Don’t Forget Chicken – the Most Versatile and Healthy Protein

Baked Marinated Chicken

Our bodies need protein and if you enjoy meat in your diet, chicken is an excellent choice. You may enjoy red meat as much as I do, but chicken is an equally good source of protein,  easier to digest, much lower in fat and calories, and typically has a short preparation time.

When you add in its versatility, you have a winner. There are so many main course dishes based on chicken, you will always have new ways to serve healthy, delicious meals to your family.

As an important part of your chicken cooking repertoire, we recommend the following methods to keep the calories at a minimum and contribute to a healthy heart.

Five Healthy Cooking Methods

Steamed Chicken                                         

You can have a flavorful, tender dinner in 20 minutes or less when you choose steaming. The prep time for this method is minimal and each serving is much lower in calories and fat because oil is not required.

White or dark meat? That is the question. White is healthier (and my favorite) with less fat and fewer calories, but many people prefer the richer, more moist dark meat. Whichever you choose, we recommend you use skinless, boneless pieces.

The secret to amazing flavors when steaming is seasoning.

You can layer the chicken with herbs and citrus slices for a tasty, tender meal. The acidity of citrus (lemons, limes, or oranges) will tenderize the chicken as it cooks.

Salt and pepper both sides of 2 medium chicken breasts, lay them in the steamer and sprinkle with 2 cloves minced garlic and a light dusting of chili flakes (optional). Top with the zest of a large lemon. Add the leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and steam until chicken is tender.

A mixture of paprika, crushed red pepper, and chili powder sprinkled over the chicken works wonders for those who enjoy spicy dishes.

Steaming chicken retains all the nutrients, so adding your favorite vegetables to the cooker creates a lovely nutritious meal.

NOTE: Be sure to use fresh, young chicken. Don’t skimp on cost and buy less than prime or your result may be tough and not-so-delectable.

Boiled Chicken

Boiled Chicken SaladThis is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken because it makes fall-off-the-bone chicken that can be used in so many ways – chicken salad, chicken tacos, nachos, quesadillas, chicken-topped pizza, sliced chicken sandwiches, shredded chicken sandwiches, and many other possibilities.

Use boneless or bone-in – white or dark meat, they all work. Place the children in a Dutch oven or heavy pot, add one onion (sliced), a large celery stalk with leaves (cut in 2” chunks), one bay leaf, salt and pepper, and a large garlic clove. (These are my choices – you will find your favorites when you realize how easy this is.)

Add just enough water to cover the chicken (this is critical), bring the water to a boil, cover, drop to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, just until chicken is tender. Most of the water will be absorbed into the chicken and vegetables.

Remove, drain, slice, and serve with a side of vegetables and a small portion of whole grain pasta (or shred and use in any way you choose).

AND . . . Don’t throw away the broth, it is perfect for chicken soup, which cures all ails.

Baked Chicken

This is one of the easiest ways to prepare chicken and can be extremely tasty.

It is best to use boneless/skinless equally-sized chicken breasts – but dark meat can also be used if you prefer. Place the chicken in a lightly-greased oven-proof baking pan, season with your favorite seasonings and bake at 375° F. until chicken is tender and no longer pink in the center (~15 to 20 minutes).

When done, it’s best to remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Small potatoes and carrot sticks placed around the chicken during baking will absorb all the juices and make a complete meal when served with a crisp green salad.

Experiment with marinating the chicken overnight to add wonderful flavors to the meat – see the information below  – Learn to Marinate.

Grilled Chicken

Grilling is a delicious, low-calorie traditional American method of Grilled Chickencooking chicken – especially during the summer months. It can be grilled in the oven (under the broiler) or on a BBQ grill on the back patio.

Brush lightly with melted butter (optional), sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, a light dusting of paprika and the juice of one lemon. Voila! You have a lovely meal when served with grilled potatoes and fresh asparagus. Don’t overcook.

little more preparation but is worth it. I use chicken tenders and cut them into small pieces, so they cook quickly. (Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you like it hot)

Stir-Fried Chicken

This method takes a little more preparation but is worth it. I use chicken tenders and cut them into small pieces, so they cook quickly. (Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if you like it hot)

You will need a large cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or wok with a small amount of oil.

Cut up the chicken and vegetables of choice (broccoli, zucchini, green peppers, diced carrots, garlic, onions, etc.)

Add all the pieces to the hot cooking pan, season to taste – stir and cook until meat is no longer pink and veggies are tender. (Do not overcook!)

Serve immediately with steamed brown Basmati rice.

Learn to Marinate

Good marinade tenderizers the chicken, keeps it moist when cooking, and adds wonderful flavor without excess fat.

Tips for Marinating

  1. To keep the dish as low in calories as possible, use skinless chicken breasts – dark meat is higher in fat and calories.
  2. The skin adds 20% more fat. If you prefer the added flavor of cooking with the skin, remove it before eating.
  3. Marinating for suggested times below allows the juices to be fully absorbed and makes the chicken tender. Over-marinating can result in a less-then-desired outcome.

Time Chart for Marinating Chicken

  Source: https://www.eatbydate.com/long-marinate-chicken/ 

  1. Always discard the marinade once you have removed the chicken. DO NOT use it for anything else or you risk salmonella poisoning.

Tasty Marinades

    • Teriyaki Chicken Marinade: a simple sesame-ginger marinade
    • Chicken Enchilada Marinade: a no-cook version of my favorite enchilada sauce
    • Tandoori Chicken Marinade: a simple curry marinade that is big on flavor
    • Honey Mustard Marinade: always a classic for you mustard-lovers
    • Pesto Chicken Marinade: pesto sauce works just as well as a marinade!

After trying some of the above recipes or others that you can find on the internet, tap you’re your creativity and experiment – create your own recipes. There are many combinations of ingredients that make healthy, delicious chicken dishes.

Check out this article, How to Make Your Own Marinades from TheSpruceEats.com.

If you are pushed for time, use one of the gourmet bottled marinades from your local grocery store – read the labels carefully and avoid those filled with unnecessary additives.

Read this article in Prevention Magazine, Marinades: Your Meal’s Healthiest Friend for healthy bottled choices.

Happy Eating!

 

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Chicken Salad – Cool and  Healthy

Why a Healthy Diet Should Be Your #1 Priority

Uncertainty, isolation (social distancing), working from home, fear of illness, etc. etc. It’s all too much!

Living in a world that changed overnight and having no idea what is coming is terrifying and stressful – at least it has been for me. My emotions are all over the place. I just want it to be over, so we can go back to some sense of normalcy.

But – what do we do in the meantime? 

We take care of our minds and bodies  so we can stay healthy. That is more important NOW than ever!

Take Care of Your Body and Mind with a Healthy Diet

Young woman  stress eating cake
Image by Massonforstock

In this world of convenience and flavor-enhanced foods, it is very easy to indulge in foods that taste great but provide little nutrition.

When we get stressed or worried, that tendency increases and we fill our bodies with “treats” that make us feel better for a minute or two.

As difficult as it is – when things get tough, we must double down and focus on eating good nutritious foods that will keep our minds and bodies strong to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

Worry and stress take a terrible toll on the body. The two things that are most important to minimize the toll are exercise and a healthy diet filled with nutritious food.  

There is no reason not to exercise since the majority of us are restricted to our homes – indoors or outdoor – just do it! At least 30 minutes each day and in the fresh air is preferable. 

The Link Between Diet and Depression

We are living in a strange new world of isolation – or social distancing in the current vernacular – but, we haven’t lost the ability to be smart about what we eat – unless we let our worry rule our senses.

Your daily food choices directly affect the way you feel mentally and physically. If you are using fear and discouragement as justification for stress eating – stuffing yourself with sweets with little thought about nutrition, you are hurting yourself far more than you think you are.

Many ongoing studies are finding the link between diet and mental health. 

People who eat a steady diet of processed foods, added sugars and white flour/sugar products are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression. 

Those who consume natural foods including lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – limiting their intake of red meat enjoy stable moods and are not as likely to suffer from depression.

It is difficult to stay positive, keep yourself busy, and take care of your loved ones when you are feeling down.

A new study by the NIH (National Institute of Health) released May 16, 2019, finds that ultra-processed foods cause overeating, weight gain and an increased risk of depression.  Don’t let any of that happen to you. 

First and foremost . . .

Pay Attention to What You Are Eating

Nutrient-rich foods are necessary for good health and must be the bulk of your diet. Focus on eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible!

Junk foods, fast foods, and packaged processed foods are filled with added sugars and empty calories (little or no nutrient value). They may taste good, but when eaten as part of your regular diet, they cause weight gain and damage your body. They should be eliminated or eaten rarely in very small quantities.

Healthy Diet Foods in Fridge

Healthy Eating Guidelines

  1. PROTEIN – Be sure you eat enough protein. Eggs, beef, fish/shellfish, chicken, pork (including nitrate-free bacon, sausage, ham), lentils, beans, nuts, and some grains, i.e. quinoa.
  2.  DAIRY (Another good source of protein) –  Milk, cottage cheese, all varieties of cheese,  and non-fat Greek yogurt.
  3.  FRUITS & VEGETABLES –  You can eat unlimited amounts of vegetables and a generous amount of fruits every day – but be aware that some fruits are higher in calories than others.
  4. CARBOHYDRATES  – Provide necessary fuel for critical processes in your body – especially the central nervous system and brain; they also lower your risk for disease. It is never a good idea to stop eating healthy carbs.   Healthy Carbs – whole grains such as whole-wheat flour, quinoa, oatmeal; popcorn; nuts and seeds; beans and lentils; and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, bananas, apples, pears, avocado, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, kale, sweet potatoes, and beets. Bad Carbs (avoid) – All processed and refined foods such as white flour, rice, pasta, bread, crackers, cereal, and refined sugars like table sugar and added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, etc.
  5. FATS  are necessary for vitamin and mineral absorption, blood clotting, building cells, and muscle movement. Healthy Fats (unsaturated) – These can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and vegetable oils (olive, avocado, and flaxseed). Unhealthy Fats (trans-fats – AVOID Completely)

Foods to Avoid (or Eliminate)

  1. SUGAR AND SUGAR PRODUCTS – These are empty calories; the refining process essentially removes all nutrients.  Includes most sweets, ice cream, candy, doughnuts, cookies, cake, pie, desserts.  Anything made with white flour, processed sugar, added sugars of any kind, and high fructose corn syrup, etc. If you enjoy desserts – make your own from scratch so you control the ingredients and avoid the additives.
  2. FAST FOODS – Avoid or. . . indulge RARELY and choose carefully from the menu.
  3.  JUNK FOOD – Snack foods made of white flour, added sugars, and high sodium content such as Pop-Tarts, chips, crackers, pretzels, Cheetos, Packaged Fruit Pies, Snack Cakes, donuts, chocolate, candy bars, etc.
  4. FLAVORED BEVERAGES – (AVOID or consume rarely) – Sodas, coffee, tea, energy drinks, processed fruit juice, hot chocolate, specialty beverages like lattes and Frappuccinos, etc.  Sugary drinks and energy drinks (high caffeine content) should be avoided completely. An occasional cup of coffee or herbal tea is acceptable, just don’t fall into the habit of drinking many cups of fully caffeinated coffee every day.
  5. PREPACKAGED/PROCESSED FOODS – (AVOID COMPLETELY) These are loaded with poison additives and added sugars. Don’t eat them.  More and more studies are finding that consumption of heavily processed foods contributes to heart disease and early death.   

Be Sure to Get Enough of the Following:

  1. WATER – Keep your body hydrated. Listen to your body, if you are thirsty  – DRINK water!  
  2. FIBER  – Vital for a healthy digestive tract and helps with weight loss (makes you feel full).  Fiber can be found in all types of fresh whole berries; dried fruits; fresh whole pears, apples, grapes; vegetables such as corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini; whole-grain bread, cereals, and pasta; seeds, all nuts (especially almonds),  and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas, and all types of beans).
  3. MINERALS – Necessary for regulating metabolism, staying hydrated, and building strong bones and teeth. If you eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables,  in most cases you will get all the minerals you need.

Eat Well and Stay Healthy!

The grocery stores are open! Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, etc. are available – so shop for the good stuff and eat right.

If you don’t want to go to the store – have it delivered, or order and pick up.  

If we take care of ourselves and each other, we will get through this!

 

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5 Proven Practices to Be Effective Working from Home

You suddenly find yourself working from home for an undetermined length of time.

Maybe it’s something you’ve thought about doing but never expected it to become a reality. And – suddenly, it is your life!

You may be thrilled and excited – or you may be wondering exactly how to make it work and to continue to produce at your highest level.

Working from home has been my way of life for years and there are five things that I found crucial for success. It is different from being in an office (a controlled working environment), and adjustments must be made.

If you implement the following five suggestions – from the beginning and be consistent in using them, you will be successful.

1.    Establish a Designated Workspace

Ideally, this would be a separate room designated as your office only, with a door that can be closed when you are working.

Home OfficeIf a separate room is not possible, the next best choice is a corner of a room with a door that is used for other things but can be closed during your scheduled working hours.

If neither of those is possible, be creative! A large closet can be transformed into a very efficient workspace. One with doors that can be closed to keep your work untouched when you are not around is perfect.

Find the best place possible in your home, make it as private as you can, and enlist the support of your family to keep it untouchable – because it is where you “go to work” each day. 

2.  Create a Schedule and Follow It. 

This can often be the biggest challenge for first-timers working at home. The easiest schedule to follow is your regular work schedule – if your office hours have always been 8 to 5 with a half-hour for lunch, start there. After a few weeks, you can adjust it to fit your situation. If you can work more effectively in the wee hours of the morning, or late at night, go for it. But, whatever schedule you set, stick with it. Consistency is critical.

Get Up and Go to Work

When you are working at home,  you must keep regular working hours. You get up and go to work every day whether you want to or not. Plan exactly how you will use the time and stick to the schedule. You need a starting time, breaks, lunch, and a quitting time – follow it as closely as possible every day.

Take a 15-minute break every morning and afternoon. Don’t forget to stand up and stretch, do some deep knee bends, and walk the perimeter of the room a couple of times – then, back to work.

Set a time limit for breaks and lunch and stay within the limit. If you don’t, a 15-minute break can turn into an hour and a 30-minute lunch can turn into the whole afternoon.

You do not have to get up and shower, shave or put on make-up, but I recommend that you do those things anyway to keep you in a working frame of mind,

A big plus is that you have extra hours in the day because you no longer have to commute.   

Being a virtual employee is still a real job! Do your job every day – follow your schedule, stay focused, and get the job done! The key to productivity is discipline.

3.    Manage Distractions

No TV in the background, surfing the Internet, and checking/posting on social media.

With no one is looking over your shoulder, you must deal with the temptation to “watch just one program on TV” or have that second (or third) cup of coffee before you sit down to work.

If you have a family, you have the possibility of frequent interruptions, noise, and unexpected distractions. Enlist your family’s support by asking them to agree to respect your schedule and understand that during working hours you are unavailable.

The more disciplined and consistent you are, the more your family will accept that you are working – just as you always have. They will eventually realize the only difference is that you are doing it at home.

Just because management is out of sight – they should not be out of mind. You do not have free rein to do whatever you feel like doing throughout the day just because you are at home.

It is a good idea at the end of each day to make a list of things you need to accomplish the next day, which helps you to stay on track – preventing the temptation to flit from one thing to another, randomly doing whatever comes to mind. Disorganization results in low productivity and potential failure in the long-run.

A plan for how you will use your working hours can be as simple as dividing your day into blocks of time and assigning a category of work to each chunk of time. Google Calendar is a useful tool for planning and includes daily reminders of what you should be doing at certain times of the day.

A solid work ethic, self-discipline and the ability to stay focused (on-point) are three key characteristics that you will find in all successful self-employed or virtual employees. If those characteristics are already part of your make-up, you are WAY ahead of the game. If not, the faster you develop them, the faster you will realize the success you are seeking.

4.    Enlist Your Family’s Support

Your family may not understand at first that nothing has changed about the work you do, except the location in which you are doing it. Talk to them about the change and what it will mean for them.

Post a schedule of your work hours on the door, or a wall near your desk and ask them to honor the time you are “at work.”  There should be no interruptions except in cases of life and death emergencies.

Do Not Distrub Sign for Doorknow A “do not disturb” sign on the door can be very effective. You should also make it clear that when the sign is on the doorknob, the only acceptable form of communication is texting, to which you will not reply unless it is an emergency.

One of the problems that can develop from your being at home all day is that you should be available and willing to play with them, talk to them, or help them with something anytime they ask. 

These problematic infringements on your time are easier to combat when you are clear about the situation, and you have a work schedule in place that you follow religiously.

There should be no question in their minds (or yours) about what you are doing. It is important to have clear rules about when you are available and when you are not.

5.    Be Disciplined and Consistent

You may be thinking, “Working from home will be a piece of cake, no worries,” and brush off the suggestions I have given you.

Mastering unexpected change in a daily long-term routine requires self-discipline together with consistent and focused effort. You must be willing to invest the necessary time and effort for as long as it takes, without relenting, until you have developed a new rhythm and flow to the way you do your work in this new environment.

Developing this kind of disciplined consistency as a virtual employee is usually most difficult in the beginning. You will never be as productive in your new working environment as you were in the office if you are not willing and able to put forth consistent and focused effort over time.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. Working virtually can be a rich and rewarding experience if you choose to take the necessary steps that will make it so.

Want to Feel Better? Lower Your blood Sugar Now!

It’s Simple — Take Care of Your Body Every Day

You recently found out that you are prediabetic or moving in that direction with higher than acceptable blood sugar levels.

You are concerned and do not want to go on medication.

You have heard that blood sugar can be controlled through diet and believe it is worth a shot.

Your intel is correct. The most direct way to impact blood sugar levels is through a healthy diet.

Rather than think in terms of “diet” think it terms of “lifestyle.”

Make Smart Choices

Living a healthy lifestyle and making smart food choices will minimize the risk of high blood sugar and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Making smart choices is not complicated. All that is required is a commitment to taking care of your body so that it can serve you for many years to come — as it was meant to do.

The following are seven important pieces of information to remember.

All Carbs Are NOT Created Equal

Blood sugar or blood glucose is directly affected by the foods you eat — especially carbohydrates. They are converted into glucose and enter the bloodstream as blood sugar.

Because carbohydrates have the largest impact on blood sugar levels, it is important to be aware of your intake.

When you consistently consume large amounts of sugar, the pancreas will secrete extra insulin. Eventually, it won’t be able to produce enough to keep blood glucose at normal levels.

Sometimes carbs get a bad rap, but they are actually good for you and necessary for the body as fuel. They also protect against disease and help control weight.

But . . . all carbs are not created equal.

Each carb has a Glycemic Index (GI) or ranking based on how they affect blood glucose. Carbs with a GI index of 55 or less digest slowly, creating a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. These are called “complex carbs.”

Carbs with a GI index closer to 100 are broken down and enter the bloodstream quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar. They are called “simple carbs.”

Consuming low GI carbohydrate sources can keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.

Foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) include:

  • Meat
  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Corn
  • Some fruits (cherries, apples, oranges, plums, grapefruit)
  • Vegetables (celery, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower)

Choose wisely the types of carbohydrates you include in your diet.

  1. Eat fiber-rich, whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar.
  2. Always eat whole grains. Refined grains (white flour and white flour products) are stripped of most of the nutrients and fiber.
  3. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Watch for added sugars like sweetened yogurts.
  4. Legumes — which include beans, peas, and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are typically low in fat and high in protein (making them a good substitute for meat), folate, potassium, iron, magnesium, and they contain beneficial fats and fiber.
  5. Read labels carefully and avoid added sugars – less than 10 percent of calories you consume every day should come from added sugar.
  6. Avoid processed foods of any kind as much as possible. Processed, sugary items have been stripped of all-natural fiber, leaving it to be rapidly metabolized into glucose.

Fiber Is Critical

Fiber in your diet is a big YES — it is good for you for many reasons.

— Feeds gut bacteria.

— Nourishes the colon wall.

— May help you lose weight.

— Lowers cholesterol levels.

— Decreases the rise in blood sugar after high-carb meals

There are 2 different types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.

Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels by controlling glucose and insulin spikes. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber helps the food pass quickly though the stomach and intestines. It is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.

High fiber foods include — pears, berries, apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, beets, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, popcorn, and dark chocolate. (Great Choices!)

National fiber recommendations (for individuals over 50) are:

— 30g to 38g daily for men

— 25g per day for women.

Another guideline is to simply consume 14g of dietary fiber per every 1,000 calories in your diet.

The bottom line is . . . More fiber = lower blood sugar.

Excess Weight Must Go

Being overweight or obese has been clearly linked to high blood sugar and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Even though you may not like the idea and consider it a “pain in the you-know-what” — the surest way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories than you burn (calorie counting).

The perfect partner to calorie counting is portion control, which is not easy to do when everything these days is “oversized.” Think about often are you are served enough food to feed two people.

Portion control is not a precise science, but it has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight.

For more information on portion control, check out my book, WOW! You Look Fantastic(available through Amazon).

The best ways to make counting calories and portion control easier are:

  • Use a food scale: it can be difficult to accurately determine caloric intake without determining precise serving sizes
  • Use an app: there are several easy-to-use free apps that will record calories and servings.
  • Learn to read food labels: They provide calories per servings — but the servings can be misleading (you think a package is one serving when it’s actually two or three.)
  • Eat slower: Studies have shown the speed at which you eat can have a direct effect on obesity, BMI, and waist circumference. Eating slower may also prevent weight gain.

Four Additional Steps

Diet may be the most direct and obvious way to keep your weight within healthy levels and help you control blood sugar.

But, there are four other factors in the success formula for building and sustaining a healthy body and help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep More

Getting enough good rest is essential for overall health and well-being.

Sleep lowers stress, strengthens your immune system, and decreases blood pressure. It is also critical for good mental health including alertness, memory, and mood regulation.

Poor sleeping habits also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

Studies show when people do not get adequate quality rest they have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The benefits of a good night’s rest are important for maintaining hormonal balance and glucose regulation.

Exercise Regularly

The most important part of exercise is making the time to do it. Regular exercise (at least 5 days a week) in conjunction with a proper diet can help you maintain or lose weight.

When you exercise, blood sugar is more effectively used for energy and muscle contraction. A single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for up to sixteen hours.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Glucose levels can vary significantly depending on many outstanding factors, like diet, sleep, and exercise. It’s important to continually monitor levels on a regular basis to get a clearer picture of health — especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will help determine where you stand. If you are pre-diabetic, it’s important to get levels down to the normal range to prevent full diabetes from occurring.

If you already have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you must regularly check and log blood sugar levels to prevent seizures or a diabetic coma.

Discuss monitoring your blood sugar levels with your doctor and select the best method for you.

In Conclusion

Keeping your blood sugar within normal recommended ranges is important for everyone’s overall health.

By effectively controlling these levels you are less likely to develop diabetes.

Make smart lifestyle decisions — maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.

There are no acceptable excuses when it comes to your health.

Stay healthy.  Stay strong.  Stay happy.

 

Additional Reading:     Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

This article was originally published on MEDIUM – it has been removed from that platform.

Still Man’s Best Friend – Especially for Baby Boomers

Man's Best Friend

Now that you are an empty nester, what would you do without Gimley, your ‘fur baby’  –  man’s best friend?

You may even be living alone, trying to figure out what comes next and Gimley keeps you sane.

You are one of the 76 million Baby Boom Generation, born between 1944 and 1964 – a generation that loves dogs.

Dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’ since they were first domesticated, thousands of years ago. But, Baby Boomers seem to have taken it to heart more than other generations.

They make up 37% of all dog owners – a sizeable chunk of the dog-owning population.

If you are a ‘boomer’ or are related to a ‘boomer, you know their dogs  are more than just a friend to keep them company as the years pile up and retirement is looming. They are part of the family.

Why Boomers Relate Differently to Dogs

Baby Boomers were welcomed into a world that was enjoying a new level of comfort. Life was different and possibilities unknown to prior generations were everywhere. This included dog companionship on a different level.

They grew up with their dogs in the home and developed strong bonds with their furry friends at an early age. The connection to pets was intense and those relationships were carried into adulthood.  

The Shift from Outside to Inside

Before the Baby Boomers, dogs were primarily outside pets. You may remember the backyard dog houses. But with the Boomer Generation things changed.

Pups were kept inside and integrated into the family, which created a companionship dynamic that had never before existed.

The strong bond Boomers have with their dogs goes a long way in keeping them feeling fulfilled and sociable.

Coping with Change

The companionship and unconditional love that dogs provide helps owners adjust more easily to life changes.

  1. The empty nest – filling the gap when children leave.
  2. Physical well-being (staying active) – dogs must be walked, so owners get more exercise.
  3. Mental health – there are issues that can arise as a person moves into different stages of life. The loving companionship of a dog reduces loneliness and lessens the risk of depression and anxiety

Dogs Are Social Facilitators

Boomers know that dog owners reap social benefits that do not come with other types of pets.

Dogs love to be outside, they love to run and play, and they have to be “walked” for exercise and relief. The result is dog owners tend to get out of the house several times a day and enjoy the side benefit of easily connecting with other dog owners.

A few activities that Boomers enjoy with their furry best friends:

  • Getting to know the neighborhood and the neighbors
  • Being part of a dog-walking group
  • Attending dog-focused events
  • Regular visits to the dog park

Dogs Are Good for the Heart

When it comes to heart health issues, dogs have your back. According to a nationwide study, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.

The researchers also found there is a link between the breed and the relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hunting breeds were related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than any other breed of dog.

So, if you are in the market for a dog, you may want to consider a Labrador, beagle, Weimaraner, golden retriever, or bloodhound.

And . . . That’s Not all

There are many health benefits of living with man’s best friend.

The companionship and higher levels of exercise that come with having a furry friend lowers the risk of high blood pressure.

It is hard to stay stressed when you feel the unconditional love that dogs provide. Studies have found that the simple scratching of your dog’s head can improve your mood significantly.

To sum it up – dogs are still man’s best friend, just ask any Boomer dog-owner.   

Related Article: High Stress Slows Down Your Brain

The article was adapted with permission from the original published on FOMO Bones.

Eat Well – Be Well – Live Well

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