How to Celebrate Sweetest Day Without Undoing Your Diet

How to Celebrate Sweetest Day Without Undoing Your Diet

This year, Sweetest Day falls on October 19th. Hardly 2 weeks from Halloween, another day of sweet treats, this candy-filled holiday is a reminder for many that they are loved, appreciated, and cared for by those who celebrate with them.  

Wait? You haven’t heard of Sweetest Day? Well, don’t feel too out-of-the-loop; this holiday is primarily celebrated in the Midwestern and Northeastern parts of the U.S. It’s even better known in the state where it originated: Ohio!  

In 1922, philanthropist Herbert Birch Kingston started the idea of Sweetest Day by distributing candy and gifts to orphans, the elderly, and the disabled to show kindness to those he felt received it less than others.  

Today, people celebrate their friends and loved ones in this way to express their love, their gratitude, and to spread the kindness. If you’re observing Sweetest Day this year, or now thinking of adding a new tradition, we’d like to offer you some great (and less sugary) ideas to help you celebrate. 

healthier treat ideas

Instead of the pure sugar you’d get in a box of candy, try out some of these delicious ideas. Not only are they more natural and nutritious treats, the fact that you made them yourself will definitely earn you some bonus points. 

01.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites 

These sweet treats are super easy. All you need is some banana slices, peanut butter (or almond butter), and dark chocolate. Simply sandwich some peanut butter in between two banana slices and then dip the bite into some melted chocolate. If you like, you can top your creation with crushed peanuts or almonds.  

When using chocolate, we recommend you choose dark because of its lower sugar content. However, if you despise dark chocolate and all that it touches, feel free to use milk chocolate. 

Tips: Freeze the bananas before and after working with them. If you’re using milk chocolate and you’re worried about this treat being too sweet, try dipping only half the bite into the chocolate. 

02.

Watermelon Feta and Mint Skewers 

These skewers are colorful, refreshing, and really tasty, especially if you like to mix sweet and salty flavors. Probably the hardest part of this recipe is figuring out how to cut watermelon into cubes, but really any bite sized shape will do! Simply stack some watermelon, feta, and mint in any order onto some skewers. If you like, you can add a light sprinkle of salt and pepper for a little extra flavor. 

Tips: If you’re cutting mint straight from your yard, try soaking it in a mixture of water and salt for a few minutes to help give the leaves a more thorough clean. 

03.

Healthy Oatmeal Balls 

Not only do these look good, they’re also good for you. They’re little rolled packages of oatmeal, chia seeds, cranberries, coconut, flax seeds, and honey. They take little work but will certainly make a mess of your hands as you roll them together. 

Tips: You can use a variety of ingredients according to the flavor profile you’re looking for. You can use peanut butter as the binder instead of honey, raisins instead of cranberries, cinnamon instead of coconut, and experiment with many other variations. 

If you’re not sure you want to make something edible, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Sweetest Day. In the next section, you’ll see exactly what we mean. 

Nurture Healthier Relationships 

When it comes to communicating our thanks, sometimes we can be pretty good at letting life, work, school, and everything else get in the way. You can use this day to reflect on the people in your life who matter and on who you’d like to acknowledge more often.

Unlike Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day is not restricted to celebrating your significant other. Think about all the people who are close to you. Do you have a friend who has been there for you and you want to let them know they are appreciated? Are there people you want to make amends with? Who do you want to show your gratitude for?  

Once you’ve identified your crew, you can start hashing out the details. You can keep it simple or go a little nuts with it. It’s entirely up to you! For some ideas, you can: 

01.

Do Something Nice  

A small act of kindness can go a long way. Do the dishes or take out the trash without being asked. Wash your brother’s car. Buy your coworker a cup of coffee. Compliment your classmate’s outfit. A very ordinary act of kindness, done unexpectedly, can go highly appreciated. 

02.

Write a Card 

Some people are great at “doing,” others are great at “saying.” If you know you don’t say certain things enough, or you’re simply better at expressing what you need to say on paper, writing a heartfelt card is another great option. 

03.

Spend the Day Together 

Let’s be honest, we all have a friend or family member that we don’t see as often as we used to or probably haven’t talked to in a while. Spending some time together may be just what you need. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous. It can be as simple as going for a walk together, hitting the gym, cooking a meal (or going out for one).  

If you liked our sweet treat suggestions but want even more interesting and healthy ideas, check out our dietitian’s response to this question about Sugary and Salty Snack Substitutions. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

How to Burn Off Stubborn Belly Fat

How to Burn Off Stubborn Belly Fat

Question:

No matter how much exercising and dieting I do, I can’t get rid of a small “spare tire” I’ve had for years. Is there something I can do nutritionally to help burn off that fat? 

– David H.

Hi, What are the foods you recommend that can reduce belly fat (subcutaneous fat) and give a flat belly? Thanks.

– Karthik K.

What foods are the best to eat to get rid of your belly fat and keep it off?

– Shawn R.

Answer:

We are asked these questions a lot! Scan for previous Living Healthy blog articles on the topic and you’ll find no less than twenty. For those already at a healthy body weight or with only a few pounds to lose, fat around the midsection and abdomen seems to resist all efforts at reduction. 

Though you can’t target belly fat with specific foods or exercises, fine tuning your diet and workout program can help you lose weight and tone all over. Exercise including moderate intensity work at least 30 minutes per day plus strength training helps control weight and fight abdominal fat, both subcutaneous and visceral (around the organs).  

For diet, the goal is to reduce foods that are readily converted to fat and focus on those that require greater work to metabolize. Doing so reduces both actual fat storage and the signals/prompts that cause it to happen, such as insulin. As long as your overall caloric intake is less than your expenditure, of course! 

  • Avoid added sugars, particularly in beverages. 
  • Choose wholesome raw ingredients that you prepare yourself instead of processed foods that generally have less fiber and more salt, sugar and trans fat
  • Get a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (from olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocados and fish). 
  • Include regular intake of active culture yogurt. 
  • Be sure you fill half your plate or bowl with vegetables at every meal, including a variety of colors.  
  • Reduce saturated fat from meat and cheese by substituting with beans, fish, poultry and egg whites.  
  • Keep alcohol intake below ‘moderate consumption.’

Sources: 

  1. Is There ‘One Trick’ to Losing Belly Fat? Rush University Medical Center https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/losing-belly-fat Accessed 9.23.2019 
  2. 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life. Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/8-ways-to-lose-belly-fat-and-live-a-healthier-life Accessed 9.23.2019 
  3. 10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away. Health https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20905682,00.html Accessed 9.23.2019 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Today is World Food Day! With over 2,000,000 farms across the U.S., we produce, export, and consume a lot of food! In 2015, about 48.5 billion pounds of red meat was produced. In 2014, grain production came out to approximately 442.4 million metric tons. 

With all this production comes a lot of waste; 62.5 million tons of wasted food each year, to be more specific. We’re not even considering the waste that comes from actual production, from packaging, and from transporting all this food. 

As an individual, you can easily and effectively help reduce food waste. Here are some ways that you can make a positive impact. 

Reduce Wasted Food 

01.

It can be hard to remember when you made that casserole in the back of your fridge. Create your own labels so you remember when you cooked and to avoid throwing good food out prematurely. 

02.

Create your own labels for store-bought foods as well, particularly if the expiration date is already difficult to see. This is also a great idea if you tend to store certain foods without the packaging it came in. 

03.

Make your grocery shopping trips smaller and more frequent instead of buying large quantities of food less frequently. If you must buy something in bulk, split it up into smaller containers that you can freeze for later use. 

04.

Eat before you shop. We’ve all fallen victim to the hungry shopping-spree that ended with a shopping cart full of items we never intended to buy. Even a light snack before you hit the store can help you make more conscious decisions. 

05.

Try to commit to cooking more at home. If you like to meal prep and you make a big batch of food, freeze some of it so you don’t get tired of eating the same thing. This should keep it from sitting around in your fridge too long. 

06.

Instead of throwing away leftovers, re-purpose them to make an entirely different meal. This article from Taste of Home can give you some ideas on how to make leftovers shine.

07.

To help ward off spoilage, wrap fruits and veggies in a paper towel or toss a napkin into the storage container. This absorbs moisture which will help keep produce fresher longer. If you’re worried about wasting trees, try tree-free products or use regular kitchen towels. 

08.

Don’t toss it just yet! The “Best By” or “Use By” date just means your food will taste the best and be the freshest up to a certain date. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be spoiled once that date has passed! The USDA explains that “with [the] exception of infant formula…if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident.”1 

Make Ecologically Sustainable Choices 

01.

Try your best to minimize trash. You may live in a state that has banned single-use grocery bags, but if you don’t, consider reusable grocery bags for your next shopping trip. You can go a step further and bring reusable bags or lightweight containers for buying produce and bulk beans, rice, nuts, etc.

02.

Buy sustainably sourced seafood and choose varieties that are more abundant. For example, choose Mackerel, Tilapia, Catfish, Mussels, Clams, or Oysters over less abundant species like Tropical Prawns, Swordfish, Atlantic Salmon, or Shark. 2

03.

Eat less meat or commit to buying from local sources. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint caused by packaging, shipping, and other transportation. This also goes for fruits and veggies. If you can, stick only to what’s in-season. 

04.

Try composting! Believe it or not, food takes a long time to decompose in a landfill. This is because there is actually very little dirt, oxygen, and very few of the microorganisms that help with decomposition.3 Composting at home is great for the health of your soil and will help you grow your own produce.

05.

If you haven’t invested in a reusable water bottle, this is a great move for your health and for the environment. It’s a reminder to keep hydrated and a way to keep unnecessary plastic out of landfills. You can do the same with straws and cutlery and replace plastic with some reusable and portable alternatives.

For more food and nutrition topics, check out the Meal Prepping 101 Guide or this Super Snacking Guide. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “FSIS.” Food Product Dating, United States Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating.
  2. Charles, Alba. “How to Know If Fish Is Sustainable.” Onehowto.com, 2017, food.onehowto.com/article/how-to-know-if-fish-is-sustainable-10516.html.
  3. Talk, Earth. “Do Biodegradable Items Degrade in Landfills?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 4 Jan. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/do-biodegradable-items-really-break-down-1204144.

Do Vegetarians Need Iron Supplements?

Do Vegetarians Need Iron Supplements?

Question:

If you are vegetarian, do you have to take iron tablets to compensate? 

Do you recommend any other foods or fruits? I drink a lot of milk (1% organic) and take the following pills daily:  

1. Move Free Ultra Triple Action
2. ‘C’ Vitamin 500 mg. 
3. MSM 1000mg 
4. Calcium 600 mg
5. Multivitamin Silver Centrum for men +50  

I am 81 years old and have a slight knee problem. Please let me know if you have any other recommendations. 

– Michael J.

Answer:

Your current nutrient supplements do not provide any iron (also known as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumarate). If you consume a good amount of non-heme iron from plant sources such as vegetables like spinach, beans, nuts, and fortified grain products, it’s possible to meet your daily iron need without supplementation. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vegetarian adults over 50 years of age is 14.4 milligrams of iron per day, which is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.  

Vitamin C helps absorb iron so you should take it with your richest iron meal. Your calcium supplement, on the other hand, reduces the availability of iron so take it at another time of day. Consult with your doctor if you’re concerned about anemia. 

The Vegetarian Resource Group offers sample high-iron menus and a discussion with sample menu for seniors. Unless you have specific symptoms, complaints or health conditions, there is no need to focus on a particular food. I’d recommend a diet rich in legumes, grains, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit with 2-3 dairy servings if you wish. Choose whole foods and limit processed foods, added sugar and alcohol. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Member Spotlight | Little Changes, Big Results

Member Spotlight | Little Changes, Big Results

“Consistency is key; Changes do not happen overnight so do not give up. Start with small changes outside the gym…little changes turn into big results.” 

Nick L.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

Nick’s weight loss journey began with the 8-month birthday of his son. He changed his workout and eating habits over the course of the last year and managed to lose over 100 pounds!  

His motivation came partly from witnessing the success of others who have lost as much weight and more. So, if your goal seems too ambitious and you’re plagued with self-doubt, Nick’s story will show you that with consistency and commitment, big results are possible. 

Nick’s Wakeup Call

“I decided to make a healthy lifestyle a choice when my son became 8 months old and I was too tired to interact and play with him. I knew that if I wanted to be strong enough to provide for my wife and son, something needed to change.  

At that same time, I found a channel on YouTube called BrixFitness where I saw that a man had lost 150 pounds. I thought to myself, if he can do it, I can too. The next day I went and got a membership at LA Fitness. A week later, I showed up to the gym at 5am and I have been going at 5am, 5 days a week for the last year.” 


 

Commitment to the New Lifestyle

“I have made many eating and drinking changes which have helped drive my progress in the gym, and I am seeing major results. I am more conscious of the labels on the food I eat along with the portions. I even started measuring and weighing my food.”  

If Nick could give others a piece of advice, he would tell them that “Consistency is key. Changes do not happen overnight so do not give up. Start with small changes outside the gym like drinking diet soda versus regular soda or eating a protein bar instead of a candy bar. Little changes turn into big results.” 

Nick started this journey at 332 pounds and, as of today, he is currently 230 pounds. With his primary focus on weight training and diet over the course of the last year, his plan is to continue that and start integrating more Cardio and Core sessions to continue shaping his body. 

 He says that his “ultimate fitness goal is to do one pull up as [he has] never done one in [his] entire life.” We’re rooting for you Nick! 

 


 

The Takeaways

  1. Odds are, you’re not alone. Look for success stories that prove it!

     

  2. Small changes build up over time and really make a difference

     

  3. Keep it consistent and remember that changes don’t happen overnight 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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