- Written by Karen Lentner, MA, RD, LDN
Do you ever wonder about good fats, bad fats, and what fats you should be eating? Are there any fats that are actually good for you?
Even though fats often get a bad rap, they are a nutrient that we need in our diets. Dietary fat is an essential nutrient as it provides energy, helps our body absorb certain vitamins including A, D, E, and K, supports cell growth, and protects your organs. Fat cells can also keep your body warm, or help insulate it. Fats are often considered “bad” because they can be high in calories and therefore contribute to weight gain. Also, some fats can raise your cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular disease. All fats contain 9 calories per gram, therefore should be consumed in moderation especially if you are trying to watch your weight. Your total fat calories should be limited to 20% to 35% of total calories per day. For an 1800 calorie diet, that is approximately 40 to 70 grams of daily fat. Three ounces of boneless chicken breast contains 3 grams of fat (1g saturated), while 3 ounces of 85% lean ground beef contains approximately 12 grams of fat (5g saturated), and one tablespoon of olive oil contains 14 grams of fat (1.9g saturated), while one tablespoon of butter contains 12 grams of fat (7g saturated).
Eating foods with fat is a part of a healthy diet, however it is best to choose foods providing good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Eating foods with fat is a part of a healthy diet, however it is best to choose foods providing good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are typically liquid at room temperature, but may start to solidify when refrigerated. They may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation, and provide essential fats your body needs but can’t produce itself, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, substances known to be good for your heart.
Healthy oils include: extra virgin olive, safflower, soybean and canola oil.
Foods with good fats include: walnuts, avocados, olives, and fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and trout.
The American Heart Association recommends tofu and other forms of soybeans, walnuts, flaxseeds and their oils, and chia seeds, as they also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
What are the bad fats, or fats we should avoid? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume no more than 10% of our total calories from saturated fat. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and should be limited because these fats may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, increased cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, or stroke. Trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils (hydrogenation is a process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid) should also be avoided.
Foods containing saturated fats that should be limited include: Beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, butter, cream, cheese made with whole or 2% milk, stick margarine, shortening, sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs, and ground meats with visible fat.
Processed foods often containing trans fat that should be avoided include: Commercially prepared baked goods, cookies, donuts, pie crust, crackers, and fried foods. Avoid items containing partially hydrogenated oils or trans fat. Consider making your own items utilizing healthier ingredients such as canola oil, bananas, pumpkin, applesauce or lowfat yogurt or milk.
What about coconut oil? Coconut oil is a plant oil, however it is solid at room temperature, and is made up primarily of saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends replacing saturated fats in your diet (including coconut oil) with unsaturated fats, such as those listed earlier in this article. Coconut oil does not have the benefits once reported, and research indicates it is best consumed in small amounts as an occasional alternative to healthier choices such as olive or canola oil.
How do I make healthier choices?
- Eat lean meats instead of high-fat meats, including chicken or turkey breast without skin. Create meals with protein-containing foods that are low in saturated fat including beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and tofu.
- Bake, grill, stir fry, roast, or steam foods instead of deep-frying. Add herbs, lemon, or hot sauce for flavor without adding fat or salt.
- Use olive or canola oil in cooking or when making salad dressings.
- Drink 1% or skim milk instead of whole or 2% milk.
- Eat more seafood and fish.
- Eat low fat cheese and yogurt. Try fruit slices dipped in low fat yogurt, smoothies made with frozen fruit and low fat yogurt or part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks.
- Eat less processed foods and fast food.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Try side salads, vegetables and fruits instead of french fries. Prepare or buy low-fat salad dressings (made with olive oil, lemon, avocado). Snack on cucumber or carrot slices with hummus.
- Read food labels on products when grocery shopping. Try to select foods that contain little or no saturated or trans fats. Replace foods high in saturated fats with healthier options. Choose soft margarines or tub varieties over stick forms. Look for “0 grams of trans fat” on the label. In the label below, total fat equals 12 grams, 3g are saturated, 3g are trans fat. The remainder of fat grams are 6g of polyunsaturated fats (although not listed on the label).
- Exercise more and stay active.
Remember, a healthy diet is a balanced diet with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein; and less fats, sugar and calories.
- Written by Janis Merrell, Editor of The Good Life
This past July, seven people celebrated their graduation from the SHINE program while enjoying a luncheon at LifePath’s office in Greenfield. Each graduate received a bouquet along with their certificate of graduation. SHINE is an acronym for “Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone.” As newly certified SHINE counselors, these volunteers will work in their own communities to provide free and unbiased health insurance information, education, and assistance services to Medicare beneficiaries and adults with disabilities.
As newly certified SHINE counselors, these volunteers will work in their own communities to provide free and unbiased health insurance information, education, and assistance services to Medicare beneficiaries and adults with disabilities.
According to SHINE graduate Amanda Joao, “It’s such important work” and “will make such a difference” for her to have this training in her position as Shelburne Senior Center Director.
Graduate Diana Soler, who will be offering SHINE counseling at the Amherst John P. Musante Health Center, says she is looking forward to “helping elders in the Latino community gain access to Medicare by overcoming any language barriers.”
Lorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program Director, provided the intensive 60-hour training. “This was a great group of dedicated and concerned SHINE trainees,” she said. “They will be very helpful to Medicare beneficiaries in our service area!”
- Written by Andi Waisman, M.S.Ed., Healthy Living Program Manager
Workshops you can access on your computer OR your phone!
We are excited to announce this season's schedule of remote Healthy Living workshops. These evidence-based workshops provide information and practical skills for people living with long-term health conditions to better manage our health and improve the quality of our lives. “I learned a lot in a short time. LifePath’s presenters were fantastic. And I made some new friends along the way,” said one recent participant.
This fall, we are offering an exclusive Living Well with Life-Long Health Conditions workshop for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning individuals living with long-term health conditions. This workshop will be taught by a gay male leader in Las Vegas with many years of experience teaching this curriculum and Franklin County’s Jeanne Dodge, a new workshop leader who identifies as lesbian. LGBTQIA+ older adults face health inequities and disparities similar to other populations of older adults who are disadvantaged due to income, education level, and racial and ethnic background. So, this six-week curriculum will teach the same content that is taught to varied groups around the globe, but will provide a safe opportunity for participants to learn concepts, support one another to set goals, and solve the unique problems related to their health.
We are also offering a Living Well with Chronic Pain workshop for the first time in a telephone format for people living with persistent pain, along with several other workshop options, all listed below. Live Video Conferencing Workshops offer the full interactive curriculum but on a Zoom platform with books and handouts mailed to your home and technical support for those new to video conferencing. Toolkit Telephone Workshops offer weekly phone calls with 4 or 5 others to learn and practice new skills and talk about weekly goals with books, tip sheets, and handouts mailed to your home.
- Living Well with Long-Term Health Conditions: Provides information and practical skills that build self-confidence and help participants assume an active role in managing one or more long-term health conditions. Topics include healthy eating, relaxation techniques, communicating, goal setting, problem solving, and more.
- Live Video Conferencing Workshop for general community: Seven Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Oct. 6-Nov. 17
AND Live Video Conferencing Workshop for LGBTQIA individuals: Seven Tuesdays, 12:00-2:30, Oct. 5-Nov. 16.
- A Matter of Balance–Managing Concerns About Falls: Teaches practical coping strategies to reduce the fear of falling and explores environmental risk factors and exercises that increase strength and balance.
Live Video Conferencing Workshop: Eight Thursdays, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Sept. 30-Nov. 18 + Tuesday, Sept. 28 3:00-4:00 orientation.
- Chronic Pain Self-Management: Provides information and practical skills that build self-confidence and help participants assume an active role in managing problems specific to chronic pain, including fatigue, frustration, and poor sleep. Topics include appropriate exercise for improving strength, flexibility, and endurance; pain management techniques; goal setting; and problem solving.
Toolkit Telephone Workshop: Seven Wednesdays, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Oct. 6-Nov. 17.
- Diabetes Self-Management: For adults with pre-diabetes or diabetes or their caregivers, this workshop teaches techniques to deal with hyper/hypoglycemia, appropriate use of medication, meal planning, goal setting, problem solving, and more.
Live Video Conferencing Workshop: Seven Tuesdays, 9:30-12:00 p.m., Oct. 5-Nov. 16.
“I learned a lot in a short time. And I made some new friends along the way.”
- Written by Barbara Bodzin, Executive Director
Break the silence, build a better community.
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and more specifically, September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. This designation was created to break the silence about dementia in an effort to bring greater awareness and to dispel associated dementia myths and misconceptions.
When people affected by dementia stand up and speak about their experience, they open windows of opportunity for support, research, best practices, and understanding.
According to Linda Puzan, Clinical Services Supervisor at LifePath, “Worldwide, there are nearly 50 million people living with dementia and most of them have loved ones who are markedly impacted. Here in our corner of the world, LifePath knows there are many caregivers who oftentimes become isolated and families who struggle with how to relate to, interact with, and care for their loved one as the dementia progresses.”
By breaking the silence, the stigma of dementia can be lifted. When people affected by dementia stand up and speak about their experience, they open windows of opportunity for support, research, best practices, and understanding. Communities can begin to face dementia together with dementia-friendly planning and services.
"Many communities across Franklin County and North Quabbin are recognizing the need to prepare for an increasingly older population through creating age- and dementia-friendly communities, and World Alzheimer's Month is a great opportunity to shine a brighter light on the impact of Alzheimer's Disease and what we can do individually and collectively. Challenging the stigma that continues to surround Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia, while emphasizing the importance of early detection, is one way to make our communities better informed and safer for those living with dementia," explains Nour Elkhattaby Strauch, Age-Friendly Program Manager.
Nour is tackling this head on by engaging with communities in Franklin County and the North Quabbin area to weave age and dementia planning into town initiatives. A dementia friendly community is a town, city, or county that is informed, safe, and provides supportive options which foster quality of life, making it possible for the person with dementia to remain in the community, to be engaged, and to thrive.
Transportation, housing, public spaces, business, and communities of faith are all domains in the day-to-day life of individuals with dementia, their caregivers, and loved ones. Modifications to how information is presented and adjustments in communications enable civic participation and engagement, with community support. For example, a dementia-friendly restaurant might offer a simplified menu with fewer choices and larger font, a table in a quiet area with little glare, and a server who makes direct eye contact, and speaks directly to the individual with dementia in a calm and clear manner. Memory cafes, frequently sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, are welcoming places which provide a venue for socialization for both the individual with dementia and their caregiver. Making age and dementia-friendly adjustments to infrastructure and outdoor spaces and buildings creates more liveable communities for everyone, not just those affected by dementia.
Caring for someone with dementia has its unique challenges. LifePath offers educational opportunities to better understand the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia and the impact the diagnosis can have on the whole family. Caregivers learn that they are not alone and they cannot control the disease. They can, however, gain skills to help manage stress and find joy in caring for their loved one.
- Our Elder Mental Health Outreach Team (EMHOT), meets with elders in their homes, or another location of their choice, to discuss problems which impact their emotional well-being. Team members work with elders to help arrange for ongoing community support.
- LifePath also offers Support Groups facilitated by experienced practitioners who create a welcoming place to give and receive emotional support, share ideas and stories, and get needed resources and educational materials. Check our schedule of events to see upcoming group meetings.
- The Savvy Caregiver Trainings presented by LifePath are seven-week sessions designed for caregivers who assist family members or friends with dementia. It is a unique approach to caregiver education. Caregivers are encouraged to learn, develop, and modify approaches they can use to lessen their own stress and improve their particular situation.
- Our Dementia Coaching program offers one-on-one sessions through home visits, and telephone and video conferencing. Caregivers gain knowledge specific to their loved one’s dementia diagnosis, get tips for handling changes in behavior, and receive suggestions to help cope with the progression of the disease.
This month, and throughout the year, I encourage everyone to break the silence around dementia, to reach out to a neighbor, friend, or community member who is affected by dementia, and to listen first and show them support.
- Written by Janis Merrell, Editor of The Good Life
“Mike did Meals on Wheels and loved every single one of his clients. He was very involved in their health and well-being and loved them a lot. He liked everyone he worked with,” says Annmarie Newton, remembering her son.
Michael “Mike” Gilbert started as a volunteer Meals on Wheels (MOW) driver in December of 2008 and in March 2012 became a LifePath employee, prepping meals in the Erving kitchen. He left that role in September of 2018 but continued as a MOW driver and was driving five days per week at the time of his passing. Mike was driving his regular MOW route on December 30, 2020, when he experienced a cardiac event. He passed away the next day.
He truly loved bringing a moment of sunshine to his clients, who also quickly became his friends.
Annmarie, 85 and a resident of Erving, inspired her son to volunteer and work for LifePath, having done it herself off and on for at least 40 years. She ran the Meals on Wheels kitchen for LifePath when it was located in Greenfield, and was a volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman for LifePath, advocating for elders residing in long-term care facilities. In addition, her brother Edward “Pete” Kavanaugh worked for Meals on Wheels for many years. “They practically had to throw him out,” remembers Annmarie.
Annmarie’s husband and Mike’s stepdad Frank “Bill” Newton is still a Meals on Wheels driver at 91. “Michael loved Bill and thought of him as his father. They worked together for quite a while at Meals on Wheels,” says Annmarie.
“I loved every moment of the time I worked at LifePath and so did Michael. He loved Charlie [Cornish, Home Delivered Meals Kitchen Manager] and loved joking with him,” Annemarie recalls.
Charlie says, “I was lucky to have worked and gotten to know Mike as a caring person and as a friend with many similar interests that we jokingly commiserated about every day. Mike was the go-to guy when a route needed to be covered. He knew well over half the routes and all the clients by first names. He truly loved bringing a moment of sunshine to his clients, who also quickly became his friends.”
According to Jane Severance, Nutrition Program Director at LifePath, “He was a gentle soul who was always willing to do whatever was needed.”
Mike was a fan of the New York Giants and enjoyed golfing with his family and volunteering at the North Leverett Baptist Church in their food pantry. He also worked in the Fish Department at Stop & Shop where he would show lobsters to kids who would ask him their names. “He liked people, period,” says Annmarie.
In honor of Mike, LifePath purchased a weeping cherry tree as a memorial that Annmarie has planted on her front lawn. “I can look at it and remember Michael. I miss him so much. He was my best friend as well as my son,” says Annmarie.
LifePath also purchased a gift card for Annmarie. “They are a loving, caring organization and if I could walk better I’d be working there. They’ve been wonderful since he passed,” says Annmarie.
Meals on Wheels drivers are urgently needed to deliver meals in Colrain, Athol, Petersham, Greenfield, Orange, Sunderland, Leverett, New Salem, Turners Falls, and Gill. If you would like to help as Michael did, please contact LifePath at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 and ask for the Nutrition Department.