Monthly Archives: November 2012

November is National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month, a time to educate communities across the country about a disease that is widely misunderstood.

There are many myths about diabetes, including that persons with this illness cannot eat fruit or other carbohydrates, that carbohydrates or sugar are “bad” and cause diabetes, and that a severely restricted diet is required to control the disease. Here are the facts:

The cause of diabetes is not known, although it does tend to run in families. Persons with Type 1 diabetes produce no insulin at all and tend to be at a normal weight or even underweight. Type 2 diabetes often affects overweight people and is a condition where the body still produces some insulin, but not enough to effectively break down carbohydrates.

For persons with either Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes or Type 2, which is treated with oral medications, carbohydrates are not “bad”; managing the illness is just a matter of matching the amount of carbohydrates consumed with the amount of insulin or other medication taken. In fact, persons with diabetes benefit from the same diet that others do: a healthy balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat, fresh fruits and veggies, and less processed food.

Some choices are better than others, however. For lunch, a hearty sandwich is better than a couple pieces of pizza, because pizza combines a high level of fat with carbohydrates. This high fat content interferes with the body’s ability to absorb the carbohydrates and can make blood sugar difficult to control.

You may not find it surprising that sandwiches are a healthier choice than pizza, but this just might surprise you: Smoothies are a healthy food! Made with yogurt (a good source of protein) and fresh fruit with options for supplements like soy protein and vitamins, a smoothie is a balanced, nourishing menu item beneficial to persons with diabetes. (Tropical Smoothie Café publishes nutrition information, including carbohydrate count, so you’ll know how much insulin or other medication you’ll need to cover your carbs).

Why not live like a person with diabetes for National Diabetes Month? Cut down on the fat and eat fresh foods, whole grains, a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, and…celebrate with a smoothie!

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Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

turkeyDespite hectic schedules and stress-filled days, it’s always important to take time to be thankful for all the good things life has to offer. And there’s no better time to give thanks than the beloved American holiday of Thanksgiving.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, but Americans celebrated the day long before it became official. Of course, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to spend time with your family and give thanks, but it’s also a day meant for enjoying a delicious meal. Mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and pie are all tasty, but Thanksgiving dinner and turkey have become synonymous.

The National Turkey Federation conducted a survey that found 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but why has turkey become a staple on the American holiday table?

According to slate.com, early Americans had plenty of ham and pork to eat throughout the year, and beef was extremely expensive, so turkey was an affordable holiday treat. Turkeys were also easy to raise, and turkeys born in spring usually reached a hearty 10 pounds by the time fall rolled around. Chickens, while common, weren’t nearly as large so they fed fewer people. When paired with delicious side dishes, it’s easy to see why turkey was the protein of choice.

Slate.com also claims that pop culture played a roll in the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving. Charles Dicken’s famous novel, A Christmas Carol features a holiday meal built around the turkey given to the Cratchit family by the infamous Mr. Scrooge. The novel was widely read in the United States and may have influenced American holiday appetites.

Of course, turkey is delicious during any time of the year. If you’re craving a small taste of Thanksgiving turkey, Tropical Smoothie Cafe can help whet your appetites any day of the year with one of our delicious sandwiches, like the toasted Turkey Bacon Ranch, that feature America’s favorite holiday staple.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving full of warmth, blessings and happy memories.

 

‘Tis the Black Friday Season: Looking Beyond What’s Expected

Black FridayExcitement rolls around this time of year — have you already felt it? This is due in part to the cooler weather that has us breaking out the scarves and sweaters, the shorter days, and the anticipation of parties and family traditions. Also, Black Friday sure does stir up a lot of anticipation and excitement (and really, who doesn’t love a good deal?)

We all know the risks and the rewards of Black Friday shopping: we don’t sleep; we stand outside in illogically long lines and we wait for stores to open so that we can go inside and scurry about collecting everything we can carry.

‘Tis the season to give, yet something about the Black Friday craze is backwards. Even if most shoppers are out selflessly buying gifts for their loved ones, isn’t something forgotten?

Our holiday season has become less about giving and more about TV’s and iPods.  So this year, let’s think about why we give.

Giving is a selfless act. We give because we love. We give because we are grateful. We give because we appreciate those around us. We give because we may be more fortunate than others and want to fill a need (not to go into debt).  We give to be charitable. Yet sometimes we give simply because it is expected. We pile our coworkers and our neighbors with cookies, candy canes, and greeting cards that are personal only because we have written our name on them.

This IS the season to give; no one can deny that. But maybe there is more we can do.

Let’s hand write a note in all of our Christmas cards this year. Let’s smile more. Let’s hug. Let’s compliment. Let’s knit a few scarves. Let’s search Pinterest for easy handmade treasures. Let’s tie some festive bows around the usually lackluster office chairs. Let’s greet the Salvation Army bell ringer before they greet us.

This year, let’s realize that we don’t need Black Friday to make Christmas special. We need what we already have. We need cheer. We need song. We need one whole day with our family. We need to put kindness and enjoying each others’ company ahead of tackling a stranger to get the best deal on something that will be in next year’s garage sale.  Focusing on all that we already have, rethinking the giving out of obligation mentality and simply finding new ways every day to be kind will have ripple effects that last a lot longer than most of the stuff that’s purchased on Black Friday.

Who knows; maybe we’ll start something. Doing good doesn’t have to be seasonal.

 

Join the Great American Smokeout With Help From Fresh Foods

Great American SmokeoutAre you joining in on the Great American Smokeout today?  The American Cancer Society is promoting November 15th as “a great day to be a quitter” and is encouraging smokers to either start making a plan to quit smoking or to put their plan into action. People who quit smoking not only reduce their cancer risk, they improve their overall health. Advantages include improved respiration, better circulation, and improved skin appearance, just to name a few!

The path to nicotine-free living may take a few attempts, but whether you decide to gradually wean yourself or go cold turkey, you don’t have to go it alone or rely only on willpower.  There are online groups with tools, forums and resources, nicotine patches and gum and other things to help you curb your cravings until you’re finally smoke free.  If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking, try these tips from the American Cancer Society and other medical experts.

First, consider these foods that help reduce cravings:

  • Water, which has multiple benefits such as keeping you hydrated and boosting your energy.
  • Oatmeal has been shown in several studies to reduce chemical dependency of all kinds. In India, oatmeal is used to help wean opium addicts from their dependency, and studies in Scotland and Japan have proven to reduce cravings.
  • Foods that increase your alkalinity will help your body circulate nicotine for longer, meaning that you won’t have to ingest as much. This can be a helpful trick when you are on the patch or other nicotine-replacement therapy. Foods that raise your alkalinity include raisins, figs, spinach, whole-grain breads and pastas, brown rice, almonds and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and squash.
  • Fruit juice, tea, and other healthy drinks. However, be sure to avoid coffee or alcohol if you associate drinking them with smoking.
  • Hard candy, especially lollipops.
  • Chewing gum, preferably sugar-free.
  • Nutritious snacks such as crunchy vegetables and fresh fruit. Great options include celery, carrots, and apples.
  • Snacks such as nuts, seeds, and chips, which should be eaten in moderation due to their fat and sodium content.
  • Fresh fruit and smoothies are a great replacement food because they can help your body stock up on the vitamins and minerals it needs to get you over the threshold as fast as possible. Studies show that citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, etc…) as well as many kinds of melons are good ways to curb cravings.  Try our Pineapple Delight or Blimey Limey Smoothies to chase that nicotine monster away.

Here are some more tips to help you be a successful quitter:

  • Start walking, if you don’t already. It’s one of the easiest and most effective forms of exercise. If walking isn’t an option, choose another physical activity, such as weight training, team sports, or yoga. The important thing is that you enjoy the activity so that you’ll stick with it. Smoking may have left you huffing and puffing after one flight of stairs.  The more you replace movement for your daily smoke breaks, the more you’ll notice increased lung capacity, oxygen to the brain and energy.
  • To break an unwanted habit, replace it with a new habit.  Take a break, but avoid walking by your old smoking spot and be aware of triggers like your morning coffee.  Have a plan for when cravings are strongest, like after a meal.  Replace what you used to do (smoke) with deep breathing, running in place, brushing your teeth, organizing your office, etc.
  • You may have some nervous energy as you kick the habit in the first couple of weeks, so have a ‘worry stone,’ fun desk toys or something to keep you busy.  Take a drink of water and do some deep breathing each time you have a craving.
  • Read, play music, or pursue new hobbies to take your mind off smoking.
  • If you need additional help, there are numerous support groups and websites. QuitNet is a popular choice. It has community forums, links to resources, and much more.
  • To keep up your resolve and motivation to remain smoke-free, remember the benefits of quitting. Number one, of course, is the positive effect on your health. Make a list of your reasons for wanting to quit and keep it where you can see it.  Put the money you’re saving in a jar to reward yourself with a vacation.  Remember, you’re not only saving money from no longer purchasing cigarettes, but also by way of lower medical expenses and possibly reduced health and life insurance premiums.

If you smoke and would like to quit, we hope you’ll join the Great American Smokeout on November 15th.  It’s the most important step you can take toward a healthier you!

November: A Month of Peace, Kindness and Gratitude

World Kindess DayDid you know? November 13th is World Kindness Day, November 17th is World Peace Day, and November 22nd is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

This month is all about gratitude and kindness! It’s the perfect time to slow down for a moment and reflect on the positive things in your life. Studies show that expressing gratitude can help relieve stress. And that warm feeling you get inside after showing someone kindness? That’s in response to an actual increase in “feel-good” hormones.

You’ve probably heard of “paying it forward.” When someone shows you kindness, you repay him or her by doing the same for another person, and you hope that the recipient of your kindness passes it on to someone else. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

In honor of World Kindness Day, here are five simple ways that you can pay it forward:

  • Welcome new neighbors with a plant or a homemade baked item. These days, many people don’t even know their neighbors’ names, let alone socialize with them. If your neighbor is elderly or in need of assistance, you could offer to stop by occasionally, even if it’s just to say hello.
  • Donate items that you’re no longer using that could be useful to others. Your old eyeglasses can help someone see, and old cell phones are collected in many locations to be given to shelters. Donate your used books to literacy programs and your unwanted clothes to a local thrift shop. Consider giving your extra canned goods to a food pantry. You’re not just ridding your home of clutter, your donations are also filling a need for others.
  • Call or email an old friend or distant family member whom you haven’t spoken to recently. Just one line saying, “I’ve been thinking of you” can go a long way toward making the recipient smile and feel appreciated.
  • Think twice before expressing your anger. Did someone steal that parking space you wanted? Maybe they cut right in front of you30 days of thanks in the checkout line. Rather than saying something in anger that you might regret, try to pause, breathe, and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You never know if someone is having a bad day or is preoccupied with a problem. Kindness is remembering that we’ve all “been there” at some point. Patience and a smile will go a long way toward avoiding conflict.
  • How about treating someone you know to a fresh fruit smoothie? Better yet, buy one for the stranger standing behind you in line at your local Tropical Smoothie Cafe!

Peace is a natural extension of kindness.  Kindness breeds peace – something we can all be thankful for.  And, with Thanksgiving coming up this month, many people observe a tradition of daily gratitude with a 30 Days of Thanks exercise.  Simply blog, journal or post online something you’re thankful for every day this month.  We guarantee that by the end of the month, by focusing on what you do have, versus what you don’t, you will feel truly blessed.  We believe the benefits of initiating random acts of kindness and practicing gratitude throughout the month of November is sure to carry over into the rest of the year.