Tips For Ordering Healthfully at Fast Food Restaurants

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Despite its tastiness and convenience, fast food has long been known to be very unhealthy for us. Most fast food is greasy and full of carbs, added sugars, and other not-so-good ingredients. Generally, it’s best to avoid eating fast food if possible, and instead, eat fresh, nutritious foods made at home.

As we all know, however, sometimes this just isn’t possible and fast food is the only option at our disposal. While it’s not as healthy as a homemade meal, there are ways to make healthier orders at fast food restaurants!

The following are some dieticians recommended tips from the Cleveland Clinic on how to make the healthiest choices when eating out at a fast-food restaurant!

  1. Research calorie and nutrient content = Many restaurants list the nutritional information for each food either on their menu board or online. Take some time to research the caloric and nutrient content before ordering.
  2. Leave off some ingredients and add others = Many places are more than happy to leave off an ingredient or two and substitute extra of another. For example, you might consider leaving off the cheese from your burger and getting extra veggies instead. Or swap the bun for a lettuce wrap!
  3. Opt for low-carb options = Look for foods that aren’t heavily comprised of carbs by getting grilled nuggets instead of breaded or ordering a salad instead of a burger!
  4. Look for lean proteins = While there is nothing wrong with getting a burger, they are typically on the greasier side. This means that they are higher in fat, which adds up to a lot of calories, and sometimes can make our stomachs not feel too great. Grilled chicken or other lean proteins are a great way to still meet your protein needs without all the grease.
  5. Skip the soda = Often, it is very easy to drink a lot of calories without realizing it. So instead of ordering a sugar-filled soda, get water or unsweetened tea!
  6. Choose the healthier sides = While French fries are the classic fast food side order, they are not exactly the healthiest, as they are full of carbs and unhealthy fats. Try ordering a side salad or a side of fruit or veggies for a healthier addition to your meal.

Even though fast food isn’t the healthiest option, sometimes we’ll find ourselves in situations where it’s the only option for meals. With just a few extra steps you can order meals at restaurants that have some nutritional value to them!

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Highly Processed Foods Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

I think that it is safe to say that whether we eat them or not, we all know the importance and the benefits that come from eating real, whole, minimally processed foods rather than heavily processed foods. While processed foods can be incredibly convenient and sometimes pretty tasty, they come along with quite a few health risks, one of which is an increased risk of developing cancer.

A study was done that looked at the eating habits and the health of 197,426 people. Specifically, they looked at what percentage of each individual’s diet was comprised of highly processed foods as well as their overall health throughout the study. The study found that the risk of death from any type of cancer rose 6% with each additional 10% of highly processed foods consumed and the risk of death from ovarian cancer rose by 30% for each additional 10% of consumption.

This is just another downside to eating highly processed foods to add to all of the others that exist, such as the lack of nutritional value, high-calorie density, extra additives, and more. Foods like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh meats are so much better for us than processed foods such as hot dogs, microwave dinners, and store-bought white bread to name a few.

Luckily, it is easy to get fresh, nutritious, whole foods here in Arizona! Arizona agriculture grows a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products! Check out the Fill Your Plate website to learn more about what is in season and where to find these products!

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Diet Plays a Big Role in the Healing Process

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Between growing up on a farm and loving to play outdoors, my brothers and I frequently got cuts, scrapes, and bruises when we were younger, which kept our mom on her toes when it came to patching us up. So, Band-Aids, Neosporin, and antiseptic were kept well stocked in our house. But did you know that these wound care items aren’t the only thing that helps with healing? Our diet also plays a crucial role in the healing of wounds.

Getting our kids to eat healthily is a group activity

We all know how important it is to eat good, nutritious foods to keep our bodies fueled. According to registered dietician Kavitha Krishnan, the nutrients we get from the foods that we eat, or the lack thereof, can either speed up or delay the healing process of wounds, whether large wounds or small. Krishnan explains that this is because during healing, the body is trying to replace the damaged tissue with new tissue, and this requires extra calories, protein, and nutrients.

When choosing foods during the healing process, Krishnan says that it is best to eat well-balanced meals but focus on protein especially, as protein is what helps to rebuild tissues. Also, vitamins C and A, as well as iron and zinc are nutrients that also aid in the healing process.

While Band-Aids will always be a great way to help wounds heal from the outside, don’t neglect the healing that happens from the inside! So, eat good, nutritious foods, and make sure you’re getting enough protein!

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Certain Prepackaged Foods Can Actually be Nutritious

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Often, when we hear about prepackaged foods, our minds instantly think that they are unhealthy, as many of them are full of sugar, carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and more. While this is definitely true for a lot of prepackaged foods, there are actually some prepackaged foods that are both super convenient and actually healthy for you.

Food Labels

Make sure you understand these commonly used terms on food labels (photo credit:

Registered dietician nutritionist Shana Minei Spence notes that just because a food item is either prepackaged or highly processed doesn’t inherently mean that it is bad for us. She says that it isn’t necessarily the packaging or the processing that makes a food unhealthy, rather it is the nutrient makeup of the food item itself. For example, canned vegetables are prepackaged as well as processed, as they have been picked, washed, cut, and canned, yet they are still nutritious vegetables. Compare that to an Oreo cookie, which is prepackaged, full of carbohydrates and sugar, and while they are delicious, they are not very healthy for us.

With that being said, Minei Spence says that people should feel free to use some prepackaged foods in their cooking, as not only are they convenient and budget friendly. Just remember to check the ingredient labels and choose those that contain nutrient-rich foods! Some examples of healthy prepackaged foods include canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, canned soups, dried pasta, certain prepackaged snack foods, and oatmeal packets.

So, just because a food is processed or prepackaged doesn’t mean that that food is instantly made unhealthy and should be avoided. If you consult the nutrition label and ingredient list and make wise choices, prepackaged foods can be a part of a healthy and balanced diet!

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Women Can Prevent Dementia with Physical Activity

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Listen up, ladies! Its time for us to pull on our running shoes and hit the treadmill or the trail and get those steps in! According to a new study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the more steps and overall physical activity women get the lesser their risk of developing dementia or other cognitive impairment later in life becomes.

This study tracked and analyzed the daily activity of a group of women as they went about their day. On average, these women walked 3,216 steps, had 276 minutes of light physical activity, 45.5 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, and 10/5 hours of sitting per day. Overall, the study concluded that with each additional 1,865 steps, the risk of developing dementia or other cognitive impairment was reduced by 33%, and for those 65 years and older, each additional 31 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity were associated with a 21% lesser risk.

Study author Andrea LaCroix noted that there is no cure for dementia currently, so taking preventative measures early in life is one of the ways that we can lessen our chances of developing cognitive impairment.

While getting more physical activity does help our mental health, it offers plenty of other health benefits too! Read more about the importance and health benefits of exercise in the following Fill Your Plate articles!

The Weekend Exercise Warrior: It’s Better than Nothing – Fill Your Plate Blog

Cardio: The Best Exercise – Fill Your Plate Blog

Fun Ways to Exercise This Summer (For All Ages!) – Fill Your Plate Blog

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