Healthy Eating

5 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues

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Depressed or sad woman walking down a barren path in winter

The holiday season is popularly depicted as a time full of light and joy…but beneath that attractive surface, many people are plagued with stress and sadness. Whether they come from family troubles, unpleasant memories, or the anxiety of always having something to do and somewhere to be, these seasonal doldrums are something almost everyone will experience at some point in their lives. Use these five ways to beat the holiday blues and make it to January with your head held high.

1. Take time to breathe.

If your life during the holidays seems like a whirlwind of activity, those conditions are basically a pressure cooker of stress. Try to keep everything in perspective: the world won’t stop turning if you take fifteen minutes every morning or afternoon to stop and relax. Learn some gentle yoga moves or practice mindful breathing to help yourself feel centered and calm.

2. Don’t neglect physical activity.

Too many people wait until their New Year’s resolutions kick in before they hit the gym. But why miss out on all those positive exercise endorphins during the month when you probably need them the most? You don’t need to bench press 200 pounds or run a marathon, but raising your heartbeat for 30 minutes a day will help you feel better in both body and mind.

3. If things go wrong, do your best to let them go.

A gift doesn’t ship in time for Christmas? Family drama gets out of hand? First batch of decorated cookies burn? It’s just life. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into resentment or frustration over any of it. Being intentional about maintaining a good attitude is one of the most important things you can do to beat the holiday blues.

4. Take nutritional supplements.

The same hormonal imbalances that cause Seasonal Affective Disorder can rear their heads during the holidays. Fortunately, there are plenty of vitamins and herbs that can help perk up your mood. Take vitamin D supplements to make up for the wintertime reduction in sun exposure, B vitamins, and fish oil. Many people report that St. John’s Wort has a positive impact on depressive moods when taken regularly, and valerian root can mitigate anxiety.

5. Don’t isolate yourself

Even if you feel like crawling into bed and hibernating all winter, isolation can end up making you feel even worse. Whether that means meeting up with friends, having a trained home companion, participating in a candlelight service or holiday event, or unburdening yourself to a therapist, spending time with people you trust can have a major effect on well being.

No matter which holiday ailments may plague you this season, remember that it’s well within your power to beat the holiday blues. Just remember, it’ll all be over soon, so do your best to enjoy it while you can. Should you need some extra help or companionship around your home this season, we’re just a phone call away.

 


7 Healthy Crockpot Recipes for Fall

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With the air getting nippy and leaves changing into a fiery sea of red, orange, and yellow, fall often sees people exchanging their healthier summer eating habits for Halloween treats and copious Thanksgiving dinners. Eating healthy in this busy season, however, can be simple with the aid of the crockpot. Slow cooker meals cut out the hassle of cooking, letting you simply toss in the ingredients and allowing the flavors to come together themselves, not to mention having only one pot to clean!

If you’re not feeling up for the task, check out MD Home Health/Home Assist’s services and caregivers who can help you add festive and healthy fall crockpot recipes to your menu from breakfast through dinner.

Slow Cooker Veggie Frittata

Start the morning off right with a scrumptious, yet simple, veggie frittata. It’s made with eggs and can easily be reheated in the microwave, a great option for those days when you are in a rush to get out the door. Of course, you are more than free to mix up the veggies and cheese any time you like for a greater variety and versatility. You can find the recipe for this slow cooker veggie frittata here.

Banana Bread Quinoa

Quinoa, a grain from the mountainous regions of Bolivia, is one of the biggest stars of the health food scene. It’s a protein fortified whole grain, without the gluten, that can be part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Try out this Banana Bread Quinoa that can serve as an accompaniment to meals or a stand alone snack. 

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread

Fall wouldn’t be complete without pumpkins so why not give this pumpkin bread a go? While many store-bought breads are full of sugar and weight you down, this moist, slow-cooker pumpkin bread is packed with potassium and can actually improve your energy. Instead of adding sugar, the bread is sweetened with apple juice.

Shiitake and Noodle Hot & Sour Soup

Crockpot soups offer endless possibilities to stay warm and healthy in the fall. This vegetarian hot and sour inspired soup features the shiitake mushroom, a longtime symbol of longevity in Asia thanks to its wide range of health-promoting properties. The rich and smoky flavor is accented by tofu, vegetables, and filling noodles that work great for lunch or dinner.

Slow Cooker Spicy Cashews

If you’re in need of a snack between meals or a party appetizer, these spicy cashew nuts from the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Add a little Tex Mex to your cooking with the nutritionally packed, superfood sweet potato. This slow cooker sweet potato chili is hearty and delicious, packed with nutrients and perfect for when you’re looking for a comfort food like stew.

Crockpot Red Lentil Chickpea Squash Soup

Here’s a protein packed soup that you can snuggle up with at night. Red lentils and chickpeas bring all the benefits of legumes and squash adds the fall flavors. The crockpot takes all the work out and you’ll want to enjoy this meal over and over.

At MD Home Health/Home Assist personal care specialists in Phoenix can help you create healthy meals by assisting with everything from grocery shopping to kitchen prep and errands. Caregivers can also provide companionship, helping you or your loved one cook these nutritious fall recipes. For more information about how MD Home Health/Home Assist can help with your home care in Phoenix, please give us a call today.


Five Healthy Halloween Candy Alternatives for Kids

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Across the country, kids are eagerly planning for and anticipating Halloween. Most adults enjoy giving out treats to all the little costumed kids. However, those same adults are not as eager to deal with the sugar fall-out that follows. Sugar can affect everything from mood to immunity, and many parents are more than willing to accept a substitute treat on Halloween. What’s a concerned community member to do? Consider handing out healthy candy alternatives or nonedible treats this Halloween. Here are five clever ways to nix the sugar rush yet still bring a smile to your neighborhood kids’ painted faces.

Accessories

Who doesn’t love a little bling? Plastic jewelry is affordable and versatile, and you could include a personal touch by putting it together yourself. String some plastic beads onto a string and append some ribbons for a quick bracelet or necklace.

Creepy crawlies

Many party stores sell plastic bugs, reptiles or amphibians in bulk. Not only do these suit the mood, but also they will have a much longer half-life than a piece of candy. As a bonus, plastic creepy crawlies make great members of dollhouses and great bath tub accessories!

Temporary tattoos

Temporary tattoos are all the rage with kids. Perhaps you could buy tattoos with a Halloween or pirate theme, or mix up some themes and allow the kids the power of choice.

Arts and crafts

Why not encourage their creative side? A pumpkin notebook and black cat pencil, or Halloween-themed stickers and crayons will go a long way toward stretching a child’s imagination. Perhaps you could include a note with a suggestion that they draw their favorite memory from the holiday? If the child is old enough to write, the pencil and notepad could serve as a journal to record their trick-or-treating experiences.

Healthy food

Sure, there are the old healthy standbys of raisins and apples. But why not wow them with homemade granola or trail mix! Not in the mood to get your hands messy in the kitchen? There are plenty of pre-packaged dried fruit, granola, and trail mix products in the snack section of your local supermarket. Any of these healthy Halloween alternatives will satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth without giving them a sugar high.

The personal care specialists at MD Home Health/Home Assist can help you prepare for Halloween, including assisting with grocery shopping, kitchen prep, and errands. A caregiver can provide help and companionship while you put the finishing touches on your creative Halloween crafts, baking, and treat bundles. If you’d like to learn more about how MD Home Health/Home Assist can help you plan for Halloween and beyond, please give us a call today!


Great Tips for Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors

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Healthy Eating

Eating healthy is important at every age, but it becomes even more so as we age, particularly for older adults with illness or signs of dementia. Getting the proper nutrition helps seniors maintain their mental acuteness, increases energy, aids in illness resistance and recovery, and makes chronic health problems easier to deal with.  Sadly, an estimated 3.7 million seniors in the U.S. suffer from malnutrition. Failing to intake proper amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, or minerals weakens the body, depriving it from the energy it needs to repair tissue and regulate bodily functions, such as blood flow, and making it more susceptible to sickness. 

Healthy eating, however, doesn’t have to be a chore, involved dieting, or only eating bland foods. It’s advisable for seniors to keep wholesome foods in the house, get creative in the kitchen, and gather with friends to enjoy meals. Extra resources and options for home care in Phoenix are available for those who need them.  Here are some more tips for preventing malnutrition as we age.

6 Tips to Prevent Malnutrition in Seniors

Half of seniors visiting the emergency room in the U.S. are there for malnutrition reasons, following these quick tips can help seniors get the proper nutrition. For seniors with difficulties running errands or cooking, it’s highly suggested to get help, including finding a quality Phoenix home health care provider. 

Avoid Bad Carbs, Sodium, and Hidden Sugar

Most grocery stores are full of processed foods and refined sugars. Start checking labels and avoid foods with bad carbohydrates such as white flour and hidden sugars (corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, and more). Using natural sweeteners such as honey and opting for complex carbohydrates in whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables is best. Reducing sodium intake by seasoning with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt and look for “low sodium” foods lowers the risk of high blood pressure.

Cook Smart

Getting the most nutrients out of food means preparing them correctly. Preserve nutrients by steaming or sauteing vegetables in olive, coconut or avocado oil. Eat raw foods when possible in vegetable salads or fruits

Cook By Color

One way to visually verify that nutrients are balanced is to cook according to color. Try to include five colors on your plate, especially from the rich array of colorful fruits and vegetables. Think berries, melons, tomatoes, spinach, yams, zucchini, and more.

Hire a Caregiver to Help

For many seniors completing supermarket runs and meal planning can be troublesome. If this is the case take the time to carefully select a caregiver from an experienced and reputable Phoenix home health care provider or other program. A caregiver can do everything from grocery shopping to meal planning and prep, making sure all nutritional needs are met.

Plan Between-Meal Snacks

Snacks can be great nutrition boosts when planned carefully. Think about incorporating more fruits, veggies, or nuts in creative ways like smoothies or peanut butter covered apple slices.

Make Meals Social Events

Staying social is a big boost for senior mental health levels so it makes sense to make meals social events. Whether it’s eating with the family or joining a program in senior home care in Phoenix.


4 Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

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Senior relaxing at the seaside summer holidays concept

Who doesn’t look forward to taking in the warm, summer sun? You spend months going through the cooler winter temps only to be scorched by the sun during those three prime months of summer. Regardless of how old you are, you need to exercise caution when it comes to being out in the heat. Too much heat is a bad thing. To help you stay cool during the extreme temperatures, follow these simple tips:

Turn the lights off in rooms you aren’t using.

While you might not realize it, lights actually produce a significant amount of heat. Have you ever tried to touch a lightbulb after having it on for a little while? That is a surefire way to get yourself burned. The best thing you can do is to leave the lights off when a room isn’t in use.

Drink ample amounts of water.

The warmer the temperature is outside, the more water you need to drink. If you skip out on the fluids, you will find yourself dehydrated and in the hospital. Your body is composed mainly of water, so it makes sense that you need to put water back into it to make sure you stay healthy all year round. Aim for at least eight cups of water per day, if not more.

Dress based on the weather.

If the weather is going to be 90 degrees outside, one should dress accordingly, wear light fabrics that are breathable and in cool colors. When in doubt, pay attention to what the weather forecast says and plan your wardrobe accordingly. It doesn’t make sense to overheat yourself due to clothing attire that isn’t weather appropriate.

Block the heat.

If the weather outside is extremely warm, keep your windows, doors, blinds and curtains closed to prevent the heat from entering your home. Keeping the area shaded will help to maintain the cooler temperature inside of your environment. Once it cools down outside, you can open everything up and let the nice breeze make its way through your space.

Would you like a little extra help taking care of your loved one this summer and making sure they stay nice and cool? Thanks to MD Home Health/Home Assist, you can put your worries behind you and rest assured that there is someone who is going to be there when you need them the most. Phoenix home health care has never been as convenient and rewarding as it is now.


Tips for Staying Healthy this Summer

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Two little funny kid boys and their father on organic strawberry farm in summer picking and eating fresh ripe berries. Happy family spending time together.

The warmest season of the year is upon us, and although fun in the sun is something everyone looks forward to throughout the nine months beforehand, it’s just as important to be mindful of your health as the days grow longer and the nights shorter. There’s a good chance your stress levels decrease, since the summer’s usually marked by vacation and family time. The following are more great things you can do to maximize both your physical and mental well-being.

Be Mindful of Your Diet

It seems like everyone’s trying frantically to alter their diet in the months leading up to summer, in order to get into some semblance of a beach body shape. Truth is, too many people neglect essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients in an attempt to cut calories. One way to combat the decreased potency of your diet is to add fruit to it. Blackberries, strawberries, watermelon – any assortment of berries will do wonders for helping your body fight off disease and energizing you for the day. In fact, these fruits are chock-full of antioxidants, which are powerful natural remedies against many different illnesses.

Customize a Program of Care

Whether you’re young or old it’s essential to ensure you join us in having a healthy summer. This means making sure to get plenty of exercise – whether it’s taking a swim in the pool of the local YMCA, or making sure you have a dedicated caretaker to accompany you on daily walks. After all, school may be out for the kids, but the adults still have to work and provide a living for their families during the summer months. There’s no substitute for quality care; especially when your loved ones are involved. Exercise has been proven to increase mental well-being, in addition to the obvious physical health benefits – and both the young and elderly should engage in it this summer.

Take a Vacation

Two little funny kid boys and their father on organic strawberry farm in summer picking and eating fresh ripe berries. Happy family spending time together.

After all, what other time of the year will the whole family be together? This is what you work so hard for all year long, and a trip to any of the many wonderful destinations on the planet would do wonders for bonding and overall health. You can keep the vacation local, or spend a little more to see one of the wonders of the world, such as the Dead Sea on the border of Israel and Jordan. The combination of salt in this sea isn’t replicated in any other body of water in the world, and it represents a fantastic opportunity for memories and rejuvenation. Even within your own state, there are plenty of destinations that are sure to recharge.

Are you interested in hiring an in-home caregiver for help around the home, help with a family member, or for some extra support with the kids this summer? MD Home Health/Home Assist is happy to help Phoenix area households keep their cool during the summer months.


8 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy Through the Holiday Season

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8 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy Through the Holiday Season

It can be difficult to stay healthy during the holidays with the plethora of treats, parties, stress and emotional triggers the season brings. Not to fret! We’ve developed 8 simple ways to boost spirits and keep our health in check this year.

Carry Plenty of Snacks

As the holidays near, we’re bombarded with festive temptations wherever we turn. From treats offered by family and friends to parties and social gatherings, food often becomes a focal point of celebration. Having healthy and ready-to eat-snacks—such as raw veggies, fruit and nuts—are great ways to be prepared for the urge to indulge.

Eat Several Meals

One of the most effectives ways of combating these temptations is by eating six small meals throughout the day, rather than skipping meals to save up for one big feast. In order to keep our metabolic rates high and curb our sugar and fat cravings, it’s best to eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day.

Indulge in Only Special Treats

If you have a certain holiday treat you look forward to every year, don’t skip it! Simply hold off on most of the other goodies. Indulging in only select specialties gives you a taste of the holidays without the risk of triggering a chocolate binge from trying to abstain.

Stay Active

It’s always best to maintain an active lifestyle, and this is especially important during the holidays.

Staying active and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is the best way to beat holiday blues and weight gain. It can even lower symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.

Go Easy on Liquid Calories

It’s easy to pack on extra pounds due to holiday beverages like eggnog, sugary juices, alcohol and sodas. Not only can alcohol pack a ton of calories, but it also affects the way calories are burned off when ingested. Consider having just one glass of wine or bubbly, rather than overdoing it, and try the same approach with eggnog and juices. You’ll thank yourself for it a few hours later.

Eat Before the Party

If you’re planning on attending a party where there will be plenty of indulgent temptations, try eating before the party. If you fill up on a healthy meal before the festivities, you’ll be less likely to overindulge on the party favors.

Take the Focus off Food

So much of the holidays revolve around food, yet there are so many other traditions that we can focus on. Taking some time to focus on other aspects of the holidays can help curb overeating due to boredom and displaced energy.

Try putting your time and efforts into decorating, making homemade gifts, singing carols, or charity work for those less fortunate. You could even start a holiday project to keep your mind focused and occupied.

Help Others

People sometimes struggle through the holidays, be it financially, emotionally or both. Helping out friends who may be having a difficult time is always beneficial to not only the friend, but your overall happiness and stress levels.

Donating is another way to lend a helping hand. A study was conducted where people were given $100 with the option of donating or keeping it. Results showed that those who kept the money had higher levels of stress and cortisol. Those who donated the money were ultimately happier, as it activated the reward center of the brain.


The New 80/20 Rule: Exercising vs. Dieting

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Have you heard of the new 80/20 rule for getting and staying healthy?

While you may be familiar with the 80/20 rule for a healthy diet, research suggests there’s more to healthy weight loss than just eating healthy 80% of the time and indulging in less healthy food 20% of the time. 

Exercise is part of the new 80/20 rule, and while many believe 80% of getting healthy relies on physical activity and 20% on diet, registered dietician Katherine Isacks says it’s actually the other way around.

The truth of the matter is that 80% of our weight correlates with what we eat and the recipe is still 80% healthy and 20% indulgent food, according to Rose Erickson at Livestrong.

Now that we can have our cake and eat it too, does that mean we should immediately go and spend an hour at the gym vigorously trying to burn it off? Studies suggest exhausting ourselves at the gym for an hour or every per day doesn’t actually prompt more weight loss.

Research conducted at the University of Copenhagen suggests that those who instead engage in moderate exercise routines are setting themselves up to achieve greater weight loss results than those who jump into vigorous workouts at the gym. This study focused on three groups of young males who were healthy, but inactive: the control group that didn’t change their diet or exercise habits; the moderate group that participated in 30 minutes of exercise per day; and the intense group that added an hour of exercise per day.

The study extended throughout the course of 13 weeks. As predicted, the men who made no changes experienced no change to their weight or physique. However, the following results may surprise you.

While the intense group of men that worked out for an hour per day lost an average of five pounds each, the men who engaged in moderate exercise of 30 minutes per day actually lost an average of 7 pounds each.

How could greater weight loss results be achieved from doing half the amount of exercise?

Each group tracked what they ate during the study, and reported on their overall activity levels throughout the day. Those among the intense workout group tended to eat more, as their bodies were prompted to replace the 600 calories they had burned. They were also less active during the day when not working out.

The moderate exercise group only burned 300 calories per day, and reported higher levels of sustained energy. This group was more active throughout the day; engaging in positive lifestyle changes more readily, like taking the stairs and walking.

They also didn’t report much change in their eating habits, as they weren’t burning enough to prompt a surge in hunger. The intense group did gain more muscle, however, which weighs more than fat.

This new research sheds light on specific misconceptions regarding diet and exercise, and shows that it isn’t necessary to overexert ourselves at the gym.

Rather, moderate exercises prompted increased energy and less temptation to overeat. While this study failed to compare results over time, this is a good model for jump-starting your own fitness plan.

Moderate levels of exercise, combined with a diet that’s 80% healthy and 20% indulgent, may be the recipe to better health.


Have Your Turkey and Eat it, Too: 500-Cal Thanksgiving Day Meal

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For so many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends, give thanks for our many blessings, eat, drink, watch football, be merry, and did I mention eat?

Feasting until our stomachs nearly burst has become a common tradition for many as we kick off the holiday season. But while we’re used to eating until we can’t possibly eat anymore, is this really the best way we to celebrate our blessings? While it’s true that food is a blessing, it can also be a curse if we overeat or abuse it like a drug. That’s why we’ve found a remedy this year: the 500-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal.

Research by the University of Adelaide and the University of Connecticut show that food that’s high in fat and sugar triggers the same pleasure center of our brains that methamphetamines or cocaine would.

These foods stimulate the neurotransmitters of the mesolimbic pathway—particularly dopamine—thus giving us a “high” and actually leading us to feel addicted to food. That’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult to only eat one potato chip. This also contributes to a typical Thanksgiving Day meal packing in around 4,500 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council—significantly more than the 1,500 calories recommended for females and the 2,000 calories recommended for males, says registered dietician Mary Ellen Herndon.

Herndon further suggests a Thanksgiving Day feast should only occupy 1/3 of these calories. That leaves us with 500-700 calories to work with. While this may seem impossible, the lovely folks at Spark People, Live Science, Women’s Health and Pinterest have compiled some healthy holiday tips, as well as delicious low-calorie recipes for everything from meals and side dishes to desserts; helping keep this holiday’s indulgences on track with your personal health goals.

The best way to keep calories below 500-700 is to start with filling half of your plate with low-starch vegetables and greens. This should then be accompanied by a 3-oz portion of turkey (lean meat, as it’s lower in saturated fat). The rest of the plate may be filled with small ½-cup portions of your favorite trimmings.

Some suggestions for cutting calories on sides is to replace the green bean casserole with steamed green beans; cranberry jelly with real cranberry relish; mashed potatoes with roasted sweet potatoes or squash; rolls with cornbread; gravy with a light apple cider vinegar gravy; and traditional stuffing with a healthy alternative made from fruit and veggies.

You can also try new recipes for healthy, low-calorie side dishes. The links above contain several additional tips and recipes to try. A healthy alternative to pie or other desserts can also help lower the calorie count, as can substituting cooked and mashed cauliflower for potatoes or root vegetables, and even replacing all uses of butter with garlic, herbs and chicken or vegetable stock for flavoring.
So there you have it! We hope we’ve given you all the tools you’ll need to enjoy your holidays without the stress of overeating. Don’t forget to reach out if you’d like more tips or advice this year!