Guiding Stars’ Top 10 Easy “Star” Picks

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Here are 10 great ways to add highly rated Guiding Stars foods and beverages to your shopping cart!

1. Fruits – Did you know fruits can be fresh, frozen or canned (just make sure there is no added sugar) and still receive 2 or 3 star?

2. Vegetables – The same is true for veggies. Most fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (just make sure there is no added salt) are 2 or 3 star foods.

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Can’t get enough of that sweet stuff

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It seems as if we all love sugar! In my blog post “Carbohydrates: Not so simple…” from the Nutrition for Life series, I describe the role that sugar plays in our diets and how much our brains crave sugar. While our brains prefer sugar as an energy source, we are getting too much of it from foods and beverages that have “empty” calories because they are high in calories and low in nutrients.

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Science of One, Two or Three Stars

With everyone awaiting the January 31 release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 by the Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture, it is a good time to pause and focus on the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance system. It was, in fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the 2005 version that provided in part the basis for the Guiding Stars science. These guidelines had just been published when the science behind Guiding Stars was being formulated by a team of scientific experts, leaders in their fields.

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Think you have a Picky Eater? Think again…

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The parent-child relationship is very important when it comes to providing for our children. We all want our children to be healthy. We know children who eat a variety of nutritious foods at meal and snack times will have the best chance to be healthy. The parent or caregiver is responsible for being the provider of nutritious meals and snacks at regular times in a place or space that is conducive to a pleasant and calm environment for eating.

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Guiding Stars study shows teens make healthy choices when armedwith the stars

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Guiding Stars, knowing the importance of getting kids to eat more nutritiously, has implemented its nutrition navigation program in two high school cafeterias in Maine.

A high school setting can be an especially challenging environment to change what is offered in the cafeteria. Many schools earn “spending” money from the sale of competitive foods such as pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, desserts, ice cream and sugar-sweetened beverages. Not familiar with the term “competitive foods”? Many aren’t, but they are foods and beverages that do not have to meet the nutrition standards set by USDA for school meals but are sold alongside those meals. Typically, competitive foods are higher in fats, salt and added sugar and provide fewer nutrients that promote health such as fiber, whole grains and vitamins and minerals.

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Just Mom

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My three daughters are now young adults living away from home so the food-related role of being a mom has undergone many subtle changes over the years. When they were small it was “all mom, all the time” when it came to feeding them. Today, of course, they still rely on me for guidance but for the most part they are on their own to forage for food, prepare it and eat on a day to day basis.

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Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

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Water is an essential nutrient with absolutely no calories, one that is required for our very existence. We can survive only minutes without air and only days without water. Of our total body weight, anywhere from 45% – 75% is made up of water, depending on the amount of body fat we have. Water not only makes up the largest component of our body; it is used continuously by every cell for the following necessary functions to:

  • help regulate body temperature
  • maintain skin integrity
  • promote bowel regularity
  • keep joints lubricated
  • transport oxygen and nutrients to cells via blood
  • surround and fill cells and tissues and cushion internal organs
  • prevent fluid retention and edema

We lose over 2 liters of water each day just by being alive through our breath, urine and bowel movements. Since our bodies cannot store water, we need to replace this water loss with water intake. It is recommended that adults consume 64 ounces (2 liters ~ 64 ounces) of water each day or eight 8 ounce glasses of water or other fluids…

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Fats: The good, the bad and the yummy

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Which do you think is better for you, butter or margarine?

Ever since studies came out demonstrating that trans fat is more harmful than saturated fat in terms of heart health, there has been a movement to reinstate butter over margarine as the healthier solid fat. Personally, I think it’s being used as an excuse to eat butter. I mean who doesn’t like butter? When my oldest daughter was preschool age and we went out to a restaurant, she would take a pat of butter and just eat it plain while we were waiting for our food to arrive. I can still see that satisfied look on her face.

Butter is made by mechanically processing (churning) cream or milk turning it into a solid (or saturated fat) at room temperature. Margarine is made by chemically processing oil turning it into a solid fat. This chemical process is known as hydrogenation and the partially hydrogenated oils found in shortening and hard margarines contain the types of trans fats that lower the “good” fats in our bloodstream, high density lipoproteins or HDL.

In terms of heart health, anything that lowers HDL is a no-no. We want to raise HDL levels in our bloodstream – since HDL carry cholesterol to be eliminated by the liver, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis or heart disease. Both dietary fats, saturated and trans, raise the “bad” fats in our bloodstream known as low density lipoprotein or LDL. It is obvious that we want to limit saturated and trans fats in our diet, so when we do use a solid fat, which is healthier, margarine or butter?

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