“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.
Anyone who has ever been grocery shopping with a child knows how enticing a food package can be. My 3 year old is fascinated by Curious George and squeals in delight when he sees that curious little monkey’s picture on boxes of “fruit” snacks. Needless to say, if that box didn’t feature his favorite monkey, he probably wouldn’t even take notice. Marion Nestle, a food political writer brings up the topic of food packaging in one of her recent blog posts.
Is there any evidence that plain packaging for unhealthy foods would reduce demand? Research has focused on marketing’s effect on children’s food preferences, demands and consumption. Brands and packages sell foods and drinks, and even very young children recognize and desire popular brands. When researchers compare the responses of children to the same foods wrapped in plain paper or in wrappers with company logos, bright colors or cartoon characters, kids invariably prefer the more exciting packaging.
Plain wrappers, no more marketing gimmicks? Do we see that in our future? I know many parents out there would certainly rejoice.
As a registered dietitian I am constantly battling the nutrition misinformation (i.e. quackery) that is published on the Internet. Luckily for me I have many esteemed colleagues who are in this fight right along with me. ….
5 Things a Dietitan Would Never Say
As a registered dietitian, I spend much of my day helping clear up confusion around which foods are healthy (and which are not). As more and more people hit the Internet to consume and share (via social media) food and nutrition information, misinformation is spreading faster than the latest Grumpy Cat meme: One week, maple water is the best thing for your health; the next it’s coconut oil, and now …bone broth.
So, where does all this nutrition hype come from? Many times it stems from a popular blogger, celebrity or website that highlights a new food trend. The buzz is generally based on preliminary or flimsy (poorly designed) research or simply anecdotal information.
Unfortunately, because anyone can claim they’re a “nutritionist,” this misinformation can pose a health threat. In some cases, adding trendy foods to one’s diet may elevate risk factors for chronic diseases. And eliminating entire food groups, as is often recommended without justification, can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Here are five common phrases I’ve heard five “nutritionists” say (these are things a dietitian would never say):
1. It works for me … so it will for you, too.
Just because the so-called expert lost a lot of weight or improved his or her health doesn’t mean their trick will work for you. A one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition generally works for no one. Nutrition recommendations should be individualized, based on one’s genetic makeup, age, sex, food preferences and lifestyle.
Anyone who believes that a particular type of diet would be beneficial for everyone makes no scientific sense. As a dietitian, I don’t expect an Olympic athlete or cardiac rehab patient to eat like me. Instead, I provide a personalized approach to help each client achieve his or her individual health goals.
2. I have no formal training in nutrition.
While all registered dietitians can be called nutritionists, not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. To be a registered dietitian nutritionist, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in nutrition science and supervised training in an accredited program that includes clinical and community settings. In addition, all RDNs have passed the national comprehensive exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. RDNs must also complete continuing education requirements to maintain our RDN credential.
The term “nutritionist” is not accredited. In fact, it may represent someone who has taken an online certification course, or it could be someone who feels entitled to call themselves a “nutritionist.” If your nutritionist isn’t qualified to work for a hospital or physician’s office, that’s cause for concern.
3. You can’t trust the medical “establishment.” When someone uses charged statements such as “If you want the real truth…” or “The FDA is using us as guinea pigs,” it’s most likely not credible. Trusted health organizations such as the American Heart Association, Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health develop nutrition recommendations based on overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence and can, in fact, be trusted. While it’s true that as the science evolves, recommendations may be updated, reputable health organizations make evidence-based recommendations.
4. The food industry fills our foods with toxic, addictive and cancer-causing ingredients that are essentially unregulated.
“Toxic.” “Cancer-causing.” “Made from petroleum.” These are terms often used by so-called nutrition experts to describe ingredients in the foods we eat every day. The statements are often misleading and an exaggerated s-t-r-e-t-c-h of the truth designed to raise fear about our food supply and the government agencies that oversee the safety of our food.
However, a real nutrition pro will focus on your personal diet, and assist you in finding the right foods – in the right amounts – to help you achieve your health goals. When you follow healthy eating principles, it’s great to be aware of what’s in your food, so you can make informed food choices, but no one should be fearful of the U.S. food supply. For the most part, ingredients singled out by some watchdog groups are generally found in soft drinks, fast food and other foods that aren’t on most RDs’ recommended lists of foods to enjoy.
5. This ____ (fill in the blank recommendation) helps “brain fog,” “elevate energy,” “leaky gut, “adrenal fatigue,” “acid-base balance.”
Often, I can identify non-dietitians just by the terms they use to promote a food or their diet philosophy. They will use non-medical terms that sound intriguing but can’t be proven effective, as there is no standard diagnosis for terms they use, such as leaky gut or adrenal fatigue. In fact, these highly subjective terms are not even recognized by most qualified medical professionals.
As dietitians, we are trained to treat risk factors for chronic conditions that have been proven effective through research. These include risk factors such as overweight and obesity; elevated blood glucose and insulin; high blood pressure, elevated LDL-cholesterol or C-reactive protein; and other clincally measureable risk factors for diseases.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
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.
Clean Eating. This is a term that is overused & misused extensively. The best “definition” (I use this term loosely) is by Eating Well’s registered dietitian. Clean eating is “about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined (i.e. processed) grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. And since you don’t have to count calories or give up whole food groups, it’s easy to follow.”
Clean Eating Tips:
Limit processed foods
Bump up your vegetables
Cut down on saturated fat
Reduce alcohol intake
Un-sweeten your diet
Watch the salt
Choose whole grains
Up your fruit intake
Nix refined grains
While the Internet is filled with propaganda about how grains are killing us, I am still a firm believer in the importance of whole grains as part of a healthy diet. While the bulk of our diet should be from vegetables & fruits (think leafy greens, plant based proteins, whole fruits, etc.) there is still room to incorporate a variety of whole grains. My current favorite whole grain happens to be quinoa, which is a quick and easy protein source (my Pinterest board is filled with quinoa recipes). However, my preferred whole grain is bread so I am constantly experimenting with different whole grain varieties. My latest accomplishment is whole-wheat pretzel rolls. I have a great love for pretzels rolls, although most I have encountered are of the refined flour variety. I modified a recipe by exchanging the unbleached flour for whole wheat with beautiful results. Serve these warm with butter of perhaps an egg sandwich (egg, spinach, pick your fancy), so many possibilities.
Soft pretzel rolls (I used 100 % whole wheat flour with beautiful results)