The Perspective
   
WINTER 2014/2015

Healthy New Year!

New Year's resolutions are a popular tradition and usually involve an act of self-improvement or altruism on the part of the person making the resolution. Lucky for you, you resolver of good you, the month of January is chock full of holidays that will help start the year off to a healthier, happier and better – well, you!

soupJanuary is National Soup Month. Homemade soup is not only a great way to serve up a healthy and hearty meal during the winter months, it is an ideal way to make use of the vegetables you have in your refrigerator or pantry. Roasting fresh vegetables for soup is another way to maximize the flavors for soups and be adventurous – mix it up by trying new vegetables or a new recipe. Looking for health recipe ideas? The American Diabetes Association and the Mayo Clinic have healthy recipe ideas for everyone on their respective websites at: www.diabetes.org and www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes.

Healthy grains are also celebrated during the month of January, so spread some joy (or fruit-sweetened preserves) for whole wheat bread, as we celebrate (you guessed it) Whole Wheat Bread Month. Not to be outdone, another popular and healthy whole-grain gets it share of recognition as the start of the New Year also ushers in Oatmeal Month.

oatmealBread has been the inspiration for a variety of folklore over the years – turning a loaf upside down brings back luck, a loaf in the basement of your house can ward of bad spirits or ghosts – but the health benefits of whole wheat bread are well-documented. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases and grains provide nutrients that are vital to the health of our bodies.

Oats are an example of a healthy source of whole grains. Eating oats can help to lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They can help you feel fuller longer, which helps control weight and are a good source of soluble fiber which helps to control blood sugar. Oats are also higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates than some other whole grain choices.

As you're eating your way to a healthier you this January, take the time to commemorate Walk Your Pet Month. Exercise is important to helping your pet live a healthy and long life, and walking your dog can help your meet and sustain your own fitness goals. A report from Michigan State University found that 60 percent of dog owners who took their pets for regular walks met the federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercises.

dogThe benefits of exercise to both you and your furry friends include:

  • Improves strength, fitness, and flexibility
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases stress and improves mood
  • Improves sleep habits
  • Decreases boredom
  • Strengthens bond between you and your pet
  • Decreases obesity

And don't forget our feline friends. While most cats may not appreciate any attempt to walk them on a leash, they do need daily exercise. Set aside 15-20 minutes a day to keep you cat happy and occupied with exercises that satisfy their urges to stalk, pounce, climb and hide. Not only will you get in some extra physical activity during this time, but you may reap the benefits of a more restful night if the extra play time helps your nocturnal friend to also sleep though the night.

So cheers to you and your healthy habits, may these obscure holidays help you start, maintain, and celebrate your healthy lifestyle for the duration of 2015.

 

Additional fresh and heart-healthy recipes are available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored Million Hearts® Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Resource Center website. Download a calorie-controlled, 28-day heart-healthy meal plan with a printable shopping list.

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