February 2018 | 1-888-376-7136
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Food Deserts May Not Be to Blame for Poor Nutrition Decisions


Food deserts are those areas not served by a reasonably priced grocery store leaving local residents to depend on expensive convenience stores and fast food restaurants. It's intuitive that these food deserts directly contribute to the nutritional habits of low income families, but several studies suggest there's something more. One recent study points to an emotional reason.

Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indul-gence they can afford.

This is from the Los Angeles Times and it describes a new study that finds parents in low income families often give in to their children’s requests for junk food because it’s something they can afford and they’re tired of saying “no” to everything their children want.

Whereas, more affluent parents don’t let their kids eat junk foods because they feel they’re teaching their kids to eat responsibly.

This is an interesting article and while there are no doubt several reasons for the nutritional choices we all make, this is an important thing to think about.

Why does it matter? Maybe those parents are doing the best they can and if so, shaming kids for eating junk food may be the wrong thing to do.

Old Plastic Toys May Be Dangerous

Families often save money by buying second-hand toys or passing them down to younger siblings, cousins or friends. But, it's possible some of the older toys might harbor unsafe levels of chemicals that have been linked to health problems. Not good for little kids who may chew on them or stick toys or parts of toys in their mouths.

Hand-me-down plastic toys may not be good for kids

This new story from Reuters Health describes a study in the UK that looked at toys such as cars, trains, dolls and puzzles that had parts that were small enough for children to chew. The study team measured levels of various hazardous elements that even at low levels are toxic for little kids.

The thing is, while many countries have banned or limited the use of these chemicals, the oldest of toys may still have some of them. As an example, the old legos you had as a kid may have had cadmium in them.

How to Deal with Emotional Eating

I think most of us deal with emotional eating from time to time, like nibbling on a bunch of cookies when you're bored or downing a big piece of chocolate cake to console yourself after a bad day. If this only happens now and then it's not a big deal but if it happens too often and the pounds are creeping on, then it may be something to address.

How do I stop stress eating?

Emotional eating is often triggered by stress or other strong emotions, but according to this article from Medical News Today, it's possible to deal with these triggers so that you don't wreck your healthy diet and develop unhealthy eating patterns.

Since there are a number of things that can trigger emotional eating, you may be able to avoid some of those triggers. For example, being bored or having nothing to do can lead t emotional eating so you may be able to avoid such a trigger by filling your time with hobbies that interest you.

Emotional eating differs from regular physical hunger and understanding what cues emotional eating may help you fight those urges. Read the article to learn more.

Energy Drinks and Kids

Energy drinks seem like a great idea if you're young and tired and want the caffeine jolt. And, of course, many (most?) are marketed to kids. The thing is, the amount of caffeine is high and can be too high for youngsters. More and more experts warn about the health risks of heavy energy drink consumption in kids and teens. It's probably best to avoid them.

Hey kids, just say no to energy drinks

This news story from Health Day News tells about a recent list of recommendations released by the American College of Sports Medicine. Those recommendations include stopping the marketing of energy drinks to at-risk groups, such as children, and learning the difference between soda, coffee, real sports drinks and energy drinks. In addition, they say that energy drinks shouldn't be consumed just before or after intense exercise.

Fruits and Veggies for a Happy Brain

I think everybody knows that fruits and vegetables are good for your health because they're loaded with nutrients and fiber, plus they're usually not high in calories. And it makes sense that all those nutrients might be good for your brain health, but how long will it take before you feel better psychologically? Not long at all!

Eating more fruits, vegetables boosts psychological well-being in just 2 weeks

This news story from Medical News Today describes a new study that set out to determine just how long it takes to improve your mood after you increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. The study team physically gave young adults extra fruits and veggies for two weeks and found the participants felt a boost in motivation and vitality after just fourteen days.

A couple notes, though. Interestingly, and importantly, the participants who were given the produce felt the improvements. Another group of participants who were given vouchers didn't feel better. And no improvements were seen in depression or anxiety symptoms.

So the take home? It may not be enough to say 'eat your veggies.' We may need to make sure people actually get them.

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About the author
Shereen Lehman
Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website verywell.com and she, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies.
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