Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we work on them with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others, even if you can’t be physically together, to improve your heart health.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Most middle-aged and young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease.

Why Connecting is Good for Your Heart

Feeling connected with others and having positive, close relationships benefit our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight. Having people in our lives who motivate and care for us helps, as do feelings of closeness and companionship.

Follow these heart-healthy lifestyle tips to protect your heart. It will be easier and more successful if you work on them with others, including by texting or phone calls if needed.

  • Be more physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
  • Track your heart health stats.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go.

Move more

Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active:

  • Ask a colleague to walk “with you” on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both get out for a walk.
  • Get a friend or family member to sign up for the same online exercise class, such as a dance class. Make it a regular date!
  • Grab your kids, put on music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or dance in your living room or yard.

 

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet has ideas to get and keep you moving.

 

Aim for a healthy weight

Eat heart-healthy

We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Together, try NHLBI’s free Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Research shows that, compared to a typical American diet, it lowers high blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. Find delicious recipes at NHLBI’s Heart-Healthy Eating web page or check out the “Meals Made Well” section of the ShopRite Recipe Shop on the ShopRite app or ShopRite.com.

Quit smoking

To help you quit, ask others for support or join an online support group. Research shows that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can help you quit.   All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov.

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider those around you: Breathing other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Many adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Manage stress

Reducing stress helps your heart health. Set goals with a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga, or meditation, or participate in an online stress-management program together. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone else you trust.

Improve sleep

Sleeping 7–8 hours a night helps to improve heart health. De-stressing will help you sleep, as does getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk instead of a late afternoon nap! Family members and friends: remind each other to turn off the screen and stick to a regular bedtime. Instead of looking at your phone or the TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath.

Track Your Heart Health Stats, Together

Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart-healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts: Tracking Your Numbers worksheet.

Visit #OurHearts for inspiration on what others around the country are doing together for their heart health. Then join the #OurHearts movement and let NHLBI know what you’re doing to have a healthy heart. Tag #OurHearts to share how you and your family and friends are being heart healthy.

We encourage our Village Family members to wear red from Sunday 2/21 through Saturday 2/27 to raise awareness for National Heart Month.  If you have a photo or recipe you’d like to share with us, please do so in the Media Upload Center.

LAST UPDATED: 4/19/21

First, we’d like to thank you for everything you have done over the last year to protect yourselves during the pandemic. Your vigilance in following our safety protocols, wearing masks properly, and staying socially distant is the best way to keep each other safe. Our top priority is always Associate and customer safety as COVID continues to be a challenge for our communities.

Vaccine administration is underway and we’re committed to keeping you updated on how Village is working with our national, state and local leaders to administer vaccines and how it impacts you, and in particular when vaccinations may be available to our Village family.

As of April 19th, everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Here are 3 no-bake holiday themed snacks that your kids can channel their creativity into- all while fueling their growing bodies with good nutrition!

Say Cheese Reindeer: Pop two mini pretzels on the sides of a Laughing Cow cheese wedge (or cut their favorite cheese into a small triangle). Top with two mini chocolate chips and finish with a dried cranberry or piece of strawberry for the nose.

Waffle or Pancake Holiday Faces: Either use a frozen whole grain waffle/pancake or use leftovers. Great when topped with nut butters, regular hummus, or chocolate hummus and your favorite sliced fruit! Challenge your child to get creative. 

Reindeer on a Log: A holiday take on “ants on a log”- spread some peanut butter (or whatever your favorite nut butter is!) on celery sticks, use a raspberry for a nose and break a mini pretzel in half to create antlers. 

Snack time is super important for kids because it provides needed nutrition for their growing bodies- and their little stomachs can only eat so much in one serving! 

Did you make one of the fun holiday snacks? Send us a photo! Text us 908-349-0848 or email us at villagenutritionteam@wakefern.com.

The holiday season is meant to be enjoyed, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t achieve your health goals in the process. Here are 5 surprisingly easy ways you can stay healthy during the holidays.

The holiday season is a time for joy and happiness, but can be a stressful time for many trying to achieve certain health goals. While there may be a never ending supply of delicious foods and treats this time of year, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them and reach your goals too. Here are some easy ways you can keep on track, while still making the most of this joyous time.

First, Water

 

One habit that can kickstart your day on a healthy note, is to have a glass of water as soon as you wake up. If you think about it, your body just went about 8 hours without having any water, and starting your day off with some can help to rehydrate, and reach your daily hydration goals easier.

Hydration is key for so many functions in our bodies, and is something we don’t think as much of once the weather gets cooler. Hydration needs vary depending on age, sex, and activity levels, but according to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adult men need around 15-16 cups of water a day, while women need 11-12 cups a day.

Pro Tip: While your coffee/tea is brewing, drink a 16 ounce glass of water. Keep a water bottle or glass of water/herbal tea by you during the day as a gentle reminder to stay hydrated.

Don’t Skip Meals

It’s not uncommon for many of us to “save up” for a big holiday meal by skipping breakfast or lunch, but this can actually backfire when trying to reach your goals. When we are ravenously hungry, we tend to be less mindful of what and how much we are eating, which makes it much easier to eat past fullness.

Instead of skipping meals, eat something balanced beforehand. Include a source of lean protein, healthy fats, and some fruit or veggies to get a good balance of nutrients. This way, when it comes time for the holiday meal, you can enjoy all of your favorites without overdoing it.

Pro Tip: Don’t want to fill up too much before a holiday meal? Go for a nutrient-rich snack like a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, cut up veggies and hummus, or a piece of whole grain toast with sliced avocado.

Choose Wisely

The amounts of indulgent dishes and holiday desserts available during this time can be overwhelming at times. Instead of having an all or nothing mindset around these foods, be picky about what you want.

Think about which food you truly couldn’t think about the holiday season without. Maybe it’s your grandma’s homemade fudge, or baking sugar cookies with your kids. Whatever that is for you, focus on fully enjoying that treat this time of year, and focus less on the foods that you have just because they are there. Go into the holidays looking forward to having your special treat. This can make the temptation of all of the other foods less daunting.

Pro Tip: Be intentional about what you enjoy. Instead of enjoying it while watching TV or on your phone, give enjoying your special treat your full attention to truly enjoy and savor the moment.

Just Move

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, getting and staying active gets harder as the winter goes on. Instead of abandoning exercise altogether, find a type of daily movement you truly enjoy doing. Staying active is not only helpful for reaching your goals, but is also important for heart health, stress reduction, and overall well-being.

Winter activity may look a little different than the warmer months, but there are still plenty of ways you can stay active and enjoy it this time of year. This can be doing a home workout video, yoga, bundling up for a walk around the neighborhood, or even dancing around your living room. Whatever joyful movement looks like to you, do it!

Pro Tip: Put a reminder on your phone or calendar to be intentional about getting in some movement. It can be a great way to break up your day, and give you a boost of energy.

Enjoy It!

Last but maybe most importantly is to enjoy the holidays. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in stress and worry during this season, but take a second to remember what this time of year is really about. Be easy on yourself during these times, and remember what is truly important to you. It only comes once a year, so enjoy it.

Pro Tip: Focus on the small, too-easy-not-to-do-it goals you can set for yourself daily. When it comes to achieving and sticking to your health goals, it is the daily habits that make the big difference, rather than the once a year events.

 

Want some personalized help reaching your health and wellness goals? Schedule your FREE nutrition coaching call today with one of our dietitians!

Children have small bellies and snacks are a very important part of their nutrition. Avoid the sugar rush this holiday season with these simple snack ideas, recommended from your Food Guru team as balanced, filling options to prevent energy spikes caused by too much sugar!

 

 

Three snacks for less “bouncing off the walls”:

 1. Cheese plate: String cheese, babybel cheese, Laughing Cow cheese, a rolled up slice of cheese, any of these will do! Pair that with a piece of seasonal fruit, like a ripe pear or fuji apple slices. We are talking about the whole fruit here- not fruit juice! Add in some nuts or seeds, olives, and even a few whole grain crackers like wheat thins or Triscuits.

2. English muffin pizzas: Select the 100% whole wheat or whole grain English muffins for extra filling fiber. Tip: Toast the English muffin by itself first to avoid a soggy pizza. Even better if they let you put some veggies on top! My favorite: orange peppers, the sweetest of the bell peppers!

3. Granola bar, topped with peanut or almond butter: Chances are, you have granola bars in your pantry right now. They are not usually very filling and can contain higher amounts of sugar, depending on the brand. Smearing some peanut or almond butter (or your nut butter of choice) along the top of the granola bar adds protein and healthy fat quickly and economically.

 

We all know that the holidays bring with them pies, cakes, and cookies, so plan ahead! Be sure to stock up on some filling snacks before the holidays arrive.

Happy, healthy holidays to you and your families from the Food Gurus!

…and just like that, it’s 3 o’clock and I’m hungry again. I can’t stop yawning! NEED COFFEE. Everyone is bothering me this afternoon. Where are the doughnuts?

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the millions of people who experience an afternoon “crash.” There are various reasons why this happens but it’s actually completely normal. Before you hit the vending machine, read on for snack solutions to prevent this afternoon slump in your day.

What causes this drop in mood and spike in hunger? It can generally be tied to one of three things (or a combination of them):

  1. Circadian rhythms
  2. Sedentary lifestyle
  3. Blood sugar swings

In other words: the brain is telling us it’s time for a nap, the muscles are telling us to get up and make moves, or the stomach is telling us it’s time to eat. Let’s focus on the blood sugar aspect, since our work environments may not allow for a nap or exercise.

The idea is to have something to eat every 3 hours to keep the blood sugar level steady (think: gentle ocean wave). So if your lunch break is at noon, have a snack around 3pm. Allowing more than 3 to 4 hours to pass without a meal or snack will result in the blood sugar dropping and the “crash” feeling will ensue (think: roller coaster).

WHAT you eat matters! When we’re hungry, tired, or stressed, our brain tells us that it needs simple carbohydrates for a rapid surge of energy: sugar, potato chips, cookies, sweetened beverages, just to name a few. These foods are digested extremely quickly, so while we may perk up shortly after eating them (blood sugar rises), we will most likely crash again an hour later (blood sugar drops) and then the cycle continues. Overtime, these dramatic swings in blood sugar can negatively impact our long term blood sugar levels and health.

To prevent this, grab a complex carbohydrate (meaning it contains fiber) and pair it with a food containing protein or healthy fat. The protein or healthy fats found in foods slow down the body’s digestion of the foods. This process provides lasting energy, powering you through the rest of the day until your next meal rather than just a quick fix.

Give one of these snacks a try:

  1. Homemade trail mix: mixed nuts + dried cranberries + granola
  2. Waffle sandwich: Whole grain waffle (cut in half) + peanut butter
  3. Quick parfait: Single serve cup of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt + berries
  4. Guac and dippers: Single serve cup of guacamole + baby carrots + whole wheat crackers
  5. Snack bento box: cheese stick + clementine + cucumber slices

Pack up one of these snack options along with your lunch before you head to work for the day. Being prepared with a good-for-you snack within reach will help you avoid that afternoon crash and may improve your productivity at work!

If you’re looking for more snack ideas or for ways to keep your blood sugar steady, reach out to your team of Registered Dietitians at VillageNutritionTeam@wakefern.com

3 Easy Ways to Balance Your Blood Sugar

 

 

November is National Diabetes Month! There are a variety of lifestyle habits that can impact blood sugar levels, including nutrition.

 

It’s easy for blood sugar to become uncontrolled with a busy schedule and confusion around on-the-go options. Here are 3 easy ways that you can start this week to help balance out your blood sugar.

Pair with Protein

When choosing your meals and snacks, aim to pair a healthy carbohydrate source with a protein source. Often times diabetics are told to simply ‘cut carbs’ which creates a weird guilty feeling around carbohydrates. This food guilt ends up manifesting as an all-or-nothing approach when a person avoids carbs completely and then eventually binges on the kinds of carbohydrates that don’t have a lot of other nutritional benefits (i.e. doughnuts, candy, pizza, soda).

The truth is, those foods are totally fine to have on occasion. If healthy carbs are consumed in moderation paired with protein, then those binges will likely decrease. Our bodies require carbohydrates for many important processes so when we restrict them too much, our bodies send us physiological signals to GET SOME MORE, hence the binge. Instead of focusing on avoiding carbs, focus on pairing them with a protein source. Doing this will allow your body to feel more satisfied and your blood sugar to be more balanced as opposed to those highs and lows.

Pro Tip: Healthy carb snacks like fruit, greek yogurt, and whole grain crackers can be paired with proteins like nuts, nut butters, string cheese or a hard-boiled egg.

Size Matters

Portions of food are important for overall health but for diabetics, portions of carbohydrates are of prime importance when balancing blood sugar. To view this as a basic analogy, think of these carbs you are ingesting as people who want to get into a concert venue. The concert venue has a limited number of seats. If more people show up to the venue than there are seats to offer, these people might crowd the aisles, or damage the venue or wreak havoc elsewhere. All these extra people causing problems are like that double portion of pasta you just ate. TOO MANY CARBS in one sitting. Instead, give the venue a chance to clear out and get ready for the next event.

Pasta isn’t the enemy, it’s just important to consume a portion that isn’t going to be a carbohydrate overload. Consider 1 cup of cooked pasta per sitting. Obviously 1 cup of food is not adequate for an entire meal so it’s a great opportunity to pair with protein such as turkey meatballs or shrimp and round out your meal with a salad on the side or toss some steamed or roasted vegetables right into the pasta dish.

Pro Tip: Check out the back of packages for the nutrition facts label and find the line for carbohydrates. If you have more than one carb-containing food in your snack or meal, be sure to consider the serving size and add the carbohydrate grams accordingly. Snacks should contain 0-20 total grams of carbohydrate. Meals should typically contain less than 50 total grams of carbohydrate per meal. These levels may be too high or too low for some but it’s best to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to figure out the best level for you.

Drink Up Buttercup

Believe it or not, drinking water is beneficial to balancing blood sugar. Pure H2O helps with dilution and aids kidneys in removing any excess blood sugar. Often times an urge to snack is actually a sign from the body that it is slightly dehydrated. When a carb-containing snack is chosen instead of water, it will cause blood sugar levels to rise. Try drinking a glass of water when the craving for a sweet snack strikes. Wait 20 minutes and the craving may pass. If instead the craving has turned to slight hunger, then aim for a balanced snack that contains a healthy carb paired with a protein source.

The recommended amount of water is not the same for everyone but 8 cups per day is a good aim to start with. Many people actually need more but get much less! Getting adequate water throughout the day can also help with the afternoon fatigue that often comes with dropping blood sugar levels. Try keeping a reusable water bottle on the desk or kitchen counter as a reminder to drink up. The ideal amount of water will be reflected in urine color that is close to clear or light lemonade. A person who is dehydrated may produce urine that is near the color of apple juice.

Pro Tip: Make water the first priority in the morning. After all, so many human cells, body parts and internal reactions need this pure fuel to be efficient! Water will help everything move more smoothly.

Are you looking for additional guidance on managing your blood sugar or diabetes? Schedule your FREE nutrition consultation with one of our dietitians!

 

November is National Diabetes Month, and the perfect time to give your pantry a diabetes-friendly refresh. Here are 4 dietitian-approved tips to help you build a healthy, and diabetes-friendly pantry that everyone can benefit from.

Go For the Whole Grains

One category that is part of any healthy diet, and is also diabetes-friendly is whole grains. Foods like rolled oats, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta are higher in fiber than refined grains, and can help to keep blood sugar levels more stable. 

Pro Tip: Short on time? Grab quick-cooking grains like parboiled brown rice, quick-cooking barley, or quick-cooking steel cut oats that take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

 

Canned Convenience

Canned foods tend to get a bad rep, but they can be both healthy and convenient choices to keep handy. Foods like canned beans, vegetables, tuna, or salmon are all diabetes-friendly choices that can help you put together a healthy meal in no time. The longer shelf life of canned foods also help reduce the chance of food waste, and tend to be affordable options as well.

Pro Tip: Opt for low-sodium or no salt added options when buying canned goods to watch sodium intake. Drain and rinse canned beans or vegetables to cut sodium levels down even more.

 

Go Nuts

Another diabetes-friendly pantry staple? Nuts and seeds. Foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, and sunflower seeds can make for a healthy snack, and are also natural sources of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Opt for dry roasted and unsalted varieties to control the amount of extra sodium added.

Pro Tip: Pair a handful of nuts like almonds or cashews with a piece of fruit for a filling and blood sugar-friendly snack.

 

Spice Up Your Life

Last but certainly not least in a diabetes-friendly pantry are herbs and spices. Dried herbs and spices are sodium-free ways to add tons of flavor to your dishes or meals, and have a much longer shelf life than fresh varieties. Have your favorite spices on hand, and don’t be afraid to try out a new herb or spice as well. This can be an easy way to keep meals interesting, and you never know when you’ll find a new favorite!

Pro Tip: Does a recipe call for fresh herbs? Use a 1:3 ratio for dried. In other words, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried instead.

Have specific nutrition questions you want answered? Schedule your FREE nutrition consultation with one of our dietitians!

Halloween should be all about celebrating with spooky, fun activities! Trick or treating is a tradition that is enjoyed by many people!

Here are a few tips to balance your sweet tooth on Halloween, if you plan to go trick or treating:

  1. Eat a meal or snack before going trick or treating! This will prevent you and your family from overeating candy while you are out celebrating.
  2. Walk house to house instead of driving. Adding in some exercise will help burn a few extra calories and give you energy to stop at a few extra houses!
  3. Portion out candy to make it last! Let each of your family members choose 1-2 pieces of candy per day (after Halloween). This is a great way to make the candy last while also still being able to enjoy each piece.

For a fun, festive activity you can make at home with the family, check out this recipe for Frankenguac! This would be a perfect, filling snack to have with some corn tortilla chip[s before you head out to trick or treat.

Servings: 4

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup chopped avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon original mild taco sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 (¼-inch-thick) slices cremini mushroom
  • 1 pitted black olive, halved crosswise
  • 2 cups blue corn tortilla chips

Directions

  1. In small bowl, mash avocado, lime juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt with fork.
  2. Place taco sauce and yogurt in 2 separate small zip-top plastic bags; snip bottom corner of each bag.
  3. On serving platter, spread avocado mixture into a 5 x 6-inch rectangle. Place 1 mushroom slice toward bottom of each side of rectangle for “bolts.” Pipe yogurt on avocado mixture to make 2 “eyeballs;” place olive halves on “eyeballs” for “pupils.” Pipe taco sauce on avocado mixture to make “mouth” and “stitches.”

For more fun recipe inspiration, visit The Recipe Shop on ShopRite.com.
Our Village Nutrition team is always available for suggestions, recipe inspiration and consultations for associates. Please email us at VillageNutritionTeam@wakefern.com for more information!

Research has shown that there’s no shame in the game of hiding fruits and veggies in your child’s diet. Perhaps it’s a handful of spinach in a smoothie or some pureed carrots in tomato sauce, but why stop there? This week, sneak in some squash too!

  1. Roast your squash: Roast the squash at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until softened to help develop and heighten its flavor. Pick up the pre-cut squash cubes to save on time (and stay safe- winter squash can be tough to cut!). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before roasting. If using a whole butternut squash, don’t forget to remove the skin and scoop the seeds.
  2. Blend it up: Once your cooked squash cools down a bit, scoop it from the skin and place in a food processor or blender. You may need to add a splash of broth, water, or milk if it is too thick to blend on its own.
  3. Add it in:
    • Add it to your cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese (about 1 ½ cups puréed)
    • Add it to your marinara sauce (about 1 cup puréed)
    • Spread on the bottom tortilla for a quesadilla and top with yellow shredded cheddar cheese (about ¼ cup per quesadilla)

Not interested in cooking? Use a jar of baby food or canned butternut squash instead. Hate butternut squash no matter what? You could also use canned pure pumpkin for the same nutrition benefits! However, make sure you don’t pick up the pumpkin pie filling when you shop, since it has added sugar and is meant for pumpkin desserts. That product would not work well with these tips- much too sweet!

Test it out on your pickiest eater (even if it’s your spouse!) this week and let your Village Food Gurus know how it went: VillageNutritionTeam@wakefern.com

We are also happy to help with recipe ideas, meal tips, and any other questions you might have for us!