‘Eat Well, Be Well’

Healthy Eating “Headlines” – Part 2

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.

 

Source:

Karen Collins-Behind the Headlines

Healthy Eating “Headlines”

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

The Eager Eater

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 fornormal 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.

WHAT’S TRENDING?

I love reading the predicted food trends for the coming year. While a Google search will turn up an endless list of what’s treading for 2017, I enjoyed reading the top 5 from a recent Forbes article. Whether or not we will actually see these trends in 2017 remains to be seen, but I am sure many of us will welcome No More Kale (or at least not for breakfast, lunch & dinner).

 

#1: VEGETARIAN COMFORT FOOD

Good news for those of us who would like to consume more vegetables.

My favorite stand by is roasted cauliflower.

 

Vegetables will continue its rise on the dinner plate, as animal proteins and heavy side dishes make way for more vegetarian options. According to Pinterest, there’s a rise in the word “veggies” in its comfort food searches by 336% last year, while words such as “lasagna,” “macaroni” and “Stroganoff” were off by 69%, 55% and 50%, respectively. What this means is that many more people are likely to order mashed cauliflower instead of rice and pasta, and (if possible) request for vegetable crust for healthier pizza.

 

#2: ARTISAN BUTCHER SHOPS-PLUS-RESTAURANTS

It’s quality vs. quantity when it comes to meat consumption.

 

Given the rise of vegetarian options out there, expect push back from the other end. This comes in the form of artisanal butcher shops-cum-restaurants, which fortify people’s love for meat. Delivering a more upscale flair to the craft of butchery, this “butcher-to-table” trend lets customers be in awe with the preparation of everything from grilled steak to charcuterie. Plus, you’ll get to eat them right away. 

 

#3: BREAKFAST, UPDATED

Good news for the non-traditionalist breakfast eater.  I know a few people in my house will applaud this trend.

 

For many of us, all-day breakfast is hardly a new concept. But with many fast food chain offerings such as the “Brunchfast” at Jack-in-the-box and spiced up breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks, what’s particularly unique about this trend in 2017 is how the texture of breakfast will change. Forget smoother breakfast offerings such as soft scrambled eggs, buttered grits, or oatmeal’s. What you’ll find are the so-called, more “aggressive” crunchier items like fried chicken, crispy chorizo and chimichurri. As a bonus, smaller chains and independent eateries will justify these around-the-clock breakfast items as perfect hangover cures!

 

#4: KALE NO MORE

Full disclosure, I really do like kale, but am happy to see a much needed break from it’s role as the health savior.   Stick with a variety of healthy vegetables, your palate will thank you.

 

Remember the days when kale represented all that is healthy? Well, according to Whole Foods’ former global grocery coordinator, it’s time to say goodbye (at least when it comes to the consumer packaged version). Nowadays, there are many more options if you’re looking for healthy vegetables that are also good for reducing food waste. For instance, there’s a large range of seaweeds, which pack in more umami flavors for different broths. And as for the waste-not economy, many chefs are looking out for newer, more interesting alternatives such as beet greens, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, and carrot tops. Since kale seems to have gone past its peak, get ready to find other yet-to-be-discovered vegetable for creative, new dishes.

 

#5: BOWLS, BOWLS, BOWLS

I love the idea of packing healthy goodness into one delicious bowl.

 

First, there were acai bowls. Then, there was poké. In 2017, eating from bowls will be taking over further as restaurants are migrating from serving handheld items to placing in bowls like Korean bibimbap. There are many benefits to this trend. Not only is it less likely for what’s in the takeaway bowls to get splattered on the office desktop, it’s also easier and faster to assemble a bowl than plated upscale entrees. Moreover, holding a bowl would likely make you psychologically more prone to mindfulness. You’ll feel a full a lot faster, and be able to savor all the flavors and textures with every bite. What’s not to like?

 

Source: Forbes

WHAT’S TRENDING?

IMG_5719(2)

I love reading the predicted food trends for the coming year. While a Google search will turn up an endless list of what’s treading for 2017, I enjoyed reading the top 5 from a recent Forbes article. Whether or not we will actually see these trends in 2017 remains to be seen, but I am sure many of us will welcome No More Kale (or at least not for breakfast, lunch & dinner).

 

#1: VEGETARIAN COMFORT FOOD

Good news for those of us who would like to consume more vegetables.

My favorite stand by is roasted cauliflower.

 

Vegetables will continue its rise on the dinner plate, as animal proteins and heavy side dishes make way for more vegetarian options. According to Pinterest, there’s a rise in the word “veggies” in its comfort food searches by 336% last year, while words such as “lasagna,” “macaroni” and “Stroganoff” were off by 69%, 55% and 50%, respectively. What this means is that many more people are likely to order mashed cauliflower instead of rice and pasta, and (if possible) request for vegetable crust for healthier pizza.

 

#2: ARTISAN BUTCHER SHOPS-PLUS-RESTAURANTS

It’s quality vs. quantity when it comes to meat consumption.

 

Given the rise of vegetarian options out there, expect push back from the other end. This comes in the form of artisanal butcher shops-cum-restaurants, which fortify people’s love for meat. Delivering a more upscale flair to the craft of butchery, this “butcher-to-table” trend lets customers be in awe with the preparation of everything from grilled steak to charcuterie. Plus, you’ll get to eat them right away. 

 

#3: BREAKFAST, UPDATED

Good news for the non-traditionalist breakfast eater.  I know a few people in my house will applaud this trend.

 

For many of us, all-day breakfast is hardly a new concept. But with many fast food chain offerings such as the “Brunchfast” at Jack-in-the-box and spiced up breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks, what’s particularly unique about this trend in 2017 is how the texture of breakfast will change. Forget smoother breakfast offerings such as soft scrambled eggs, buttered grits, or oatmeal’s. What you’ll find are the so-called, more “aggressive” crunchier items like fried chicken, crispy chorizo and chimichurri. As a bonus, smaller chains and independent eateries will justify these around-the-clock breakfast items as perfect hangover cures!

 

#4: KALE NO MORE

Full disclosure, I really do like kale, but am happy to see a much needed break from it’s role as the health savior.   Stick with a variety of healthy vegetables, your palate will thank you.

 

Remember the days when kale represented all that is healthy? Well, according to Whole Foods’ former global grocery coordinator, it’s time to say goodbye (at least when it comes to the consumer packaged version). Nowadays, there are many more options if you’re looking for healthy vegetables that are also good for reducing food waste. For instance, there’s a large range of seaweeds, which pack in more umami flavors for different broths. And as for the waste-not economy, many chefs are looking out for newer, more interesting alternatives such as beet greens, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, and carrot tops. Since kale seems to have gone past its peak, get ready to find other yet-to-be-discovered vegetable for creative, new dishes.

 

#5: BOWLS, BOWLS, BOWLS

I love the idea of packing healthy goodness into one delicious bowl.

 

First, there were acai bowls. Then, there was poké. In 2017, eating from bowls will be taking over further as restaurants are migrating from serving handheld items to placing in bowls like Korean bibimbap. There are many benefits to this trend. Not only is it less likely for what’s in the takeaway bowls to get splattered on the office desktop, it’s also easier and faster to assemble a bowl than plated upscale entrees. Moreover, holding a bowl would likely make you psychologically more prone to mindfulness. You’ll feel a full a lot faster, and be able to savor all the flavors and textures with every bite. What’s not to like?

 

Source: Forbes

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.

Bringing Awareness to Daily Eating: Benefits of Mindful Eating

mindful-eating

I had the opportunity recently to attend a mindful eating retreat “After the First Bite” and was amazed at how much better I felt after three days of being aware and paying attention.  When we are on “auto pilot”, we tend to act (eat) first and then become aware of what we have done (eaten) afterwards.  Mindfulness of when, why and what we eat, how it tastes, where it comes from, and how we feel after we consumed it can help bring a natural and healthy change to this everyday process. 

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  1. Helps Us Slow Down
    One of the biggest issues in general is eating SO quickly. You can be out to dinner with someone and by the time you blink a few times the food on their plate is completely gone. Eating quickly is both bad for digestion and it’s also bad when it comes to controlling the quantity of food you’re eating. Practicing mindful eating can help you tune in and pay attention to the food you’re eating, which in turn can help slow you down.
  2. Promotes Eating Less
    Paying attention to the food you’re eating can not only help you enjoy it more, but because you’ve slowed down to tune into your food, it gives your brain and stomach more time to communicate and sense fullness, a process that takes about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Can Boost Satisfaction
    So after slowing down and eating less, what you’ll realize is that you actually have time to listen to what’s going on inside of you, and there is a greater chance that you’ll feel more satisfied. The entire process of tuning into what you’re eating in addition to how it looks and what it feels like, can help promote feeling satisfied, and for many, this is after eating much less food than they once did.
  4. Helps to Better Nourish Your Body
    Proper nourishment for our daily life is the main function of eating.  Paying better attention to what you’re eating and planning ahead can be beneficial when it comes to providing more nutrients to your body, and usually when people start paying attention to what they’re eating, they also usually start to pay attention to providing better nutrition which is a major plus for the body.

Want to Learn More…

Give Thanks

thank-you

As I was preparing to write this blog, I came across the usual array of articles about holiday weight gain, including one about how much exercise is required to burn off your Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than add to the litany of advice about holiday eating (and guilt) I have decided this year to focus on what Thanksgiving is all about: giving thanks. 

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday where we celebrate with friends & family, coming together for a meal of traditional favorites. Many of us have foods we prepare each year that bring us a great deal of comfort & memories. For me personally, my favorite Thanksgiving dish is Corn Bread, Wild Mushroom & Pecan Stuffing. This dish is filled with lots of hearty goodness. I add extra veggies & skip the heavy cream lending to a decent nutritional profile. 

So this Thanksgiving rather than obsessing about the calories you put in your mouth, enjoy time with friends & family, go for a walk (or turkey trot), be mindful of the quantity of food your consume (no “thanksgiving full” this year) & quite simply, give thanks.

Our Relationship with Food

rel-to-food

When it comes to eating very few of us would argue that our relationship with food has many psychological components.  Eating based on only physical cues (i.e. physiological hunger) can be a challenge in today’s world.  Many of us use emotions, social cues, etc. to choose when & what to eat. The past few months I have been reviewing intuitive Eating Principles for my practice & the message that has resonated with me is “permission,” permission to eat, permission to actually enjoy food. That is why I loved this recent blog from Raise Healthy Eaters, which highlights the change in our relationship with food when we actually give ourselves permission to eat

  • I give myself permission to not have chocolate cake because it just doesn’t sound good.
  • I give myself permission to work out because it will enhance my day, even with an out-of-control to-do list.
  • I give myself permission to skip my work out because it will only add more stress to an already packed day.
  • I give myself permission to have coffee with a friend because I need connection, even though time is limited.
  • I give myself permission to cancel with a friend because it’s just one of those days.
  • I give myself permission to blow off my Sunday to-do’s (grocery shopping, getting ready for the week) and stay in my PJs with my kids, order take out and watch a movie because I just know I need a break.
  • I give myself permission to spend much of my Sunday getting ready for the week because I know it’s going to be a crazy week.
  • I give myself permission to pursue an interest or different career even though it will sound crazy to my family and friends.
  • I give myself permission to focus on what I’m doing now, and not feel like I have to do anything more to impress anyone.

As you can see, this advice does not just apply to food, so go ahead, give yourself permission.

 

Habits That Stop You From Eating Healthy

healthy-eating

Like most people, I struggle to maintain healthy habits, especially as we enter into the busy season of back to school & sports.  Of course, one can always find excuses as to why they aren’t maintaining their healthy habits.  However, there are some habits that always interfere with eating healthy, despite the season. Summer Tomato came up with a great list of Habits That Stop You From Eating Healthy:

Avoiding the Grocery Store:

Not Sleeping Enough

Not Keeping A Stocked Pantry

Buying out of Season Veggies

Ignoring your Dirty Kitchen

Over- Exercising

This article gives some great basic tips and reminds me it is quite simple to adjust my habits to keep my on track when it comes to healthy eating (& exercise). 

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