With all the confusing messages about healthy eating & nutrition science I decided this important topic warranted two separate blogs. Last month’s blog focused on nutrition priorities and this month I will discuss some of the popular nutrition headlines.
Gluten Free-the cure all?
No one can deny the current popularity of gluten free diets. Books & celebrities are advocating for a gluten free diet for “clean living” and weight loss. What the promoters fail to point out is that cutting out gluten containing foods like cookies, cakes & deep fried battered foods is a positive nutritional change that results in fewer calories consumed (hence weight loss). This effect is not directly related to gluten consumption. Additionally, three large studies have shown that people with the highest gluten intake were actually 20 % less likely to develop diabetes. Furthermore, these studies debunk the claim that eating gluten causes weight gain as evident by the finding that there was no relationship between gluten intake and weight. There is no benefit to avoiding gluten if you do not have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.
Health Halo Package Claims-Help or Hinder?
While food label reading is a component of healthy eating, it may unfortunately bring out the unwanted side effect of health halos. A halo effect on a certain food or brand causes the person to perceive the product as healthy, thus resulting in overconsumption of said product. Health claims on a food package does not mean that food provides nutritional benefits, as these claims can be misleading. Always check the Nutrition Facts panel & pay attention to portion sizes. Healthy, unprocessed food does not contain (nor need) a health claim.
Does Healthy Eating Cost More?
The claim “healthy eating is too expensive” is often cited as a reason for consuming cheap, processed convenience food. Current research contradicts this belief by showing that people who prepare home cooked meals engage in healthier eating habits & actually spend less money on food. Frequent eating out is associated with poorer health habits. Processed, convenience “health” foods actually cost more money than preparing a home cooked meal. If you struggle with ideas for healthy meal preparation, research quick and easy ways to prepare meals at home. The Internet contains an overabundance of healthy recipes & tips-just know where to look. Explore websites such as Ellie Krieger’s Real Good Food, Cooking Light & Eating Well (to name just a few).
The research on nutrition & health will be ever evolving, this much we know. However, we can be confident that the basic principles of healthy eating won’t change, consuming real, whole foods with a variety of plant rich foods including fruits, vegetables & whole grains.
“Treat others as you would have them treat you.” That’s a modern adaptation of the Golden Rule and one that we’ve probably heard a number of times throughout our life. It’s an ok model. Certainly better than treating others worse than you would have them treat you. But, this article suggests the Golden Rule doesn’t work as well as we may think.
Why is that ineffective? Because it’s based on just this teeny, tiny assumption that the whole universe wants to be treated the way I want to be treated. That’s not the case. We’ve got to learn how to treat others as they want to be treated, which is the Platinum Rule.
We all see the world through our own filters. These filters are unique to us and while we know they must exist, most of us are unaware of them as we move through our day to day interactions.
“Filter – shift” is a concept where we learn to recognize our individual filters and shift our behaviors or responses to them (in other words, our bias) so we can be more effective and have better relationships with one another.
2lbs ripe plum tomatoes, cut ½
2 cloves garlic, whole
1 carrot, large pieces
1 med onion, thick slices
1-2T brown sugar
2T olive oil
to taste s&p
2c veggie stock
4T basil pesto
touch of half & half, optional
fresh basil, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Toss tomatoes, garlic & onions with oil, sugar, s&p
3. Spread in 1 layer on baking sheet, roast 30 mins
4. Transfer to large pot, add veggie broth, bring to boil
5. Reduce heat, simmer 20 mins, reducing liquid by ⅓
6. Stir in pesto
7. Using immersion blender, purée until smooth
8. Can add “touch of” half & half for more creaminess
9. Garnish with freshly chopped basil
There is no shortage of headlines toting the latest development in nutrition science and I will fully admit that it makes my head spin. We all know how important science is, but sometimes it appears that the science is constantly contradicting itself. To avoid this conundrum, I only seek out information written by qualified (i.e. science) experts, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore what consumers are readings.
Recently I read an article simplifying some of the more confusing messages about nutrition science. And despite all the hype we hear, it still comes down to the simple message of eating more plant-based foods, less processed meats & lower sugar intake. The first part of this blog I will sum up the basic messages (which many of us have already heard) and part 2 will address more of the catchy headlines we have seen lately (gluten free among others).
Part 1: Nutrition Priorities
10 dietary factors that show strong evidence as causes of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure & diabetes.
- Excess sodium (i.e. salt) intake
- Low intake of nuts and seeds
- High intake of processed meats (such as bacon and sausage),
- Low seafood omega-3 fats consumption
- Low vegetable & fruit consumption
- High sugar-sweetened beverage intake
- Low whole grains consumption\\
- Low polyunsaturated fats, (vegetable oils)
- High intake of saturated (unprocessed) red meats (beef, lamb, pork).
Optimal dietary intake
What does “optimal” dietary intake look like? Optimal daily intakes include:
- Vegetables-400 grams daily (~ 2 ½ cups) this includes dried beans & peas
- Fruit-300 grams daily (about 2 medium pieces of fruit or 2 cups)-not including juice
o Whole grains-at least 125 grams daily (total 5 or more)-1 slice whole grain bread, ½ cup whole grain ready to eat cereals, cooked whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or other
o Nuts & seeds-equivalent of at least five 1-ounce servings per week
o Seafood-supplied omega 3 fats-at least 250 mg per day-available from 8 oz of a variety of fish per week or 4 oz /week of high omega 3 fat
Source: Healthy Eating Roundup: Behind the headlines
You can be less wasteful. Guaranteed. Wasteful of what, you might ask. Lots of things. But, let’s start with food.
You’ve heard this before: 40% of edible food ends up in the trash. Globally, about 1.3 billion…TONS. So much…it’s hard to even imagine, but let’s try. An average elephant weighs 4 tons. That’s 325 million elephants worth of good food in the trash. Still hard to imagine. The average skyscraper weighs 222 tons. That’s 5,842 skyscrapers. Did that help, or are you still mind-boggled? It’s tempting when we see or hear something that is unsettling to just walk away from it…to try to put it out of our mind because we feel bad about it.
Salt & Straw is a small ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon, and they are whipping up some new flavors using food bound for the trashcan. Get inspired to be less wasteful, to find a way to use ALL of your edible food and to have nearly nothing end up in the trash.
2T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2½c cooked, chilled quinoa
14oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
3lg eggs, beaten
½t fine sea salt
1/3c fresh chives, chopped
1/4c grated parmesan
1/4c goat cheese
2c gluten free bread crumbs
1T olive oil or clarified butter
1. Combine quinoa, eggs, black beans & salt in bowl
2. Lightly sautée onion & garlic in oil, DO NOT brown
3. Add onions to quinoa, stir in other ingredients (except oil/butter)
4. Form into 12, 2″ patties. Best chilled before cooking
5. Heat oil/butter in skillet, med high, sautée 3 mins per side
Serve with red onion marmalade, tomato chutney, and/or horseradish cream
Guess what leadership “interaction skill” has the most impact on a team member’s job performance…clarifies details? Encourages involvement? Supports? Develops others’ ideas? No, no, no. And no.
Listens and responds with empathy.
Yep. That’s it. And it’s a bona fide superpower.
[It] is not just about being able to see things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of teamwork, good innovative design, and smart leadership. It’s about helping others feel heard and understood.
Even Albert Einstein agrees, “empathy is patiently seeing the world through the other person’s eyes. It is not learned in school; it is cultivated over a lifetime.”
1T olive oil
3/4c ea diced carrots & yukon potatoes
1½c ea diced eggplant & butternut squash
½c ea diced mushrooms & leek
1/4c dried cranberries, raisins or prunes
14oz can chickpeas, rinsed
14oz can diced tomatoes
1C veggie broth
2t ea cumin, coriander, paprika
1 cinnamon stick
pinch crushed red pepper, s&p
1/4C fresh parsley
1/4C sliced almonds
1. Sautée veggies in oil, over med heat, 8-10 mins
2. Add other ingredients (except garnishes), bring to boil
3. Reduce to simmer, cook 20-30 mins
4. Remove cinnamon stick
5. Serve over basmati rice or couscous
6. Top with fresh parsley & almonds
Note: cut veggies small dice, ½”
Life is busy, for all of us. Multitasking is the story of my life and one thing I can say with a definitive conclusion is that most of the time I don’t do it well. I find every aspect of my life improves when I tackle one task at a time simply by slowing down & paying attention. This certainly applies to eating. Many of us find ourselves rushing through our meals without giving the food we eat much of a second thought. How can we change? Below are a few strategies (adapted from Rebel Dietitians) for learning how to eat without distraction.
7 Ways to Stop Multitasking While you Eat
1. Take a few deep breaths-this could apply to everything we do. Take a few deep breaths & focus on the task at hand (eating).
2. Ask yourself what you are hungry for– normal eating is actually consuming foods you enjoy. Basing your food choices solely on health only leads to overall dissatisfaction to your palate & the endless quest for satisfaction.
3. Set the table and plate your food-make your meal an actual dining experience. Plate your food instead of picking.
4. Engage all your senses while eating
5. Taste your food-multitasking while you eat actually inhibits the pleasure you derive from eating. Before you know it, your meal is finished, yet you can’t quite seem to remember what your food tasted like (or even how much you ate).
6. Think about ways you could explain this food to someone who has never seen it before.
7. Pause in the middle of eating for at least two minutes-in other words, slow down. Remember your brain takes about 20 minutes to register that your body is full.
For a company that is wild about wildly important goals…say what?!?
You need a goal (or two, but not more than 3!) and it needs to be measurable. The process of identifying and agreeing upon a goal (what can be even better, cleaner, tastier, safer) brings focus…to everyone. And, by the way…”focus” is the single word to which both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates attribute their success — not determination, not smarts, not courage, not creativity — but focus.
BUT, to achieve your goal? Spend your time focusing on your “systems”.
“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day…When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. None of this is to say that goals are useless…goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.”
So, you have a goal…pulse-check…what are your systems for achieving it and maintaining the desired result? Focus, focus and refocus on that.