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Healthy Eating Habits Start at Home

The mission of the American Heart Association is building lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  To advance this mission, volunteers throughout Mississippi are working hard to ensure people have access to healthy food options by improving the state's Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  While it will take some time for us to be successful in our efforts, there are simple changes that you can make at home right now.  

According to the American Heart Association, meals away from home account for at least half of the money Americans spend on food.  But saving money – while eating healthier – is easi er than you might think. 

“With busy, on-the-go lifestyles, many Americans have lost touch with their kitchens and thrown in the towel on eating healthy, which is key to prevention of heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, R.D., Chairperson of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont.  “Eating at home can improve a family’s diet – and it’s easier on the pocketbook, too.”

About one-third of Americans are overweight or obese, including nearly 13 million children.  Childhood obesity has become a major health concern, causing health problems in children that previously weren’t seen until adulthood such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.  Parents are key to helping overcome this national epidemic.

Click this link to read our Top 7 tips about the SIMPLE changes YOU can do to make your family healthier!

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Should all foods in Tennessee schools be nutritious?

Often, the foods and beverages sold to students in vending machines, through fundraising efforts and other venues are high in fact, calories, sugar and/or salt. That’s why the “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards released by the USDA set limits on calories, fats, sugar and sodium and encourage the consumption of dairy, whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables. These standards apply to all grade levels of any school participating in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. 

However, on July 25, 2014, the Tennessee State School Board adopted a weakened version of the rules allowing 30 days of the school year to be used for fundraisers. This far exceeds the American Heart Association’s current recommendation of zero days. The new rules now incorporate 9-12 grades where in the past they have been excluded.

The State Board committed to follow the progress of the new guidelines throughout the 2014-15 school year and review them next summer. The American Heart Association will continue to be involved with this issue as the school year progresses.

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Tennessee Legislature Addresses Access to Healthy Foods

The Tennessee General Assembly is addressing the issue of food deserts and healthy food financing this session.

Food deserts occur in mainly underserved urban and rural settings where access to healthy food is not available due to lack of a super market or means to transportation.  This lack of access reduces the likelihood of these citizens eating a healthy diet and perpetuates the health disparities and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Key concepts to healthy food financing include:

  • Public private partnership
  • Grants and loans
  • Flexible, customized financing designed to meet the credit needs of grocers
  • Proven model to address the need for better healthy food access in underserved communities

The House bill - HB 2182 - will be heard in the House Health sub-committee on Tuesday, March 18 and the Senate companion bill - SB 2278 - in the Senate Health committee on Wednesday, March 19.

The American Heart Association has also partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create Voices for Healthy Kids®, a joint initiative working to help young people eat healthier food and be more active. Learn more at VoicesforHealthyKids.org

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Memphis Celebrates National Eating Healthy Day

The American Heart Association observed National Eating Healthy Day on November 6 and Shelby County Mayor, Mark H. Lattrell Jr., helped raise awareness about the need to make healthy eating choices.  The Mayor issued a proclamation urging all citizens to improve nutrition and healthy eating both at home and in the work place to prevent heart disease and stroke.  The Mayor was part of a press conference which was followed by staff and volunteers distributing apples in downtown Memphis. The 'random act of nutrition' was a way to encourage healthy eating and raise awareness in the community.  The American Heart Association encourages healthy eating everyday not just on National Eating Healthy Day.  Be sure to check out these helpful tips your family can use to make smart choices about the food you eat.

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Soon we all will be gathered around the table to give thanks and enjoy the company of family and friends.  While having some down time, this would be a great opportunity to let your friends and family know about the American Heart Association's You’re the Cure advocate network and why you enjoy being a part of it.  Share briefly why it is important for you and for them to stay updated on health issues happening in Tennessee and how they can let their voice be heard by Tennessee legislators with simple, 'click to take action' emails that the American Heart Association sends regularly to advocates.  For a quick start, you could share our You're the Cure website on your phone or computer and guide them through the easy sign-up steps.  Every advocate, every voice, and every action make a difference in the progress for a healthier Tennessee.      

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the pie at the end of the meal.  It can also be one of the unhealthiest parts.  Why not change up the usual and prepare something fresh, delicious, and most importantly-healthy!  We encourage you to visit the American Heart Association's online Nutrition Center to search through healthy recipes like the one shared below for your next family gathering or social event.

Happy Thanksgiving Tennessee advocates, we are thankful for you!    

Berry-Topped Pudding Pie              

Submitted by: Alton Brown

Ingredients 

Canola or corn oil for pie pan
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1 small package fat-free, sugar-free instant lemon or vanilla pudding mix, prepared with 2 cups cold fat-free milk
12 ounces fresh berries or other fruit, sliced if needed
1/2 cup fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Pour a small amount of oil onto a paper towel and lightly wipe the bottom and side of an 8- or 9-inch pie pan.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until foamy.  With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, until stiff peaks form.  (The peaks shouldn’t fold over when the beater is lifted.)  Very gently fold in 1/2 cup of the nuts.  

Using a flexible spatula or rubber scraper, spread the meringue over the bottom and up the side of the pie pan and onto the lip of the pan, but not over the edge of the pan.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the remaining nuts.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the meringue is firm and lightly browned.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Using the package directions, prepare the pudding. Spread over the cooled crust.  Arrange the fruit decoratively over the pudding.  Top with the whipped topping.
Note: In warm weather, meringues will get gummy after a few days, so it’s best to serve this dessert within 24 hours. 

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Thank you for a GREAT Day on the Hill!

On March 13th, the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce and the American Heart Association held its 2013 Day on the Hill activities. 
 
This year we had well over 60 people attend and those volunteers took part in 43 scheduled one-on-one meetings with their legislators.  It was a great day and I have had a lot of positive feedback about the meetings that were held with legislators.  We would like to say THANK YOU to each of you who made time out of their busy day to attend, and for those who weren’t able to, there’s always next year!  To see the issues we discussed with our lawmakers, please visit this link: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@gsa/documents/downloadable/ucm_450456.pdf

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Is local produce coming to school meals?

Rep. Toby Barker introduced House Bill 718 to establish an Interagency Farm to School Council to facilitate the procurement and use of locally grown and locally raised agricultural products in school meals.  The bill has passed the Senate and, last week, was agreed on by the House.  The bill awaits the Speaker’s signature and then it will go to the governor for his final signature. 

If signed into law, the Interagency Farm to School Council will help improve the quality of food served in schools and support the state economy by generating new income for Mississippi farmers.  Farm to School programs strengthen local economies, improves the livelihood of local farmers, and spurs additional spending on other local products and services.

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