Fit Family Challenge: Week 6

Dear Fit Family Challenge members,

The "lazy days of summer" aren't a reality for many families, who stay on the go with day camps, vacations, swim teams and other activities. Amid the rushing around, healthy eating can take a back seat. For some easy ways to incorporate more nutrition into your family's diet, see our "Tip of the Week" below.

Remember to log your healthy activities for points at fitfamilychallengesc.com. The more points you earn, the better your chances of winning a prize!

Congratulations to Tony Giuliani, winner of the Fit Family Challenge Week 5 prize, an iPad Mini. Stay tuned for the winner of this week's prize: a $100 gift certificate to Dick's Sporting Goods. Next week's prize is a South Carolina Aquarium family package including two adult tickets and two child tickets. Click here to log your activity and boost your chances to win!

The following "Bonus Card" opportunities give you the chance to rack up extra points in the Fit Family Challenge. Go to the event, request a bonus card with the event code, and enter the code into your Activity Tracker. You'll earn 100 extra points, which is an additional entry in our weekly prize drawing!

* East Shore Athletic Club is offering 2 free weeks during the Fit Family Challenge period, which ends July 10, 2014. Call ahead and schedule an appointment at one of the club's 12 Lowcountry locations, listed here. Ask for the bonus card at your appointment.

* Fleet Feet Sports Group Run: Mondays at 6:30 p.m. from the Mount Pleasant store, 881 Houston Northcutt Blvd. Details here.

* Free volleyball and basketball at the Colleton County Recreation Center: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 28.

* Two consecutive weeks of free visits to Walterboro Curves during the challenge period (May 15-July 10). Call 782-3800 for details.

* Six free visits to Walterboro FitLife during the challenge period (May 15-July 10). Call 782-2750 for details.

This week's tip comes from MUSC nutritionist Debbie Petitpain. She is also serving as a healthy eating advisor for our two Fit Family Challenge "Spotlight" families, the Hollars of Mount Pleasant and the Shellman-Vests of Summerville. Here, Petitpain shares her top nutrition tips for healthy families:

1. Make water more interesting to drink with flavored ice. Fill each hole of an ice cube tray with a blueberry, raspberry, a small piece of watermelon, or the leaves of fresh herbs like mint. Fill with water and freeze, then add them to your water glass. They add a hint of flavor and make it look pretty.

2. Instead of spending an hour cooking just one night's worth of whole grains - such as brown rice, which can take up to an hour to cook - make a large batch, cool, put one-cup servings in individual storage bags, and stash in the freezer. On busy nights, you can quickly re-heat as much as you need in the microwave

3. Eat a high-protein, high-fiber breakfast aiming for more than 15 grams of protein and more than 5 grams of fiber. Good pairings include yogurt topped with berries and high-fiber cereal; whole-wheat English muffin with sliced banana; or scrambled eggs topped with salsa.

4. Bring a bag of groceries to work on Mondays to have lunch fixin's for the whole week. The supply could include a bag of apples, five containers of low-fat yogurt, a bag of pre-washed salad greens, several packs of tuna or canned chicken, and healthy soups, such as vegetable, lentil, or black bean. Don't forget silverware, some bowls and a can opener.

5. Set aside "let's play kitchen" time with your little ones on the weekend. Have the kids get out your fruits and vegetables and help wash, peel, chop and store in Tupperware for grab and go snacks. Make it fun: Have your young ones practice their counting by counting out 5 carrots per baggie, for example. Quiz your older ones to see if they can spell the names of all the foods. Let them taste as they go - they might just find a new favorite food.

6. Keep fruits such as oranges, bananas and apples on the counter: What you see is what you are most likely to eat first. That also means keeping the junk foods on the top shelf!

7. If you buy food in bulk, immediately portion out individual servings. If you have the storage space, move extras into the outdoor pantry or fridge so it stays out of sight and out of mind.

8. Transition away from white bread by making your sandwich with one slice white and one slice whole-grain bread (look for the word "whole" on the packaging). Use cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into fun shapes for the kids.

9. Muffins made with whole-wheat flour are an easy place to include healthy ingredients such as mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, grated carrots, raisins and nuts. Freeze the muffins, then warm in the microwave for 30 seconds for a quick breakfast or an after-school snack.

10. Keep a notebook in your kitchen drawer to list what you make for dinner. On a hectic night when you are at a loss for what to cook, you can refer to it for inspiration.

11. Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or farm share, inspires you to try new seasonal and local veggies. Most offer the option to be home delivered and many give you recipes to go with what's in your share for the week.

12. Yes, precut melon, green beans in the steamer bag and veggie trays are expensive. But they're also time savers and may be worth every dime!

13. Look into ordering your groceries online. It's great for budgeting, as you can easily search what's on sale, and your bill is tallied as you go. Plus, you won't be tempted by the specials on junk or the candy at the checkout line. Just pull your car up to the store, and the employees load the groceries for you. Spend the hour you just saved by not shopping to do some extra food prep for the week.

To learn more about our MUSC experts, and read their Fit Family Challenge blog posts, click here. To learn about the Spotlight families and follow their journeys, visit the Health page at YourLCP.com.

Click here for a recipe for healthy corn crepes that you can stuff with sweet or savory fillings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released findings that working-age adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely than their active peers to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease.

The report says 47 percent of adults with disabilities who are able to do aerobic physical activity do not get any and an additional 22 percent are not active enough.

Read more about the report here.

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