Author Archive for: ‘Sherri Meyer, Corporate Dietitian’

Is it an Epidemic?

As a dietitian, I am always on the lookout for science-based research regarding health and nutrition. The search almost always leads to obesity and how to treat/prevent this epidemic; but recently I was led to something quite different. “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong” is both a horrifying and thought-provoking article. Though not technically a science-based read, it certainly has merits in regards to how we treat this severe public health crisis. I encourage everyone to take the time to read this important article.

“For decades, the medical community has ignored the mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perceptions and ruining millions of lives”

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong*
 
 

*Note: This article includes raw interviews and limited strong language

Counting Your Macros

“Counting macros” appears to have become the latest and greatest diet trend everyone is talking about. When I first heard “counting macros” I assumed it was some complicated mathematical formula; turns out this formula is basic nutrition 101. Macros are an abbreviated term for macronutrients- carbohydrates, protein & fat. These 3 nutrients provide calories, along with a whole host of other bodily functions. Quite simply we cannot survive without them.

To count your macros, your calorie goal is determined and then broken down into how many grams of each macronutrient you should get. This calculation takes into account sex, age, height, weight, daily activity level and daily exercise. There are online tools available to do this.

One purported benefit of this type of diet is that it teaches you how to include all foods & balance portions (something lacking in the typical diet). The long-term goal is to transition into a less rigid eating style, relying on your prior nutrition knowledge & your own personal hunger cues.

For those of you who simply want to enjoy eating intuitively & are satisfied with your current weight, this is not the plan for you. For others who need guidance on what to eat & how much, this may be a good starting point. That said, ultimately, eating should be pleasurable & enjoyable, and if you are constantly weighing, measuring & recording your food intake, the innate pleasure of food is lost.

“We eat food, not macros. Food should be one of life’s pleasures and not a mathematical struggle. While one or two days of educating oneself about macros in a daily menu can be helpful, constant counting can become obsessive and eating should be more intuitive.”

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

Sports nutrition expert

Sources: If It Fits Your Macros

Macro Calculator

Health Doesn’t Have a Size

Recently my young son asked me “do people get fat from eating French fries?” innocently reiterating our society’s simplistic notion that we are overweight from eating too much food. Even as a healthcare professional, I was taught that being overweight is a simple matter of eating too much food; never taking into account that thin isn’t always equivalent to healthy. Furthermore, with over 95% of diets failing (and we all know someone who is on a “diet”) we clearly are not accomplishing our goal of everlasting thinness. While I have witnessed great improvements in our society’s false belief that thinness is the only way to a life of health & happiness, we still have a long way to go. As a dietitian, I have worked with numerous athletes; while in the best shape of their life, still strive to achieve a weight that will be counterproductive to their athletic performance. This theory of thinness has troubled me for some time, leading me to search for science-based information regarding weight & health. My search for body acceptance led me to the HAES organization-Health at Every Size. HAES is a science (i.e. evidence) based approach to supporting the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes, while rejecting the notion that weight is the only indicator of health. I fully support this movement that celebrates the health & diversity of our bodies, breaking us free from the never-ending struggle to achieve a body habitus that is simply unachievable.
 

The Health At Every Size® Principles are:

1. Weight Inclusivity:

Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

2. Health Enhancement:

Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.

3. Respectful Care:

Acknowledge our biases and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.

4. Eating for Well-being:

Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

5. Life-Enhancing Movement:

Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

 

Sources: Empowered Eating Health at Every Size

Simply Fresh Spring

As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese

Ingredients:

· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)

· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan

· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish

· Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.

Source: Foraged Dish

Simply Fresh Spring

As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.


Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese

Ingredients:

· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)

· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan

· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish

· Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.

Source: Foraged Dish

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.

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