Overcoming Obstacles


We would like to help eliminate any barriers you may come across while trying to improve your health. This page will address common obstacles and provide local resources whenever possible. Please submit any other comments or questions you have in the form below and we will answer them on this page.

>>Click on the questions to jump to the answer<<

Healthy Eating:

1. I can’t cook. Where can I learn?

2. I work all day and don’t have time to cook.

3. I can’t afford healthy food.

4. I don’t like many fruits and vegetables. / My family does not like fruits and vegetables.

5. My child is a picky eater.

6. My child does not eat much dinner but always wants dessert.

7. I would like to eat local foods but I don’t know where to buy them. Is it more expensive?

8. Which foods are in season? What can I buy locally in the winter?

9. I am on the road a lot. What can I do?

10. I tend to overeat or binge eat.

11. My diet is not working.

12. I don’t know what I should be eating.

13. The grandparents sabotage my efforts.

14. S/he eats healthily at my house, but at my ex’s s/he eats poorly.

15. I’ve never eaten breakfast.

 Physical Activity:

1. I work all day and by the time I can exercise:

         a. I am tired.

         b. It is dark.

         c. It is cold.

         d. I feel like I should be home with my family.

         e. My favorite TV show is on.

2. I sit at a desk all day at work.

3. I don’t feel motivated.

4. I am not athletic.

5. There isn’t anywhere to walk or jog where I live.

6. I have a small yard.

7. I don’t have much space to exercise at home.

8. I don’t like going to the gym.


 

Healthy Eating

1. I can’t cook. Where can I learn?

Luckily, in the age of the Internet, there are many great resources out there to help you learn how to cook. Nothing beats experience with cooking, so keep trying even if something doesn’t taste to your liking. Think of recipes as there for guidance but feel free to add whatever you think would make it taste better. While the Internet cannot give you experience, it can provide you with helpful tips or combinations of flavors to try.

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has a fantastic page dedicated to recipes and video demonstrations. All of their recipes have approximate cost of one serving size of each meal that they demonstrate (prices will vary in Connecticut) and explanations of how to cook them.
  • The Kitchn has a great advice column with tutorials for cooking meat, baking, and using knives.
  • Cuisinart Culinary School YouTube Video Channel – helpful videos for the basics
  • How to Cook Everything App for your iPad or iPhone

Local Upcoming Cooking Classes:

Education Connection frequently provides cooking classes. Register here (search “cooking” as the category under Adult Education).

 

2. I work all day and don’t have time to cook.

Taking a little bit of time on your day off to prep food for your meals throughout the week will make a huge difference. Whether that looks like chopping veggies and having them ready in your fridge, slow cooking meat for the week, or cooking beans and freezing them for future use, or something else to help you out is your choice.

Here is a great Beginner’s Guide to Once a Week Food Prep with ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks as well as general tips to help make your food prepping a success.

 

3. I can’t afford healthy food.

There are many solutions!

First, you should check if you qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, helps eligible individuals and families afford the cost of food at supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers’ markets. You can also use SNAP at the Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market.

You may also qualify for services provided by the Torrington WIC program.  Visit Family Strides Inc.’s website for more information about the WIC program. You can use WIC checks at the Torrington Farmer’s Market and other markets in Northwest CT.

Additionally, there are many ways you can save money and buy healthy food while you are shopping by using these strategies:

  • Be a strategic shopper. Here is a guide to Healthy Shopping on a Budget. Check out the websites of your local grocery store to find weekly sales and stock up on healthy items when they are on sale.
  • You Should Buy The Cheap Generic Versions of These 25 Foods. For these foods, and many others, store brand is just as good.
  • Write a list of things you really need so you are less tempted by unhealthy choices throughout the aisles. You have probably heard the advice: “stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store,” and it is generally true that this is where you will find healthier products. However, also be mindful that there are exceptions to this rule, such as pastries in the bakery and unhealthy foods in the frozen section that you will find in the perimeter. There are also some really great and healthy items within the aisles, such as dry goods or bulk bins.
  • Look for options other than meat for some of your meals. Meat is one of the biggest expenses, but luckily there are inexpensive and versatile protein alternatives out there. There are many different types of beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, and whole grains that can be found in the inner aisles of the grocery store. These items are less expensive when purchased dry/uncooked and you will also benefit from less salt or other additives when you purchase them this way. When beans, lentils, and grains are soaked overnight, these dry items do not take as long to cook, and you can cook them on your day off and freeze them for future meals. Say No to Mush: Common Dried Bean Mistakes to Avoid.
  • If you have a family of meat lovers, go for small adjustments at first.
    • Try “Meatless Mondays” with them to save some extra dollars each week. There are many fantastic recipes out there that, once they taste, they will not even miss the meat.
    • Buy the less popular cuts of meat that are still delicious but much more affordable.
    • Another great way to stretch your meat purchases is by adding foods like cooked lentils or rice to your meat dishes. This strategy works especially well with ground meats, as you can mix these less expensive foods in and they will take on the flavor of the meat. Give it a go with family favorites such as burritos, tacos, bolognese, meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, lasagna, etc.
  • Eating healthily on a budget does not have to be bland! Even adding a bay leaf to lentils while cooking makes them taste much better. Sautéing an onion with garlic before adding veggies makes a huge difference. Also, herbs are your friends here. Try out different herbs and spices and stock up on good deals of different herbs when you can. Many stores offer bulk sections or store brands of herbs and spices.
    • Take a look through this fantastic cookbook by Leanne Brown “Good and Cheap” where you will find delicious and versatile meals for approximately $4. You can view a free pdf of the cookbook here.
    • Check out some of the following “eating healthily on a budget” blogs:

 

4. I don’t like many fruits and vegetables. / My family does not like fruits and vegetables.

15 Tips for Veggie Haters from Web MD. This site offers various helpful techniques for you to choose from. While you may not find some of these tips helpful, there are many options to try.

Trying different cooking methods or adding spices and herbs really helps with vegetables, but there is more to it that has to do with your behaviors. Many tastes are acquired which means that both kids and adults alike have to try foods around 20 times before they might like them. Especially for kids, it is also important that you do not portray vegetables as less desirable than dessert by saying, “take one more bite of your vegetables, then you can have dessert.” Instead, try saying, “I just want you to try everything on your plate” without even mentioning dessert. You can ask your kids to describe the tastes (is it bitter? sour? sweet? crunchy?) or if they like it or not. If they say they don’t like it, remind them that they don’t like it yet. Encourage your kids to try the foods that you don’t like, too. You might find that someday you both will enjoy the foods!

 

5. My child is a picky eater.

Check out these resources:

 

6. My child does not eat much dinner but always wants dessert.

“Are you willing to trade the possibility of a long-term love of veggies for the short-term gain of a few more bites of broccoli today?” Dina Rose, PhD offers advice from a sociologist’s perspective on ways to drop “The Dessert Deal.”
Should My Child Get Dessert If He Doesn’t Eat Dinner? Read on for her helpful tips. It’s all about cooperation and trust and not force in order to get your kids to eat the healthy foods.
While addressing this problem and others, be sure to also read this effective advice about what to avoid saying to your child. For example:

Avoid saying: “If you eat some of your veggies, you can have dessert.”

Translation: “I can’t wait until the day I don’t have to eat my veggies and can go straight to dessert!”

Rationale: Research shows that children learn to prefer the reward food over the “have-to-eat” food.

A better thing to do: Instead of food rewarding, offer tasty vegetables often and model healthy eating.

 

7.  I would like to eat local foods but I don’t know where to buy them. Is it more expensive?

You can buy local foods at your local farmers’ markets in the summer and fall. Most markets accept SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks.

Additionally, the Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market, located at the Litchfield Community Center, is open throughout the winter on select Sundays.

As far as price goes, there have been several studies across the U.S. that show prices at farmers’ markets for some items are comparable to those found in supermarkets. A study for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont found that prices at farmers’ markets for conventionally grown produce items were lower than they were at supermarkets. For organic items, farmers’ markets beat grocery stores’ prices every time.

Furthermore, if you shop at your local farmers’ market, you know exactly where your food is coming from and it becomes much more transparent how it is grown. Foods also taste better when they are grown locally. They are fresher and also harvested at their optimal ripeness whereas fruits and vegetables in grocery stores are often picked before they are ready and, instead, ripen as they travel hundreds or thousands of miles.

Remember, you do not have to do all of your shopping at farmers’ markets. For some food items, it is much more affordable to buy them elsewhere. However, for many foods there really is no difference and, what’s more, your money is going directly to the farmer rather than to a middleman shopping center. Many farmer vendors also offer deals each week. Usually there will be select vegetables on sale, or you will have access to the “seconds,” which are less expensive vegetables that may be a bit smaller or bruised but are still perfectly edible and delicious.

Some final food for thought when you think you are spending too much money on food: America Spends Less on Food Than Any Other Country. We could all benefit from making healthy food more of a priority in our lives.

 

8. Which foods are in season? What can I buy locally in the winter?

Guide to Seasonal Produce in New England. This guide is meant to provide a quick reference detailing the types of fruits and vegetables available regionally each month. There are also many other foods you can purchase locally in the winter in addition to the ones listed there. Here is an infographic showing foods you can buy locally in the winter. You can purchase local items all winter long on select dates at the Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Indoor Market at the Litchfield Community Center.

 

9. I am on the road a lot. What can I do?

Take a look at these snacking tips: Smart Snacks for Your Trip from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Try these apps while on the road:

  • HealthyOut – free
  • Food Tripping – free
  • Fooducate – free – for iPhone | for android
    • “Fooducate helps you shop and eat healthy by allowing you to quickly pull up nutritional information about food products from barcodes, as well as by helping you make sense of nutritional labels. The app displays a letter grade from A to D, along with a quick summary of nutrition information in plain language, as well as healthy alternative suggestions. If users cook their own meals or eat out, you can also manually enter a meal’s nutritional information.” –Tom’s Guide

“When dining out, cut back on calories during other meals that day. Look for foods that are steamed, broiled, baked or grilled, and limit fried and sautéed items or foods described as “crispy,” “rich” or “au gratin.” Bring leftovers home for another meal. Or, order an appetizer in place of an entrée and add a small salad. Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry. Fast eaters often are overeaters, while slow eaters tend to eat less and are still satisfied” (C. Angevine. Charlotte Hungerford Newsletter, Fall 2013).

 

10. I tend to overeat or binge eat.

Eat well balanced meals with a little carbohydrates, protein and fat to help keep you satisfied. Try not to skip meals or go for long periods without eating, as this can lead to overeating. Keep any foods you typically binge on out of your refrigerator or cabinet so as not to tempt yourself.

Carla H. Angevine MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

 

11. My diet is not working.

Switch things up: change your exercise plan, or consult with a Registered Dietitian to make sure you are consuming adequate calories.  Watch out for fad diets –many are unrealistic and difficult to follow.

“Fad diets offer many promises with few results, and some are even dangerous. A diet promising a guarantee of rapid weight loss should be a red flag. For long term success, aim to lose one pound a week. Never follow a diet that bans an entire food group or one that only allows you to eat from one food group. You risk missing key nutrients needed for proper nutrition. Also, there is no proof that eating specific foods at certain times of the day will help with weight loss” (Charlotte Hungerford Newsletter, Fall 2013).
Carla H. Angevine MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

 

12. I don’t know what I should be eating.

See if you can meet with a Registered Dietitian*. If not, eat real food such as fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, lean protein (rather than processed food). Stick mostly to the outer perimeter of the grocery store to avoid processed food. For packaged foods look for those items that have 5 ingredients or less.
Carla H. Angevine MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.
Especially beware of the 56 names for sugar and any ingredients you’ve never heard of or cannot pronounce. Keep it simple.

*Find a registered dietician in Torrington.
Most insurance companies provide coverage for Medical Nutrition Therapy for a variety of conditions and diseases. Be sure to check with your medical provider.

 

13. The grandparents sabotage my efforts.

Discuss your family’s healthy eating plan with the grandparents and involve them as part of the family and ask for their support.
Carla H. Angevine MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

If the grandparents give your child junk food every time he/she visits, explain to them that your son/daughter will start to always expect these foods every time they see them and that this is an act of rewarding with food. Seeing grandma and grandpa = “I will get sweets!” for the child. Food rewards contribute to poor eating habits and health, encourage overconsumption of unhealthy foods and eating when not hungry, and increase preferences for sweets.

For more reading on this matter and other ideas and solutions, check out this article: When Grandparents Spoil Your Little One.

 

14. S/he eats healthily at my house, but at my ex’s s/he eats poorly.

Explain that you are acting in the best interest of your child. Don’t point blame, but rather try to act as a team to help your child become healthy and successful.  Work together to come up with some healthy eating and exercise tips that you both can help your child follow. –Carla H. Angevine MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

Discuss with your ex how you do not want food to always be a battle with your child (e.g. “Why can’t I eat that? Dad/Mom always lets me eat that!”) since food is so essential to your child’s well-being and too sensitive of an issue to fight about (i.e. can lead to grudges, eating disorders, eating for comfort, or other unhealthy habits). Though this may be an easy point of contention for a bitter ex, it’s necessary to explain that this is not about your relationship but rather about keeping your child healthy now and well into the future. Consistency in what you both you do will especially help in your child’s adjustment to having two homes. By cooperating with your ex on this issue, you will help to raise a healthy child despite the discrepancies in your beliefs and values in what constitutes being healthy.

If you are unwilling to reach a compromise with your ex on what you should be feeding your child, or you find that your ex is not listening to what you had agreed upon, explain to your son or daughter that mom and dad have different rules in their houses and that unhealthy foods will be limited in your house to special occasions because you are concerned about his/her health. Children who grow up understanding the importance and consequence of eating healthily will make it more of a priority later in life, even if they are not aware of the importance immediately.

 

15. I’ve never eaten breakfast.

If this is the situation for your kids, check out this page: Breakfast is Best

If this is the situation for yourself, many of the same tips apply. Start small just to give your brain fuel to begin the day. Starting small will allow you to control what you eat later so you don’t feel as likely to binge from hunger. If you start your day really early and don’t feel hungry then, that’s okay; try packing a breakfast for work to eat later in the morning. Most breakfast foods travel well in a tupperware such as oatmeal with the fixings, toast, fruit or yogurt.

 

Physical Activity

1. I work all day and by the time I can exercise:

a. I am tired.

Exercise will actually improve your energy levels. “A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise…But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help,” says Patrick O’Connor PhD, co-director of the University of Georgia exercise psychology laboratory, in Athens, Ga (“Exercise Fights Fatigue, Boosts Energy”).
Additionally, physical activity produces endorphins, chemicals in your brain that make you feel good after exercise, which in turn helps you to “decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem” (“Physical Activity Reduces Stress“). With time, the more frequently you exercise, the more you will feel these benefits.

 

b. It is dark.

Before going to work in the morning you can cook one of these Slow Cooker Meals (or search for another recipe online) and turn it to ‘Low’ or ‘Keep Warm’ while you take time to exercise before it gets dark. If it is already dark when you get home, there are several exercises you can do at home (Simple Exercises – No Equipment Needed). You can also head over to an exercise facility (see below under “It is cold” if you are interested in this option).

 

c. It is cold.

If it is still light out, don’t rule out exercising outside even if it is cold. There are many benefits to exercising outside in the cold. All it requires is wearing extra layers and changing out of any wet clothing when you return inside. Your body will work extra hard to keep you warm and you will benefit from getting your daily dose of vitamin D, which helps keep those winter blues at bay. Make sure to be extra cautious and try to avoid icy conditions.
Tips for Staying Active in Cold Weather – Ideas for both Indoors and Outdoors. For more indoors ideas, here are  Simple Exercises – No Equipment Needed that you can do at home.

You can also join a local gym:

If you are not much of a gym person, take a look at the I don’t like going to the gym section below. There is information about local exercise classes and sports centers. There are also many other ideas for exercises that you can do from home or around town in the other sections.

The Torrington Armory offers an indoor location to walk. Their space is open to the public from 7:30 am to 4 pm during the week (Mon – Fri). There are fourteen laps to a mile. It’s located on 153 South Main St. “Come and enjoy walking in an indoor atmosphere at the Armory.”

 

d. I feel like I should be home with my family.

Try to involve your family. You might consider going for a brisk walk or jog together after dinner. You could also do core strengthening exercises together, such as crunches, push-ups, scissor kicks, leg lifts, and others.
Walk with your kids to the nearest playground or, if you live far from one, drive closer, park, and walk the rest of the way if possible. Find a Great Place to Play Near You.
Too Dark To Exercise After Dinner?
Before going to work in the morning you can cook one of these Slow Cooker Meals (or search for another recipe online) and turn it to ‘Low’ or ‘Keep Warm’ while you take time to exercise before it gets dark.

Many gyms have programs specifically for kids. While you go to exercise, your kids can be occupied with a fun activity and afterward you can spend the rest of the evening with them. Everyone will feel much better since they got to do something active after a sedentary day. Check out these Youth Programs at the Torrington & Winsted Y’s, some of which take place in the evening.

 

e. My favorite TV show is on.

Why not get active during commercials? You could even do these exercises while you’re watching your show!: 10 Ways to Exercise While Watching TV.

 

2. I sit at a desk all day at work.

At the least, stretching will really help you throughout the day. Take a walk during your lunch break. Try finding a higher surface to allow you to have a standing desk so that you can stand or walk in place while you work, which really helps in promoting good spine health.

 

3. I don’t feel motivated.

Try to find an exercise buddy (perhaps a family member, friend, or colleague) to help get you motivated! It really helps. If your schedule allows for it, you might try planning a weekly walk, bike ride, or run with this person, or you can be flexible and simply contact each other when you are free. However, if you really struggle with motivation, giving yourself more structure or goals will help you to feel more motivated.

Once you get out there and feel the benefits of exercise for your mood and general well-being, it will help you feel the motivation in order to continue.

Check out this website meetup.com. You can search for specific group topics such as fitness, outdoors & adventure, sports & recreation, dancing, etc. You may have to drive a bit to get there, but it may be worth it to do something different and to go on a hike with new folks once a month or so! You can also create your own group if you would like to start a walking group in Torrington or Winsted. Invite your friends and meet new ones!

 

4. I am not athletic.

Who said anything about having to be athletic to enjoy exercise? As long as you’re doing something active to get your heart rate up, you will reap the benefits! Strengthening exercises are great too, but you should also incorporate some cardio if you do not already (though it does not have to be in the form of extreme sports! why not go for a brisk walk, jog, bike ride or swim?). Also remember that athletes are not born overnight. If you consistently exercise you will naturally become more athletic, a process that does not have to involve actually playing a sport.

 

5. There isn’t anywhere to walk or jog where I live.

Torrington is in the works of building a trail network. The group of volunteers is developing an interconnected, accessible trail system throughout Torrington for recreational purposes. If you are interested in joining this effort, you can attend their monthly meetings. For now, you may have to walk or drive somewhere to get a good walk or jog in, but it will be worth it once you get out there. Try these trails: American Legion Blue Blazed Trail, Barkhamsted. 14 total miles of trails. White Memorial Foundation, Litchfield – There are many beautiful trails all over Litchfield. Well worth the drive, but familiarize yourself with these online maps since there are many trails. 36 total miles of trails. Torrington Area Hiking Trails, Torrington. Includes the John Muir Trail, Wolcott Trail, and the Alain and May White Nature Trails. Other places to walk in Connecticut.

You can also check out paths local folks have tracked by visiting the Torrington Map My Walk page.

The Torrington Armory offers an indoor location to walk. Their space is open to the public from 7:30 am to 4 pm during the week (Mon – Fri). There are fourteen laps to a mile. It’s located on 153 South Main St. “Come and enjoy walking in an indoor atmosphere at the Armory.”

 

6.I have a small yard.

-Here are some Simple Exercises – No Equipment Needed – that you can try outside when the weather is nice.
-Check out this Exercise Library where you can customize which muscles or exercises you would like to work on and see demos for the poses.

For your kids 

Fun ball games to play with your kids.
Catch Different Colored Scarves Game: You could also do this with different colored washcloths.
-This is an excellent YouTube Channel for Motor Skill Learning activity ideas for you to do with your 4-8 year olds.

 

7. I don’t have much space to exercise at home.

This page is titled Dorm Room Workouts, but its exercises are not exclusively for college-aged kids. These exercises can be done in any small space and there are great examples for all muscles and different kinds of exercises, including: cardio, strengthening, and stretching. The guide also provides links with demos of the different exercises.

 

8. I don’t like going to the gym.

You might consider a fun team activity, such as those offered by Premier Sports Complex LLC in Winsted. They have a heated dome for adult teams of flag football, soccer, and softball. They also have clinics and leagues for kids!

Courtside Sports Center, located in Harwinton, offers a variety of leagues and programs including men’s, women’s, and co-ed basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, field hockey, flag football, wiffle ball, badminton, lacrosse, indoor soccer, and cardio equipment. They offer different levels of leagues for accelerated competitive players as well as casual players.

If you are simply bored with your routine at the gym but enjoy group exercise, you might enjoy exercise classes. The Torrington and Winsted YMCAs offer many different classes, including:

You can view their schedules here.

There are many other exercise class options:

If none of these options appeal to you or you do not like group exercise, simply go for brisk walks or jogs or grab a friend/family member and get moving. You do not have to do vigorous exercise everyday to experience the benefits. It is better to get out walking rather than to feel as though it is not making a difference and decide to watch TV instead. Shoot for 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Slowly you will see the improvements in the way you feel if you make these small adjustments. If anything, get outside and walk just to soak up some vitamin D. It will really improve your mood! Have you ever regretted taking time to exercise?

 

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