Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’



Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!


Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!



March is National Nutrition Month!


March is National Nutrition Month. During this month, as well as every month, it’s important to make nutritious decisions that will improve your overall health and well-being.

Making better nutritional decisions doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and effort. Little things can be changed about your daily routine that won’t seem like much work at all. One simple change that can be made is to start making breakfast in the morning a number one priority.

You have probably heard many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; however, many people skip it for a variety of different reasons.

Whether it is a large portioned breakfast or just something small on the go, breakfast is necessary in the morning in order to fuel you up after a long night’s rest when you aren’t consuming any type of nutrients.

The following are some benefits of a healthy morning breakfast:

-Those who eat breakfast in the morning are provided with the fuel to perform and concentrate better throughout the day. Without the nutrients that breakfast provides, you may go throughout your day feeling sluggish or unable to concentrate.

-Some people believe that skipping a meal such as breakfast will help you lose weight; however, studies have found that those who don’t eat breakfast end up consuming more food throughout the day.

-Your metabolism won’t start moving until you fuel yourself up on food. Having breakfast in the morning speeds up your metabolism, and allows you to start burning calories early on.

So what happens if you don’t have time to eat a well-balanced breakfast in the morning? Here are some ways that you can fit breakfast into your morning routine without setting aside too much time.

-Buy breakfast choices that can be eaten on the go. If you are looking for your morning cereal, many companies make small boxes that can be taken with you on the way out the door. Try switching it up for some healthier options as well, such as a cup of yogurt, granola bar or fruit, all of which can be eaten on the go.

-Prepare breakfast meals the night before. Having fruit already cut or breakfast sandwiches already prepared can cut your time in half the next morning when you are rushing out the door.

Small tweaks to your nutritional routine such as breakfast in the morning are easy ways to live a healthier and happier life. Use our tips to help make breakfast your most important meal of the day!



Healthy Eating During The Holidays


When thinking of the holiday season, three things usually come to mind: spending time with family and friends, shopping for that perfect holiday gift, and last, but certainly not least, the festive holiday foods.

Food has become such a large part of holiday tradition; however, when you’re around the dinner table with your family or out at a holiday party with some friends, it’s easy to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.

Here’s the good news: you won’t have to give up your favorite holiday pie or pass on that extra piece of turkey in order to remain healthy. There are some traditional holiday favorites that when altered just a bit, can make for healthier choices while still packing your favorite flavor.

  • Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, found in many holiday dishes and delicious pies, is a good source of fiber and vitamin A.
  • Stuffing can be turned into a healthy dish by adding beneficial ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits, carrots or celery.
  • Cranberry contains antioxidants that may help prevent bladder infection and other related conditions.
  • Turkey, which is a main course at holiday dinner, is a good source of protein. It lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease and also boosts your immune system.

So what do you do if you make unhealthy choices around the dinner table? You can use this time of year to go out and get active in ways that you will enjoy.

Decorating for the holidays is a tradition that allows you to spend time with your family while staying active. You can also call up a friend and go shopping for some holiday gift ideas. Even if you don’t buy anything, it will provide you quality time with a friend as well as health benefits. While you’re browsing, maybe pick up some healthy gift ideas such a decorative water bottle and encourage someone you know to make healthier choices with you this holiday season.

The most important part about the holidays is sharing it with those you love and enjoying the time you have with them. Keep these tips in mind and share them in order for you and those around you to have a healthier, happier holiday season.



How To Avoid A Fast Food Disaster


Out with your friends? Going to a movie or shopping? Getting hungry? Is McDonalds so close you can smell the grease? Do you want it? Of course you do! Eating fast food when you’re out is a big part of American life, especially for a teen. It’s fast, easy, delicious, and everywhere. The temptation to dive into a massive burger dripping with cheese and grease is strong and, let’s face it, unavoidable. It’s important to be conscious of what you eat and to develop healthy eating habits, even if having fast food every once in a while won’t kill you. We don’t recommend you live off it, however.

Here are some easy tips you can use to make your meal healthier for those times you have to grab some fast food on the fly.

-Skip soda! Substitute iced tea, juice, water, or even low fat milk if available! Soda contains an enormous amount of sugar that causes unhealthy weight gain. Cutting soda out of your diet completely will help you drop pounds, and where better to start than when you’re getting fast food!

-Pay attention to how the food is prepared. Chicken is only healthier than beef if it’s broiled or grilled, and French fries are better for you baked, rather than fried.

-Ask for all your toppings on the side. You will be able to control how much or how little mayonnaise, ketchup, cheese, etc. you apply to your food. This is especially important for salads. While salads seem like the obvious choice for a healthy meal, they can often pack more calories than a burger after all the toppings have been added!

-Add on healthy sides. A lot of fast food establishments offer sides that aren’t soaked in grease and covered in salt, so take advantage of them! Maybe apple slices or a yogurt parfait will be just the thing to fill you up.

-Split up your meal. Most of the time, the portions you will be served while eating out are almost double what you should actually be eating. Poor portion control is a major contributor to obesity and bad health due to diet. Eat half and save the other half for later, or share with a buddy! If you split a meal, you’ll be saving money AND your waist line.

-Don’t write off fast food completely! If it’s something you really enjoy, feel free to indulge every once in a while. Cutting it out of your diet entirely could lead you to a fast food bender one day, which is much worse than getting a Big Mac every once in a while.

Not only will these tips help you stay healthier, but healthier diets will give you more long lasting energy! Eating apple slices and grilled chicken instead of fries and a burger will help you feel better and be active longer. That means more shopping, more kickball, more skating and more laughing with your friends!