All Posts By Jason Machowsky

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One Small Change: Your Old Friend, the Potato

by in Small Steps, September 23, 2012

Ahh, you can have them baked with cheese and bacon, mashed with cream and butter or deep-fried in oil. So versatile, yet so unhealthy: the white potato. But do potatoes deserve such a bad rap? Take a moment, and let’s rediscover one of the best “unhealthy” foods around.

Taken by itself, the great spud compares quite well in calories, fiber and nutrients to most other starches like pasta and rice. A medium potato with its skin (2 to 3 inches wide) has 130 calories, three grams of fiber, three grams of protein and is a source of vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Comparatively, one cup of pasta or rice (the size of your fist) has about 200 calories for similar amounts of fiber.

So why does the potato get such a bad rap?  Obviously how we prepare it can have a huge impact. Loaded potato skins probably have more bacon, cheese and sour cream than they do potato.

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One Small Change: How Often Should I Eat?

by in Healthy Tips, September 7, 2012

energy bars
A common point of discussion on the this blog is what to eat, I wanted to take a moment to discuss another important topic: when should we eat, and how often? What follows is a combination of research findings and my own experiences working with clients as a registered dietitian.

Current research has shown that we should be eating somewhere between three to six times per day, though no one frequency has been proven to be better than others. If you find yourself consistently starving at a certain point in the day (and maybe making a less-than-ideal food choice), then consider adding in an additional healthy mini-meal or snack to your routine. Here are a couple great options to consider:

Energy Bars (above)
Turkey Roll-Ups
Cracked Pepper Potato Chips With Onion Dip
Vegetable Pizza Snacks
Figs With Ricotta, Pistachio and Honey

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One Small Change: Eat Better and Eat More at the Same Time

by in Healthy Tips, July 30, 2012

baby carrots
Ever wonder how some people can just eat  all day and never gain weight? While some are just born with a naturally high metabolism (thank your parents), the vast majority of us frequent eaters must choose foods that give us the nutrients and energy we need to function throughout the day for less calories.

Notice it’s not about less food, but less calories. “Nutrient density” represents a food’s nutrient bang for its calorie buck. Understanding nutrient density and learning how to choose nutrient dense foods is the key to eating better . . . and more.

An example: Let’s say you want a snack. Consider one of these three options:

  1. A candy bar
  2. A low-fat yogurt, medium peach and a few almonds
  3. 15 baby carrots, a whole 10 oz. package of cherry tomatoes, a full bunch of celery and a couple tablespoons of hummus or low-fat dressing

You could eat the first option very easily and possibly still be hungry (or crash) an hour later. You’d probably be satisfied with the second.  How about the third option, sound like a bit much? Sound like it’s impossible to eat at one sitting? That’s the point.

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Healthy Eating: If We Know What to Do, Why Don’t We Do It?

by in Healthy Tips, Small Steps, June 29, 2012

fitness
How many times do you hear people say, “I need to eat healthier” or, “I would eat better but . . . (insert excuse or justification here, such as schedule, demands, kids, being tired, etc.)? You can have the best intentions in the world, but in the end, the only way to actually get results and make a difference in health, fitness or weight is by taking action.

Taking action can be challenging; it usually means leaving your comfort zone and making a change to your current habits. So before taking action on any new change: a new role at work, going back to school, working out more or eating better, there are three important questions you should ask yourself to know if you are headed down the right path:

1. Why do I want to take action and make these changes? Eating healthier, whether it be eating more fruits and vegetables or eating less fried food or soda, is a commitment you make to yourself. And the changes you make must be sustained in order to get results and have a real impact on your life. But after a long, stressful day of work, what’s going to be the inspiration that makes you choose a yogurt and a piece of fruit instead of a brownie or bag of chips? What’s going to keep you from having that extra drink when you’re out with friends? Whatever answers those questions is your motivation to change. Consider why you want to make these changes, and what you are changing for. Is it to have more self-confidence in the way you look? Is it to serve as a role model for your kids? These are big motivators that keep you focused when times are tough. Figure out your true motivations for change and taking action will become inevitable!

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One Small Change: What Causes Cravings?

by in Healthy Tips, May 29, 2012
control cravings
Craving cookies? Find out why.

You had a fantastic breakfast of oatmeal with low-fat milk and berries, a mid-morning apple and almonds, and a salad for lunch. Then 3 pm rolls around and it hits you: those cookies your co-worker brought into the office seem just too irresistible to pass up. You start thinking about them more than your work . . . more than your significant other . . . more than anything that exists on earth. Ever have a craving?

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One Small Change: Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, April 18, 2012
refrigerator
Out with the old, in with the new.

The weather is getting warmer and spring cleaning is in full effect for many of us throughout the house. When you get to the kitchen, don’t stop after mopping the floors; take a look at the cabinets, pantry and fridge. It’s a good time to capitalize on the new season to overhaul your home food environment; clearing out unhealthy foods is a great first step toward making better eating decisions at home. But once you’ve cleared your pantry of the not-so-healthy processed foods (see our list of the 5 worst offenders and toss those first) and the foods that have been lurking for months past their expiration date, don’t make the mistake of filling your pantry back up with junk.

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One Small Change: Getting Green(s) for St. Paddy’s Day

by in Healthy Tips, March 17, 2012
greens
Go green.

St. Patrick’s Day abounds with all things green: Shamrocks, leprechauns and foods of all sorts. With a little addition of green dye, any food can become a part of the Irish celebration: Eggs, cookies, bread or beer. And just as easily, this holiday could turn into a calorie overload.

But amidst the revelry, let’s pause for a moment and consider what foods naturally pay homage to the color of this Irish celebration: Greens! Naturally green foods, like kale, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard offer a bigger nutritional bang for the buck than most other foods. Consider that two cups of spinach (an average serving for a salad) naturally provides:

  • More vitamin A than two large carrots
  • As much vitamin C as seven to eight lemon wedges
  • About 350% of our daily needs of vitamin K, a nutrient vital for blood clotting and wound repair
  • More folate than two cups of whole wheat flour
  • Almost the same amount of iron as a hamburger

Not only that, it’s also a good source of fiber, calcium, vitamin E, many other B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and zinc. Your body needs all of these nutrients to function properly, and dark leafy greens like spinach allow you to maximize your nutrient intake (i.e. vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) while minimizing your calorie intake. So just how many calories are in those two cups of fresh spinach? About 14 calories.

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One Small Change: What Makes Superfoods So Super?

by in Healthy Tips, February 26, 2012
blueberries
Blueberries are touted as a superfood, but what makes them so super?

Acai, pomegranate and goji, oh my! In honor of the recent Superbowl and an article recently published on learnvest.com entitled, “A Doctor Dishes: Which ‘Superfoods’ Are Worth the Cost?”, I started thinking: where did the term “superfood” come from and what makes them so darn super? Here’s what my research dug up:

According to Oxford dictionaries, a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” So superfoods must be healthy for us, right?

There is speculation as to whether the research backing up some of these superfoods has been overstated. In other words, can pomegranates alone really prevent cancer just because they have high antioxidant levels? Since then it seems like every health food marketer is claiming their latest exotic “superfood” will make all the difference in our health and well-being, it’s important to get to the bottom of these claims before spending our hard-earned money.

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One Small Change: Eat Healthier All Year Long by Changing Your Food Environment

by in Healthy Tips, January 26, 2012
sandwich police
Keep tempting foods out of reach.

It’s nearly the end of January and maybe you’ve joined our Healthy Every Week January Challenge, maybe you’ve done your own resolution-thing this year. Regardless, the new year often brings a surge of renewal and positive change. We toss out all of the leftover holiday junk food around the house (or in the case of my cousin, offer leftovers to guests as they leave the New Years’ party). We are determined to choose the grilled chicken salad over the two slices of pizza at lunch and turn down dessert when we go out to dinner. We buy lots of fresh groceries on January 2nd and whip up great home-cooked meals, such as lentil soup and baked salmon.

For the first couple of weeks, life is good. We feel better and start to look better too! Then we go back to our old routines at work, with our families and in our day-to-day lives. As a result, our eating and exercise habits often go back to the old routines too. We (and our bodies) are the result of our habits and routines. The biggest challenge for most people is harnessing the momentum and enthusiasm from the first few weeks of January and taking steps to make sure some of those initial changes in January become permanent habits by February.

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One Small Change: Make a S.M.A.R.T Resolution

by in Healthy Tips, December 28, 2011

Let’s start off this month’s post with a quick word association. When you hear the phrase, “New Years’ resolution”, what is the first thought that pops into your mind? Hope? Ridiculousness? Restriction? Success?

Some have a positive feeling associated with New Year’s resolutions, for many others, it probably evokes a slightly uneasy, or even negative feeling as you think of unsuccessful resolution attempts from New Years’ past. Unfortunately, this sentiment can make future resolutions less effective, or in many cases, non-existent.

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