Main Nutritious Intent Website

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Avoiding Grocery Store Pitfalls

No list?  No good.
This one is obvious, but still often neglected.  Take a few minutes to build and organize your shopping list based on your week or monthly menu.  If you know the layout of the store, writing the list in “walking order” can save lots of time, money and calories by not having to wander, backtrack and pointlessly peruse.

The outside perimeter isn’t always nutritionally superior.
I found this on the perimeter of the grocery store.
The border of the store usually has produce and dairy, but it also often contains processed meats, frozen desserts and baked goods that are often high in added fat, sodium and sugar.  
I found this in the center aisles.
Similarly, while the interior aisles do contain chips, and processed meal items high in sodium, fat and sugar, they also contain whole grains, nuts, produce (canned or frozen) and spices that inspire the home chef.  The take-home message here is to be a savvy shopper regardless of where you are in the store.

Shop with the wrist.

Don’t trust the healthy-sounding buzzwords on packaging.  If it looks really health-trendy, chances are it’s more a matter of superior marketing rather than superior nutrition.  Always flip the wrist to look at the nutrition facts label  to compare products.  %DV (Daily Value) is a quick yet effective way to compare the nutrition content of comparable foods.  Here’s the %DV life-hack: 5% is low, 20% is high.  If those numbers are too difficult to remember, then stick with below or above 10%.  You want high %DV for things like fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.  You generally want to keep %DV low for fats (especially saturated fats) and sodium.  When the new nutrition facts label comes out, be sure to watch for %DV for added sugars – that’s definitely one we should aim to keep low.

Be endcap-wary.
Often the endcaps are offering impulse items that are rarely on your list.  Just because it shows up on a featured endcap doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bargain money-wise or nutrition-wise.

Wear checkout blinders

Most stores count on your stationary time waiting in line to pick up an impulse candy bar or two.  But even if it is advertising healthier snack options, it will most likely be much pricier way of buying healthful snacks.  Also, it might just be adding in extra calories that you are better avoiding. 

Approaching the grocery store with with a plan, sticking to it and taking the time to compare as you shop will pay off in the long run – with a fatter wallet and a potentially thinner waistline.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Making Nutrition a Family Affair

The best laid plans can get shot down if you don't have the support of those closest to you.  Here's how to make good nutrition family affair.

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals Together

Sit down as a family and brainstorm changes you’d like to make. Kids are more likely to adopt healthful habits if their opinions and suggestions are considered. Choose one or two goals that everyone agrees are important and turn them into S.M.A.R.T. goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. For example, a regular goal is: “Everyone eats breakfast in the morning.” As a S.M.A.R.T. goal, it is: “The whole family will eat a breakfast including at least three of the five food groups Monday through Friday either in the kitchen or the car (on rushed days).” Make each goal as clear as possible so no confusion exists about what you’re working toward and when you’ve achieved it.

Show, Don't Tell 

Most kids consider their parents their top role models, even above sports celebrities. They watch and emulate parental behavior more than parents may realize. Rather than making negative comments about food, exercise or your body, show your child what it looks like to engage in regular healthful lifestyle behaviors. By eating nutritious foods and offering them to their children, parents and caregivers can give kids opportunities to learn to like a variety of nutritious foods. 

Make Healthful Living A Family Affair

Make sure kids know they are part of the team and that health and fitness are a family affair. Get active and fit in physical activity when possible throughout the day, whether it’s taking a family walk after dinner, taking the kids to the park or hitting the gym. Remember, children and teens should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and adults should get at least two and a half hours per week. 
Also, consider encouraging children to take up an after-school sport, or trying out different types of sports until they find some they enjoy.
Meal planning doesn't necessarily need to be a grown-up job; encouraging your children to help plan meals, from developing the menu to shopping, preparing and serving the meal all are great ways to get everyone involved.

Small Changes Add Up 

Remember, small steps add up over time and can turn into greater strides toward a healthier lifestyle. Serve regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Here are some small changes to try today:
Start with one meal at a time and fuel the family for the day with a nutritious breakfast.
Focus on health, not weight. Avoid talking about weight or putting yourself down in front of kids. You don't want them to think a healthful lifestyle only is about how much they weigh.
Enjoy family dinner together each night or as often as possible.
At each meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.
Seek help from a qualified health professional. A registered dietitian nutritionist is your best source of reliable and up-to-date food and nutrition information.

Prepare for Challenges 

Don't be afraid of challenges — prepare to overcome them. Lack of time often is cited as the biggest barrier to adopting healthful habits. Fortunately, small schedule tweaks can equal big results. Try substituting some TV time for cooking together as a family, or going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier so you have time for breakfast. Also, consider using a slow cooker, or planning and shopping for weekly meals in advance. Take it slow and be gentle, because change won't happen overnight. Try different strategies to find what works for your family, and forget about perfection — if what you're doing is not fun and rewarding, it's not going to last.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tighten the Belt on Your Food Budget

Drink Free

Bottled water is a $16 billion dollar industry (2,000 times more expensive than tap).  With such a safe, monitored water supply and considering that many bottled water starts out with the tap water you are drinking, why would you pay 2,000 times more?
The US spends $65 billion on soda per year - $850/per person per year on soda.  Whoa!  That plus your bottled water bill is enough to send you on a lovely annual vacation!

Reduce Waste

Make reducing food waste a priority.  The average American household loses approximately $2200 per year on food waste alone. 
Best way to save on your food dollar is to make planning a priority.  3 minutes twice a week to go through your fridge and freezer will reduce waste and allow you to actually enjoy your food while it’s still edible and not growing pink fuzz or liquefying in your produce drawer. 
Working your existing food into your week’s menu may take a few minutes, but provides money savings.

Watch portion size

Take a look at their handful – you may be serving ½ of your portion size to your preschooler, but they may only need ¼ your portion size.  Take a look at your child’s handful-size and reevaluate how much you are serving and wasting.

Unit price first, last and always

A sale tag doesn’t necessarily mean it is cheaper.  Get the whole story with unit pricing.

Shop outside the grocery store

Think outside the traditional grocery store for better food bargains.  For example: bakery outlet bread is half-price or less, dollar store frozen fruit is often ¼ the price of traditional grocery store frozen fruit.  Be aware and informed of your local sales because there will be times when the grocery store may be the best option for your budget.

Fresh isn’t always best

Fresh isn’t the only way to get produce in.  Shopping seasonally will save you money in the produce section, but frozen and canned produce are often cheaper plus you have less waste because of prolonged storage life. 

It all comes down to making an effort at tracking the small changes that really add up.  Those savings will motivate you to continue your savvy shopper efforts and your bank account will be much happier for it.  

Resolutions - it's all about time allocation

One definition of resolution is "determination of a course of action".  In other words, commitment.  Our true commitment shows in where and how we spend our time.  What will you make time for this year?  If healthful changes in the way you approach food, weight and nutrition are on your radar, find a dietitian before you jump into the damaging diet-cycle.  In the meantime, here's a few tips to help you along the way.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pop a Strawberry: My Favorite Whole Grain Ever!

I'm in love.  A small, ruby-like kernel has stolen my heart and my palate.

I know I've had strawberry popcorn before, but this is the first year I grew some in my local community garden.  I chose this variety because it is short (about 4-5' tall) and I didn't want my little plot's crop shading my neighbors' gardens.  I had pretty much emptied out my garden and realized I hadn't harvested my strawberry popcorn.  The ears were so small I could have easily over-looked them, but I'm glad I didn't.  After removing the husks, I let them dry in a paper sack and then gently rubbed the kernels off the cob.  For those with less than hardy skin, I definitely recommend using gloves since while charmingly cute, these cobs are studded with pointy kernels that can poke or scratch.  
After blowing away some of the chaff, these little darlings were ready for popping.

Yes, this is the old-fashioned method - just a swirl of oil in a pan on the stove-top.

The crazy thing is that I think oil-popped popcorn is my indulgence, or treat because it tastes so much better, but it is only 5 calories more than air popped.  1 cup air-popped = 30 calories; 1 cup oil-popped = 35 calories.  Yum!!

Not a single unpopped kernel (which is why I generally prefer this to microwaving in a brown bag). And they tasted so fresh and yummy, adding butter didn't even cross my mind!

These delicate beauties are sort of stunning with their crimson hulls and white-as-snow  . . . um, I've no idea what the white part of popcorn is called . . . this is awkward.  Anyway, you know what I mean. Their unique charm may have stolen my heart, but their appearance isn't the reason they've stolen my palate.  No siree!  They provide the lightest, crispiest, delicately crunchy, quintessential popcorn experience your mouth will ever savor.  A few crops really do taste better when you grow them yourself.  As with tomatoes, home-grown popcorn really does significantly superior to store-bought.  So there you have it.  My favorite whole grain and popcorn-love-story all wrapped up into one strawberry popcorn package.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Culture of Food

Food is more than calories and nutrients.  The what, when, where and with whom we eat is so much more than just a sum total of nutrition it provides.  What identity, history and tradition are you passing on with the foods you eat and your food habits? Aside from delivering nutrients, food has many other roles.  Here are four to consider:

Relationships. The origin of the word “companionship” comes from the sharing of bread (or pan) with someone.  Inviting someone to share a meal or a beverage is often the first step in getting to know another person.  In some instances, it is culturally taboo in many ways to refuse an invitation to share a meal and could even be viewed as a rejection of the host or a hostile action toward them.

Trust.  Eating is a very unique experience for our body.  The GI tract is the only completely open organ system and when we eat we are  exposing ourselves to  some vulnerability.  Food could cause an allergic reaction, or make us sick, or in the extreme, be poisonous, so eating food prepared by someone else becomes an act of trust.

Control. Food is power.  Whether on a large national scale, or simply within your own family, the person who controls the food wields the power.  I remember as a kid, sneaking food to my bedroom – not because it was forbidden to eat that food, but just the thought that I could eat what, when and I where I chose was appealing.  Kids especially crave that power and it is a delicate balance in feeding kids to allow them some control when it comes to food.

Identity. Food shapes our identity as a group.  For example, if you are served fry sauce with your French fries, you know you’re among Utahns, but if your fries come with gravy and cheese curds, you know you’re amongst Canadians. Food shapes our identity as an individual.  For example, being vegetarian, being a dark chocolate eater, or maybe just being the only in the house that doesn’t like nuts creates a descriptive sense of identity.

Food teaches much more than nutrition and a list of how nutrients affect our health.  It teaches manners, patience, cooperation and sharing.  It hopefully teaches delayed gratification, serving others, organization and planning.  It tells a story of who you are, what you love, where you came from and often involves memorable stories within your family.  It hopefully teaches you about your past, but also how to be a wise steward of resources going forward.  If you haven’t thought much about food beyond what you can stuff in your gullet to silence the hunger, maybe you should sit down and think about what food means or should mean to you and how you are going to pass that cultural legacy along to others. 

Trimming Thanksgiving

Rumor has it that a typical American eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving.  That’s a bit of an exaggeration.  But even with the more realistic number of 2,500 calories at one meal, Thanksgiving becomes a painful study in excess calories.  Here are some simple ways to eat less at Thanksgiving without overhauling or skipping your favorite dishes. 

Buffet all the way! Keeping the food at a slight distance from your plate makes dishing up an intentional, mindful act.  Having to get up from the table to refill your plate means you’ll most likely think twice before cramming in un-needed second helpings. 

Veg-out first.  No, this is not the call of the couch potato, instead, serve salads, veggies and other nutrient-dense, but calorie light foods first.  Filling up more on veggies will keep the higher caloric options in better. 

Downsize your plate.  If you can choose dishes with smaller plates, do so.  Plate size has increased right along with American’s waistlines – coincidence? I think not.  An 8 inch dinner plate is optimal for normal portion-size control, but if you struggle to find 8 inch plates, don’t choose anything larger than 9-10 inch plates.

Cut calories with color.  The color of your plate may actually make a difference in how much food you end up eating.  More contrast between the plate and the food means you’ll eat less, whereas a plate that blends in with the food will increase your chances of eating more. 

Slow down the meal with fun conversation.  Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with family – so play that up at the dinner table.  If we converse more at mealtime, we eat slower and eat fewer calories.  If you have already moved the food to the buffet, you’ll have plenty of space on the table for creative conversation starters.  Consider incorporating family photos or mementos in the centerpiece of your table.  A kid’s table would really enjoy a few fun family trivia questions, or even some “would you rather. . .” questions on the back sides of their place cards. 

Think sliver not slice.  By the time dessert rolls around, most guests are fairly full.  Double the number of slices in your pies to allow guests to enjoy just a sliver, or perhaps try more than one without going overboard on dessert. 

Thanksgiving can be a festive, healthful and traditional meal without the painful fallout of overdoing it.