Author Archive for: ‘smeyer’
As I was preparing to write this blog, I came across the usual array of articles about holiday weight gain, including one about how much exercise is required to burn off your Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than add to the litany of advice about holiday eating (and guilt) I have decided this year to focus on what Thanksgiving is all about: giving thanks.
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday where we celebrate with friends & family, coming together for a meal of traditional favorites. Many of us have foods we prepare each year that bring us a great deal of comfort & memories. For me personally, my favorite Thanksgiving dish is Corn Bread, Wild Mushroom & Pecan Stuffing. This dish is filled with lots of hearty goodness. I add extra veggies & skip the heavy cream lending to a decent nutritional profile.
So this Thanksgiving rather than obsessing about the calories you put in your mouth, enjoy time with friends & family, go for a walk (or turkey trot), be mindful of the quantity of food your consume (no “thanksgiving full” this year) & quite simply, give thanks.
When it comes to eating very few of us would argue that our relationship with food has many psychological components. Eating based on only physical cues (i.e. physiological hunger) can be a challenge in today’s world. Many of us use emotions, social cues, etc. to choose when & what to eat. The past few months I have been reviewing intuitive Eating Principles for my practice & the message that has resonated with me is “permission,” permission to eat, permission to actually enjoy food. That is why I loved this recent blog from Raise Healthy Eaters, which highlights the change in our relationship with food when we actually give ourselves permission to eat
- I give myself permission to not have chocolate cake because it just doesn’t sound good.
- I give myself permission to work out because it will enhance my day, even with an out-of-control to-do list.
- I give myself permission to skip my work out because it will only add more stress to an already packed day.
- I give myself permission to have coffee with a friend because I need connection, even though time is limited.
- I give myself permission to cancel with a friend because it’s just one of those days.
- I give myself permission to blow off my Sunday to-do’s (grocery shopping, getting ready for the week) and stay in my PJs with my kids, order take out and watch a movie because I just know I need a break.
- I give myself permission to spend much of my Sunday getting ready for the week because I know it’s going to be a crazy week.
- I give myself permission to pursue an interest or different career even though it will sound crazy to my family and friends.
- I give myself permission to focus on what I’m doing now, and not feel like I have to do anything more to impress anyone.
As you can see, this advice does not just apply to food, so go ahead, give yourself permission.
Like most people, I struggle to maintain healthy habits, especially as we enter into the busy season of back to school & sports. Of course, one can always find excuses as to why they aren’t maintaining their healthy habits. However, there are some habits that always interfere with eating healthy, despite the season. Summer Tomato came up with a great list of Habits That Stop You From Eating Healthy:
Avoiding the Grocery Store:
Not Sleeping Enough
Not Keeping A Stocked Pantry
Buying out of Season Veggies
Ignoring your Dirty Kitchen
This article gives some great basic tips and reminds me it is quite simple to adjust my habits to keep my on track when it comes to healthy eating (& exercise).
I recently came across this article on a popular fitness blog. I almost immediately dismissed the article as another piece telling the reader they are eating too may calories, not fasting enough, not burning enough calories, etc, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. It is not a topic that is often discussed when talking about weight loss, but “too much” dietary restriction is often the culprit when weight loss fails.
Metabolism 101 is that the body will go into starvation mode and store what food it does get when it’s not being fed. I see this often when working with college students who believe extreme calorie restriction is the answer to their weight problems. We all know calorie restriction can be a slippery slope, so what is the best approach? As the author states, eating enough calories to keep you satiated, but enough to create a calorie deficient that results in a 1 to 2 pound weight loss per week. It’s not a glamorous recommendation or a magic bullet, but one that is proven to work.
“Bikini season” is now in full force. I will admit giving into this phenomenon by purchasing a DVD that claims to have your body bikini ready in one week. Full disclaimer, I do not buy into this marketing ploy, I just happen to be a fan of this fitness person’s exercise regimen As I sweat through the vigorous workout and listen to her drone on about getting bikini ready, I do wonder how many people actually believe this work out will result in bikini worthy abs. Realistically, working out for a week will not result in Olympic style abs, but that doesn’t mean you should give up exercise and healthy eating all together. Establishing long-term healthy lifestyle behaviors will enable you to enjoy food and meet your health & wellness goals.
A few healthy eating tips courtesy of appforhealth:
- Reduce overall calories to promote fat loss. Excess fat is quickly mobilized from the middle, so you’ll quickly see changes to your mid-section, if you lose just a few pounds.
- Reduce or eliminate nutrient-poor carbohydrates (read: candy, soda, baked goods). Simple sugars cause rapid rises in blood sugar and have been linked to excess belly fat. To know the 46+ names food manufacturers use for sugars in their product, use this tool.
- Keep saturated fat to recommended levels (7-10% of total calories) Again, saturated fat has been shown to be linked to larger waistlines, so eat more poly and monounsaturated fats in place of foods rich in sat fats.
- Avoid man-made trans fats, which are still in many foods. To tell if a processed food contains trans fats, look for partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.
- Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in these foods are consistently associated with smaller waistlines.
- Enjoy nonfat or lowfat plain Greek yogurt. Yogurt may help whittle your middle and the beneficial probiotics may help alter your gut bacteria to keep your GI tract healthy.
This blog post by Ellie Krieger completely resonated with me simply because these are words commonly associated with food that are negative, shame inducing & scientifically inaccurate.
Though the actual blog provides much more detail, I have summarized Krieger’s main points below.
Detox: As Krieger points out the word “detox” implies that your body is unable to rid itself of harmful compounds & unless you engage in a radical eating plan, your body will be filled with toxins. What many detox proponents fail to mention is that our kidneys & liver do this job adequately.
Cleanse: Same idea as detox (Krieger likens these terms to cousins). A promise of body purity that never lives up to its claims.
Skinny: Our world is inundated with images of skinny bodies. When skinny is used to describe food products, we fail to see the purpose of food, which is to nourish our body.
Never: Applying the term never to any situation almost always backfires, especially when it comes to foods. The term never sets the stage for food obsession & rebellion.
Perfect: A toxic term when used to describe food behaviors and body image.
Calorie In, Calorie Out. That is a term I heard over and over again in my training and continued research into the science of weight loss. Of course, this old adage doesn’t take into account the complexities of human beings and what drives us to eat (or not eat).
The latest villain in the diet world is sugar and although we know large consumption of sugar can be harmful, sugar is not toxic when ingested in modest amounts. Carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) is the primary fuel our body uses to give us energy. What type of sugar should we be ingesting? Natural occurring sugars from fruits, vegetables, low fat milk/dairy foods. The sugar that increases our risk for diseases such as obesity & diabetes comes from “added sugars” that simply contribute empty calories (calories with little to no nutritional value). Added sugars include: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose & table sugar.
For more information on how to spot added sugars in foods check out this blog on appforhealth.
There are endless trends when it comes to nutrition but the one that appears to be taking center stage is gluten free diets. It is estimated that around 22 % of adults are trying to avoid gluten, creating an estimated 8.8 billion dollar market. It goes without saying that this is big business for food companies. But, is a gluten free diet really the way to go? Is the big boom in gluten free diets out of necessity? Anyone who has considered going gluten free should read this article The Gluten Enigma appearing in the March/April issue of Eating Well. This article explores gluten sensitivity and addresses the myth of gluten free diets for weight loss. Although this article is unlikely to totally clear up the controversy regarding gluten free diets, hopefully it will help consumers make the best decision when it comes to their diet.
We all could use a little help with our eating habits and Appetite for Health has provided some great tips to get us started with healthier eating for the warmer months.
1. Snack Smarter.
Start by changing the “snack ratio” in the house. Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies, and healthier snack choices around, rather than the typical, higher-calorie junk food. Fresh produce is abundant in the spring season – so make watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, blueberries and other fruits your “go-to” sweet snack items in place of cookies, ice cream or candy bars. I love to combine fresh fruit with non fat greek yogurt as a way to keep me full between meals, while maximizing taste and good nutrition. Want more great snack ideas? Check out Julie’s list of “Skinny 100-Calorie Snacks”.
2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions.
Regularly consuming super-sized portions is one of the quickest ways to derail your diet. Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible-sized food portions. If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand then you’ve probably taken too much. Using this “cup of your hand” technique is a good way to mentally measure the amounts of foods that go onto your plate. For a good guide to estimating healthy portions using your hand, check out this chart.
3. Slash Your Soda Intake.
Can you commit to going soda-free this summer? Why not! Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks. Delicious, thirst-quenching alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water with slices of orange or lemon . If you want to keep your ‘fizz’, try a beverage of ¼ cup 100% fruit juice mixed with seltzer.
4. Choose Low-Calorie Sauces and Dips.
Take advantage of great summer salads for main courses and appetizers, but have sauces and dressings served on the side. This step alone can save you hundreds of calories. Instead of dousing salads with rich dressings, dip your fork into a small dish of dressing and then pick up your food. This will impart the flavor of your dressing with every bite, but without adding too many calories. If you find yourself at a party with lots of chips and dips… either avoid them altogether, or portion out a handful of chips (better yet – opt for veggies if they are available) and pair with a few tablespoons of healthier dips like hummus, salsa, or bean dip.
5. Eat Breakfast.
Really. I mean it. This one can make a big difference in how many total calories you consume for the day. A healthy breakfast choice may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day. A scone or muffin with coffee might sound good, but won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much as a protein-rich breakfast from eggs (6 grams protein per 70-calorie med egg), egg whites (the protein is split between the yolk and white but the white is lower in calories), oatmeal with peanut butter or yogurt (esp Greek yogurt); yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit; or nut butters with a protein-rich whole-grain bread. If you’re eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and have with a cup of skim or 1% milk will add an additional 10 grams protein.
For good ideas on what to eat for breakfast, check out our article on 10 Healthy Breakfasts in Less than 10 Minutes.
6. Make Mondays Meatless.
You may have heard the “Meatless Mondays” slogan, which started as a way to help the war effort during WWI. Now it’s a nationwide movement (meatlessmonday.com). Why take the pledge? Going meatless just one day a week can decrease your risk for cancer and other major health issues.
7. Expand Your “Grain Universe”.
You’re into quinoa? Great! Now venture a little deeper into the world of whole grains. Not only do they taste terrific, there are many health benefits to be gained by expanding your “Grain Universe”. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps! Don’t know how to cook more exotic whole grains? Check out this great guide from Cooking Light.
Even a science based professional finds their head spinning with all the contradictory information about dietary fats.
Recently another study was published disputing years of recommendations to keep our total fat consumption to less than 30% and saturated-fat to less than 10% of our calorie intake. Although this particular study I am referring to was not the ideal way to measure the effect of dietary fat on cardiac mortality (i.e. death), it helps put things in perspective. Rather than demonizing one specific macronutrient, be it carbohydrate, fat, or protein, we should focus on eating whole food. When we consume whole food we naturally eliminate processed foods with little nutritional value. Perhaps this is another lesson to teach us that it is far better to focus on real food rather than individual nutrients. When you eat a balance of real food there is no need to count carbohydrates, protein or fat because you naturally get what you need.
Bottom line, consume whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits and whole grains; and limit (or avoid) consumption of processed foods. You don’t need a science background to understand that.