Author Archive for: ‘Sherri Meyer, Corporate Dietitian’

Food Messaging.. What does it tell us?

As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.

The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.

Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.

Love Food, Love the Experience

After reading Loving Your Food, I thought long and hard about my current eating habits. While I enjoy the process of cooking, I admit the pleasure I derive from eating pleasure is less than desirable. My eating life has turned into a multi-tasking marathon; it is far easier for me to stand up and complete unfinished tasks as I mindlessly shovel food in my mouth (OK, maybe not shovel, but certainly not eating in the most dignified manner). Obviously, as an RD, this is certainly not good practice as half the time I don’t even realize what I am eating. This article was a good reminder that the act of eating is one of pleasure that should truly be enjoyed. When we rush and multitask while consuming food, that pleasure is gone. Furthermore, we miss the benefit of making mindful choices that not only taste good, but also are also good for us.

The last few days I have tweaked some of the habits that crept into my daily life. I actually sit down and look at my food., I take the time to drink water throughout the day & am taking time to make foods that I alone enjoy. I’m rediscovering that eating is for sustenance and pleasure.

“Good” or “Bad” Food

Driving in a car with four children with varying musical tastes doesn’t give me much time for educational podcasts; however, there are a few stolen moments where I can listen to topics of interest without background commentary. This recent podcast by the Foodist really peaked my interest. How to Stop Moralizing Your Food Choices by Darya Rose. This is topic is something I believe many of us can relate too, how many times have we deemed our food choices “good” or “bad”. Demoralized ourself for eating too much or making the wrong food choice. Additionally, Rose talks about not demonizing real food (she uses the example of sweet potatoes and oatmeal). This is a topic that comes up all too frequently in the world of nutrition. Many diet plans mislead consumers to believe that certain whole, plant based foods are not beneficial, perhaps even harmful. Nutritious real foods should never be avoided unless one has a food intolerance of allergy. Additionally, avoiding real food in favor of weight loss shakes or other food substitutes takes away the pleasure that we should all derive from eating food.

Check out this podcast next time you have a free moment (or in the car with a child, who knows you may bring out the budding scientist in them).

Eat Well, Be Well Returns!

The Eat Well, Be Well blog is officially back. The blog was on an unofficial hiatus after my family welcomed our daughter home in March 2016. Life has now settled into a new normal and it’s time to get back to writing about one of my passions, health & nutrition. My hope in re-starting this blog is to provide useful, reliable information regarding current nutrition trends. The world of nutrition is ever changing and it is certainly not always easy to decipher the science behind it (and honestly sometimes there is absolutely no science behind it). I would love to hear from you dear readers, what do you want to learn about? What questions do you have regarding current nutrition trends? Fitness? Wellness? Please email me at smeyer@merig.com and tell me your ideas.

Food Branding, Is it All a Mind Game?

grocery-store

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.

Battling Nutrition Misinformation on the Internet

nutri-facts-label

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
http://www.usnews.com/topics/author/julie-upton

Focus on Eating Real Food

veggies

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 Tips

veggies

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

For more specific information click on this link to view the slide show and to browse delicious lunch recipes. 

New Year’s Resolutions: Old vs New & Improved

Weigh A Decision

The New Year is upon us.  Time for resolutionsdiet plans and anything else you want to start fresh in this new season.  As for me, I mentioned countless times I am not a huge fan of resolutions, mostly because I think it often embraces the all or nothing mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place. So while I am not making any new resolutions, I continue to work on many lifestyle habits that are always a work in progress.  One article I find very helpful is a 2014 blog from College Girl to College Girl that re-frames the way we think about our “resolutions.”  Embrace lifestyle changes as opposed to radical diets.

 

Old: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.”

Why focus on weight and appearance for your New Years Resolution? You should instead focus on feeding your body with healthy foods and listening to what it wants and needs. After all, the number on the scale is… well, just a number.

New and Improved: “I’m going to make more meals at home.”

After the holidays, we fall into a bit of a nutrition slump. We’re used to eating bigger meals, eating out with our family and friends, and sampling the wide variety of Christmas cookies! But, most of us grow tired of this and are ready to get back on our normal eating schedule. After New Years, make a resolution to make more meals at home and only eat out, let’s say a maximum of twice of week. Also, eating at home is often healthier, more nutrient dense, and lower in empty calories and more conducive to weight management.

 

Old: “No more desserts for me!”

Cutting out your favorite foods will only lead to wanting them more, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation.

New and improved: “I am going to eat at least 3 different kinds of fruits/vegetables a day.”

Instead of focusing on what you are going to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet! Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. Check out this recipe for banana whip.

 

New and improved: “I will sign up and train for a 10 mile race.” or “I will try 2 new group fitness classes a month, and work out at least 3 times a week.”

Being more physically active is a great New Years Resolution. But, if you do not consistently exercise, making a resolution to “work out more” or “exercise every day” may not be specific enough. If you like to run, try signing up for a race with a few friends. Set up a training schedule together. If you don’t like to run, find other ways.

 

Old: “I’m going to get the bikini body I’ve always wanted.”

What is a “bikini body” anyway?

New and Improved: “I’m going to focus on what I love about my body.”

Try committing to saying 3 positive affirmations out loud everyday. Or make a list of 10 things you love about yourself that you love about yourself that includes non-body related personality traits. Add to this list often and read it often!

 

Old: “I’m going on a diet.”

New and Improved: “I’m going to fuel my body with the food it needs.”

This year try to REBEL against conventional fad diets that do not provide long lasting results and can be dangerous to your health.

 

Old: “I am going to start eating healthier”

This is a great resolution, but it’s too vague and general. Try coming up with specific and small health goals that you can accomplish and focus in on.  

New and Improved:  “I am going to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night” or “I am going to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables per day” or “I will start eating breakfast” These resolutions will help you eat and be healthier and are specific and achievable.

 

Adapted from College Girl to College Girl: Revamp your New Years’ Resolution

Simple Holiday Treat – Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

hazelnut_biscotti

In an effort to simplify my life this holiday season, a theme that resonates with me every year, I have been thinking about ways to pare down my life. This thought started with a simple trip to the grocery store where I noticed the shelves were filled with an overabundance of holiday food items, that sadly, go to waste. It goes without saying that we live in a world of abundance, particularly when it comes to food. Of course, this is not a blog about world hunger, but it certainly gives you something to think about in this season of plenty.

 

Obviously, being a nutrition professional, I have a love of food so I am not going to totally forgo the joy of baking, just stick to my favorites that I know will be savored by family & friends alike.  My personal favorite holiday treat is Hazelnut Maple Biscotti; nothing beats this divine combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.

 

So, I will savor my biscotti and all the simple pleasures the season has to offer.

 

Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber.

 

½ cup pure maple syrup

½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)

¼ cup butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1-teaspoon vanilla

1-tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts

Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat. In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.

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