains is a great starting goal.
4. Use olive oil as your primary source of added fat. Olive oil is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fat: a type of unsaturated fat that has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood cholesterol, leading to heart and brain health. When you replace other items higher in saturated fat—such as butter or coconut oil—with olive oil, this can lead to a more desirable blood cholesterol level.
5. Make water your primary beverage. Many bottled beverages contain added sugar, thus added calories. Although they do provide hydration, when chosen as the primary beverage, these high-sugar drinks can lead to undesirable health outcomes. Water provides hydration without any added ingredients.
This quarter's ForLifewellness theme is "Mediterranean Lifestyle", highlighting the NOURISHMENT pillar and the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet: a plant-forward eating pattern focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It encourages poultry and seafood instead of red meat, and incorporates healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds while limiting added sugar and refined foods. Also, March is National Nutrition Monthso we have a lot to celebrate! The SUSTAINABILITY pillar this quarter is focused on sustainable practices for seafood, a Mediterranean staple. To kick off the year, we're also encouraging an office standing challenge in our MOVEMENT pillar. Lastly, our RESILIENCY pillar is focused both on "knowing your numbers" for heart health during American Heart Month in February and on the importance of quality sleep during Sleep Awareness Week in March. All of these are important components of the Mediterranean lifestyle!
Another important component of the Mediterranean lifestyle is olive oil. Did you know that not all olive oils are created equally? You may find yourself confused by the different labels. Olive oils can be broken down into 2 categories: refined or unrefined. Unrefined oils are cold-pressed and produced without chemical treatment or heat. Refined oils used heat and/or chemicals to remove impurities and flaws from from the fruit. This process also removes healthy nutrients, but extends shelf life.
OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
October 5, 2021
According to nationalbreastcancer.org, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the disease and importance of early detection. To further our knowledge on bettering our own health and that of our loved ones, our team of Registered Dietitians recommend the following:
Increase your fruit and vegetable intake (read this article for more information).
Focus on whole grains, beans, and legumes—all contain nutrients like fiber and phytochemicals, a compound protective against breast cancer.
Focus on heart-healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, trout, cod), nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Reduce saturated fats like red meat, processed/cured meats, and solid oils like coconut or palm.
Engage in regular physical activity, even if it's just walking. Physical activity boosts your immune system and can provide hormonal balance.
October 4, 2021
As colder weather sets in and winter is right around the corner, many people see this as a time to curl up and stay indoors. However, it is important to keep up with an exercise routine year round. The World Health Organization says 1 in 4 people do not get the recommended amount of physical activity1, so sticking to a movement routine through all seasons is helpful, even if it means modifying your activities to accommodate for the weather. There are benefits to exercising outdoors when temperatures are cooler. Heat and humidity can affect the length and intensity of your workouts, while cooler temperatures can encourage you to move to warm up. Also, exercise is a great way to improve your immune system and overall health, which can be a great help during flu season.
Of course, just like any other time of year, it is important to know how to safely exercise outdoors. Here are a few things to keep in mind2:
- Monitor weather forecasts and make sure temperatures are comfortable and safe for you.
- Wearing layers is helpful but consider the material of your first layer of clothes. Choose clothes that are designed to keep sweat at bay, to prevent wet clothes from causing you to feel colder.
- Continue to stay hydrated, even in cooler weather. Drink plenty of water and consume water rich, nutrient dense foods like fruits, which can help increase electrolytes and maintain good hydration levels.
- Exposure to nature is beneficial for physical and mental health. It is more difficult to reach adequate vitamin D levels in the winter from sun exposure alone, but the sun may boost your mood. Hiking and camping and are excellent activities for cooler weather. To keep up your energy while outdoors, snacks such as trail mix, granola bars and energy bites are great options because they are nutrient dense, portable, and safe to carry outside of refrigeration for extended periods. Aim for packaged products that have higher amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fiber and lower amounts of added sugars. These items are also easy to make at home; be sure to add lots of nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried fruit.
Even as the days become colder and the holiday season rolls in, there are still ways to stay active, whether outdoors or indoors. Group games, dancing, virtual or live yoga or gym classes, or even completing active housework together are great ideas for moving with your friends and family. Make an effortto stay active through the winter and your body will thank you.
1. Physical activity. World Health Organization website. https://www.who.int/news room/factsheets/detail/physical activity . Published November 26, 2020. Accessed August 18, 2021.
2. How to Stay Active in Cold Weather. American Heart Association website. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy living/fitness/getting active/how to stay active in cold
weather . Published December 1, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2021.
July 8, 2021
This Quarter's theme of "Local Communities," highlighting the RESILIENCY pillar, focuses on the health benefits of being involved in our communities, including immediate—such as family and friends—and larger communities like a workplace, neighborhood, or city. Through the lens of the NOURISHMENT and SUSTAINABILITY pillars, this quarter is focused on ways to support local farms that produce nutritious foods with sustainable practices. Spending time outside with friends and family is a great way to live up to the MOVEMENT pillar's recommendations. Through the RESILIENCY pillar's lens, community care is also self-care and is important for your overall wellness and that of others. We discuss the value of group activities in June's post below. We'll continue to share more about this theme in the coming weeks so check back here for updates!
The value of group activities
June 28, 2021
Columnist Mark Shields famously quoted, "There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better." Completing activities in a group setting or within your immediate community, can be very advantageous. As a collective, we can benefit from exercising, painting, cooking, and completing other partnered and group activities together.
These benefits include:
- Forming and reinforcing bonds
- Fostering idea generation and creativity
- Learning from one another and sharing diverse perspectives
- Blending complementary strengths
- Problem solving
- Accountability and motivation
- Easing workload burnout
- Having fun!
The next time you plan to cook a meal, workout or do any kind of creative activity, grab a friend or family member to do it with you. You both will benefit more greatly than if you did it alone!
RUNNING AND WALKING 101
June 21, 2021
An essential component of the Mediterranean lifestyle that leads to desirable health outcomes is physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise 5 days per week for heart health.
Walking and running are excellent cardio workouts and can be considered moderate or rigorous, depending on the speed and incline. Many claim they find clarity of mind while running or walking long distances, while others like to just get a quick run or power-walk in to meet the cardio recommendations and get their heart pumping before the rest of their work-out.
If you are new to running or walking for exercise and are looking for a place to start, you've come to the right place.
Before getting started:
1. Buy the right shoes. Test them out in the store and wear them around the house before breaking them in on the road to be sure they are comfortable.
2. Make a plan. Come up with a goal for yourself to start, whether that be running/walking 1 mile or 10 miles, or keeping pace for 5 minutes or 30 minutes. Try our cardio challenge to figure out how to slowly increase your time and distance.
When starting to run/walk:
1. Warm up and cool down. This includes stretching before and after as well as starting and ending with a warm-up walk.
2. Breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth, and keep your breathing on rhythm with your pace.
3. Pay attention to your form. As you're getting started, make sure to keep your shoulders pulled back and down, your head up, and your core pulled in. Practicing this posture will help make it easier to keep correct form as you progress.
4. Plan your meals and snacks. This matters most if you are planning more vigorous exercise. If exercising first thing in the morning, eat a small carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a granola bar, and hydrate with water. After your workout, eat complex carbohydrates and protein, such as Greek yogurt and berries or chia seed pudding. If working out in the afternoon/evening, eat a substantial lunch a few hours before, such as a grilled
chicken Greek salad or grilled salmon grain bowl, and drink water. After your workout, rehydrate with waterand consume dinner within a few hours post workout. If your mealtime will be delayed, eat a snack of carbohydrates and protein to restore energy and help build muscle, such as trail mix, pita with hummus, or string cheese and an apple. Water is the best beverage for hydration, unless you are working out for over an
hour at high intensity, then consider a sports drink.
5. Track your progress. You may not know how much you've improved without keeping track of things such as your distance, time, speed, posture, pace, breathing, and enjoyment. Be proud of yourself every step of the way, because any effort you make is more than you would have done if you hadn't tried!
May is mental health awareness month
May 3, 2021
Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Mental health is an integral part of everyone's overall wellbeing and can be improved with a balanced eating pattern that includes important nutrients like omega-3's, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin D and more.
Learn more by watching this great discussion between R/A Registered Dietitian Aimee Takamura, and Jennifer Monness, 500+ hour certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator, and founder of the Meditation Lab. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UTm2Xt9E5g.
May 1, 2021
Our new and holistic wellbeing platform, ForLife, is launching! ForLife was designed by our team of Registered Dietitians empowering our guests and associates to make informed decisions for personal and environmental health while cultivating wellbeing practices for life.
ForLife activates four pillars of our wellbeing journey:
As our accounts begin to reopen, they will be implemented this platform. In the meantime, the great material, recipes, handouts, and more are being shared with our teams, and here on the wellness page of our website, including previous posts below.
SUSTAINABLE BODIES, SUSTAINABLE PLANET
April 5, 2021
Sustainable eating continues to gain more and more attention as individuals, communities, and companies begin to invest in personal health as well as planetary health.
One way to measure the environmental impact of our food choices is through our carbon footprint, or amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, like food production. Our food supply alone accounts for about 20% of total U.S. GHG emissions, which is a result of manufacturing, travel, farming practices, etc. To make matters worse, about 45% of all harvested produce is discarded, and
roughly 33% of all food produced is wasted annually. Wasted food is the largest contributor to landfills. Luckily, we can make conscious changes in our daily dietary habits that will help.
Eat More Plants and Less Animal Protein
Adopting a plant-forward diet is better for your body and the environment in the long run. Plant-forward does not mean strictly vegetarian or vegan; it means putting plants at the center of your plate, with animal products, if desired, as accompaniments.
Substantial evidence supports the health benefits of a plant-forward diet. For example, substituting fish, beans, nuts, and legumes in place of red meat has been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Although fish are not plants, they contribute health benefits to a plant-forward diet. While red meat is a great source of iron and protein, its saturated fat content can raise LDL cholesterol, increasing heart disease risk. This is not to say we should avoid eating red meat forever; just rethink the proportions of red meat in your diet. In addition to protein sources, make sure fruits and vegetables fill half of your plate with each meal—these are some of the most nutrientdense foods we have access to.
Foods with the greatest carbon footprint are red meats, like beef and lamb, because their production uses more resources like water, land, and feed, creating more pollution. Of course, there are many more parts to this equation. Foods with some of the smallest carbon footprints are produce, grains, legumes, and nuts.
The smaller the distance your foods need to travel, the less pollution is created. Produce is picked at peak ripeness, so you're getting an ideal product in terms of taste and nutrition. Buying local also supports small business in your community.
FROM OUR DIETITIAN: Get Moving
March 9, 2021
Begin the New Year on a good foot, literally. Staying active has both short and long-term benefits, like increased focus, improved mood, better quality sleep, and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancers. Movement is a key component of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which has been shown to result in the benefits mentioned above.
In today's culture where sitting is the norm, especially at work, it may be difficult to find time to get up and get moving. In fact, adults sit for an average of 6.4 hours per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A sedentary lifestyle works against all the great benefits of physical activity, with excessive sitting time (8+ hours per day) almost doubling one's risk of getting type 2 diabetes. The good news is, small moves can make big differences. Any movement, no matter how small or short in duration, is better than nothing!
Wondering how to fit more movement into a busy work schedule?
Try this 30-day office standing challenge with your co-worker to help you start a simple and healthy routine.
Week One: Start slow. Commit to standing for 10 minutes once an hour. Don't feel you have to stand still. Feel free to walk around on your feet or just refill your water bottle in the pantry. If you miss one session, don't beat yourself up. The goal this week is to move a little more.
Week Two: Try to add five more minutes every time you stand. Standing can be mixed into phone calls or work discussion. The goal for this week is to become more comfortable on your feet for longer periods of time.
Week Three: It's time to extend your standing time longer to 20 minutes per hour. Figure out what types of work are easier to do on your feet—then do them! Walking meetings, standing desks, or cafe-height tables for your laptop are easy options.
Week Four: You are almost a standing pro! The final goal is to add in stretching, squatting, or other movements in your standing routine. Calf stretches at a standing desk or simply walking are great choices.
If you haven't already, invite a colleague to try this standing challenge and continue to practice daily movement.
FROM OUR DIETITIAN: Resiliency, know your numbers
February 1, 2021
February is American Heart Month! The number one cause of death in America is heart disease, so it's worth the extra attention this month. The good news is, lifestyle factors play the greatest role in achieving optimal heart health. Following a Mediterranean lifestyle, which includes moderate physical activity and foods rich in healthy fats, whole grains, lean proteins and fiber, is a sustainable and effective way to promote lifelong heart health.
Know Your Blood Pressure
About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, but many don't realize it. High blood pressure can be a "silent killer" that leads to life-threatening cardiovascular problems without any symptoms. There are two numbers included in a blood pressure reading. The top number represents the pressure in your blood vessels as the heart beats (called systolic pressure). The bottom is the pressure as your heart relaxes and fills with blood (diastolic pressure). For a blood pressure reading of 120/80, the systolic pressure is 120 and the diastolic pressure is 80. Numbers higher than 120/80 mm Hg are a red flag that you need to be careful about your health and lifestyle. When blood pressure is high, the heart may work too hard and the high force of blood pressure may damage blood vessels and important organs.
Know Your Cholesterol
High blood cholesterol causes the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels and arteries. When cholesterol levels are high, the heart has to work harder to circulate your blood throughout the body. With increased buildup, the opening in the arteries narrow or close which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Maintaining a healthy level of total blood cholesterol <200 mg/dL is considered desirable for adults, with the breakdown being an LDL less than 100mg/dL and HDL greater than 50mg/dL.
Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight and waist circumference is important in minimizing your risk for heart disease. Women with a waist size less than 35 inches and men with a waist size less than 40 inches have a lower risk of heart disease because of less fat build-up around the heart and in the abdomen. In addition to diet, physical activity plays an important role in heart health. The American Heart Association recommends 50 minutes of moderate physical activity 3 times per week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 times per week.
The Bottom Line
The combination of knowing your numbers along with the Mediterranean lifestyle can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and help you live a healthy life.
THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET & LIFESTYLE
December 30, 2020
It seems as though every day a new diet is introduced. While most of these trendy programs are lacking evidence to support their claims, there are a few popular diets that have been proven effective to benefit health. The Mediterranean Diet is one of them. First identified for its health benefits in the 1950s and 60s, it is one of the most researched diet patterns. There is a wealth of compelling evidence demonstrating its usefulness in improving various clinical markers of good health and preventing chronic disease.
Healthy Eating Pattern vs. Diet Prescription
The Mediterranean diet pattern doesn't stipulate rules, measurements, or food groups to avoid; rather, it provides general guidelines about the types of foods to emphasize and those to limit based upon the traditional eating patterns of those living in the Mediterranean region, whose exceptional health piqued the interest of researchers studying the relationship between diet and disease. Research has shown that some of the health benefits of this eating pattern are a result of the combination of foods eaten, not any individual component alone. The greatest health benefit results from all of the interacting factors of a lifestyle as opposed to any individual nutrient in isolation, like many "diets" prescribe.
Overall Guidelines of a Mediterranean Eating Pattern
At its core, the Mediterranean Diet is a plant-based eating pattern that focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes. While it does include lean animal protein like fish, seafood, poultry, dairy and eggs, red and processed meats are limited. This eating pattern is rich in healthy fats from liberal amounts of olive oil, fish, avocado, nuts and seeds. Components of this eating pattern vary by region based on what is locally available, rather than importing processed products. The traditional Mediterranean population consumes mostly--if not exclusively--whole foods and produce at the peak of their season. Water is the primary beverage of choice with moderate amounts of wine (maximum of one glass per day for women and two for men). Physical activity is a key component, focusing on enjoyable activities. The overall diet is focused less on portion and amount, with the individual free to eat intuitively.
Strategies for Creating a Medi Plate
- Include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, seeds, nuts and olive oil.
- Focus on plant-based protein, fish and seafood, with small amounts of poultry, eggs, and milk
- Limit red and processed meat and added sugars
- Include healthy fats from olive oil, oily fish and nuts to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids
- Eat whole, fresh foods and limit processed foods.
- Hydrate adequately with water. Red wine can be enjoyed in moderation with meals.
- Daily physical activity is important.
Look for more information about the Mediterranean Lifestyle and its benefits in the coming months!
RADISH: RESTAURANT ASSOCIATES Delicious, Innovative, Sustainable, Healthy
Restaurant Associates guests want to eat better and feel better. At RA, our job is to make it easy for them. We created the RADISH program with the goal of enhancing the health and wellness of our guests through increased variety and visibility of better-for-you options.
Taking inspiration from Menus of Change, we sought to integrate wellness and sustainability under the emblem of RADISH: Delicious, Innovative, Sustainable and Healthy food.
We believe first and foremost that our food must be delicious. Innovation for the RADISH program comes not only in the form of culinary innovation, but also technology and integration with other wellness programs. Sustainability comes through in how we formulate our recipes and menus, and this is interwoven with the healthy food component.
We take very seriously the idea of deciding for others what is healthy and sustainable. We knew that we needed to start with nutrition criteria, emphasizing calorie balance, sodium, fat and sugar. Next, we wanted to build culinary themes, and we were heavily influenced by Menus of Change.
In order to promote wellness and sustainability, RADISH emphasizes:
1. More vegetable-forward cooking.
2. Less emphasis on animal products.
3. Appropriate portion sizes.
4. Healthier cooking methods.