Forget the Diet! Make These 7 Small Changes Instead

by in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips, January 6, 2017

Two of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and get healthier. In order to achieve these goals, many folks jump on the fad diet bandwagon. But many of these diets require complete elimination of certain food groups, have you eating close to nothing or recommend a boatload of supplements that empty your wallet. Instead of looking for quick results that will probably not last long, make these small changes instead. Make these small changes for at least 6 months, and they can become lifelong healthy habits.

Measure Ingredients

Large portions are one way folks overconsume calories. This is especially true with certain high calorie foods, including nuts, salad dressing, oil, peanut butter, granola, rice, pasta and juice. Although all these foods can be part of a healthy weight loss plan, eating controlled portions will help keep calories in check.

Eat At Least 2 Whole Grains per Day

The 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend getting half your grain intake from whole grains. If you’re not used to eating any whole grains, start with two serving per day. For example, make your sandwich with 100% whole wheat bread, or swap your pasta from traditional white to whole wheat. Read more

9 Nutritionists Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, January 5, 2017

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and eat healthier. So what about nutritionists whose expertise is to eat healthy? I was curious to find out what type of resolutions they make.  I asked 9 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) across the country to share their 2017 New Year’s resolutions, and it turns out even the food experts can always improve their healthy lifestyle in a variety of ways.

Preparing more meals at home

“While I eat healthy, nutritious meals and work out regularly, I often am so busy I don’t plan  evening meals for my family. Then we end up going out or picking something up to eat at home. I need to do what I advise others: create menus on the weekend, make a grocery list and go shopping so all the ingredients you need are right there ready to go. It doesn’t have to be something long and involved. It can be simple, fresh, nutritious and taste good!”

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, Dallas-based nutrition communications consultant

Separate screen time and meal time

“My #1 goal in eating is to be mindful and savor my food. In general, I do well, especially since I do not own a television. However, when I eat alone or eat out while traveling, I tend to use my phone or laptop at the table. As such, I plan to make desktop reminders for all my screens, encouraging me to put the screen away and focus on the deliciousness of my food.”

–Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, President, Nutrition for the Future, and Social Media Guru at School Meals That Rock. Read more

The Benefits of a “Dry January”

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, January 4, 2017

After a holiday season filled with overindulging, you might be ready to make some lifestyle changes. Are you willing to kick off 2017 with a hiatus from alcohol? The benefits may prove motivating!

Liquid Calories
Every alcoholic drink you toss back contains calories and these can add up – fast! Each bottle of beer, glass of wine, and shot of hard alcohol brings along a minimum of 100 empty calories. Pour in a few sugary mixers and the calories multiply, making many popular mixed drinks rack up more than 400 calories each. Two servings of alcohol a day for a year adds up to nearly 75,000 calories, and that’s not counting the mixers. That means saying bye-bye to these drinks could save you more than 20 pounds a year.

Drying Out
The concept of an alcohol-free January was sparked by a charity in the U.K. called Alcohol Concern. Part of the intention behind this program is to make social drinkers more mindful about their choices, fundraise for alcohol awareness, and reap the personal benefits. According to the organization, participants in the month-long challenge can lose weight, sleep better and save money.Weight loss aspirations aside, there’s science to back up additional benefits. Studies reveal that even just a month of cutting out alcohol can also spark improvements in liver function and blood sugar control for some people. Read more

Lightened-Up Family Spaghetti and Meatball Night

by in Cooking for Kids, Healthy Recipes, Meal Makeovers, January 3, 2017

A classic crowd-pleasing meal, spaghetti and meatballs is all about family. Get the kids in the kitchen to help stir the sauce and roll the meatballs. Use these tips to make a meal the entire family will look forward to eating.

Meal Prep
Most of the components of spaghetti and meatballs can be made ahead. Be sure to make a big ol’ batch and freeze some for a busy night down the road, and tuck some in the fridge for school lunches the next day. Then all you’ll need is 10 minutes prior to dinner to boil the pasta and reheat the meatballs and sauce.

Pasta
Pasta has a bad reputation for being unhealthy. It’s true that processed wheat products are missing some key nutrients, but the real issue is inflated portions. One cup of cooked pasta contains 200 calories, an appropriate amount for most family members to enjoy as part of a meal. Fill the remainder of the plate with lean protein and vegetables for a well-balanced dinner.

Whole-grain pasta is also looked down upon for being bitter and unappetizing, but whole-wheat pasta options have come a long way. Or try a brand made with rice, beans, quinoa or egg whites for better texture and flavor, plus a higher protein content. Read more

Trend Alert: Pea Protein

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 2, 2017

Proteins derived from plants are getting more recognition as many folks strive to have a more plant-based diet. At the forefront of this trend is protein from legumes like peas. Find out if the newfound popularity is worth the hype.

 

Peas As a Protein Source

One cup of raw green peas contains 8 grams of protein. Yellow or green split peas are also often used for pea-based products; this dried version contains 48 grams in the same 1 cup portion. Depending on the product, you might find either of these options added so check ingredient lists for clarification.

The type of protein found in peas is different than animal derived sources. As with most plant-based foods, some amino acids are missing, but peas do contain three important muscle building “branched chain” amino acids, leulcine, isoleucine and valine.

Pea protein powder has become a popular additive in snack foods and bars. Extracting the protein from food to powder does require some processing so the nutrient profile will differ slightly from the whole food version. Pea protein does have an advantage compared to some other popular protein supplements (like whey or casein) as it contains more hunger fighting fiber.

Read more

Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

by in Fitness, January 1, 2017

Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.

Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.

The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches.  Read more

3 Ways to Be Mindful in the Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, December 31, 2016

The kitchen can be a very stressful place, especially when things get busy. Weeknights in particular can get hectic with running errands, completing homework and cooking a healthy dinner. Here are three ways you can be more mindful in the kitchen to help alleviate some stress.

  1. Create calm out of chaos.

Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, recommends the following technique to help make rational choices in the kitchen: “First take a very deep breath and exhale to a slow count of 10. This simple exercise tells your body to relax and helps you make rational choices like actually cooking your meal instead of eating it cold from the fridge! (I know I’m not the only one.) Then do one quick thing that makes you happy. I like to play soothing or energizing music, depending on my mood. Even if you’re not excited to prepare your meal, find a benefit that does excite you — like ‘I’m happy to save money and take care of my body by cooking at home’ — and let that be your motivation to heat up the kitchen.”

  1. Cook simple and relax.

Instead of making your life difficult and more stressful, choose cooking methods that are simple with few ingredients. For example, use a dry rub or marinade for meat and poultry, then place the protein right in the oven or grill to cook. When your food is cooking, take a few minutes to sit in a chair, relax and enjoy the delicious smell of the food you’re about to eat. Read more

Refresh Your Fitness Routine For the New Year

by in Fitness, December 30, 2016

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or a resolution-driven exercise newbie, there are always ways to freshen up your routine. If your New Year’s resolutions involve getting more exercise, use these strategies to set yourself up for success.

Gear

Instead of calorie-laden celebrations, reward your hard work with a little retail therapy. Set realistic exercise goals such as a personal record on the treadmill or increased daily steps for a week, and then reward yourself with some new threads. Target and Kohl’s have durable and fashionable exercise clothing and shoes. Under Armour, Athleta and Lululemon offer high-end options that fit beautifully and are on trend with latest fashions. No matter what your budget you can find some new gear to get excited about. Read more

Diet 101: The Low FODMAP Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, December 28, 2016

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, at which it shared the latest nutrition research and hottest new products with thousands of dietitians. One of the most-popular trends to emerge was the focus on gut health and low-FODMAP food products.

What Is a FODMAP?

Coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the term FODMAP refers to different types of carbohydrates in foods. With a “short-chain” chemical structure, these carbohydrates are not absorbed in people with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

Fermentable, or carbs that are quickly broken down by bacteria to produce gas

Oligosaccharides. Humans do not have enzymes to break down and absorb these types of carbohydrates, leading to fermentation and gas.

Disaccharides, specifically lactose. Many IBS sufferers cannot digest lactose, which causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Monosaccharides, or fructose, which is not well-absorbed if there is excess glucose present.

And

Polyols, or sugar alcohols. These are not completely digested by humans, and they are sometimes marketed as a laxative. Read more

Don’t Buy Into the New Year Detox

by in Diets & Weight Loss, December 27, 2016

After spending the past month enjoying one-too-many cookies, peppermint mochas and spiked eggnogs, eliminating last year’s dietary sins seems like the perfect start. Supplements, coffee enemas, juice fasts, heat wraps and teas all promise a new, detoxified body, but do they actually work?

Detoxing is a rare medical need that’s been turned into a billion-dollar industry. Over the last decade, pills, juices, bars and shakes have been promoted as a magical formula to do everything from improving your health and digestion to getting you back into your skinny jeans.

More often than not, detox diets are nothing but liquid calories that lack the major nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. Following one of these cleanses often results in not consuming enough calories, which can leave you grumpy, hungry, and craving sugar, fat and carbs. In other words, starving yourself for a 3-day juice fast may backfire in additional weight gain once completed.

Fasting doesn’t support the body’s natural detox pathway. Our bodies are designed to clean from the inside; detoxing unwanted material daily through our liver, lungs and kidneys. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber will help your body’s detox pathway function optimally — more than any pill or supplement could.

If you’re motivated to start 2017 out right, follow these 5 simple tips for a healthy start to the new year. Read more