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The True Cost of Eating Healthy in These ‘Food Deserts’ Across America – Yahoo Finance

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Young girl aged 2 to 3 years eating donut with pink icing.
Young girl aged 2 to 3 years eating donut with pink icing.

Access to fresh fruit and vegetables might be a given to you, but this isn’t the case in some parts of America. The U.S. has numerous areas that are considered “food deserts,” defined by the Department of Agriculture as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.”

Food deserts are urban areas where the nearest grocery store is more than 1 mile away, and rural areas where the nearest grocery store is more than 10 miles away. According to the USDA, 19 million Americans — or 6.2% of the population — live in what can be considered food deserts.

The issue isn’t necessarily about the difference in cost between healthy vs. unhealthy foods in these areas — although a University of Illinois study found that food is more expensive in food deserts compared to higher-income areas — it’s about a lack of access to healthy choices at all. And, with the lack of healthy food options, these areas typically have an abundance of unhealthy food choices sold at fast-food chains and convenience stores stocked with packaged, processed foods.

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What’s at Stake: The Link Between Food Deserts and Obesity

Eating unhealthy foods can lead to obesity, which puts people at risk for a host of major health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, some cancers, kidney disease and pregnancy problems.

But some people — especially those who cannot afford a car — are stuck with eating what’s readily available. In the case of food deserts, it’s usually the type of food that can lead to obesity. Studies have shown that this tends to be a problem in low-income areas where people physically cannot get to a grocery store and instead shop at local convenience stores or buy fast food, which is easily accessible. Even when residents in these areas find ways to get to a grocery store, they might be hesitant to buy fresh food because it’s perishable. When money is tight, people tend to buy foods that last longer and eliminate food waste, which is essentially a waste of their limited income.

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Lack of access is only one part of the problem, however. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Statistics in 2018 found that even when people from low-income neighborhoods were given easy access to the same food products available in high-income neighborhoods, food inequality wasn’t eliminated. The bigger issue was likely the lack of education and nutritional knowledge in these communities, which prevents people with lower incomes from understanding the benefits of healthful eating.

While obesity is a significant issue in these communities, the cost of unhealthy eating isn’t just physical. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that $71 billion in healthcare costs due to chronic diseases could be saved through healthier eating.

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Where Are the Food Deserts in America?

Although you might think that people living in major cities have plenty of healthy food options, this isn’t always the case — some of the largest food deserts in the U.S. are located in major cities, including New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago. According to the USDA food desert map, there are areas all across the country where residents have no access to grocery stores.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In New York, the Bronx is disproportionally hit with a lack of access to healthy food — and in some cases, a lack of access to any food. According to National Geographic,&nbsp;the South Bronx has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, at 37%. Many of the area’s residents are unemployed or underemployed and live in poverty.” data-reactid=”35″>In New York, the Bronx is disproportionally hit with a lack of access to healthy food — and in some cases, a lack of access to any food. According to National Geographic, the South Bronx has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, at 37%. Many of the area’s residents are unemployed or underemployed and live in poverty.

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Houston has also become a food desert of sorts, with many residents unable to afford or get access to healthy foods. Time is sometimes just as important as money in determining access to healthy foods. National Geographic profiled a local single mom who doesn’t have time to return home and cook meals because she’s always on the go, working as a home health aide and shuttling her kids to and from school. She often relies on premade dinners and fast food to feed her family.

But it’s not just urban areas where people struggle to make healthy foods a part of their daily diet. In areas like Osage, Iowa — though corn and soybean farms are plentiful — one in eight Iowans struggles with food insecurity, National Geographic reported. Many of these families simply can’t afford to put food on the table. They rely on food pantries and donations to get by, so they don’t always have the luxury of choosing healthful foods.

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What’s Being Done To Help: Food Desert Solutions

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income earners pay for food, the government has launched several initiatives to help people in food deserts afford — and choose — healthier options. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a collaboration between the&nbsp;U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, and Health and Human Services that provides funding to bring grocery stores, farmers markets and other sources of healthy foods to food deserts. There’s also the Let’s Move! initiative founded by former first lady Michelle Obama, which aims to bring healthy meals to schools and ensure that every family has access to healthy, affordable foods. ” data-reactid=”45″>In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income earners pay for food, the government has launched several initiatives to help people in food deserts afford — and choose — healthier options. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, and Health and Human Services that provides funding to bring grocery stores, farmers markets and other sources of healthy foods to food deserts. There’s also the Let’s Move! initiative founded by former first lady Michelle Obama, which aims to bring healthy meals to schools and ensure that every family has access to healthy, affordable foods.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Of course, education must be a piece of the puzzle in solving this crisis. The&nbsp;Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program&nbsp;is a federal program that teaches&nbsp;over 500,000 low-income families and low-income youth each year about the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”46″>Of course, education must be a piece of the puzzle in solving this crisis. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program is a federal program that teaches over 500,000 low-income families and low-income youth each year about the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Several nonprofits are also working to eliminate local food deserts. This includes the Twin Cities Mobile Market, which brings fresh foods to areas around&nbsp;Minneapolis and&nbsp;Saint Paul, Minnesota, that don’t have easy access to full-service grocery stores.” data-reactid=”47″>Several nonprofits are also working to eliminate local food deserts. This includes the Twin Cities Mobile Market, which brings fresh foods to areas around Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, that don’t have easy access to full-service grocery stores.

The solution to food deserts is complex, and it requires both increased education and better access to healthy foods. In the meantime, it’s important to never take the fresh food that you get to eat for granted — even if it’s just a sad desk salad.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The True Cost of Eating Healthy in These ‘Food Deserts’ Across America” data-reactid=”56″>This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The True Cost of Eating Healthy in These ‘Food Deserts’ Across America

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CoreLife Walks the Walk with Healthy Eating – QSR magazine

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When we first started our CoreLife Challenge two years ago, we really didn’t know what to expect. We started out slowly and supported our customers who signed up to tackle the 21-day challenge of eating healthy. It was the start of a journey that we had no roadmap for nor did we have a true understanding of where it would lead.

Fast forward to the launch of our 21-day challenge in January. Inspired by our customers and their stories, and inspired as a brand to build on what we started, this year’s results were better than we could have imagined and raised awareness for healthy eating habits that seem counterintuitive to most in the restaurant industry. So, what did we as operators learn along the way? Here are a few lessons:

Commitment is key. It’s easy to sit back and pay lip service to a marketing effort geared toward healthy eating. However, for us to be successful at walking our talk, we had to commit as a brand. That meant that our operational teams and employees fully embraced the CoreLife Challenge. Not only were we asking them to create something new in terms of meal bundles, we also were asking their support for intermittent fasting. We believe as a company this is relevant to an active lifestyle brand and we introduced the idea that intermittent fasting is something the medical field recognizes as healthy. We were shocked that our customers embraced the idea and the number of positive discussions surrounding it. Additionally, not only did we commit to the development of meal bundles, and diet and exercise plans, we launched an entire marketing effort around gathering and sharing our customers’ stories of success. We also brought in Tim Tebow as a CoreLife 21-Day Challenge brand ambassador. We recorded Tebow giving positive affirmations to our customers who were successfully completing the challenge, and we used his commitment to living a healthy lifestyle to encourage our participants to succeed. Because of this commitment, to our employees, our brand and our customers, we had a record 20,000 participants for our first 2019 CoreLife Challenge.

Solve for challenges rather than get stuck on obstacles. When we went back and reviewed how to make this year’s Challenge more successful, we realized we had to help participants eat healthier on a more consistent basis. This was the first year that we offered a meal bundle that gave discounts to participants willing to eat our food. Guests could purchase the bundle and eat either in-store or at home, and in many cases, used the meals to help their families eat better, too. In the first year of its launch, we had nearly 6,000 challenge participants sign up for the program, and this far exceeded our expectations. For us, development of the meal bundles solved the challenge of “How can we help” rather than ‘What’s in it for us.’ By doing that, 91 percent our challenge participants said they would do it again, and we gathered hundreds of testimonials from people saying the Challenge helped improve their sleeping habits, decrease cholesterol, reduce skin irritations, and a host of other positive outcomes. We also had people sharing stories through our social channels and working together to encourage and support progress. We also had someone share a very personal story in regard to how just one day of intermittent fasting shifted their whole view of the world in the form of increased awareness toward the plight of others who may otherwise go to bed hungry. This was all because we chose to solve for a challenge rather than get stuck on our own limitations as a brand.

Camaraderie and community drives true change. When we launched our CoreLife Challenge this year, we were dedicated to helping our guests live healthier and eat better. While we were prepared to do just that, what we weren’t prepared for was the feeling of community our participants had amongst each other and with our brand. We had significant interaction from within our community of CoreLife Challenge members. And this was seen through comments made in person to staff and through our social pages. If someone signed up for the challenge, they had an opportunity to also sign up to our Facebook page where participants could give feedback, talk about their milestones and experiences throughout their journey. Of the number of guests who registered, 10 percent also signed up to our Facebook page. We noted that through our social channels, the No. 1 comment was how connected participants felt with our brand and with each other. What was more encouraging was that our members started to advocate on our behalf and for our brand. As they became more vocal, we became more silent. This was because we no longer had to defend ourselves if a customer was frustrated waiting for food or service. Our customers were coming to our defense for us. It also inspired our employees and created a level of camaraderie among our team members and restaurant managers. It brought out the best in everyone and enabled us to become better at what we do.

In our third year of offering our Challenge to anyone who wants to eat healthier and live better, the results continue to surpass our initial goals. And it all started with one person who, three years ago, sent us a note saying he thought our brand would change his life. We offered to pay for his food for a month, and 27 months later he lost 227 pounds and changed the course of his life. I know what we’re doing works and our entire team is looking forward to how we can grow and change as we continue down this path of mindful eating. We have new ideas and plans for 2020, and using diet and exercise as a platform for true change, we have an opportunity to change the ways our guests view what they put into their bodies. Diet is really 70 to 80 percent of wellness, the rest is about how we choose to live our lives outside of what we eat.

So many of our guests commented that they didn’t realize they could fall in love with healthy food. If that is what our CoreLife Challenge is able to promote, we have already taken the next step in our food evolution. It’s about creating positive change and making real and lasting impacts in the lives of our customers. Real food done in the right way can taste amazing.

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Eat like Astros José Altuve and Carlos Correa with these healthy recipes – Houston Chronicle

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When writer Julie Loria visited the Astro’s spring training clubhouse for research on her new cookbook, she saw a box of doughnuts sitting untouched. She knew then that the subject of her book, a look at the healthy eating habits of top Major League Baseball players, was on point.

“When it comes to clubhouse cravings, baseball players these days reach for fruits and vegetables, not pastries and other highly processed foods,” Loria writes in “The Game of Eating Smart.” “In Major League Baseball, the transition to eating healthy food has become more than a movement, it’s a revolution. Players have learned that proper nutrition has a positive impact on athletic performance.”

Astros stars José Altuve and Carlos Correa are among the 21 MLB stars who were interviewed by Loria for a cookbook that focuses on how these elite athletes fuel their bodies and how their smart eating choices influence their performance. Other baseball luminaries include Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence.

ReNew healthy recipe: José Altuve Granola Bites

According to Loria, nearly all of the 30 MLB teams “have moved toward serving healthy food and emphasizing a nutritional eating plan.” Clubhouses, she reports are equipped with fresh juice bars and smoothie stations, and offer almond and coconut milks, protein powders, raw organic nuts and wheatgrass shots.

Loria teamed up with Allen Campbell, former personal chef for New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, to devise recipes that reflected the healthy eating philosophies of the baseball players profiled in “The Game of Eating Smart.”

Here’s what Astros second baseman Altuve said about his diet:

“I’ve noticed a connection between my eating habits and performance because when I eat right, I not only go out there and play well, I also feel well,” he said. “I feel better on and off the field, and my recovery is much faster. Once I started eating better, I noticed a 100 percent change. Now I can play all season, and I still feel great after it’s over.”

He added: “My biggest meal is lunch, and it’s usually two pieces of grilled chicken breast, a half cup of brown rice and vegetables. I also eat big salads with lettuce, tomatoes and all kinds of vegetables. And then for dinner, I usually have more protein and vegetables, but fewer carbohydrates than at breakfast or lunch. I find that eating this way works best for my body and helps my performance on the field. I feel strong and energized.”

ReNew healthy recipe: Carlos Correa Grilled Mahi-Mahi

Here’s what Astros shortstop Correa said about his diet:

“I started eating healthier for my career because I wanted to get better on the field, and in order to do that I had to sacrifice some of the foods I like,” he said. “Now I eat a lot of fresh vegetables, including broccoli and carrots, which I never used to like. I also wasn’t big into fish at first, but now I eat salmon and mahi-mahi all the time.”

He added: “I eat clean snacks like Greek yogurt with granola and fruit, which give me great energy. I avoid fried foods, soda, beer, alcohol and processed sweets like candy, doughnuts, cookies and brownies. Lunch is usually rice and beans with some avocado. Also, I often eat one or two pieces of salmon. Then for dinner, I’ll have chicken and red-skinned potatoes with broccoli on the side. I love eating rice. I could eat rice with every meal, and red beans.”

greg.morago@chron.com

More ReNew healthy recipes from “The Game of Eating Smart”:

Altuve Coconut Mango Bars

Altuve Snapper with Baked Acorn Squash and Escarole

Correa Red Beans with Sofrito and Rice

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4 ways to keep a healthy body and mind as we age – VAntage Point – VAntage Point Blog

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Since the lifestyle choices we make from a young age can affect how we age, it’s important to start eating well, exercising, and taking care of our bodies early on. Here are a few things to think about as you strive to keep your body and mind healthy.

Keeping Strong Bones

Osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone tissue, occurs more frequently in older people. You can help prevent it by doing safe exercise and eating adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt, greens, beans, fish, and fortified cereals. Sunshine is one of the best sources of Vitamin D, but it can be more difficult for older adults to make, absorb, and use vitamin D. If you don’t think you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet and from sunshine, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement may be right for you.

Keeping Strong Muscles

Just like strong bones, our muscles are kept healthy through staying active. It’s best to participate in a mixture of strength training, cardiovascular, and flexibility-type exercise. Muscles can’t be built or maintained without exercise, but getting enough protein in your diet is essential, as well. Most people need 2-3 servings (about 3 ounces each) of high-protein foods throughout the day, but there is some evidence that older adults may need even more. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, dairy, and nuts are good sources of protein. It’s a good idea to eat a balanced meal or snack containing a serving of high-protein foods after exercising to encourage muscle-building.

Keeping a Strong Immune System

With older age generally comes greater susceptibility to illnesses. Deficiencies that stem from not eating enough nutritious foods can play a role in weakening the immune system. It’s also important to take preventive measures such as getting the flu vaccine every year. Quitting smoking, getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables will help keep your immune system strong.

Keeping a Strong Mind

While there is currently no way of preventing dementia, we can take steps to keep our brains as healthy as possible as we age. B-vitamins are essential in brain health, and it can be more difficult for older adults to meet their needs. Animal protein and fortified cereals are good sources of vitamin B12. Whole grains, eggs, nuts, and seeds are good sources of thiamine. Fortified cereals, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and beans are good sources of folic acid.

Many things about our bodies change as we get older, but the basic tenets of good nutrition—variety, moderation, and balance—still apply. Healthy eating, good hydration, an active lifestyle, and a good attitude can make a big difference in successful aging.

For more information about good nutrition for healthy aging, get in touch with a registered dietitian at your local VA.


About the Author: Erica Golden is a long-term care clinical dietitian working with Veterans in the Bonham VA Community Living Center in North Texas. She is passionate about helping people eat well and improve their relationships with food to live healthier, happier lives.

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