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Archive for January, 2021

Fruit Free, Vegetables, Healthy, Fruits, Food

Once again, the U. S News & World Report issued rankings of the best and worst diets for 2021. Their expert panel ranked 39 diets into 9 categories including: Best Diets Overall, Best Weight Loss Diets, Best Commercial Diet Plans, Best Diabetes Diets, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets, Best Heart-Healthy Diets, Best Plant-Based Diets, and Easiest Diets to Follow.

For several years, the Mediterranean Diet has ranked in the top three for best overall diet. This year not only was it #1, but it scored first in best plant-based diets and easiest diets to follow. The Mediterranean Diet also tied for first place in the best heart-healthy diets, best diabetes diets, and best diets for healthy eating. The diet has no specific eating plan. Instead, individuals choose from a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans (legumes), nuts, olive oil, fish and seafood at least twice a week, and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. The typical Mediterranean diet allows one glass of red wine daily for women and two for men.

The Dash diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), also a top three contender for the U. S. News & World Report survey, for many years ranked #1. In 2021, it tied for second place with the Flexitarian diet. The Dash diet includes daily servings of 4 to 5 each of vegetables and fruits, 6 to 8 grains, 2 to 3 dairy products, 6 or less one-ounce servings of fish, lean meat, poultry, and 2 to 3 fats or oils. It suggests 4 to 5 servings a week of nuts, seeds, and legumes and less than 5 servings per week of sweets. Initially developed to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure), the diet recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg/day of sodium. The Dash diet recommends elderly or those with certain health issues refrain from consuming more than 1,500 mg of sodium/day.

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Dawn Jackson Blatner developed the Flexitarian diet, a blend of the words flexible and vegetarian. For 2021, this diet tied for first place in best weight-loss diets and best diabetes diets. It tied for second in the best overall diets, second for the best plant-base diets, and third for best diets for healthy eating and easiest diets to follow. The diet begins with a five-week meal plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Individuals have flexibility in substituting different foods within the same food category. Recommended calorie levels include 300 calories for breakfast, 400 calories for lunch, and 500 calories for dinner with two snacks of about 150 calories each for a total of about 1,500 calories (which for many results in weight loss). Calories can be adjusted for those needing additional calories.

In previous years, the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet ranked in the top three for best overall diet. For 2021, it tied with the Mayo Clinic Diet for #5. The MIND diet has 10 brain-healthy food groups and 5 unhealthy food groups. Brain-healthy foods include green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries (especially blueberries and strawberries), nuts, beans (lentils, white beans, etc.), whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and red wine (optional). Foods to avoid include red meat, butter/margarine, cheeses, pastries/sweets, and fried/fast foods.

The magazine evaluated the Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet, published in 2013 and revised in 2019, for the first time. Its purpose is to lower and stabilize blood sugar levels. Designed for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, it tied for #5 with the MIND diet in the category of best overall diets.

Any of the top-ranking diets constitute a healthy eating plan. Check the links to learn more about each diet. The year is still early, and one of the best ways to help keep your body healthy is through a wholesome diet.

Tomato Mozzarella, Mozzarella, Mozzarella Salad, Salad

A future blog will address rankings of diets on the lower end for healthy eating. These may include diets you have tried or considered for weight loss. Find out what the experts say.  

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Most describe 2020 as an extraordinary year they are happy to see end. We look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps we have set new goals or revised old one for 2021. One thing is sure, most of us had no idea at the close of 2019 how much 2020 would impact our lives. As we reflect on a year of illness and death, we also remember riots and national chaos. And who can forget a divided nation enduring the conflict of a contentious election.

Horse jumping to New Year 2021 - Wallpaper and Background • PixyPen

But was there anything good to remember? Some of our family members contracted Covid-19 yet sustained mild symptoms and rapid recovery. Thousands of people weren’t so fortunate. I recall a pantry stocked full of abundant food supplies, ever mindful of many who went hungry because of limited funds to feed their families. With multiple reasons for caution, I worship in a different way. Inspiring spiritual messages from social media or television have replaced attendance within church walls. Hopefully, the pandemic has caused others to take advantage of alternate means to worship God if unable to visit with local congregations.

And how does all this relate to my blog title of Food from the Garden? We live within city limits on a rather large lot where we attempt to grow a few fruits and vegetables. Although we are poor farmers by most standards, a few plants survive. Kale and mustard greens, highly nutritious foods, seem to thrive in our poor soil. Whether a city dweller or otherwise, in the new year, try your hand a placing seeds or plants in flower beds or pots if you lack space for a small garden. As shoots of varied greens grow several inches, break off a few tender leaves for a salad or to cook. Check a few days later for more fresh shoots. They will produce throughout the summer.

From time to time, other foods do well, especially strawberries. They make nice borders or ground covers in sunny areas. The list of fresh fruits and vegetable to grow in unusual places is limitless.

But new beginnings are about more than food. Assess your personal situation for a healthier happier new year.

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  • If you lost loved ones this past year, think of ways you can honor their memory. What did they cherish that can bring fond recollections? Maybe a sunset/sunrise, smelling the scent of special flowers, preparing or enjoying a special food, and endless opportunities and activities can bring pleasant thoughts for which you can be grateful they were a part of your life. Be positive instead of sad or negative.
  • Evaluate your own health. If you haven’t contracted Covid-19, consider ways you may help keep it at bay. Take the vaccine, eat healthier foods, lose weight appropriately (yes, weight is a major factor in the disease), and many other ways to get or stay healthier.
  • Keep a positive attitude. That’s hard when you have lost a job (I know), but look around to help others, even with an encouraging word. Focus on the future, and always consider those things for which you can be thankful.
  • Get to know the God who loves you and cares about your well-being. Talk to Him and contemplate what He may want you to learn from this experience. Seek to rely on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Don’t expect a revelation overnight. That may or may not happen but, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5-6.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but God reassures us by His words in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

January 1, 2021 begins a new year. With divine help, make a good start and maintain hope whatever the year brings.           

A happy new year to all and God bless!

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