Healthy Eating: Does This Mason Jar Make Me Look Sexy?

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Throughout the morning, my co-workers stopped to admire the low-cal, post-Thanksgiving lunch awaiting me on my desk: a colorful blend of tomatoes, purple cabbage, arugula and leftover turkey (of course). They commended me for my healthy eating habits, though the “packaging” seemed more interesting to them than the contents.

My salad was contained in a mason jar. I couldn’t take credit for the invention, though; mason-jar salads are a new trend among the real-food set. And they really work—the greens stay fresh and dry while the vegetables marinate in the dressing at the bottom of the jar. When it’s time to eat, just turn it upside down and shake. It’s a huge time-saver, too. A salad can stay fresh for three to four days sealed in a jar, so you can pack several on a Sunday and be set for the better part of the week.

As usual with Unison folks, brand people that we are, talk of mason-jar salads soon turned into a larger and longer conversation on market trends.

While Unison people might be more interested in product packaging than most, our interest in healthy eating is becoming more common, as well. Twenty-five percent of consumers say they have a daily calorie target (QSR Magazine). In fact, four of QSR Magazine’s Top Ten Trends for 2013 revolve around healthy eating: “1. Going local; 2. Healthy kids’ meals; 5. More fruits and veggies; 10. Evolving around healthcare.” More recently, changing dining habits even loomed large over McDonald’s disappointing second quarter results announced in the summer.

It’s clear that consumers are increasingly choosing healthier foods. But when we started asking, ‘Why?,’ the literature wasn’t as clear. Many papers point to an evolving consciousness about eating. Yes, consumers today are more educated than ever about the link between health and food, thanks to advances in medical research and a steady accompaniment of mainstream media reports. But consumers, and particularly American consumers, have a well-documented susceptibility to media fads about eating and dieting.

In 17 of the 21 restaurant chains evaluated from 2006-2011, lower-calorie foods and beverages outperformed their higher-calorie peers in both same-store sales and customer traffic. (QSR Web)

So is healthy eating just a fad, or are there broader market fundamentals underlying the trend? Economically, healthy eating (vegetarian at least) does seem to make some sense for diners. The wholesale price of meat, and beef especially, has risen by about 40 percent since 2010, making vegetables a much more attractive choice. But for younger consumers who, until recently, were the largest restaurant audience, money is not the deciding factor as they spend more of their income on food than any other generation (QSR Magazine). Though we looked, we could not find any research correlating healthy dining choices with other factors such increasing healthcare costs.

Researchers, however,  are examining a different kind of shift: this one in attitude, particularly in the Millennial generation.

While this talk of rational choice is all well and good, Unison Brand Strategist and über stat-master Stuart Shapiro has uncovered another intriguing and compelling hypothesis from his research into demographic trends—sex appeal. He says Millennials eat better to appear more attractive and more prosperous to the opposite sex.

I’ll let Stuart explain:

STUART’S MILLENNIAL HEALTHY EATING HYPOTHESIS

Well, there’s a lot of research out there to look at. To start, more than anything, Millennials love themselves. They are far more narcissistic than prior generations, which magazines have unfortunately lampooned for some time. In a time-lag study of college students from 1979 through 2006, Millennials scored 30% higher on a narcissism personality inventory than their older counterparts (Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell, & Bushman, 2008).

Second, the young tend to be more judgmental. One study looked at the moral overtones of food choices and how they affect our opinions of others. Foods are very often polarized into “good” or “bad” buckets based on our cultural preferences of the time. In today’s Western culture, healthy food is “good” while processed/junk food is “bad.” In a study of undergraduate women, “good” food eaters were rated as better looking and more feminine than “bad” food eaters. In fact, male “good” food eaters were rated especially attractive (Steim & Nemeroff, 1995).

Third, Millennials like to look thin … and rich. Another paper took a meta-analysis approach, comparing a number of other studies related to socioeconomic status and body mass index (BMI). Controlling for various demographic variables such as age, education, and marital status, BMI has been found to go down in women as they become more affluent. For men, their BMI also goes down, too, but then, interestingly, rises dramatically in the highest income quartile (Godley & McLaren, 2010). (That finding alone could fuel a whole other blog post about the possible causes and implications of the trend.)

So, in synthesizing what these papers are telling us, whether healthy eating is a trend or a fad among Millennials becomes clearer. With a growing sense of self-importance, Millennials feel that they need to look good and prosperous to potential partners. Eating “good” foods, which today’s culture dictates as healthy foods, makes Millennials feel more attractive. As a side effect of eating healthy, their decreased BMI makes them appear wealthier, as well.

Healthy eating is simple Darwinian sexual selection in a 21st century context.

Final thoughts from Jay

Nice leg-work, Stuart. (Have I mentioned that you should never argue with Stuart?) In any case, I still maintain that sustainable consumption is the way of the future, and that real resource-driven factors are strong incentives for consumers to eat healthily. Regardless of whether you believe Stuart or me, or both of us, it’s clear from the research that healthy dining options are a good bet for restaurant and hospitality brands going forward.

So, while I definitely feel healthier, I also know that I’m contributing to a better world. Meanwhile, Stuart views the ooohing and aahing over my mason-jar salads with a little skepticism now … either way, I win. Save the planet, live longer and look good doing it, apparently.

Planning a Budget-friendly Pregnancy

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Pregnant money

Introducing new life into this wacky world of ours is tricky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you are an expectant mother, you are one of approximately four million women in America. Pair pregnancy with inflated prices for common household goods, and your budget can get completely thrown out of sorts. Single parent or not, when expecting, the task of determining what is most important budget-wise is daunting. You want to make sure your newborn is cared for, while still having money left for other expenses. Use the following four tips to minimize costs for basic needs so you can ensure a bright future and balanced budget.

1. Breastfeed

Newborns require specific and appropriate nutrition. That’s why so many new mothers turn to formula. However, formula can be costly, especially when the alternative is free. Also, breastfeeding has been known to reduce the odds of sudden infant death syndrome by 37 percent. Choosing to breastfeed instead of purchase formula can save you anywhere between $1,200-$1,500 total, according to womenshealth.gov. This savings is quite substantial, especially since The Affordable Care Act provides services for breastfeeding equipment coverage without co-pays.

2. Use Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are a healthy alternative to disposable diapers. The Real Diaper Association reports disposable diapers contain chemicals such as sodium polyacrylate, which has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and associated with severe diaper rash. Not to mention, the environmental waste disposable diapers produce is substantial. Greenchildmagazine.com states 49 million diapers are disposed of each day, each diaper taking between 200-500 years to decompose. Cloth diapers on the other hand, can save you up to $2,000, while also saving the planet.

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5 Ways You Can Create a Math-Friendly Environment in the Home

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Parents and child

Home life and parental support both play a major role in a student’s academic success from kindergarten onward. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 82 and 89 percent of all public elementary schools provide information for parents to improve the learning environment of the home. Beyond taking advantage of these resources, parents can contribute to their child’s math skills with these four tips.

Identify Learning Barriers Early

In most cases, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders will be discovered in the classroom, but it’s best to spot them early if possible. If you have a concern, have your child see a psychologist who specializes in learning disorders to make sure he is up to speed with his age group and equipped for success at school. Conduct math-based educational activities at home as well so you can gain a better understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Talk About Testing

The U.S. Department of Education recommends introducing your child to testing at home before they encounter it at school. Be encouraging— children who feel confident about their math skills are more likely to do well on tests compared with those who are anxious about failing. Make sure your child has a quiet place to study throughout the week and enforce a healthy sleep schedule the night before the test. To get her off to a good start, make a nutritious breakfast before test day.

Lead By Example

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6 Tips to Combat Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist

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kid at dentist

Up to eight percent of Americans do not visit the dentist out of fear, whereas 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist unless they have no other choice, according to Peter Milgrom, DDS and Director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle. To prevent this problem before it occurs, parents need to help their children overcome fear of the dentist early in life.

A child’s fear of the dentist is most severe when he has never visited the dentist’s office or visits infrequently. In fact, infrequent visits to the dentist can help create and exacerbate a child’s fear. Instead of avoiding the dentist, help your child face the fear head-on.

1. Acknowledge His Fear

Fear is a perfectly natural human response. It tends to creep in when thinking about trying something new or experiencing something that is not familiar. Let your child know that many people have the same fear of visiting the dentist as he does.

Avoid overrating, downplaying or making fun of your child’s fear, as this will only make the child feel worse. Let your child know that you understand his fear to help him ultimately overcome it.

2. Explore the Child’s Fears

Use this step to help your child separate his thoughts.

  • Worry thought – Visiting the dentist is going to hurt.
  • Smart thought – If the child does not visit the dentist, he might end up with cavities that will eventually hurt.

3. Choose the Right Type of Dentist

Some dentists have more experience working with children than others. For example, some dentists specialize in pediatric treatment, such as Kool Smiles, and they tailor their services directly to children and their parents. Dentists who treat children frequently are more likely to understand their fears and know how to put them at ease.

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Daughter? Easy Diet to Conceive Baby Girl

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Diet-to-conceive-girl

Having a daughter is a dream for many parents.
How is it possible to increase your chances to conceive baby girl?

There are several different ways to have a girl. Among them special baby girl diet, Chinese lunar calendar, ovulation based methods, hot bath before sex for a man and many others. Now I would like to discuss girl diet.

According to scientist if you eat special food you can make your chances to conceive baby girl more than 80%.

So what to eat if you want to have a girl?

It must be a food with high levels of calcium and magnesium, such as green vegetables.

Such diet rich in fruit, vegetables and rice in the nine weeks before you plan to attempt to conceive increase the levels of calcium and magnesium in your bloodstream and so increase your chances to conceive a girl.

Drink suggestions: Milk, Cranberry, Diet Cool-aid, Aquafina, Dasania (Aquafina and Dasania both are made with reverse osmoses which naturally lowers the pH of water to about a 5-6) and Cranberry Juice.

Below are the examples of

“GIRL DIET”
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Pregnant and Moving? 5 Tips to Survive the Move

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There are some events that some women prefer experience only once or twice in life: moving and pregnancy are two. While both can be planned for, they also happen to occur unexpectedly. And, sometimes, for an unlucky few, they overlap. But what’s a gal to do when her husband’s got a killer job offer while she’s right in the middle of morning-noon-and-night sickness, doing some serious nesting or wondering just how much bigger her belly’s going to get? Realize the universe has other plans, get a few tips and get to work.

Pregnant while moving image by Rob! via Flickr.

Whip Our Your Planner and Notebook

Now’s the time to channel your inner organization freak by being obsessive about making packing lists and all the little check boxes that accompany the move. Stock up on Sharpies, boxes and bubble wrap. Keep a notebook just for moving-related information, such as potential moving dates, people to enlist to help and things to do before and after moving. When everything’s in once place, you’ll feel some control over all the chaos.

Call In The Movers…

Resist the urge to be super-mommy and trying to do the majority of the work by yourself. Hiring a moving company will be well worth the money. An article from The Moving Blog says to be sure to check out the company’s rating with the Department of Transportation, as well as the Better Business Bureau, to make sure you’re working with a good team. Finally, leave the heavy lifting to the guys. After all, that’s what they’re paid to do.

…And Some Reinforcements

Moving a household of two is drastically different than an established family with kids. If you’ve already been through the whole pregnancy thing before (or have a fur baby or two) ask the grandparents to come watch your other kiddos. This will be done preferably off-site so they’re not in the way to slow the grown-ups down.

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Getting Ready For Labor and Delivery

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Perhaps one of the most memorable moments a woman could have in her entire life is having a baby. Getting ready for labor and delivery for the baby is very important because this is a matter of life and death situation. You really can’t afford to make any mistakes here because if a mistake is done it might become dangerous for the baby and the mother. For those couple s that still expects a baby, getting into situation will become confusing because you will tend to lose your calm. This is always natural if it is the couple’s first experience when it comes to this situation.

So, it would be advisable for these couple to know what is really needed to be done whenever this situation comes. There are many helpful tips that you can get from websites online. This is really advisable especially for the husband who is going to be a daddy soon. Labor is not limited to packing the things needed by the woman, it is more than that. An expectant husband should be always prepared for whenever the labor starts; he should be alert and most importantly is that to remain to be calm. He should be very supportive in this situation.
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Five Tips to Avoid Excess Weight Gain During Pregnancy

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Pregnant woman holding fitness dumbbells

For many pregnant women, their famous last words are the well-known excuse, “I’m eating for two.” One of the joys of pregnancy is being able to enjoy an abundance of delicious foods because you need to nourish your growing child and yourself. However, excessive weight gain can lead to pregnancy complications down the line. Plus, no one wants to deal with seeing high numbers on the scale post pregnancy. For a healthy and balanced pregnancy, be mindful of your meal choices and lifestyle starting from the moment you find out you’re expecting.

Make a Meal Plan

Planning meals ahead of time eliminates the temptation to make a quick-fix frozen dinner or head to your favorite fast food joint. Continue reading

Breastfeeding shawls

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Breastfeeding-shawls

Making sure of the safety of the baby is very important. A mother should and always have to make sure that the baby is safe at all times. Not just safe but also to make the baby feel comfortable at all times. Such is the use of the breastfeeding shawl. You can feel relaxed whenever you have a breastfeeding shawl in use while you are tending to your baby. Breastfeeding shawls come in all different types. There many breastfeeding shawls that you can choose from. It all depends on which one will you choose. But you have to also take note that not all shawls have the same quality.

Breastfeeding shawls are important if you want a discreet feeding for your baby. So choosing shawl must depend on its quality. Don’t choose the shawl just because it’s not that expensive. Remember that we are speaking about your baby here. Make sure that the shawl you are going to choose will give comfort. Not all shawls have the same qualities; all of them have different variations. They often vary on how they are made from. Make sure that the shawl you choose is soft and comfy so that your baby will feel comfortable in it, not just the baby but also you as the mother.
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Lamaze Birthing Classes

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Lamaze Birthing

Getting an education in childbirth will prove to be a very wise decision when you’re expecting a baby, especially if this is the first time. You can learn a lot of information from the childbirth education. There is much information that you should know about childbirth. Like for example, on how to prepare yourself for labor and delivery. Childbirth education is really important to all expectant mothers because this will help them on how will they handle the situation when the time for labor and delivery comes. This is really advisable to everyone even if this not the first time.

Childbirth classes are prove to be helpful to all expectant mothers , in result they are now advisable for a woman who is expecting to have a baby. There are many types of childbirth classes; all of them are proven to be very helpful. For example, the Lamaze birthing method, it is one of the most common classes that are usually chosen by expectant mothers. It is because it helps an expectant mother to gain the confidence that is really needed with the ability of an expectant mother to give birth. Lamaze classes teach birth methods that will enable the expectant mother to deal with the pain and at the same time to be also give comfort while delivering.
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