Three Things

1. My spice cabinet is the secret to flavorful dishes and extra nutrition. Cinnamon, garlic, ginger and turmeric are always on hand as the anti-inflammatory players. Cinnamon goes great with any sweet breakfasts like overnight oats and protein pancakes. Turmeric pairs with eggs, other proteins and roasted veggies. Spices and herbs are the key to making healthy dishes enjoyable. Italian spices for light Italian dishes and Greek flavors are my favorite! By eating what you love and adding flavor without fat and sodium you can rock a healthy diet.

2. Eating Disorder Awareness Week has just ended. It is so important to have a healthy relationship with food and your body. This article has some amazing tips on how to nurture a healthy relationship with food. My favorite: You are worthy of eating no matter what. “Regardless of what you weigh, how much exercise you did today or how badly yesterday went, you are worthy of nourishing your body for health and energy.” Remember this!

3. Do you think your diet is healthy? According to new research less than half of Americans think their diet is healthy. There is an obvious growing in trend healthy, intuitive eating, but it seems like people still don’t think their diet is worthy of a ‘healthy’ label. My theory is that people are eating well, but don’t believe they are healthy enough. What do you think?

Raquel

Three Things


1. Portion sizes can be very different from serving size. Portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat and serving size is the recommended measured amount. Many people may not pay attention to the appropriate serving size and end up eating too much of certain foods. For example, the appropriate serving size for meat is 3-4 ounces although many restaurants serve up to 20 ounce steaks! Another example of this would be fruit. The appropriate serving size for fruit is one medium sized piece of fruit or one cup of fruit. Fruit is definitely a healthy choice, but as they say everything in moderation.

2. Random and incorrect diet tips can be found all over the internet. Here are a few that you should definitely ignore! Fruits and vegetables are not too high in carbohydrates if you stick to appropriate portion sizes (see above). Gluten should only be avoided if you have an allergy. Egg yolks have all the nutrients, don’t skip them. All calories are definitely not created equal. And finally, healthy fats can be your friend! Don’t forget that if you have any diet questions you can always chat with a dietitian.

3. I had a lot of fun with this quiz! I had a hard time picking which carbs would need to go. Would you nix nachos, grilled cheese or garlic bread? How about doughnuts, cookies or brownies? It’s fun seeing the results of what most people would choose to get rid of. Enjoy this little quiz today!

Raquel

Ditch These Five Foods

My philosophy on food is everything in moderation and eating whole foods as much as possible. However, there are definitely a few foods that you should skip! Making small changes to your diet will help you stay on track and reach your goals. These five foods can be swaped for better choices or you can ditch them altogether.

Ditch These Five Foods

  1. White bread – This is the easiest food to avoid. Whole wheat bread has much more fiber and is very easy to find. Pick one with 100% whole wheat as the first ingredient. Fiber helps to control blood sugars and lower cholesterol.
  2. Sugary cereal, granola and granola bars – Many brands are packed with sugar, but use great marketing to get you to buy it anyways. Look for cereals, granola and granola bars that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. If those brands also have protein and extra fiber then you’re set for a healthier option for breakfast or a snack.
  3. Soda and diet soda – I probably don’t have to tell you twice, but there is absolutely NO nutritional value in soda. It is simply pure sugar or packed with sugar substitutes. If you crave the carbonation grab a sparkling water instead. If you’re trying to lose weight cutting out soda should be your first step.
  4. Processed meats – This includes lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, etc. Most processed meats are loaded with sodium and nitrates and nitrites which have been linked to cancer. Aim for cooking fresh meats like chicken, turkey, fish, beef and pork.
  5. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom – I love eating Greek and Icelandic yogurt almost daily. Yogurt can be a nutritious snack if you pick the right one. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom or with sugary toppings can have up to 30 grams of sugar! Make sure you always read the nutrition facts label.

Raquel

Three Things

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1. Doctors are not taught to discuss nutrition with patients. This is a great article from the Chicago Tribune describing the traditional medical approach of focusing on treatment instead of working on prevention. Lifestyle medicine is a new trend focusing on diet, nutrition, exercise, stress management and risk factor reduction. Generally, medical school only focuses a very small amount of time on teaching future docs about nutrition (which is why dietitians come in handy!). Focusing on promoting wellness and disease prevention can help the overall health of the nation and may be the direction in which medicine is heading.

2. Are you getting enough protein per day? The answer is probably yes! This is common knowledge among dietitians, but many Americans don’t realize that they are most likely meeting their protein needs without choosing products that boast “high protein.” In general men need about 56 grams of protein per day and women need about 46 grams of protein per day. To put that in perspective, a 3-1/2 ounce portion of chicken breast contains about 21 grams of protein. For a women, two chicken breasts almost meets your daily needs! Choose a lean protein or plant based protein at each meal and you should be good to go. You can always check with a dietitian if you are unsure!

3. Product Spotlight: Casa de Sante LemonAID. Inspired by the Indian beverage jaljeera, this drink packs a healthy punch! It is made with mint, cilantro, ginger, tamarind, fennel seeds, nutmeg, caraway, cinnamon, turmeric, lemon juice, cayanne pepper and pure cane sugar. I’m loving this for when I’m feeling bloated or after overindulging over the weekend! Check it out.

Raquel

Keys to the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and based on typical foods and recipes found in Mediterranean cooking. There is research to support that the Mediterranean diet helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which decreases the risk for heart disease. More than 50% of the fat calories in this diet comes from unsaturated fats, specifically monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish and nuts. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

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The Mediterranean Diet

  • Plant based foods – this includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Making these foods the main stay of this diet introduces extra vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eat nuts in small amounts. Legumes include beans and lentils which adds protein and fiber.
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, fish and nuts are all high in unsatruated fats. Use olive oil instead of butter to cook with. Fish is a lean protein to be eaten once or twice a week.
  • Herbs & spices – cooking with fresh herbs and spices in place of salt. This naturally creates a low sodium diet. Dried herbs are also used. Look for salt-free herb and spice mixes. Garlic, onions and citrus can also be used to give food flavor.
  • Lean proteins – this includes chicken, turkey and fish and limits red meat to once or twice a month. Avoid high fat red meats such as sausage, bacon and other high fat cuts. Choose low fat dairy such as 1% milk or skim milk and nonfat or low fat yogurt.
  • Red wine – this is clearly my favorite part of the diet. Drink red wine in moderation. It has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease if consumed in moderation meaning 5 ounces of wine daily.
  • Exercise – lifestyle factors such as exercise and social support also play a role. Savor the time you have with friends and family and making eating a social experience. Make sure to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise per week.

Raquel

How To: Cheat Days

Cheat days. You know what I’m talking about! Those days when you decide you can eat anything and everything you want because you’ve been doing a good job eating well. I think we should redefine the “cheat day.” Will they get you off track from your goals? It totally depends.

The problem with cheat days is that one cheat meal or three can lead to overeating. The idea of a cheat day is that you get to relax your diet a bit. The problem is that cheating insinuates something bad or wrong. It’s normal to treat yourself on occasion, enjoy food, and to enjoy the social aspects of eating. People that are too strict on “good” days will likely lose less weight than those that treat themselves because they are more likely to overdo their cheat days. By restricting yourself and then eating a large amount of sugar and fat there is a large negative impact on your blood sugar levels. This may leave you feeling groggy and rundown afterwards. I think we should call them “treat days” instead! Eating foods that you enjoy in moderation leaves you with something to look forward too instead of dreading each perfectly healthy and boring meal. Remember to assess your goals and use cheat days to your advantage.

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Make “Treat Days” Work for You

  • Don’t cheat frequently. And plan around special occasions. One splurge will not ruin your entire lifestyle change. If you have a party, wedding, cookout, or event coming up make sure you use that as your day to enjoy some treats.
  • Get moving. Try to still be active on your treat day. Go for a long walk or attend a workout class or do it on a regular training day. This way you will work off some of those extra calories while still getting to indulge a bit.
  • Savor every bite. Don’t just scarf down that cupcake! (Of course I would choose a cupcake.) Savor it. This is your treat for working hard so don’t let the moment pass by so quickly.
  • Enjoy treats on occasion. Adding some healthy fats here and there or a piece of chocolate after a meal can really boost your mood and help you stay on track. Each day doesn’t have to be made up of just perfectly healthy foods! Naming foods as “good” or “healthy” isn’t a good idea either. Every food fits.

Raquel

Drinking on a Diet

Summer nights are just around the corner which means plenty of happy hours, barbecues, and late nights to go around. Most of these events include drinking and generally food as well. It is possible to enjoy a few drinks while sticking to your healthy lifestyle and maintaining or losing weight. Remember: one 5 ounce glass of wine is 120 calories, 12 ounces of light beer is 110 calories, and 1.5 ounces of liquor is 100 calories – multiple drinks in one night can add up fast!

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Always…

  • Drink water between each alcoholic beverage – it is important to stay hydrated. Plus, you’ll feel better in the morning!
  • Eat a healthy meal before (or while) enjoying your beverages. Get in all those nutrients before your event. That buzz can lead you to make poor food choices! We all know that… right? Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to drops in blood sugar causing those late night cravings. Try to avoid the pizza, fries, and cheesesteaks by planning ahead. One night can lead to hundreds (yes, hundreds) of extra calories. Prep some healthier snacks before heading out so you’ll have something ready to eat when you get home.
  • Choose drinks lower in calories. These include a glass of wine, a glass of champagne, a vodka soda with a lime wedge, etc. By avoiding sweet mixers, mixed drinks, and heavy beers you are saving yourself calories and staying away from too much sugar.
  • Limit your drinking to one to two nights per week and limit your drinks per night to two to three beverages. It may seem silly to put limits on your drinking, but leading a healthy lifestyle includes cutting back on drinks.

Happy drinking!
Raquel

How To: Get Back on Track

Memorial Day Weekend is coming up and soon after that summer vacations. There are always days, weekends, and weeks when we fall off track and need to get back to working towards our goals. Having a “bad” meal or “bad” weekend isn’t the end of the world! There are many times I need to remind myself what my goals are and take a breather to get back to my healthy routine. Yes, even dietitians fall off the wagon occasionally! (I rarely can resist a cupcake.) I’m sharing with you how I get back on track (after those cupcakes) and how you should too.

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5 Steps to Bounce Back

  1. Hydrate! Your body is likely dehydrated after traveling, drinking, and having so much fun you forget to drink water. The easiest way to rehydrate is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water throughout the day. Fruits and veggies can also assist in the hydration process.
  2. Eat whole foods. Your body is craving all those nutrients that you’ve been missing while eating all those not-so-good foods. Go for fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates for a balanced diet of nutrients that are easy for your body to absorb. All that fiber and water after hydrating will help you reset.
  3. Sweat it out. Get back to the gym! Those first couple workouts will be tough, but you’ll feel amazing afterwards. All that extra glycogen stored in your muscles wants to get out. So help yourself by doing some intense cardio, a boot camp class, or something similar.
  4. Rest and reboot. Take some time for yourself to figure out why you got off track. Also, take time to remember what your goals are and why you set them in the first place. Writing down attainable goals is always a good idea. Think of it as a to do list and be specific!
  5. Take it easy on yourself. It happens to everyone. Treats are okay! Just because you “slipped up” once doesn’t mean you need to give up. Think positively and know that you can keep up this healthy lifestyle you have chosen for yourself!

Raquel

How To: Cut the Sugar

Sugar has been creeping into many products that you may think of as sugar free or low in sugar. The first step to decreasing added sugar in your diet is to know what to look for. Common names used in place of “sugar” on the food label include brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn syrup, crystal dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and white sugar. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of highest percentage found in the food item. The higher sugar is on the list, the more the product contains. I always shoot for less than 10-15 grams of sugar in anything I buy.

Similar to any diet, decreasing sugar is a process. Here’s what to do: decrease or cut out sugar sweetened beverages and “sugary foods” (i.e. Dessert foods), eat whole fruit when you get sweet cravings, start slowly, use natural sweeteners (i.e. Honey, agave, maple syrup) instead of sugar substitutes, and be aware of what you are putting in your body!

8 Sources of Hidden Sugar

  1. Granola bars – Make sure you read the label. Less than 10 grams of sugar is best. My favorite are kind bars with 4-5 grams of sugar.
  2. Salad dressing – Sugar is added to many dressings. The best way to avoid this is to make your own! Olive oil with balsamic or lemon, garlic, and herbs is always delicious.
  3. Yogurt – To counteract the tartness of yogurt many brands add sugar. Especially the kinds with fruit! Shoot for less than 12 grams of sugar. My favorite is Siggi’s with 10-11 grams of sugar (plus 14 grams of protein).
  4. Dried fruit and fruit juices – While fruit does contain natural sugar some fruit products have even more added! Look for unsweetened dried fruits and stick to about two tablespoons for a good amount of natural sugar. Fruit juices should be avoided if possible. Why not just eat whole fruit for the extra fiber?!
  5. Tomato sauce – Those tomatoes aren’t as sweet on their own. Look for low sugar tomato sauce or better yet make your own. Make a big batch and freeze the extra. Perfect.
  6. White wine – Okay, I’m guilty because white wine is my favorite. The dryer the wine, the less sugar. Avoid the Reislings and Moscatos if possible. Red wine is even better for all those flavonoids.
  7. Milk alternatives – Almond and soy milk can be filled with extra sugar if you aren’t careful. The taste may take some getting used to, but the unsweetened versions of your favorite milk alternatives are great.
  8. Bread – If it doesn’t say 100% whole wheat chances are there is extra sugar. That doesn’t mean some brands that are 100% whole wheat don’t have extra either. This is when your label reading skills will come in handy! Less than 5 grams of sugar per slice is ideal.

Raquel

Three Things

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1. BMI or body mass index is a tool used to determine if you’re at a healthy weight. Weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared. BMI is a screening tool that is not perfect! But, BMI is correlated with direct measures of body fat so it is still used. The categories are as follows: underweight <18.5, normal weight 18.5-24.9, overweight 25-29.9, obesity I 30-34.9, obesity II 35-39.9, obesity III >40. You can calculate yours here. The issue is that some people fall into an overweight or obese range and are actually healthy. BMI should not be the only factor taken into consideration when determining if someone is of a healthy weight. What do you think?

2. There are many people that believe giving up certain foods or “detoxing” is the answer to their problems. This article is about someone who gave up sugar (not possible), alcohol (okay, possible), grains (just why), dairy (fine), and soy for 30 days. In the end, she says that she had never felt better and that she had more energy than ever before. Good for her. A diet filled with plant foods and lean protein is ideal, but fruit has sugar (yes, it’s natural) and grains, if whole, are filled with health benefits. So before anyone does a crazy detox or restrictive diet think about the empty calories you eat everyday and start by eliminating that.

3. This is so true! Dietitians need quick, easy dinners in a pinch sometimes too. I will definitely fess up to having an Amy’s light in sodium soup or frozen dinner, a Siggi’s yogurt parfait, or my favorite Puffins peanut butter cereal for dinner. Some leftovers from the freezer or a “whatever fruits and veggies I have” smoothie works well too! Just don’t forget about nutrition. You don’t have to spend money on fast food or eating out if you work with what you have.

Raquel