3 Ways The Olympics Can Inspire Your Family To Be Healthy & Green

July 31, 2012 - Posted by Tolzoh
The 2012 London Olympic Games will be the greenest ever.  Bring the Olympic Spirit home by creating some healthy, eco-winning strategies for your family.

Summer is always a wonderful time of year.  And summer 2012 is even better because this year we celebrate the 30th Summer Olympiad in London, baby!    

The Olympic Games shine a spotlight on the athleticism and good health it takes to be the best in the world. But did you also know that this year’s games will be one of the greenest in Olympiad history? The International Olympic Committee and the Commission For A Sustainable London have worked tirelessly to make sure that this year’s games will set the sustainability standard for all future games. 

Along with the thrill of worldwide competition, the Summer Olympic Games offer a great opportunity to encourage your family to put the spotlight on these winning attributes.  That means you can bring the Olympic spirit into your home by including exercise, healthy food choices and sustainability as part of your daily routine.  

Here are a few suggestions:   

Spotlight On A Green Workout

Many athletes train and compete in outdoor venues.  So what’s the easiest way to make like a pro and green your workout?   

Take a walk, ride a bike, play with your kids or your pet.  Do your morning stretches on your balcony or patio. Start a garden, weed your flower beds––whatever.  Summer is the perfect time to exercise outdoors.  Plus, you’ll be lowering your carbon footprint by skipping the car ride to the gym.  But remember that hydration is key when exercising outdoors in hot weather, so carry a reusable water bottle containing your favorite après l'exercise beverage.  

The plus?  Exercising outdoors can actually improve your health.  According to a University of Essex, UK, study, as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise can improve mood and overall health.  Being outside lifts spirits and improves self-esteem.  And if you can exercise near a water source, you’ll get an even bigger benefit.

Spotlight On Healthy Snacks

Professional athletes know the importance of eating right to fuel peak performance, and healthy snacking can be an integral part of a balanced diet.  Even though your mom may have told you not to eat between meals, it turns out that snacking may improve health and help maintain a healthy weight.  According to the American Dietetic Association, snacking keeps your metabolism revved up and is a great way to boost your energy.  
Okay, so snacking is a good thing, but what makes a good snack?
WebMD, says the best snacks are ones that contain three important qualities:
  1. Enough calories to be satisfying, but not so many that the snack becomes a meal.
  2. Healthy fats in appropriate amounts
  3. Fiber, protein, and/or other nutrients that give them staying power
Some eco-friendly choices might include: 

Fresh Fruit: Any fruit you like - apples, oranges, bananas – are all loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.  Fruit is portable, needs no refrigeration and is oh-so eco-friendly. And with summer in full bloom, your local farmer’s market may have favorites like peaches, berries, and nectarines.  Take advantage of them while you can, because they never last long!   

Grab Some Nuts: Whether you prefer salted or raw, these crunchy morsels make for a wonderful snack. They're packed with good fats, which help you stay full. Nuts also contain fiber, and nutrients like selenium, and vitamin E. Plus, they’re portable and really easy to measure. According to the dietary Guidelines for Americans, one handful is about 1 oz, a perfect portion.  Take Blue Diamond Almonds, for example: one handful is about 23 nuts, the perfect snack.  To live a greener life, don’t seal them up in a plastic bag. Just reuse an empty peppermint tin to store your almonds in a purse or gym bag for quick energy.

Spotlight On Entertaining

Gathering family and friends together to watch as America competes at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is yet another opportunity to incorporate healthy, greener goals. 

Take a page from the Summer Olympic program and keep the focus of your party on sustainability by avoiding paper plates and plastic utensils.  Set up a recycling station for any cans and bottles, and remember to compost any leftovers if possible.  

Keep the focus on health by serving a variety of foods that will satisfy every appetite.  Including healthy options like fruits, veggies, nuts and popcorn will make sure that everyone leaves your party feeling healthy, too.  

Here are a few suggestions for healthy party fare.

Nuts To You

Once again, nuts fit the bill. Look for raw, unsalted or lightly salted varieties of your favorite nuts. Or, roast your own.  Drizzle raw nuts with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings like rosemary, cracked pepper or lemon pepper.  Roast at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.  Or try a something like this awesome Nutty Tapenade.

Break From The Pack

Of packaged snacks, that is!  Nix the traditional bowls of pretzels or potato chips, and instead offer your guests a selection fresh fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t just have to be the same old carrot schtick, either. (Ha-ha, pun fully intended!)  Why not use the Olympic theme and go “around-the-world.”   How about an Asian-inspired vegetable platter of edamame, baby corn, snow peas and fresh mushrooms drizzled in a low-fat sesame dressing.  Or highlight foods from the Middle East with low-fat pita chips, Light Lemony Hummus and olives.  Get creative.  You are only limited by your own imagination. 

The Sweet Taste Of Victory

For a fresh take on dessert, skip the high-fat Mississippi Mud Brownies and cheesecake and opt instead for Angel food cake topped with fresh berries, or summer peaches.

And if you really want to go all out, set up your own Backyard Olympic Games and go for the gold.  You might not win a medal, but if you let the Olympics inspire you toward greater health and sustainability, you will most certainly feel like a hero.