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Candy Image Hero

Consuming Candy – The Responsible Way

It’s hard not to get excited when the bags of Halloween candy start showing up on store shelves. Kids can’t wait to go trick-or-treating, then come home and wolf down everything they’ve scored.

A lot of parents look forward to dressing up and passing out the candy — and maybe grabbing a piece or two — as they go to answer the door. They may even open a bag in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Think about it. How often have you had to replace a bag of Halloween candy because you or someone in your house couldn’t fight the temptation?

It’s OK to treat yourself, but remember these are high-calorie, high-fat, sugar-dense snacks that are not good for you. So, here are some tips to keep you and your kids from overindulging around Halloween.

For the Adults

You need to be an example for your kids. It can also get expensive if you’re always replacing bags of Halloween candy because you can’t stay away from it. To keep that from happening:

  • Don’t buy what you like — That’s a terrible temptation. You don’t want to be the place with the bad candy, but think about some treats your kids like that aren’t your favorites. 
  • Put it away — It’s easier to forget it’s there if you don’t see it. Put it in an inconvenient place. Up in a closet or a high cabinet. You can even freeze most candy. If it’s still too tempting, have someone with more willpower hide it from you.
  • Eat dinner Halloween night — Don’t answer the door hungry. It will be tempting to over-indulge.
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For the Kids

Just like you need to eat before the ghosts and goblins start arriving at your door, so do your kids. They don’t need a big meal that will weigh them down – but have them eat some fruits or grains. These have low calorie density, meaning they fill them up without having to eat too much.

Here are a few tips to keep them from consuming a frightening number of treats on Halloween, and to make sure what they eat is safe.

  • Give them a smaller bucket or bag — They can’t bring too much home if they can’t carry too much.
  • Don’t let them snack while they’re out — This is also important for safety reasons. We’ll go over that in a minute.
  • Make sure it’s wrapped — Warn your kids not to accept items that aren’t commercially wrapped. If it’s commercially wrapped it likely hasn’t been tampered with.
  • Food allergies — That’s another reason to make sure they don’t snack along the way. You don’t want them eating anything they’re allergic to.
  • Choking hazards — Little kids like trick-or-treating too, but some treats — gum, hard candies, peanuts, small toys — are choking hazards.

Back at Home

Once you’re get back it’s important to go through your kids’ haul to make sure that nothing looks suspicious. You may be surrounded by great people, but candy tampering could have happened before they got hold of it.

This also gives you a chance to set some ground rules for candy consumption. It is OK to let your kids splurge a little on Halloween. But put the rest away and dole it out smartly. Make it treats for after meals or have it accompanied by a healthy snack. Also, don’t volunteer any candy if they don’t ask about it.

Your Kids Are Sweet Enough

AltaMed is here to take care of your mini monsters at every stage of their life. We have the immunizations they need for school and well child visits they need from birth on. We also offer pediatric dentistry to monitor for any cavities that can come from a few too many sweets.

To get started with us, visit AltaMed.org or call (877) 462-2582.

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Sugar

Cutting Back on Added Sugar Brings Some Sweet Health Benefits

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not a big fan of dessert,” and wondered what’s wrong with that person? Who doesn’t like a scoop of ice cream, a slice of pie, or a piece of cake?

Most people do. The problem is too many of us like to overindulge. Too much added sugar is a contributing factor to more than two-thirds of the people in the United States being overweight.

To make matters worse, sugar is in a lot of places we don’t expect. It’s in ketchup, spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, oatmeal, snack foods, salad dressings, and canned soups.

Knowing what counts as sugar and opting for foods with low or no added sugars can go a long way toward reducing your risk of developing some serious chronic health conditions.

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What’s at risk

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, excessive consumption of added sugars can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other metabolic conditions.

High-sugar foods often have little nutritional value. In addition to the potential health risks already mentioned, consuming added sugar can lead to:
 

  • Tooth decay
  • Poor mental health
  • Low energy
  • Premature skin aging

Men should not consume more than 36 grams of added sugar a day or 150 calories. Women should limit their intake to 25 grams or 100 calories. Children should not consume more than 12 to 25 grams of sugar a day.

For context:
 

  • A single serving of “healthy” breakfast cereal for adults contains 13 grams of sugar
  • A breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” contains 15 grams of sugar
  • A small serving of low-fat yogurt contains 22 grams of sugar
  • A 12-ounce can of regular, non-diet soda contains about 39 grams of sugar
  • A single serving of store-bought, bottled apple juice contains 42 grams of sugar
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It’s all sugar

The University of California San Francisco created SugarScience to share information about sugar and its effects on health. One of its resources is a list of 61 different names for sugar that the food industry uses to sweeten products. Some are obvious with names that include the words, “sugar,” “syrup,” “sweetener,” and “cane.” But some aren’t so obvious:
 

  • Agave nectar
  • Barley malt
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Glucose solids
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Mannose
  • Muscovado
  • Panocha
  • Saccharose
  • Sucrose
  • Treacle
Chopped fruit

Tips for cutting back

This may sound counterintuitive but cutting back on added sugar is a lot easier than you may think. It’s presence in nearly everything makes it relatively simple to eliminate a few items from your diet to help reduce your sugar intake.
 

  • Off the table — Reduce the table sugar, syrup, and honey you add to tea, coffee, cereal, or pancakes. Cutting back by half is a way to wean yourself.
  • So long soda — Water is always the best choice. Diet drinks can satisfy your sweet tooth but drink them in moderation.
  • Fill up on fruit — Fruit has natural sugars and fiber. You can add berries, bananas, and dried fruit to sweeten your oatmeal, pancakes, or cereal. Frozen, dried, and canned fruits are good snacks. Just make sure canned fruits aren’t packed in heavy syrup.
  • Cut back — Start reducing the amount of sugar called for in recipes next time you bake. You won’t miss it. Extracts like almond, vanilla, orange, and lemon can be good substitutes.
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The benefits

Cutting back on added sugar has lifelong benefits that include:
 

  • Reduced diabetes risk
  • Reduced belly fat
  • More consistent energy
  • Reduced weight
  • Healthier-looking skin
  • Healthier heart

Keep yourself healthy

Health care isn’t just for when you’re sick — it’s to keep you healthy, too. AltaMed offers members a wide range of programs that can make it easier to live healthy, manage chronic conditions, lose weight, and achieve other important health goals. We use proven techniques to motivate you.

Our programs include dietician consultations, STOMP — family health and fitness program, Healthy Heart Program, and so much more. Call (888) 499-9303 to get started.

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Adult Eating Better Digestion

Fueling up for Maximum Health

Your body is a spectacular example of bioengineering genius. It is the human equivalent of a finely tuned, world-class automobile.

At least, that’s what it was intended to be. Finely tuned, world-class automobiles also require proper maintenance (regular check-ups) and the right fuel (diet).

Your digestive system is the equivalent of the fuel system on a car. High-octane fuel goes in and the fuel injectors get that gas through the engine, burning at peak efficiency for either the greatest gas mileage or highest level of performance.

If your fuel is garbage, your car slows down and you reduce the efficiency of the whole machine. It’s the same with how you fuel your body. Highly processed foods like fast food, chips, snacks, canned foods, and foods with added sugars will kill the good bacteria that work to keep you at your best.

Child Eating

Gut Basics

Between your mouth and anus are 30 feet of tubing that moves everything you consume by mouth through your body. Along the way that food and drink is broken down and absorbed into your blood stream as fuel. Whatever isn’t absorbed is eliminated as waste.

Given the twists and turns along that route, it’s common for some problems to arise. Conditions like acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome affect as many as 70 million Americans. Stress and genetics play a factor in those conditions, but so do poor sleep habits, a lack of fiber, how often you eat, when you eat, and not drinking enough water.

Some things you can do to improve your gut health:

  • Eat slower — Chewing your food well can help you swallow less air and help you know when you’re full.
  • Eat smaller meals — Packing your stomach can cause reflux and slow digestion.
  • Set a cutoff time — Your digestive system works better in the morning and during the daytime, so limit eating at night.
  • Manage stress — Digestion is tougher when you’re stressed out.
  • Make it routine — Sometimes your gut reacts better to a schedule.
  • Consider probiotics — These are fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut which supplement your gut bacteria. Talk to your doctor.
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Dietary Boosts

It might be great if there was one thing you could eat to keep your diet healthy and digestive system working the way it should. That would also be boring. Variety is the spice of life, after all. So, it’s good to know there are several foods that will help you stay healthy.

  • Beans — Black, kidney, red, and garbanzo beans are great sources of fiber. So are peas and soybeans. They are easy to add to recipes.
  • Berries — Eat them plain or add them to cereal. They’re just as nutritious frozen.
  • Fish — Eat it fresh, frozen, or canned. Salmon, tuna, herring, trout, anchovies, and sardines are all good options.
  • Leafy greens — Collard greens, spinach, kale, and mustard greens are all good sources of fiber. You can add them to soups or stews, and of course, salads.
  • Nuts — Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts are good sources of plant protein and healthy fats.
  • Olive oil — Use it instead of butter in recipes or when sautéing food.
  • Tomatoes — They’re high in vitamin C and can be used in salads, sauces, and soups. Just limit the ketchup which is loaded with sugar.
  • Vegetables — We’re talking about fibrous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, radishes, and turnips. They are full of fiber and vitamins. Steam them, stir-fry them in olive oil, or buy them frozen and use them in soups and casseroles.
  • Whole grains — Whole wheat bread and oatmeal can give your gut bacteria something to break down for a while, which is good. It gives sustained energy.
  • Yogurt — Look for low-fat or no-fat. It’s rich in calcium and protein and it also has good bacteria which helps maintain gut health. You can use it as a substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise in dips.

We’re Here for You

AltaMed can help you answer questions about getting on a healthy regimen. We have registered dieticians to assist with creating a healthier diet for you. We can also help put together an exercise plan, and our Behavioral Health Services can help you with techniques to deal with stress. Learn more by calling (888) 499-9303.

Consuming Candy – The Responsible Way