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Two women drinking smoothies outside.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Snacks

When things get busy, it’s all too easy to grab a comforting snack like chips or candy. In fact, our bodies literally crave these types of treats. Replacing them with healthier alternatives is a great way to keep your well-being on track. So, the next time hunger strikes, consider these simple snacks that are easy to make, taste great, and will leave you energized for the rest of the day. 

Fresh Fruits and Veggies — Nature provides some of the best snacks! Keep a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables like apple slices, carrot sticks, or cucumber rounds on hand for easy, crunchy, and nutritious munching.

Nut Butter and Banana — Spread some peanut or almond butter on banana slices for a creamy and protein-packed treat.

Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers — Cheese is a good source of calcium, and when paired with whole-grain crackers, it becomes a balanced snack for all times of day.

Yogurt with berries.

Yogurt with Berries — Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries is a satisfying snack that's also rich in protein and antioxidants.

Trail Mix — Create your own trail mix with a blend of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a few chocolate chips for a sweet touch. It's a great way to get energy and nutrients.

Homemade Smoothies — Blend up a nutritious and delicious smoothie with ingredients like spinach, banana, yogurt, and a splash of fruit juice.

Hummus and Fresh Veggies — Hummus, made from garbanzo beans, is a fantastic dip for veggies like bell peppers, celery, and cherry tomatoes.

Bowl of popcorn.

Popcorn — Skip the butter and go for air-popped popcorn. It's a whole grain that's low in calories and can be seasoned with a variety of tasty flavors.

Whole-Grain Muffins — Bake some whole-grain muffins with added fruits or vegetables for a tasty and portable snack option.

Frozen Fruit Bars — Opt for frozen fruit bars made with real fruit juice and minimal added sugar as a refreshing treat.

Snacking Toward Success

By choosing healthier snack alternatives, you’ll get the necessary nutrients to grow healthy. At AltaMed, we're dedicated to improving the well-being of our communities, one good habit at a time. We understand that maintaining a balanced diet can be a challenge, especially with busy schedules. Our dietician counseling services can help tailor meal plans that meet your family’s needs. 

Learn how to get started with AltaMed or call us at (888) 499-9303.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Eating

The Pros and Cons of a Vegan Diet

Choosing a diet is a personal decision that involves factors such as health, ethics, and lifestyle. One popular choice is a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products. If you're thinking about going vegan, it's important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it aligns with your health and wellness goals. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of a vegan lifestyle.

Pros of a Vegan Diet

  1. Better Heart Health — Vegans often have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart diseases. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  2. Weight Management — A vegan diet can aid in weight loss or help maintain a healthy weight due to its focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Plant-based meals are often naturally lower in calories and saturated fats.
  3. Lower Cancer Risk — Research suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of certain types of cancers. Vegans consume a variety of plant foods that contain protective antioxidants and phytonutrients.
  4. Improved Digestive Health — A vegan diet is typically rich in fiber, promoting healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. High-fiber diets are associated with a reduced risk of constipation and colon-related issues.
  5. Environmental Impact — Veganism is touted for its positive impact on the environment. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. By not consuming animal products, you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Cons of a Vegan Diet

  1. Potential Nutrient Deficiencies — A vegan diet may lack certain essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. It's crucial to carefully plan your diet to ensure you get all necessary nutrients.
  2. Challenges in Eating Out — Finding suitable vegan options can be difficult, especially in non-vegan-friendly areas. Dining out may require extra effort and research to identify vegan-friendly restaurants and menu items.
  3. Social Limitations — Being vegan might pose social challenges during gatherings or events, as not everyone may understand or accommodate dietary preferences. These situations can sometimes be uncomfortable.
  4. Initial Learning Curve — Transitioning to a vegan diet may require learning new recipes, understanding ingredient alternatives, and familiarizing yourself with plant-based nutrition. This learning curve may feel overwhelming initially.
  5. Potential Expense — While a plant-based diet can be affordable, specialty vegan products and substitutes can be more expensive than their non-vegan counterparts. Organic or specialty items may strain your budget.

Is a Vegan Diet Right for You?

Ultimately, whether a vegan diet is suitable for you depends on your personal beliefs, health considerations, and willingness to commit to a plant-based lifestyle. Consult with a registered dietitian who can guide you in making informed dietary choices to ensure you’re consuming a nutritionally balanced vegan diet.

Remember, any diet should prioritize balanced nutrients, and a vegan diet can be a wholesome choice if planned thoughtfully to meet your body’s needs. Whether vegan or not, the key is to opt for a diet that aligns with your overall well-being.

Dietician Consultations Available

No matter your age, what you eat has a huge effect on your overall health. Healthy eating isn’t hard — especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dieticians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietician: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

Dietician consultations are available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

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Lunch

Building a Healthy School Lunch for Children

Providing our children with the best possible nutrition helps ensure their growth, healthy development, and overall well-being. One way to do this is by making nutritious and balanced lunches for them to eat at school.

Why It’s Important

A well-balanced school lunch provides children with the energy and nutrients they need to concentrate, learn, excel academically, and get through a long school day. It supports their physical growth, cognitive function, and overall health. By prioritizing nutritious choices in their lunchboxes, we can help them develop good eating habits that will benefit them for life.

The Key Ingredients

 

  • Whole grains — Including whole grains in your child's lunch provides essential carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Go for whole grain bread, wraps, or pasta to offer sustained energy and aid digestion. Whole grains also contribute to heart health and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Lean protein — Protein is crucial for growth, development, and repair of tissues. Include lean sources like skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils, or tofu. These options provide essential amino acids, iron, and other vital nutrients necessary for your child's overall well-being.
  • Fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Aim for a variety of colorful options to maximize nutritional benefits. Include sliced fruits, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or a side salad to ensure a well-rounded lunch.
  • Dairy or calcium alternatives Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth. Include a serving of dairy or calcium-fortified alternatives like yogurt, cheese, or milk substitutes made from soy or almonds. These options provide calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients.
  • Healthy fats — Incorporate healthy fats into your child's lunch to support brain function and provide sustained energy. Choose options like seeds, nuts, nut butter, avocado, or olive oil. These sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats promote overall health and well-being.
  • Hydration — Don't forget about hydration! Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day by packing a reusable water bottle. Limit sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices, which can contribute to tooth decay and excessive calories.

Helpful Hints

 

  • Involve your family — Engage your child in the lunch-packing process. Allow them to review healthy options, pick their own snacks, or even grow fruits and vegetables in a home garden.
  • Portion control — Ensure appropriate portion sizes to meet your child's needs. Avoid oversized servings that may lead to overeating or lack of appetite.
  • Food safety — Keep perishable items cool by using insulated lunch bags or ice packs. Avoid packing foods that need refrigeration for an extended period to prevent spoilage and foodborne illnesses.

Here to Help

AltaMed is here to provide information when you want it and treatment when you need it. That includes healthy options to pack in your kids’ lunch. We have registered dieticians available to help your entire family. It may be medically necessary because of diabetes or a heart condition. Or maybe you’re just trying to do things differently. Whatever the reason, we’re here for you. Call us at (888) 499-9303.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Snacks