FIVE WAYS TO EAT RIGHT DURING NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH (AND ALL YEAR LONG!)

March 6th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

Did you know that February is National Nutrition Month? It’s true! There’s a website for it and everything. Turns out, National Nutrition Month has been happening each February for the past 40 years, with the goal of helping people eat right and exercise more.pic

I’ll be the first to admit that I should probably eat better and exercise more. I’m not overweight, mind you, but being overweight isn’t the only consequence of a poor diet. And so, being inspired by National Nutrition Month, I scoured the Internet for five of the best tips on how to eat a little better this month and all year round.

EAT MORE OATMEAL FOR BREAKFAST – When I was a kid, I ate oatmeal all the time. I don’t anymore, which is a mistake, because oatmeal is A) delicious and B) good for your heart because it has lots of soluble fibers, which reduce your cholesterol. If you want to take your oatmeal to the next level, add some watermelon to it (or on the side). It’s good for your heart, too!

EAT MORE SALAD WITH DINNER – A colorful salad (one with dark greens, tomatoes, yellow peppers or even watermelon) is loaded with different vitamins and minerals. They’re also low in calories (as long as you hold the cheese and ranch dressing) and will help take the edge off your hunger, so you don’t go overboard during the main course.

USE SMALLER PLATES AND BOWLS – This really does work! Studies have shown that when we use smaller plates and bowls — and even spoons and forks — we eat less. Turns out, the small plate gives the illusion that our serving is larger than it really is, which tricks our brain (and our stomach) into thinking we’re full.

EAT RIGHT AT RESTAURANTS – It’s easy to overindulge when you dine out, but it’s also easy to make the right choices. Many restaurants include nutritional information on the menu, so pay attention to that when choosing your meal. Also, don’t feel compelled to clean your plate. Many restaurants will give you more than you really need, so eat half and take the other half home for lunch the next day.

COOK WITH KIDS – This tip may or may not help you eat better (it depends upon what you’re cooking), but it’s a great tip nonetheless. When you cook a meal with a kid, and share the experience of preparing a meal, you’re not only creating a bond with the child, you’re teaching them that food — hopefully, healthy food — can be fun.

UP NEXT: The Japanese tradition of watermelon cracking

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LYCOPENE 101: HOW WATERMELON CAN HELP YOU GET MORE OUT OF THIS POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT

February 17th, 2015 by The Watermelon Guy

If you want to stay healthy and feel your best (and who doesn’t?), you might want to include more lycopene-rich foods — like watermelon — in your daily diet.
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What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is one of hundreds of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables (beta carotene is the most well-known). Lycopene is the pigment that makes many fruits and veggies a rich and vibrant red. While tomatoes have gotten the most press when it comes to their lycopene content, you might be surprised to hear that watermelon is also a source of lycopene, with 15 to 20 milligrams for every two-cup serving.

Why Do We Need It?

Adopting a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the best things a person can do to stay healthy, maintain a healthy weight, and lower disease risk. Adding lycopene-rich foods, like watermelon, to that mix is one way to reach that goal. Granted, lycopene cannot be converted to vitamin A like its cousin beta carotene, but it is a powerful antioxidant. This is just one of the reasons why it has been studied to identify its role in health promotion and disease prevention.

How Much Lycopene Do You Need?

Like all of the carotenoids in foods, the jury is still out on the exact amount of lycopene you need for health and possible disease prevention. What is known is that because this antioxidant-rich compound is fat-soluble, you can greatly improve its absorption by adding a little fat to any meal that contains a lycopene-rich fruit or vegetable. For example, one study found that adding avocado to salsa boosts lycopene absorption more than four-fold!

Here a few examples of how you can combine watermelon and certain healthy fat foods:

• drizzle a little olive oil on a watermelon and spinach salad
• snack on watermelon and low-fat (rather than fat-free) yogurt
• add a slice of watermelon to a salmon fillet sandwich
• add watermelon to chicken or shrimp kabobs
• snack on watermelon slices and pistachios

One thing is for sure: You can’t go wrong by adding colorful produce, like watermelon, to your diet. The results are good for your health today and tomorrow!

UP NEXT: An interview with a watermelon carver

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ASK THE EXPERTS: WHAT’S THE SUGAR CONTENT OF WATERMELON?

May 13th, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

CECELIA WRITES: I am a diabetic and I love watermelon. Is there a high sugar content in it, and if so what amount can I eat?

Very good question, Cecelia. I should preface my answer by saying that diabetics should always consult their endocrinologist and/or dietitian/diabetes educator with any specific questions about what they can and cannot eat.

That said, the good news is that diabetics do not need to give up carbohydrates, including sugar. Even more important is that naturally occurring sugars in fruits like watermelon come packaged with so many other health-enhancing compounds (fiber, lycopene, and vitamins A and C), which make watermelon a healthy inclusion in all diets.

The key for you is balancing carbohydrates during meals and snack time. That balance should be decided with the help of your personal dietitian. Making sure the carbohydrates you do eat come from healthful, real foods – like watermelon! – is the key to total health and weight management.

Thanks for your question, and I hope this helps!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Somer, Registered Dietician*

*Please contact your local dietician for personalized advice regarding any particular health concern you may have.

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