Author Archive for: ‘smeyer’

Spotting Added Sugars in Food

cookies

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.

 

The Gluten Free Diet Trend

wheat

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.

Ways to Eat Smarter this Spring

asparagus

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.

Source:appforhealth.com

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.

Recognizing a Good Whole Grain

italian bread

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.

Recognize a good whole grain

Soft pretzel rolls (I used 100 % whole wheat flour with beautiful results)

 

Nutrition Tips from the Experts

Nutrition

There is no shortage of nutrition information on the Internet, but whether or not this information is scientifically accurate is another story.  Countless purported experts are giving advice on how to eat right & exercise.  That is why I loved this recent blog from appetite for appetite for health, which highlights nutrition tips from the real nutrition experts, registered dietitians.  As they so aptly puts it “Dietitians follow nutrition research, and our recommendations always stem from human clinical trials conducted at reputable universities and published in top-tier medical journals. How we eat and live aligns with the totality of the science (not one new study), too, so while our tips may not be new — they do work.”

Read on for nutrition advice from the Nutrition Pros, courtesy of the nutrition experts at appforhealth.com

Healthy Eating Tips from Nutrition Pros

Enjoy a daily treat

There’s a certain mental satisfaction that comes with knowing you don’t have to eat perfectly 24/7. And although I’m a total health nut (understatement!), I appreciate having the wiggle room to be spontaneous with my kids or sample something truly special at an event or party without any guilt.

The payoff

Giving yourself the allowance for a portion-controlled daily treat removes feelings of deprivation, which in turn enables you to stick with an overall healthy eating regimen. Win-win. — Joy Bauer, MS, RD, Today Show Nutritionist

Eat more of the good stuff

While nothing is really off limits, I aim to load up on the healthier foods and enjoy smaller amounts of less healthy food. For example, instead of a bowl of ice cream with a few berries on top, I’ll have a bowl of berries with a spoonful of ice cream on top. I’ll fill half my plate with veggies and have a smaller portion of protein and grains. I also choose satisfying nutrient-dense “real” foods and eat them in smaller amounts. For example, I’d rather have a little bit of a flavorful full-fat cheese than a reduced-fat cheese with not much satisfaction.

The payoff

I can eat whatever I want and never feel deprived, while still maintaining my weight and getting important nutrients in my diet. — Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Eat Right When Time is Tight

Eat every few hours

I plan on eating something every 3 to 5 hours. Once I’m comfortably satisfied after eating a meal or snack, I stop before becoming too full. I remind myself that I can finish what I’m eating or eat something else again in a few hours, but only if I’m hungry.

The payoff

When I set myself up for regular meals and snacks throughout the day, I’ve found it’s the easiest way to keep my craving for refined, carbohydrate-rich foods like cookies and other baked goods in check. — McKenzie Hall, RD, NourishRDs

Choose an activity you love

I do an activity that I love every day — and that’s usually yoga. I find yoga extremely challenging for my body and my mind. I tell my patients all the time that exercise shouldn’t be torture, but rather enjoyable. And for every person, that could be something totally different.

The payoff

If you exercise on a regular basis you could have more energy, better weight control and a little less stress. — Keri Gans, MS, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet

Make easy substitutions

I don’t believe in deprivation, so I enjoy just about everything… in moderation. I’m always looking for ways to make everyday favorites healthier without sacrificing taste. For instance, when baking, I’ll cut the sugar by 25 percent and I use canola oil in place of butter, margarine or shortening because it’s lower in saturated fat than most vegetable oils and has more beneficial omega-3s. I also love chocolate, so I make sure I eat dark chocolate rich in beneficial flavonoid antioxidants.

The payoff

I don’t feel deprived so it’s easier for me to stick with an overall healthier diet 90 percent of the time. — Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, co-author of The Real Skinny

Monitor your movement

I stay active on most days (typically six times a week) and keep tabs on my daily physical activity by wearing a fitness tracker. It keeps me accountable as I strive to meet my daily goal of 10,000 to 12,000 steps (the equivalent of about five to six miles).

The payoff

Wearing my tracker not only helps me track my fitness stats, but it actually motivates me to move even more than I might otherwise. I have been active for years, but I’ve learned that I really like knowing not only how far I’m going when I walk around the city or on the beach or hike, but how much time I’ve spent being sedentary. I’m always so proud when I surpass my goal and know that staying accountable gives me the positive reinforcement I need to continue. – Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, author of Younger Next Week

Make it simple

My meals are always delicious, but simple. That means no sauces, gravies or extras that often pile on a lot of extra calories. For example, at dinner I have a piece of simply prepared lean protein (grilled salmon, beef or boneless chicken), a side veggie off the grill or steamed with a squeeze of lemon and a big green salad. I also exercise every day — even if it’s only a 30-minute walk.

The payoff
I get to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and weight maintenance is easy. — Kathleen Zelman, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition, WebMD

Eat fresh with frozen

I stock my freezer with plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables that I can grab at a moment’s notice for a variety of meals and snacks. I use frozen veggies to add to soups or egg or bean or casseroles, and I always have frozen berries to make my favorite smoothies with almond milk and Greek yogurt.

The payoff

I get more fruit and veggie servings in my diet because I don’t have to rely on what’s in-season or what I have that’s fresh at home. Studies also show that frozen foods are often as nutritious as — and sometimes even more so — because freezing locks in the nutrients of fresh-picked produce. (Frozen raspberry-beet smoothie recipe.) —Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, Wellness Manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute

Balance your plate

I strive to fill half of my plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter for lean proteins and a quarter for whole grains. My “quarter plate” of lean proteins rotates between legumes, nuts, seeds, chicken, seafood, yogurt and milk. And my quarter grains are almost always whole grains. I indulge in good meat at restaurants, and enjoy a bit of dark chocolate, coffee and wine almost daily.

The payoff

Following the balanced eating plate method and paying attention to hunger cues allows me to enjoy beautiful, scrumptious whole foods until perfectly satisfied. — Michelle Dudash, RDN, chef and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families

Uninspired? Improvise!

veggie-bowl

My bookshelves are lined with many cookbooks.  Despite my wide variety of culinary instruction my wish list on Amazon remains filled with desired books.  However, overflowing bookshelves does not always lead to motivation to create meals.  Feeling uninspired this weekend I stared at my farmer’s market purchases-green beans, zucchini, squash, carrots & tomatoes. Because no particular cuisine was calling to me I thought what better way to combine this produce then a colorful late season vegetable soup.  I remembered a gem of a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Herb and Garlic broth.  Not having all the ingredients on hand, I improvised with garlic, carrots, fresh thyme & parsley to come up with a quick stock for my impromptu vegetable soup.  Dinner ended up being a delicious, warm, homey soup served with a side of cornbread muffins. Not bad for an uninspired dinner.

Finding Your Fiber

grains

Most of us know that eating fiber-containing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are good for our health. Unfortunately the great majority of us consume less than half of the daily fiber recommendation. Never fear, food manufactures have come up with a way for us to consume our daily fiber intake without even so much as picking up a fruit or vegetable. The grocery store shelf is loaded with “high fiber” products such as cookies, brownies, bars, “fruit” snacks, drinks, muffins, and white-flour pastas and breads. A chocolate brownie with “4 grams of fiber” must be healthy, right? However, these processed foods get much of their “fiber” from something called isolated functional fibers like inulin, polydextrose, and modified starches. What exactly are these isolated “functional” fibers that they are putting into these “healthy” foods? Isolated fibers are either extracted from foods or chemically synthesized and are added to foods not naturally rich in fiber. Marketers claim that eating  these fibers will lead to weight loss by making you feel full. While we know that a diet high in natural fiber contributes to satiety, most added fiber in food or drinks is unlikely to have the same affect.

 

The bottom line, stick with real plant based fiber rich foods (beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains) that can lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as help prevent constipation. And as Nutrition Action puts it so well “added processed fibers don’t turn cookies, brownies, bars, and shakes into beans, bran, berries, and broccoli. But they do turn little white powders into bigger profits.”

Food Labels and Creative Marketing

Labels

Food Labels are a perfect example of simple facts that can be completely misleading.  Thanks to the “creative marketing” of food companies, we are lead to believe that eating a “candy bar” will provide us just as much fiber as fruit or that a “contains whole grains” loaf of bread isn’t really white bread in disguise (reality check, it is).  Whatever the label claim, you get the message; food labels are confusing and often downright deceiving.

 

Check out this blog post on appforhealth.com about popular label frauds

 1. Made With Real Fruit or Made With Whole Grains 

There are no regulations regarding the “Made With…. fill in the blank” claims so you need to look at the ingredient list to see if the product really delivers. Many products claim to be made with real fruit or whole grains, when in fact, they may have a lot of added sugars and/or lower quality ingredients. Read the ingredient list. The lower fruit or whole grains are listed on the ingredient list, the less of the ingredient it contains.

2. Lightly Sweetened

Lightly sweetened is another term that food manufacturers use that has no definition by the FDA. Some cereals boasting lightly sweetened on their label contain more added sugar than sugar-coated cereals. Check the Nutrition Facts label and look for cereals that contain 6 grams or less added sugar per serving.

3. Added Fiber

While it’s true that foods marked “added fiber” contain additional fiber (listed as polydextrose, inulin (derived from chicory root), or maltodextrin) it’s not known if these fiber additions have the same health benefits as the fiber found naturally in whole foods. These fiber additives can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach discomfort when taken in excess whereas natural fiber in whole foods does not have this effect. What’s more, they’re generally added to refined or sugar-rich foods to make them appear healthier.

4. Low-Fat or Fat-Free

Marketing a food as “low fat” or “fat-free” can take your attention off the fact that the food is loaded with added sugars or refined carbohydrates. Low-fat foods that high in low quality carbs shouldn’t be part of your everyday diet.

5. Low-Carb, Protected Carbs, Net Carbs, Digestible Carbs (Not really!)

One of the most fraudulent areas of food labeling is with low-carbohydrate foods. Products that use terms like “Protected Carbs,” “Net Carbs,” “Available Carbs,” are often bogus so don’t assume that they’re good for you, especially if you have metabolic syndrome or have diabetes. Dietitians do not subtract fiber or sugar alcohols from total carbohydrate content of foods, so you shouldn’t either!

Cornmeal & Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

22recipehealth-master675

Unbeknownst to me, my blueberry purchase at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market last week was my last.  Luckily I purchased an extraordinary amount of these juicy fruits and had plenty left for my new favorite breakfast treat Cornmeal & Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins. These muffins trump the taste of the cakey “treats” you find in coffee shops and are nutritionally superior. I have made these with freshly ground flour from Wildflour Mill, which happens to carry buckwheat flour.  However, making these muffins with all whole-wheat flour is equally good.

My favorite way to eat these muffins is toasted & slathered with peanut butter…yum.

Enjoy!

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