kids meal

Healthy Meal Ideas for Kids

What are the best and healthy meals for kids?

You’re probably running out of ideas of meals for kids especially if you have little ones in the house. To support the growth and development of children, it’s important to start them young with nutritious and healthy meals. 

Each food has specific nutrients so a good mix of them makes kids meals fun, flavorful and healthy. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests The Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate as a visual guide for parents and guardians alike on how to choose the best and healthiest meals for kids.

Read on to learn how you can encourage kids to eat quality food and enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.

What are the best sources of nutrition for kids?

For kids, just like with adults, food variety is important. HSPH recommends filling half of kids’ plates with vegetables and fruits. Choose the colorful ones as these are more appetizing and attractive for the kids to dive in. The other half should be healthy protein and whole grains. If you will notice, carbohydrates aren’t included below because other food groups can provide this macronutrient already such as in vegetables.

Protein

Go for seafood, poultry, lean meat, beans, peas, eggs, soy products, and nuts/seeds.

The Low Down On Protein For Kids | Only About Children
Image Source: https://www.oac.edu.au/news-views/protein-for-kids/

X Limit red meat (pork, lamb, beef) and processed meats (hotdogs, sausages, bacon, deli cuts).

Grains

Go for brown or wild rice, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, oatmeal, or popcorn.

Tips for Packing School Lunches | Healthy Family Project | Whole grain  foods list, Whole grain foods, Healthy groceries
Image source: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/124693483421374287/

X Limit pasta, white rice, pizza crust, white bread, and refined grains.

Fruits

Go for fresh (whole or sliced) or frozen fruits.

healthy fruits for kids - Healthy Kids
Image source: https://healthykids4u.com/healthy-fruits-for-kids/

X Limit fruit juices; canned fruits/juice should be 100% juice without added sugars.

Vegetables

Go for fresh vegetables (there are a lot to choose from!) with varying colors and kinds such as dark green, orange, starchy ones, beans, herbs, etc. 

Quick & Easy Vegetables for Lunch Recipes (All Kid-Friendly!)
Image source: https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/quick-easy-vegetables-for-lunch-recipes/

X Limit potatoes and canned/frozen/dried vegetables.

Dairy

Go for low-fat or fat-free dairy and milk products such as yogurt, fortified soy beverages, and cheese. 

748 Man Drink Yogurt Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

X Limit butter and saturated fats.

Dietary Guidelines for kids

Mayo Clinic created these tables with recommended calories and macronutrients for boys and girls ages 2-4, 5-8, 9-13, and 14-18, respectively. 

Healthy meals for kids 

However picky your kids can get, when it comes to food, no child can refuse a tasty and good-looking one. Hence, kid-friendly meals don’t have to taste bland. Whether you’re on a budget or not, here are some meal ideas you can try at home that both young and old will love. 

1. BBQ carrot dogs

Image source: Source: https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/257875/bbq-carrot-dogs/

See, you can be creative in introducing vegetables to your kids meals, if you haven’t yet. Try doing this recipe that looks and tastes like hotdogs. Peel and trim the carrots in the size that fits your hotdog buns. Boil and steam the carrots for around 12-15 minutes. 

As the carrots are boiling, prepare the BBQ marinade by mixing vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, mustard, and paprika. Seal this marinade in a resealable ziplock bag with the cooked carrots before refrigerating. Then, turn twice in between 3 hours to 1 day, depending on your preference. After which, whenever you’re ready to serve this meal for kids, grill the carrots from the marinade for about 5 minutes. Then, serve with the kids’ favorite condiments.


2. Philly Cheesesteak stuffed peppers

Image Source: https://thegirlonbloor.com/philly-cheesesteak-stuffed-peppers/

Making meals for kids can be fun. You can even invite the kids to help you prepare this meal. With this recipe, all you need is some green bell peppers (choose both green and red for added color)! Then, mix with the mushrooms, a few lean cuts of sirloin, onions, and cheese. You can also add cherry tomatoes or switch between red and yellow onions for added taste.

To start, bake the green bell peppers with drizzled oil and sprinkled salt and pepper for around 10 minutes. Sear the steak and thinly slice the meat to make it easily chewable and digestible for the kids. Then, to get the flavor of the meat, fry the mushrooms in the same pan before adding the red pepper and onions. Divide the meat and veggies between each half of the peppers and then top with cheese. After which, bake them to melt the cheese for another 15 minutes or so. Voila! Kids will love this for sure!


3. Lentil patties

Lentil patties
Image Source: https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/iron-rich-lentil-patties-toddlers/c1kgz5do

For this meal, start by shredding zucchini, carrots and haloumi (cheese) together in a food processor. After that, pulse the rest of the ingredients such as lentils, eschalot, eggs, and parsley. Then, mix everything in a bowl.

Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture to form patties. In a large frying pan, drizzle some olive oil then fry the patties over medium heat. Turn on each side until cooked. Your kids will think these are burgers but this is definitely a healthier alternative! 


4. Chipotle chicken quinoa burrito bowl

Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl
Image source: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/chipotle-chicken-quinoa-burrito-bowl

Kids love fast food. But, this chipotle-flavored burrito bowl is going to be a hit in your household not only for kids. Why? It’s easy to make and might just be even better than your usual takeout. Quinoa is a good replacement for white rice which your kids probably won’t even notice when they see this bowl.

For this recipe, just combine the finely chopped chipotles (marinated in adobo sauce) with garlic powder, cumin and olive oil. Season your skinless chicken breast with salt then grill for 5 minutes. Turn and brush with the chipotle glaze for a few more minutes on the grill until cooked. Then, chop into kid-friendly bites. Assemble the burrito bowl with quinoa, chicken, lettuce, beans, avocado, salsa and cheese. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice for the touch then serve to the kids! 


5. American goulash

Image source: https://www.superhealthykids.com/easy-goulash/

Did you know that pasta can be healthy? How? Use whole-wheat macaroni pasta in this recipe. Get started by cooking beef or any lean meat alternative over medium high heat. While waiting for the meat to lose its pink color, saute onion and garlic then add these aromatics to the meat as it cooks. Add fresh tomatoes, water, paprika, salt, and pepper. Then, reduce the heat. Let it sit simmering for around 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Lastly, add the uncooked pasta for another 15-20 minutes until al dente.


6. Chicken taco bowls

Image source: https://www.fuchsiafreezer.ca/2015/04/kid-friendly-chicken-taco-bowls/

Kids love food that calls their attention. In this recipe, you can expect excitement in the eyes of your little ones when they see you prepare the tacos. You can even make this meal with the entire family as your bonding time, too!

First, preheat your oven with the chicken bowls. In another pan, add olive oil in chicken strips over medium heat. Just wait for the meat to brown before adding taco seasoning and water. Then, mix until the chicken is fully covered. Set aside. 

Next, it’s ready to serve! Make sure that the chicken strips are perfect bite sizes for your kids to enjoy! Put the cooked chicken in the warm bowls with other chopped ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers, beans, and cheese. Also, let the kids do their own tacos. That surely adds to their beautiful memories of eating with family.

If you happen to make more, you can use the leftover ingredients again afterwards. Either add more chicken or vegetables and, voila, reimagined tacos for everyone!


7. Baked tortellini

Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini Recipe on twopeasandtheirpod.com
Image source: https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/easy-cheesy-baked-tortellini/

Here’s one comfort food easily at the top of the favorite meals for kids. Tortellini is pasta with cheese filling. Hence, go easy on adding more salt and cheese, okay? But, you can get creative by adding as many vegetables and leafy vegetables as you can. 

Cook time is approximately less than an hour while preparation time can be as quick as 15 minutes. In a large pan, cook onion until tender over medium-high heat. Add garlic then the spinach until the vegetable wilts down. Next, add the pasta sauce with diced, fresh tomatoes and stir occasionally. After which, mix in the rest of the herbs such as oregano and basil (fresh and dried), with pepper flakes. Season with (few pinches of) salt and pepper.

In a baking dish, pour ½ cup of the pasta sauce then evenly spread out half of the tortellini. Then, sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top. Put the rest of the pasta and repeat adding the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until you get melty cheese that’s slightly crusted at the top. Freeze whatever’s left and you can reheat this meal again for next time!


8. Sheet-pan chicken fajitas

Image source: https://dadwithapan.com/sheet-pan-chicken-fajitas/

Do you want easy-to-make weekday meals for kids? Try this recipe that can stop your kids from running and prancing around your kitchen. Use chicken tenderloins because they are easier and faster to prepare. Also, kids will love them because they’re more tender than other parts of the poultry.

Chop your vegetables while preheating the oven to 375F. Slice red, yellow, and green bell peppers, onions, and garlic. Combine these with chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and (small portion of) sugar. Slice chicken tenderloins and evenly lay down the sheet pan with the assorted vegetables. Next, drizzle with olive oil. Stir gently after sprinkling fajita seasoning so everything is coated with the spices. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, serve with cheese and beans, and see the smiles in your kids!


9. Cauliflower casserole with serrano peppers

Image source: https://dadwithapan.com/loaded-cauliflower-casserole-with-serrano-peppers/

For this particular recipe, you can remove the sausage bacon and replace it with any lean meat alternative. Cauliflower is high in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients which may help reduce risk of certain cancers and other diseases. This is one of those healthy meals for kids that are low in carbohydrates and flavorful.

Pre-saute cauliflower with rosemary, thyme, chopped serrano peppers, and garlic in a hot pan. (Chopped florets of cauliflower in bite sizes are amazing; kids think it’s rice!) Chop your meat of choice and seat aside. Once both cooked in separate pans, pour the cauliflower bites into a baking pan. Then, top with cheese, some more vegetables like onions and peppers, etc. After 20 minutes or so, your casserole is set and you’re ready to serve it to the kids!


10. Veggie fritters

Image source: https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/easy-veggie-fritters-recipe/nk37ou8l

Are you looking for quick, easy, and super tasty meals for kids? Veggie fritters will be a great option. You can make this in batches and then store for frying later. This meal is a bit similar to lentil patties because, as most parents know, kids love burgers. What better way than to put vegetables in them, right? Fritters are great to munch on. Before the kids realize it, they’re actually eating nutritious food rather than just any junk food out there.

With veggie fritters, you can use any leftover or fresh vegetables from your kitchen. Grate these vegetables (or use a food processor) and mix in a bowl. Then, stir and mix in quinoa or whole-wheat flour and egg. Pour the mixture in a shallow pan with oil. Flatten a bit as it cooks. Make sure to fry both sides until golden and slightly crusted. Lastly, drain excess oil. 

Happy kids, happy family

Making meals for kids can sometimes be tedious. But, a little creativity here and there goes a long way. Your family can enjoy these kid-friendly recipes just as much as adults do. When kids are happy, the entire household is happy, too. Whether you’re packing a healthy lunch for the kids or preparing breakfast and snacks at home, healthy meal choices are unlimited!

Everybody wins when you serve healthy, tasty food at the table. For parents, not only does it make you feel good serving meals for kids that they actually like and enjoy but it also gives you peace of mind providing nutritious food for the entire family. For the kids, they don’t feel bored which trains them to have a healthy relationship with good, quality food. Lastly, for the family, you all learn to pick healthier options and “walk the talk” about proper nutrition. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute wants you to enjoy food that both kids and adults can appreciate. A family that eats healthy meals together, stays together! 

Resources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/nutrition-for-kids/art-20049335
https://www.eatingwell.com/gallery/7775750/budget-friendly-dinners-kids-will-love/

dairy

Is dairy good for you


Did you know that one serving of an 8-ounce glass of milk is packed with 8 grams of protein? Brie cheese, another dairy product, on the other hand, can provide 95 calories to your body. For good nutrition, dairy can be your friend as it can supply the nutrients essential to your health. 

Contrary to popular belief, dairy is a good source of nutritional value. However, like any other food products, it becomes harmful when you consume more than what your body can take. Moderation is key. Your vital statistics such as age, height, weight, and sex should also be factored in to know how much dairy you can have daily. Are you sedentary? Or do you have a more active lifestyle? You should also consider these when incorporating dairy in your diet.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute explores whether dairy is good for you or not. Find out why it’s important, how much you should consume, and what types of food actually belong in the dairy group. Overall, are they beneficial to your health? Let’s find out!

Is dairy fattening?

Nutrient-dense foods, in general, should be consumed daily. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends having potassium, calcium, protein, and vitamin D as part of a person’s daily intake. Dairy products such as milk have these vital nutrients especially for building bone strength and for maintenance of your body.

However, for some reason, there’s a common notion that dairy foods cause weight gain. This is not entirely true. In fact, dairy has a neutral or positive effect on your body, especially on your weight. Eating enough yoghurt, cheese, and milk, for instance, that is part of your healthy diet, is not associated with weight gain.

Losing weight means controlling your calorie intake. Hence, if you consume at least 3 servings of milk or cheese daily, this can actually help you with your goal to stay healthy. People who eat lesser dairy foods but don’t necessarily monitor their calorie intake can still gain weight. So, it’s all about having the right nutrients and a healthy, balanced diet.

Top healthiest dairy products

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN), milk is still the most consumed dairy product especially in developing countries. Yet, milk consumption is losing its edge as compared to the growth of livestock and meat consumption globally (increased by more than tripled or so).

But, milk isn’t the only dairy product out there. (Dairy is loosely translated to anything that contains or is made from milk.) Go to the dairy section in a grocery store and you’ll find lots of food options. These foods generally provide essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. 

Here are the top tier dairy products in the market that are healthy for you:

Yogurt

yogurt

Yogurt is considered one of the complete superfoods rich in vitamin D, B5, B12, and magnesium. Packed with good bacteria, this probiotic food is good for your digestive system to sustain order and stop any harmful bacteria to colonize in your gut.

This dairy product helps promote a healthy digestive tract, thereby, boosting your immune system. Yogurt is getting prime real estate in many supermarkets, easily accessible and visible in the grocery aisles, because of its health benefits. 

The live strains of good bacteria in yogurt eases gastrointestinal issues such as lactose intolerance and constipation. Consuming this food regularly lowers the risk of gut inflammation which results in a healthy gut microbiota. So, be creative in adding yogurt in your meals by following this recipe.

Cheese

cheese dairy

Did you know that cheese was only accidentally discovered when an Arabian merchant put his drinking milk in a bag? According to a legend, the milk coagulated and separated into curds and whey. This is because of the combination of the heat of the sun and the natural rennin in the pouch’s lining. The whey helped the Arabian merchant’s thirst while the curd satisfied his hunger.

cheese history
Image Source: Spoonuniversity.com

The curd in that story is the cheese. Its delightful flavor makes people crave for more. There are varieties of cheese you can find everywhere in different parts of the world. 

Often, cheese is classified according to ripening method and/or its hardness. For example, hard cheese ripened through eye-producing bacteria and enzymes are Emmentaler (Swiss), Gruyere, Fontina, and Jarlsberg. On the other hand, soft cheeses ripened with surface microorganisms are Brie, Camembert, Neufchatel, and Pont l’Eveque.

The top two best cheese from the dairy group are:

  • Hard cheese
  • Ricotta cheese

Cheese is a good source of calcium, fat, protein, vitamins A and B12, zinc, and riboflavin. It helps prevent osteoporosis, promote positive effects on your dental health, and reverse hypertension by lowering blood pressure, among others. It’s also a good choice for pregnant women, upon doctor’s recommendation, to provide essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy fetal development. 

Milk

milk dairy

Milk can come from cows and other mammals such as sheep, goats, and water buffalo. These are rich sources of energy. Cow’s milk is the most popular not only for its taste but also for its good digestibility. This is due to the balanced amino acid profiles in the cow’s milk protein. 

It also contains healthy fat in the form of glycerides while the main carbohydrate is a disaccharide (lactose). Lactose is glucose and galactose combined which helps absorb calcium and phosphorus, and aids in the synthesis of B complex vitamins in the small intestine.

Fat-free or low-fat milk should be a staple in your pantry. You can benefit from the nutritional profile of milk, especially when there’s no added sugar. Note that full-fat milk and flavored milks may increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases and can cause weight gain. 

There are a number of ways to incorporate milk in your meals such as in soups, smoothies, oatmeal, and even in coffee. For more ideas, you can check these recipes.

Fortified soy beverages

fortified soy beverage

Fortified soy beverages are a crucial part of the Dairy Group. They contain vital nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, protein and potassium that are almost similar to a cow’s milk. Consuming enough of these strengthen the bones which help prevent signs of osteoporosis. 

Majority of soy beverages in the supermarkets are fortified with nutrients. These are often taken as a dairy milk replacement, although they are not a substitute ingredient. Regardless, they are an interesting addition to a diet because they are high in protein. They support the development of healthy muscles and organs in the body. 

Kefir

kefir dairy

Kefir is gaining popularity nowadays due to its tangy and sweet taste. If you’re not fond of just either milk or yogurt on its own, this is a better dairy alternative. This dairy product is a cross between the two.

It’s a natural probiotic that may help improve your body’s immune function and reduce risks of gut inflammation. Moreover, there’s a study that shows kefir may limit the growth of cancer cells and combat the disease altogether.

This fermented drink can also protect you against infection due to its potent antibacterial properties. Overall, it can help if you have digestive problems and improve you bone health.

Benefits of dairy

While it’s common to hear reservations on dairy consumption, most especially from those who are losing weight, it is undeniable that this food group has many benefits to your body. These are some of them:

For your skin

Have you noticed how skincare brands market their products to contain milk? This isn’t surprising because dairy foods like it promote skin elasticity. They also feature vitamins D, A, and skin-restoring & anti-aging properties that will make you glow. 

For your bones
dairy for bones

Elderlies have probably told you when you were young to drink milk because it’s good for your bones. There’s truth in it because dairy products are packed with calcium which is a crucial mineral for your bone density. 

For your liver

Dairy products help in lowering systemic inflammation and liver enzymes that could have a positive effect on your metabolism. As a matter of fact, balanced cheese consumption helps your liver prevent fats.

For your gut

Since fermented dairy products like kefir, yogurt, and some cheeses, are the best source of probiotics, they make your microbes thrive. Just be careful of the processed ones available in the market as they tend to have counter effects on your gut. 

For your heart 
milk for the heart

There’s a number of evidence suggesting that most milk, yogurt and cheese are connected to lesser risk of cardiovascular diseases. There are also other underlying nutrients in the said food group that are beneficial to your health. These are fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D and bioactive peptides. 

For your hair

If you’ve been experiencing hair fall, dairy products will be your best friend for they promote hair growth and increase its volume. The Vitamin B12, proteins, zinc, iron, and Omega 6 fatty acids in eggs, yogurt, and milk are the best in fighting hair loss.

For your brain

Dairy consumption is also linked to a better brain health due to higher concentrations of glutathione which is an antioxidant defense in the brain. This is responsible for preventing oxidative stress that protects your cognitive functions from neurodegeneration.  

For your blood pressure

Most dairy products like milk have blood pressure-lowering nutrients like potassium, magnesium and calcium that are good for your health. In fact, Hypertension Canada suggests to include at least two to three fat-free or non-fat milk in a daily diet. 

Milk and milk products: good or bad?

Milk and dairy product availability and consumption can vary in different countries. Hence, while most Europeans and Americans traditionally eat or drink dairy, other parts of the world don’t necessarily have access to this food. With that said, different people have different experiences with these dairy products. 

In order to answer whether milk is good or bad, another thing to consider is the source and their nutritional value. Cow’s milk, for example, is not a good source of essential fatty acids. Generally, milk is a poor source for iron. Therefore, milk and dairy products shouldn’t be the sole food source for whatever your body specifically needs depending on your diet.

lactose intolerance dairy

For some people, lactose intolerance is a concern. This condition happens when undigested lactose breaks down in the large intestine by bacteria which causes bloating, formation of gas, and diarrhea. This can be managed, however, by avoiding certain dairy products that your gut doesn’t particularly like. Others who have lactose intolerance can still eat ice cream, for instance, but only in small portions.

With all these said, it’s important to understand your own body and the overall health benefits and risks of consuming dairy products. Get acquainted with different types of milk and milk products, too. The advantages and beneficial results outweigh any perceived notion of health risks associated with dairy food. In fact, in this study, evidence showed that milk and dairy products may protect you against prevalent chronic diseases. And, finally, milk and dairy product intake can contribute to meeting nutrient recommendations. 

Why is it important to eat or drink milk products

The importance of dairy consumption can be seen from childhood to adulthood. As a child up to teenage years, your bones are still developing so a diet rich in dairy can help elevate bone mineral density. Therefore, when you reach your adult years, you have stronger and healthier bones, including dental maintenance. 

But, it’s not just all about calcium for your bones. When exercising, milk and dairy products can give you the carbohydrates you need for energy. The proteins in it also support muscle recovery while the electrolytes and mineral concentration can provide rehydration.

tofu dairy
What are the alternatives
  • Tofu
  • Tahini (sesame butter or paste)
  • Canned fish (sardines, salmon with bones)
  • Leafy greens
  • Calcium-fortified juices and plant-based milk alternatives (rice milk or almond milk)

Remember that dairy products and alternatives should be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet including all of the 5 food groups. These are: 1) bread and cereals, 2) vegetables and fruits, 3) dairy products, 4) meat, chicken, fish or alternatives, and 5) fats and oils (in small amounts).

Here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute, you’ll find other whole foods aside from milk and dairy products that are healthy for you. You can have a quality of life with length of life as long as you keep in mind that a balanced diet goes a long way!

References:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326269#:~:text=Dairy%20products%20are%20a%20good,%2C%20vitamin%20D%2C%20and%20protein.
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-dairy-bad-or-good
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/dairy-health-food-or-health-risk-2019012515849
https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20200214/rethinking-mik-science-takes-on-the-dairy-dilemma
https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy
https://www.consumerreports.org/nutrition-healthy-eating/is-dairy-good-for-you-a8446697344/
https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/dairy-benefits.html


good posture

Why you should improve your posture

What is good posture?

According to Physio-pedia, “posture is defined as the attitude assumed by the body either with support during the course of muscular activity, or as a result of the coordinated action performed by a group of muscles working to maintain the stability.” From this definition, good posture should mean training your body to move to – and from – standing, walking, sitting, and lying positions with the least strain in your muscles and ligaments.

If you’re already starting to feel lower back pain, chances are, you need to improve your posture. Bad posture can happen no matter what age, gender, or color you have. However, you can prevent further injuries and other underlying health problems when you check your posture now. It’s better to correct your posture in the early stages of your life than suffer more serious and potentially risky orthopedic concerns later on.

In this article, Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute talks about the importance of good posture and some tips on how you can achieve that. 

Importance of good posture

good posture

The way you hold your body, whether moving or inactively still, determines whether you have good posture or not. It involves balance, coordination, and body strength in order to hold yourself going to and from movement and resting position. These distinctions are commonly called dynamic (moving) and static (not moving) posture.

Good posture is about maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Your neck, mid-back, and low back should be aligned, otherwise, your joints could experience wear and tear over time. 

But why does it matter that you have good posture, really? Here are a few reasons why it’s important:

  • Center your weight. Distribute the force of gravity to your body and not just to certain muscle groups.
  • Correct form in working out. Maintain correct form during exercise that could result in better performance and lesser injuries.
  • Good balance. Train your body to have good balance useful for simple tasks like picking things up from the floor or climbing up a flight of stairs, for example.
  • Strengthen muscles. Ensure your core muscles remain strong as they are interlinked with other body systems to function well.
  • Flexibility. Increase your range of motion so you can freely move and not feel pain when you move in any direction.

How to have good posture when sitting

good sitting posture

The key thing when sitting down is to keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your sides. Also, your elbows, hips, and knees should be at a 90-degree angle, approximately. Moreover, your feet should be comfortably resting on a surface. Others even use cushions or foot rests, if it helps, so you can shift your weight easily. 

Make it a habit to switch your position every couple of minutes. Don’t get stiff or stay still for too long. Stand up, take a walk, and take your short breaks so you don’t stay glued on your seat. 

Sometimes, you might catch yourself crossing your legs but try to avoid this as much as  you possibly can. Your feet should be on the floor and your ankles in front of your knees. Your back should be fully supported. You can use a pillow or other back support to follow your lower back’s natural curve.

Other Tip(s): 

Are your shoulders and hips aligned with your ears? 
Do you have your feet flat on the floor? 
Are your forearms parallel to the floor?

If your answer is no, it’s time to correct your body. Otherwise, you’ll likely feel pain in your lower back, neck or shoulders eventually, if you haven’t yet.

How to have good posture when standing up

Good posture happens when you train your body to walk, sit, lie, and stand in a healthy, proper position. This is when you least strain your spine and maximize your muscles to support your ligaments during various activities. 

There are four common postural tendencies that each person may have. These are normal, kyrphotic-lordotic, sway back, and flat back.

Your goal is to keep the normal standing position to avoid lower back pains and other related complications that may be bad for your posture. 

Stand up tall and straight. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet and your arms naturally hanging down at your sides. Also, your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Always stand straight and still, and let your shoulders relax.

Other tip(s):

Is your stomach pulled in?
Are your shoulders back?

If your answers are yes, you’re off to a good start. Be mindful of that posture so you get used to keeping your spine aligned at all times.

Benefits of good posture

What used to be annoying reminders from your parents when you were younger can actually result in good habits as you grow older. Remember being told to avoid slouching? It’s not too late to change that habit, especially when you’re in front of a computer or the television for too long.

Sometimes, your job may require you to sit down or stand up for longer periods than normal. Or you’ve just unconsciously been sitting or standing a certain way. Knowing the benefits of good posture may help you be more mindful about what seems to be something you do naturally.

Here are a list of benefits you’ll be missing out on if you aren’t careful with your posture:

  • Reduce back strain
  • Proper alignment of your joints and bones
  • Lesser headaches
  • Increase energy level
  • Enhance digestion and blood circulation
  • Reduce shoulder tension and neck strain
  • Strengthen your lungs 
  • Improve scapular strength
  • Look taller
  • Increase self-confidence and body awareness
  • Boost productivity and mood

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute believes in the quality of life with length of life. If you are already experiencing lower back pain, try these lower back exercises. They may help avoid further injuries as you correct your posture.

Next time you hear your mom say “stand up straight” or your friend noticing you to “sit up straight,” it might be worth listening to. Take the advice to heart and correct your posture right away as it is really for your benefit.


References:
https://www.h-wave.com/blog/why-good-posture-matters-and-bad-posture-can-hurt-your-health/#:~:text=Maintaining%20proper%20posture%20has%20many,and%20tear%20on%20joint%20surfaces.
https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/posture-benefits
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-good-posture-matters
https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-you-should-know-about-benefits-good-posture
https://medlineplus.gov/guidetogoodposture.html

what is gut health

What is gut health

Most digestive problems like gas, bloating, and constipation are easy to ignore, but they can cause serious issues if not taken into account properly. As the body ages, it naturally slows down and gastroenterologists could attest. Thus, discussing what is gut health and its importance in the body should be a regular discussion.

Your gut health changes and the usual causes are shifts in your gut immunity, stomach acid, and your gastrointestinal flora which is known as a complex ecosystem in which the bacteria in your system thrive.

The medical community continuously researches the complexity of the gut and how it evolves each time depending on a person’s lifestyle and diet. Studies show that nurturing a variety of good bacteria is what enhances the function of the immune system. It’s also the key to improving any signs of depression, obesity, among others. 

What is gut health and its importance

What is gut health? It is common to see medical literature explaining it. It’s also a term that the food industry utilizes often. Gut health features the positive characteristics of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which when you nourish properly, can be an effective relief for digestion and food absorption. Balancing these microorganisms that cultivate in the digestive tract is valuable for your physical and mental health. 

The relationship of the stomach, esophagus and intestines enables you to digest the food you eat comfortably. It may sound simple but in the United States alone, there is an estimate of 70 million people who suffer from digestive issues. Imagine how it could be for the rest of the world. 

Gut health and its relation to mental health

gut health

There seems to be a new era in the medical field that takes interest in an often forgotten organ in the body and its relation to health and disease – the gut microbiota. Imagine a busy sidewalk filled with different kinds of people rushing to go where they need to in the morning, and you’re seeing the microbiome in your body on a microscopic level. 

The microbiome system features not only the bacteria in your system, but also trillions of organisms that include viruses, parasites, and fungi. When you are healthy, these bugs interact peacefully and they would positively affect your body. In fact, they already call microbiome as the supporting organ as this community has a role to play in ensuring that your body maintains equilibrium in energy metabolism. Any changes or alterations in this equilibrium state such as a “leaky gut” may contribute to mental disorders. 

Healthy ways to take care of your gut

When you eat, your body breaks down the food that you put in your body so that it turns into a simple form. It then enters your bloodstream so that it delivers nutrients in your system. You have a healthy gut when it is capable of warding you off from infectious agents like fungi, viruses and bacteria. Furthermore, when your gut is healthy, it reflects on your whole well-being. 

What are the simple ways to take care of your gut anyway? Balancing your gut flora is the key to a healthy microbiome. To achieve this, eat the right kinds of food. Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes in your diet. You should also squeeze in the right amount of prebiotic and probiotic in your meals. Some supplements wouldn’t hurt too, but limiting the antibiotics would be awesome for the good bacteria in your gut. 

The signs that your gut is unhealthy

unhealthy gut

How do you tell when you have an unhealthy gut? Parrish explains that there are many indicators of an unhealthy gut and these are weight changes, fatigue, food cravings, upset stomach, autoimmune conditions, skin irritation & allergies, mood issues and migraines. They are usually manifested as follows:

Weight Changes

When your gut is in trouble, you might unintentionally gain or lose weight even sans an exercise or diet routine. Be careful because this kind of change also suggests an unhealthy gut. This impairs your body to properly absorb nutrients, process fat, and control blood sugar. SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, causes weight loss because of insulin resistance. 

Fatigue

If you find yourself experiencing constant tiredness even if you just woke up in the morning, you might be under fatigue and a gut problem normally triggers this. The gut produces this serotonin which activates in the brain. Since the body is interconnected, this would affect your sleep and mood.

Food Cravings

Having an unhealthy gut pushes you to crave for unhealthy foods. You’ll want sugar, and you might eat much of it so you can feed the bad bacteria in your body. But, loading with sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup stirs inflammation that risks you to experiencing other kinds of diseases.

Upset stomach

When you have an upset stomach, you experience frequent bloating, constipation, discomfort, heartburn and diarrhea. All of these are an indication that you’re giving your gut a hard time breaking down the food you eat and eliminating toxins from your body. 

Autoimmune Conditions

Scientists continue to confirm that there is a particular gut microbe that activates autoimmune disease during an experiment with mice, and they also found the same microbe in humans who suffer from autoimmune diseases.

Skin Irritation and Allergies

Skin irritation such as eczema is also an indication of a damaged gut. A poor diet, or food allergies may bring this problem. There might also be an protein leak increase in your digestive track out of your body which irritates the skin and prompts certain conditions.

Mood Issues

Your gut bacteria have a role to play in your overall mood and mental health and one of the reasons is because there is a system of gut microbiomes in your colon. When you take care of it, you relieve any signs of anxiety, stress, and depression. Doing the opposite will have a detrimental effect on your mood. 

Migraines

Some studies imply that migraine may come from the sudden disruption of the microbiota in your gut, and these differences in the mix of your bacteria may be a trigger to your severe headache. Food sensitivity can be the reason for this. 

How to improve gut health naturally

You can find your gut in your small and large intestines. This system features trillions of microbial cells that build your microbiome. This is the community of bacteria that plays an important role in affecting the way you break down nutrients and digest food. Anybody who experiences metabolic issues such as Gaucher disease should keep their gut microbiome healthy for this is the answer to managing inflammation.

Improving your eating habits is a crucial place to start. When you clean up your gut, you’re helping your body reach homeostasis, or simply achieve balance. That way, your internal body organs don’t have to work harder which normally happens when there’s gut inflammation. The most natural way to improve your gut health is to watch what you eat and drink. Your food choices directly impact your gut microbiome. 

That said, your food diet should be a good balance of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables that  help promote good bacteria in your gut. There are healthy fats and carbohydrates you can consume from grains as well as good sources of protein to maintain a healthy gut. This means avoiding sugars and processed foods and having a good understanding of a FODMAP diet that can affect your gut health. 

Gut health is all about balance

balanced diet

It’s important to have a holistic view of the importance of gut health so you can enjoy your journey of health and wellness. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute promotes quality of life with length of life. Hence, it’s good to have wisdom in eating moderately with diverse food choices. A balanced diet helps your digestive system to function properly, and the rest of your body to work more seamlessly.

In fact, a healthy gut may just be what you need to improve your mental health. There are various articles showing information linking gut health and depression, for example. And, as briefly mentioned above, gut health can affect your mood and send messages to your brain, too. The bacteria in your gut can influence your behavior through the neurotransmitters in your gut. 

You have to keep in mind that you’re “eating for your gut.” There’s less risk of chronic illnesses when you choose the right food and live a healthier lifestyle. It feels so much better and lighter when you have good digestion. 

So, make sure you have the right nutrition and consciously restore your gut health with a fiber-rich diet, for instance. Again, balance is key. Don’t limit yourself to only one food group or just one diet program depriving yourself of savory and nutritious foods. Get acquainted with different choices and diverse, nutrient-dense foods that are good for your gut.

References:
https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/what-is-gut-health-and-why-is-it-important/2019/07
https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health
https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/ss/slideshow-how-gut-health-affects-whole-body
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325293
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/your-digestive-system-5-ways-to-support-gut-health
https://www.bluezones.com/2019/04/6-ways-to-improve-gut-health/
https://www.forbes.com/health/body/how-to-improve-gut-health/

How to pack a healthy lunch

Busy people should make a conscious effort to prepare a healthy lunch and meal, but that could get difficult when you don’t have much time. Life usually involves running around errands and adulting. Anything that’s an instant grab is the go-to for most individuals these days. Good thing, you can always prepare in advance. All it takes is planning, and grabbing the ingredients you’d need for your menu.

So, if you are a parent who needs to pack a lunch for your kid or a working person who needs to keep up with a tight schedule, developing the habit of putting out your meal would help you stay on a healthy diet. Sure, it sounds like an adjustment, but, once you are used to this, you’ll be able to save more time and money for the food that you eat regularly.

Why Healthy Snacks for Lunch

Your food choices have a great impact on your energy for the day. However, everyday challenges may make you rely on typical food that’s the most convenient, but without substance. Hence, ensuring that you are going for the right sustenance is one of the reasons why you should prepare your food in advance. 

The easiest path is the soup, sandwich, or salad selection, but you can only do so much and this may bore you at the end. After all, there is a wide array of alternatives you can explore to pack an exciting lunch. For as long as you are nurturing your body with the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, you’ll be in good form for sure. 

Thus, if you are still adjusting, or even starting, and you’re clueless about where to begin, we hope that this blog helps you get the right footing. So, how do you pack a healthy lunch?

Plan your healthy lunch

Just like anything you do, planning is the key to succeeding in packing a lunch. You can make a list if that’s easier for you to stay on track. You should also make it a priority to include the ingredients of your packed meals in your regular grocery. What else should you load in your fridge regularly?

1. Whole Grains

Millet, whole-wheat pasta, barley, brown rice, quinoa, soba needles

2. Protein

Turkey or chicken breast, cooked lentils, roasted tofu, eggs, almonds, greek yogurt, lean beef

3. Vegetables

Leafy greens are the best (wash, dry and then wrap them)

What food can you pack in the cold? These are the safest:

  • Nuts
  • Cereals
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers, bagels, bread
  • Unopened fish and meat cans

On the other hand, foods that should be hot like chilli, stew or soup need an insulated container so that they don’t contaminate too, or this is a way to keep them fresh until lunchtime. Tightly seal the container so that it won’t lose its heat.

Pack your healthy lunch

As you do your meal prep, the goal is to make it satisfying and nutritious. You should include an appropriate amount of protein, vegetables, and grain. Incorporating fats is okay, just control it and only do so for flavoring. 

The presentation and choices you’ll make would also be the important elements of packing your lunch. The proper balance of the crucial food groups would be enough for the body to maximize its full potential. Practice a variety of colors and textures!

How to pack your healthy lunch

Now, we are in an integral part of the preparation – packing your healthy lunch. 

There is a simple formula to this: half of the lunch box should include colorful vegetables or fruits. Go for these three types. One of the quarters should have whole grains, and then the rest is for your healthy proteins. It’s okay to sneak in some fats in there like dairy for that will make your meal tasty. It’s also a boost if you have an active lifestyle.

Simplicity is the key

If you want to be consistent in packing your lunch, you shouldn’t be scared to make your preparation simple. You can secure your go-to protein options like pre-cooked or frozen chicken, canned beans, or even veggie burgers. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. You can also consider pre-chopping your ingredients!

Stick to the food you enjoy

In building a routine of meal prep, you should be true to the kinds of food you enjoy eating. What’s the point of putting together a healthy lunch that you won’t eat? It should be the meal that you look forward to eating at school or work, but of course, the healthier. Even if you have guilty pleasures when it comes to food, you can always do swaps and alternatives. 

Save healthy food for emergency

It wouldn’t hurt to have non-perishable foods in your place. They’ll be the easiest to grab. Among these foods are fruit cups, light tuna, cereals, trail mix, cereals, granola, or crackers.

Ensuring food safety

When making your food, safety is a priority. The last thing you’d want is to contaminate it. For instance, you make your lunch before you go to bed, chill it in the fridge and secure it in an insulated lunch bag as you bring the meal to work or school. 

Cross-contamination is common. This happens when you don’t use food wraps, aluminum foil, or plastic bags in packing. How can you avoid foodborne illness? You can start by discarding your used paper bags and food packaging materials.

Healthy food for healthy living

At the end of the day, the main goal here is to create a healthy meal that will nourish your body. Focus on the quality of your diet and you’ll not go wrong. Mixing up your menu would excite you in doing more meal preps. 

When you put primary focus on the quality of your food, no matter which meal it is, you are promoting a healthy and balanced diet for yourself and family. In fact, you’re also somehow influencing your colleagues when they see how much thought you put into preparing your packed lunch for work.

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute believes that with better food (that includes a healthy packed lunch!), you can enjoy a healthy and quality life. If you’re working remotely, having a healthy packed lunch means you don’t have to go longer than four hours without taking a bite. Plus, it’s a good and healthy bite, too!

Go on! Try these tips or get inspiration from these recipes and let us know how it goes! Bon appetit!