Articles and Information from GA Foods

Age Well by Eating Well

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 28, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Proper nutrition is the key to aging well, and it has many health benefits. The vitamins and nutrients in food can help you fight diseases, boost your energy and help you sleep better.

For more tips on energy boosting nutrition click here.

Senior Nutrition

Many senior citizens don’t receive adequately balanced meals, which leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition among seniors is directly correlated to the increasing diagnoses of diseases in the senior population. It is very important to consume the recommended amounts of nutrients every day in order to help your body age well.

Good Nutrition Can Prevent Disease

Consuming natural, minimally-processed foods maximizes the body’s intake of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are necessary in order for the body to age well and fight against sicknesses and diseases. Multiple health studies have proven that some foods reduce the risk of, and may even prevent, certain chronic conditions. 

We’ve composed a list of the most common diseases among seniors as well as the healthy foods to include in your diet to help prevent them.

  1. 1. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is the No. 1 killer of Americans. If you have heart disease, it is recommended to limit the amount of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium you eat each day. A few heart-healthy foods include salmon, nuts, tomatoes and dark chocolate (made up of at least 60 – 70 percent cocoa).
  1. 2. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often referred to as the silent killer. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Foods that are high in potassium can help reduce your risk of hypertension. Some examples are bananas, potatoes and leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens and kale.
  1. 3. Diabetes comes in two forms, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin. With the help of insulin therapy and a healthy diet, type 1 diabetes can be managed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is a problem with your body that causes your blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle. Diabetic meals should be low in sugar and carbohydrates. Eating cherries, avocados and cinnamon are great because they are linked to reducing blood sugar levels. 

Benefit From a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consists of a balance between fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meat and healthy fats. Every meal you eat has the potential to help your body perform successfully. Aside from reducing the risk of diseases, the nutritious meals you eat can also boost your metabolism, improve your mood and help you sleep better at night. Eating an adequate amount of micronutrients including iron, omega-3 fatty acid and folic acid will ensure a positive food-mood relationship.

Make Small Changes

You don’t have to adjust your diet all at once. Start with small changes like switching from a sugary breakfast cereal to a whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Or, snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods like crackers and chips.

In addition to making small changes, set small, realistic goals to help you acheive your end result. If your end goal is to have as much energy at the end of the day as you do in the morning by three months from now, setting small goals such as getting seven hours of sleep every night, buying more fruits and vegetables when grocery shopping and drinking eight glasses of water daily are great starting points. Achieving these small goals will keep you motivated on your end result, and they'll improve your overall health.

Eating Well on a Budget

Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive. We’ve created some helpful tips for eating right on a budget. One way to stick to your grocery budget is to create a grocery list. Creating a grocery list ensures you won’t forget any items you need for the week, and it makes you less likely to purchase junk foods, as they are not on the list.

Eating healthy takes some planning. For more information on food swaps you can make to your diet to give you an energy boost, download our energy boosting nutrition tips sheet. 
Download Energy Boosting Nutrition Tips

 

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Topics: Nutrition, Malnutrition in Elderly, Senior Health, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition Care, Advice from Dietitians, Affordable, Healthy Foods, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Five Memorable TV Dinner Moments

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 7, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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September 10th is National TV Dinner Day, a day that celebrates the convenience of pre-portioned meals.

Since their inception, TV dinners have become a staple in American households. The prepackaged individual servings of meat and vegetables (and sometimes desserts!) changed the way Americans made and ate dinner. Women were no longer cooped up in the kitchen all day, and surprise dinner guests were no longer an issue.

In honor of National TV Dinner Day, we've compiled the five most memorable TV dinner moments:

1. The invention of the TV dinner

The invention of the TV dinner is attributed to a handful of different parties. While other companies may have invented the concept, C.A. Swanson & Sons coined the term 'TV dinner'. Take a look at the timeline:

1945: Maxson Food Systems, Inc. manufactured “Strato-Plates” complete meals that were reheated on planes for military and civilian passengers.

Late '40s: Jack Fisher created FridgiDinners – frozen meals served in bars and taverns.

1949: Albert and Meyer Bernstein created Frozen Dinners, Inc. – frozen dinners that were sold under the One-Eyed Eskimo label. Their dinners were served on aluminum trays with three compartments.

1954: C.A. Swanson & Sons created TV dinners – their version of frozen dinners. Swanson launched an advertising campaign to familiarize the public with TV dinners and sold them in retail stores, leading to the product’s success.

2. The first TV dinner meal – Thanksgiving leftovers!

C.A. Swanson & Sons’ salesman, Gerry Thomas, is credited with inventing the TV dinner. On his flight home, Thomas noticed the airplane meals were served on trays. He drew a sketch of his own version of the tray and suggested this concept to his company as a solution to their mass amounts of Thanksgiving leftovers. Swanson paired this idea with the biggest trend at the time, TVs, and thus TV dinners were born. The first TV dinners were sold in retail stores for a mere 98 cents!

3. The 1960s TV dinner expansions

1960: Swanson added a fourth compartment to their TV dinner tray so that consumers could have … desserts! A couple of the dessert options were apple cobbler and brownies. This addition really sweetened the deal for American consumers, as many homemade meals included desserts.

1969: TV breakfast was introduced. Now convenient meals were available in the morning as well.

4. The first Hungry-Man spokesman – “Mean” Joe Greene

In 1973, Swanson released Hungry-Man dinners, which had larger portions than their regular TV dinners. Professional football player “Mean” Joe Greene was the spokesman. Check out the commercial:

 

 

5. The ‘out with the old, in with the new’ decade – the '80s

Another memorable time for TV dinners was 1986 – the year of the tray. The original Swanson TV dinner tray made its debut into the Museum of American History in 1986 when it was inducted by the Smithsonian Institute. Also in '86, Swanson marketed the first microwave-safe trays. Microwave ovens were becoming a necessity in U.S. households, and with the introduction of Swanson’s microwave oven-safe trays, cooking TV dinners became easier than ever before.

In 1985, GA Foods furthered the impact of frozen meals with the introduction of our dual-ovenable meal trays. As one of the first companies to provide home-delivered frozen meals to seniors, we provided recipients the flexibility to select "what you want to eat, when you want it". 

Today's Frozen Meals

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While the meals are no longer referred to as TV dinners, the concept of frozen meals is still cookin’. In 2016, more than 60 years after the invention of the TV dinner, freezers in American households are still packed with frozen, pre-portioned meals. Frozen meals remain a popular food choice because they are easy to make, and come in a variety of options. And, with home-delivered meals from GA Foods, the meals are healthy and nutritionally-balanced too!

The familiarity of frozen meals provides the comfort of home, especially for seniors who have seen frozen meals from the beginning.

For more information on selecting a home-delivered meals provider click here.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Fresh vs. Frozen Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Home-Delivered Meals for Seniors: Why Use Frozen?

Posted by Frank Curto, PhD and Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Apr 6, 2016 11:00:00 AM

TV-Dinners.gifMany senior nutrition programs are moving away from the traditional model of delivering hot meals daily to
delivering frozen meals weekly. If the idea of frozen meals conjurs up images of TV dinners from the 1960's, we are talking about something entirely different. Today's meals meet strict nutritional guidelines and are actually targeted for older adults. Here are the facts:

1.  Frozen food has the same, if not better, nutritional value as fresh foods. 

Frozen produce is not harvested until fully ripened. Fresh produce is harvested before reaching peak ripeness, so it can ripen during transportation and storage. This means nutrients do not develop to full potential.  However, frozen produce is allowed to ripen before being picked. The mature fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Frozen foods are flash-frozen immediately after being harvested. This process assures there is minimal nutrient loss when processing the foods. Hot and chilled meals are subjected to light and heat during transportation and storage, causing further nutrient loss. Frozen meals can be transported and stored without compromising nutrient content.

2.  Maintaining the cold chain with frozen home-delivered meals is the most reliable method of assuring food safety.

Although there are multiple causes of foodborne illness, improper temperature control is a common failure point in many segments of the food service production and distribution chain. The “cold chain” process has emerged as the most reliable method of assuring food safety. With this method, food is maintained at temperatures that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens that are responsible for the majority of foodborne-related illnesses.  Maintaining the cold chain process from the time of production until consumed is the best way to protect seniors from foodborne illness. For more information on foodborne-illnesses in seniors, click here.

Using frozen meals also allows delivery routes, particularly in rural areas, to be extended without compromising food safety. Hot meals have a much shorter delivery window. Drivers have to ensure meals are not exposed to improper temperatures and allowed to spend time outside of the food safety "danger zone." 

3.  Food quality is more appealing with frozen home-delivered meals.

Food held at hot temperatures also keeps bacteria from growing. However, hot food begins to deteriorate over time, affecting appearance, aroma, flavor, and texture. Food becomes mushy, overcooked, discolored, bitter, and dried out. Also, nutrient loss is greater with hot meals. Frozen meals are flash-frozen immediately after being cooked, locking in their great quality, taste, and nutrition. Freezing also allows seasonal foods to be available year round.

4.  Frozen home-delivered meals offer more flexibility and autonomy for the seniors. 

Home_Delivered_Meals_LR.pngFrozen meals are delivered to the homes 2 to 4 times per month, freeing up the senior's schedule. This allows them to select the meal they want to eat - when they want to eat it. Daily, hot home-delivered meals require the senior to be home every day at a specific time. There is no flexibility for scheduling doctor and therapy appointments. These meals are also selected for the senior, taking away their autonomy.  

Weekly deliveries of frozen meals allow nutrition programs to better utilize their resources and serve more seniors. In place of daily meal deliveries, many programs have their volunteers make social visits or phone calls to their recipients. This makes the seniors and their families feel more secure, knowing someone is regularly checking on them. 

If you'd like more information on selecting a home-delivered meal provider, click here.


Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Fresh vs. Frozen Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

National Nutrition Month-Savor the Flavor-Healthy Meals for Seniors

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Mar 30, 2016 10:00:00 AM

National Nutrition Month is here! This is a great time to look at food choices, and evaluate whether you’re getting the most nutrition out of your meals. While the meal requirements for older adults are a bit different, making healthy meals for seniors doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are a few easy guidelines to improve the nutritional value of senior meals.

Look Out For Extra Sodium

A lot of packaged foods contain sodium as a preservative and as a way to make the food more palatable. Unfortunately, these high sodium levels are not ideal for senior meals. Be sure to read the label carefully on store-bought convenience meals, as well as many condiments, as these can be incredibly high in sodium.

Many canned foods offer low sodium (and even no sodium) options, so you can add your own salt as needed. A little table salt can go a long way! Another way to season foods without adding extra salt, is to use herbs and spices. Be sure to check the nutrition information on spice blends, and opt for the salt-free versions where possible.older_adult_shopping.png

Make Veggies King

Vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense - they’re low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Their high fiber and water content also makes vegetables more filling, ideal for the reduced-caloric content of meals for seniors.

In order to receive enough nutrition, while keeping calories low, challenge yourself this National Nutrition Month to fill half of your plate at every meal with vegetables, dividing the other half between protein and starches. Keep things exciting by eating a variety of different colors and textures. Different colored vegetables tend to offer different nutritional profiles, so varying color choices on your plate can provide a well-rounded selection of nutrients.

Avoid Empty Calories

Cookies, crackers and other baked goods may taste delicious, but they generally offer no nutritional value for all of those calories. If you’re craving a sweet treat, reach for a piece of fruit, or a yogurt with berries and granola.

For healthier, savory options, avoid packaged snacks like chips and crackers, which contain a lot of added salt and oil, but have little nutritional value. Instead of reaching for that box of buttery crackers, try whole grain pretzels instead. Whole grain pretzels contain more vitamins, minerals and fiber, with fewer calories and less fat than traditional crackers.

Try More Whole Grain Options

Another way to increase the nutritional benefits of senior meals, is to choose whole grain products over their refined counterparts. Whole grains still have the bran and germ intact, making them appear darker in color. It’s these parts of the grain that contain the most vitamins and minerals. Whole grains also contain more fiber, so they often take longer to digest than refined grains, and can be more filling.

Try and make half of your grain choices throughout the day whole grains to receive more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Hydrate!

Be sure that you’re drinking enough water. Hydrating properly will help to flush out extra salt, as well as keep all your organs running as they should. Keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day can ensure that you’ve always got hydration close at hand.

Ease Into Exercise

Healthy eating doesn’t have to stop at food choices. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and can complement those nutrient-dense senior meals. Bodies are all different, and thrive with different styles and levels of exercise. The important thing is to move, and get blood flowing.

Short walks and light stretching can be a great way to increase blood flow and joint mobility, without being strenuous. It’s important to choose activities that you enjoy, and to remember that every little bit counts. You don’t need to run a marathon to receive the benefits of moving around!

Watch Portion Sizes

The most obvious difference between meals for seniors, and meals for younger adults is portion sizes. As people age, their caloric requirements decrease, so senior meals should be smaller. Many restaurants now offer smaller menu options, though eating proper portions at home can still be a challenge!

National Nutrition Month is a great time to learn more about portion sizes, and grab those measuring cups. Measuring out different foods can ensure that the meal is the appropriate size, and can prevent accidental overeating. Another solution for perfectly portioned meals is to consider a meal delivery service. Home delivered meals are perfectly portioned, nutritionally balanced, and can be tailored to meet special dietary needs.

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month - Savor the Flavor - Eating Right on a Budget

Posted by Joann Pierre, MS, RD, LDN on Mar 23, 2016 10:30:00 AM

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to tune up your healthy eating routine! Keeping up healthy habits can certainly be a challenge, especially as healthy food can often be more expensive than its junk food counterparts.

But fear not! You can celebrate National Nutrition Month without breaking the bank with these tips for making budget friendly, healthy meals and choices.

Familiarize Yourself With Food Labels

Food labels aren’t the easiest thing in the world to decode, but spending a few extra minutes studying all of the ingredients and macronutrients can save you time and money at the grocery store.

Often, packaging can mislead consumers into thinking a food is healthy, when it’s actually filled with sugar, salt and trans fats. Learning which ingredients to watch out for, and what all those percentages mean on the back of a box, can help you separate the healthy foods from the junk foods, and make better choices.

Don’t Worry About Food Trends

The health foods landscape can often be confusing, with so many superfoods and trendy health foods entering the market daily. Certain foods are classified as superfoods because of their high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. They’re typically imported, and often found only in certain locations. Their scarcity and the excitement that surrounds a word like “superfood” means that these berries, seeds and powders fetch a pretty penny at the health food store.

Good news though - there are nutrient-rich foods available at the supermarket that aren't expensive. Superfoods like sweet potatoes, blueberries, broccoli, kale and pumpkin seeds are all incredibly nutritious, and budget friendly. Save those pricier options for a treat!farmers_market.png

Shop Seasonally

Buying produce according to growing seasons not only keeps your veggie routine exciting, but also allows you to save a little cash. Check out your local farmers' market for great buys!  Many accept EBT.  There is also a food assistance program for seniors purchasing from farmers' markets.  Seasonal produce is often less expensive, due to having fewer transportation costs, and will be fresher than fruits or vegetables that have spent a week on a truck. Eating seasonally can also add some excitement to your meals, as you start to anticipate the foods of the upcoming months.

National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to look up what fruits and vegetables are in season in your area, and design your shopping list accordingly.

Spend Some Extra Time in the Kitchen

A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine noted that individuals who spent more time preparing their food were more likely to eat healthy meals, as opposed to those who mostly ate out at restaurants. Cooking your own meals at home gives you control over the ingredients, preparation method and quality.

Of course, planning and cooking your meals at home requires quite a bit of time and effort, so if you’re looking for the same high quality healthy meals, without spending too much time cooking, try a meal delivery service.

Home-Delivered Meals

For healthy meals that are perfectly portioned, nutrient dense and ready to go when you need them, try out a meal delivery service, like GA Foods. Having meals delivered can save you money by providing a variety of choices, without you having to buy all of those different herbs, spices, and vegetables, just for one meal.

Using a meal delivery service also ensures that your meals fit into your healthy lifestyle, whether you’re on a diabetic meal plan, cardiac meal plan or other special diet. And of course, a meal delivery service will save you all of that time you would have spent on food prep! What’s not to love?

Guide to Beginning Home-Delivered Meal Service

 

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month Savor the Flavor - Healthy Eating Tips

Posted by Joann Pierre, MS, RD, LDN on Mar 16, 2016 10:55:00 AM

March is National Nutrition Month®, a great time to reflect upon your eating habits and evaluate your food choices. It’s also the perfect time to add some more healthy behaviors to your daily routine. Participate in National Nutrition Month® with these tips to help you savor the flavor of healthy eating!

Drink More Water

Healthy eating isn’t necessarily just about food. Beverage choices can play an important role in creating a healthy meal. You can cut extra calories and sugar out of your day by swapping out those soft drinks and juices for water!

Proper hydration is important to overall health and metabolism regulation, and oftentimes people mistake a thirst cue for hunger. Carrying a water bottle around with you will not only keep your body running properly, but will also prevent you from eating when you’re not hungry.

If you’re still craving the bubbles of soda, seltzer or sparkling water is a great alternative. You can find sparkling water in a variety of flavors to suit any mood or meal.

National_Nutrition_Month_Almonds.jpgKeep Healthy Snacks on Hand

Many pre-packaged foods are highly processed, contain little nutritional value, and are loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, but they’re convenient in a pinch. Make sure you’ve always got healthy snacks on hand so you don’t find yourself at a vending machine choosing between corn chips and candy bars. Bringing your own healthy snacks wherever you go makes healthy eating convenient, and reduces the chance that you’ll give in to eating less nutritious options.

Portion out small baggies of nuts and dried fruit at the beginning of the week, and store them in your car, desk, and bag so you’re never without a healthy food option.

Check Portion Sizes

Proper portion size isn’t intuitive. With restaurant meals being so large and food manufacturers often downplaying the amount of food in a serving, it can be hard to know just how much you’re supposed to eat. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution - grab your measuring cups!

National Nutrition Month® is a great time to start paying attention to just how much you should be eating. A serving of vegetables is about a half cup, or a cup of uncooked greens. Starches, grains, beans and peas can also be measured in half cup servings. After a few weeks of measuring, you’ll be a pro at portions!

Make Vegetables the Star of Your Meals

National_Nutrition_Month_Vegetables.jpgAn easy way to eat healthier is to load your plate up with vegetables. Serve the veggies first and pile them high, aiming to fill half your plate with vegetables before adding protein and starches. Another way to increase your vegetable intake is to eat all of the vegetables on your plate before moving on to the protein and starch. You’ll get more nutrition out of that broccoli than you will out of an extra roll!

Avoid falling into a vegetable rut by setting a goal to try at least one new vegetable per week. This can increase the variety of nutrients in your diet, as well as the excitement of your healthy meals!

Add Seafood to the Mix

Seafood is a great source of nutrients, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids! Eating fish twice a week can help you obtain the necessary amounts of this important nutrient. If you’re worried about mercury levels of seafood, remember that smaller fish like sardines have lower levels of mercury than large fish like tuna.

Salmon, trout and oysters are also lower in mercury, and are high in omega-3s. What’s not to love?

Eat Consciously

Eating dinner while driving, and snacking while watching TV may be convenient, but they’re not the healthiest ways to enjoy a meal. These types of distracted munching can lead to overeating, and misreading hunger cues. You may even train yourself to eat whenever you watch TV without even realizing it!

Instead, sit down at a table to eat, and actively participate in the meal without external distractions. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly, and if you’re eating with your family or friends, engage in conversation between bites. The added time and attention between bites should allow your body to register what you’re eating, so you’ll realize when you’re full sooner.

Spice Up Your Life

Worried that healthy meals won’t be delicious? Adding herbs and spices to your dishes can add extra flavor, without adding sugar, salt, oils or calories. Many herbs and spices also have added antioxidant properties and health benefits. Add dry spices to food at the beginning of cooking, and finish with chopped fresh herbs for maximum flavor!

If you'd like to learn more about healthy eating, read this article!

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month

Celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day with GA Foods!

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 9, 2016 10:00:00 AM

March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM). NNM focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right," which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. For the next few weeks, our blog will focus on health and eating tips as part of NNM.  

Happy RDN Day!

Today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day. RDN Day commemorates the dedication of RDNs as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of people around the world. RDN Day was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to increase the awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and to recognize RDNs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives. RDNs are the nutrition experts with degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from accredited colleges and universities. In addition, they must complete an internship and pass an examination before practicing.

We'd like to take the time to recognize and spotlight two of the RDNs on the GA Foods team!

Levinia_and_Joann_LR.pngPictured:  Joann Pierre (left) and Levinia Clark (right).

Meet Levinia Clark

Levinia has been with GA Foods for almost 13 years and currently is our Nutrition Services Manager. She completed her internship at the University of Illinois Medical Center and has been practicing for 39 years. She chose to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist because she wanted to learn how and what various nutrients do to the nutritional status of the body. She enjoys her job because she knows the daily nourishment GA Foods provides to children and older adults positively impacts their health.

Levinia's favorite food is Mexican in ANY way, shape or form and she likes going to the beach as often as possible. Her favorite nutrition tip is, "Diet should not be a way of life…rather  healthy eating for a healthy body and healthier you!"

Say Hi to Joann Pierre

Joann went to the University of North Florida for her undergraduate degree as well as her Master's degree and dietetic internship. She has been with GA Foods for over 2 years. Joann decided to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist after taking a few nutrition/dietetic courses. She was drawn to the idea that the foods we eat, cook, create, and grow, shape everything around us from our bodies to the planet we live in. She wants to be a part of positive change in the food world.  Joann loves her job because she knows she is making an impact on our society. Per Joann, "To some, it is just meals we serve, but to me, we provide nourishment and hope for the young to elderly and their families."

Joann enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, TJ. She also likes to cook, run, and attend concerts and basketball games. Her favorite nutrition tip is, "Moderation is key. Enjoy all types of food! Food is not only for nourishment, but it is also here for you to enjoy! Just remember to balance what you eat."

 Thank you!

We appreciate our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and their valuable contributions and expertise in nutrition. They exemplify GA Foods' core values, touching lives, commitment, one team, ownership, integrity and trust, in everything they do!

For more information on National Nutrition Month®, click here.

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Topics: Nutrition, National Nutrition Month, Registered Dietitians

5 Myths about Healthy Foods

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 2, 2016 10:00:00 AM

If you've glanced at a magazine or online health site lately, you've probably been bombarded by the term 'superfood'. This is a term that is bandied about haphazardly, and often misunderstood, causing people to overeat (or just simply eat) the wrong foods.

There is no true scientific definition for the term 'superfood'; it is just a term that the nutrition world came up with to signify a food that is full of nutrients that keep the body healthy. While there are many foods out there that are good for you, you should never focus on just one, especially if you are focusing on it simply because it’s part of a current craze.

Here are five myths about healthy foods that you can learn from:

1) Coconut Oil: You have probably heard a great deal about coconut oil. It's been touted as a cure-all for nearly everything that ails you. Unfortunately, while coconut oil has been called a 'healthy oil', it is actually very high in saturated fat. While most people claim that it is okay to substitute this oil in everything from baking to frying to sauteing, as it is a medium-chain triglyceride (which would make it a less damaging form of saturated fat), there is no significant research to back up this claim.

Many experts still say that cooking with olive or canola oil is better, as they have the lowest amount of saturated fats.

healthy_meals.jpg2) Egg Whites: For years it seems you have heard conflicting information when it comes to eggs. One study says don't eat the yolks, the next study says eat the entire egg. Today, the science seems to have come to a consensus: eat the yolks, folks!

Once upon a time, yolks were removed because they are high in cholesterol, but not today. Today, nutritionists agree that without the yolks, you lose half the benefits of eggs. The yolk contains all of an egg's fat-soluble vitamins; vitamins A, D, E, and K. Yolks also contain a number of other nutrients, such as choline and selenium.

3) Granola: Granola may have a reputation as a healthy food, but it is actually loaded with calories, sugar and fat. If you've ever added granola to your diet and started gaining weight, it is probably the culprit. For granola lovers, don't worry, you don't have to cut it out of your meal plans entirely, just eat it (like all things) in moderation.

4) Kombucha: One of the newest buzzwords in the health and nutrition market is kombucha. Kombucha is a black tea that is fermented with yeast, bacteria and sugar. The hype is that it can detox the body, give you more energy, improve your digestion, and even enhance your immune system. The truth? There is no proof for any of this. Studies show that it does no more for you than yogurt or popping a probiotic pill.

senior_meals.jpgIt's also important to note that there have been some contamination issues with kombucha, involving bacteria and fungus, which can be very dangerous or anyone with a weakened immune system (such as older people, very young people, or pregnant and nursing mothers).

Remember, there are plenty of teas out there that are very healthy, with their health claims backed by science. Teas contain flavonoids which will help reduce your risk of heart disease.


5) Veggie Burgers:
While they may not be enjoying the heyday that they once did, veggie burgers are still around, and many people believe that they are a healthier option than fresh meat burgers. Not so. Most veggie burgers that you buy in your grocer's freezer section are heavily processed and have ingredients included that you cannot pronounce.

If you must eat a veggie burger, make sure to read the ingredient list and opt for ones with less ingredients (the more minimally processed choices). But if you were simply eating veggie burgers to save calories, opt for a fish-based burger, a turkey burger, a ground chicken burger or a lean red meat burger. Typically these will offer you more nutrition, fewer chemical additives, and fewer calories.

Variety is the Spice of Life

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans stress variety. Remember that no single food can provide every single nutrient that your body needs to function properly, so your best bet is to eat a variety of healthy foods.

If you are looking for healthy meals delivered, look to GA Foods. Download our free eBook to learn more about selecting a home-delivered meals provider. 

  Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Lunch

New Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jan 7, 2016 1:57:06 PM

 

DGA_Link.jpgThe 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released today. The updated nutritional guidelines encourage Americans to adopt a series of science-based recommendations to improve how they eat to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

“Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives. By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell.

The newly released 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects advancements in scientific understanding about healthy eating choices and health outcomes over a lifetime. This edition recognizes the importance of focusing not on individual nutrients or foods in isolation, but on the variety of what people eat and drink—healthy eating patterns as a whole—to bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health.

DGA_Graphic1_tn-1.jpgKey Recommendations 

The overarching recommendations are:
  • - Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. 
  • - Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount.
    • - Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats,      and reduce sodium intake.
  • - Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  • - Support healthy eating patterns for all.

A Healthy Eating Pattern

Healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight and can help prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout periods of growth, development, and aging as well as during pregnancy.  The guidelines recommend Americans eat:

- A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are also naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados

The guidelines also recommend limiting saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars and sodium. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.

A New Paradigm

The Dietary Guidelines recognizes the need to create a new paradigm in which healthy lifestyle choices at home, school, work, and in the community are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative. The guidelines include strategies to help professionals in leading disease-prevention efforts within their organizations and communities to make healthy eating and regular physical activity an organizational and societal norm.

For more information and resources, click here.

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Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management

Aging in Place: Home-Delivered Meal Options

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Dec 2, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Aging in place allows seniors the benefit of remaining in the familiar environment of their own home and maintaining more independence. While assisted living centers and nursing homes provide security and medical care for those who need it, aging in place is a better option for many. Resources like meal delivery help seniors remain independent at home for as long as possible. Here is what you should know about meals for seniors.

prepared_meals_for_seniors_LR.pngNutrition and Senior Health

Although most seniors need fewer calories than their younger counterparts do, the nutritional quality of their diet should increase. With age, the body has more difficulty absorbing nutrients, and this means older adults are more prone to malnutrition. In addition, many health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, will worsen if the diet is poor.

Prepared meals for seniors can provide balanced nutrition to facilitate better health and well-being. Many older adults who suffer from fatigue or mobility problems find it difficult to continue cooking nutritionally balanced meals on a daily basis. In the absence of wholesome delivered meals, some resort to eating processed foods that are easier to cook but are high in sodium, sugar and fat.

Decreased appetite is also common in the elderly and can make cooking a meal feel like an unwelcome chore. These seniors might be tempted to skip meals unless meals are delivered directly to the home.

Special Diets

When choosing meal delivery, consider any special dietary needs. Program options vary from location to location, even with well-known meal delivery organizations, so make sure to ask which dietary options they offer. Most can accommodate seniors with low-sodium and low-sugar dietary needs, but not all supply special diets for other health issues or for religious and ethical dietary needs. Discuss the options with many delivery services to see which service is the best fit.

Home_Delivered_Meals_LR.pngDelivery Options

The number of daily meals required influences the delivery options and providers you should choose. Seniors who only need one hot meal a day and can make their own sandwich or breakfast at other times might wish to choose a program like Meals on Wheels.

Other options include programs that periodically deliver a selection of heat-and-eat meals, like our SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable meals. These are prepared meals that can be heated in a microwave at the senior’s convenience. Unlike processed meals from the grocery stores, these specially prepared meals for seniors are nutritionally balanced.

Cost

Cost of prepared meals for seniors varies, but many programs offer the service on a sliding scale basis or for free. Free home-delivered meals are available through various agencies, including those commonly referred to as Meals On Wheels. Program participation criteria vary from state-to-state and, sometimes, between different case management offices based on their funding requirements and plan design.

To identify the agency that can determine your eligibility,
call 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov. On the eldercare.gov site, interested individuals can search for services by location based on zip code or city and state. We recommend searching based on zip code, particularly in large metropolitan areas who may be served by multiple agencies. Locate agencies listed in the search results that have “Nutrition Programs” or “Home Delivered Meals” in their description. Contact those agencies directly and request home delivered meals service from GA Foods.

The more a senior has access to healthy foods and all of life’s necessities, the easier it will be to age-at-home. For more information on choosing a home-delivered meals provider, download our free ebook:

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

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