Main Nutritious Intent Website

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Skip Breakfast If You Want A Fatter Belly

Breakfast is the most under-utilized, neglected and most-skipped meal of the day.  This isn't news to any of us.  But did you know that skipping breakfast increases your risk of obesity?  Prolonging your body's fasting state by skipping breakfast alters your insulin levels and causes your body to store more fat - particularly in the abdominal region.  Yep - skipping breakfast gives you a fatter belly.  Starting to rethink eating breakfast yet?  Not only does the mid-morning hunger drive you to the vending machine or the doughnut aisle of the grocery store, but those who skip breakfast generally eat less fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  So breakfast really sets the nutritional tone for your day.  
No time you say?  That's no excuse.  Here are some quick, eat-on-the-go breakfast options:
  • Zip-lock Breakfast: high-fiber dry cereal + handful of almonds + handful of dried cherries or cranberries
  •  Granola Bar & Fruit: Caution - choose high fiber, lower sugar options.  Remember that most granola bars are essentially candy bars in disguise.  Grab a banana, apple or orange to go along with it.
  • PB&J: Whole grain bread plus some peanut butter and real-fruit jam makes a great breakfast.  Make a bunch of sandwiches ahead of time and keep them in the fridge or freezer ready to grab and go.  
  • Yogurt & Fruit:  Slice up an apple the night before (it won't brown too much in 12 hours if rinsed and kept in a plastic bag), then use your yogurt as a fruit dip.
  • Savory Sandwich: For those that prefer savory breakfasts, try making a ham or cheese sandwich on whole grain bread the night before.  Pair it with some clementines or grape tomatoes. 
  • The Muffin Man: Make a batch of high fiber muffins (shredded carrots,  applesauce, flaxseed, wheat bran, raisins and bananas all make tasty & healthful additions to muffins), then wrap individually and keep in the freezer.  Pull one out the night before and you'll enjoy a bakery-style breakfast without all the extra fat, sugar and calories.  Try  Fresh Apple Muffin or Carrot Cake Muffin
Think about it.  Going for a doughnut mid-morning is going to make you more likely to "blow-it" the rest of the day and you'll be less likely to make an effort to work in fruits and veggies.  But, if you make an effort to include a fruit or vegetable with breakfast, it will increase your likelihood of eating more fruits and vegetables the rest of the day.   So give up your breakfast-skipping habit and enjoy the energy and health that is bound to follow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

6 Ways to Keep Snacking Healthful

1. Kitchen grazing starts at the store.When it comes to healthy nutrition for your family, the grocery store is where it all starts. If it isn't in your home, you won't eat it. So when you make your grocery list, do so with your family's tastes, preferences, and health in mind. For example instead of buying bags of chips, try lightly salted nuts, or whole grain crackers. If sweets are a big snack craving, buy ripe fruits, yogurts, or small, individually-wrapped chocolates. But none of this will make any difference if you don't stick to your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy at the grocery store.
2.  Plan ahead snack times and portions.
We've all heard the saying, “you don't plan to fail, you fail to plan”. This definitely applies to nutrition. Oreos are quick and easy to grab, requiring no preparation or clean-up. So take a few minutes when you get home from the store to individually bag up the crackers, or nuts, or chips. Ten minutes of washing, cutting and bagging fresh veggies will provide healthful snacks for a week. Also, think about having some dried fruits or dry cereal in your car for those crazy schedule days when you are tempted to just hit the drive-thru.
When you have a snack attack, think carefully about what you are really craving. Satisfying that specific craving will save you eating through multiple servings of other foods as you search for true satisfaction. 
3. Use snacks to pack in fruits and veggies.
Most of us fall short of eating 9 or more servings of fruits and veggies each day. In order to reach that nutrition goal, make it a habit to eat fruits and vegetables as your snacks. But don't burn yourself out on plain, old carrot sticks everyday. Try dipping your veggies in salsa or greek yogurt. Add a little heat to your apple with some lime juice, salt and hot chili. Or make a fruit salsa to nosh on throughout the week by adding lime and chipotle powder to chopped up fruit. Spoon it into a waffle cone for a fun, hand-held snack. Try drying your own fruits such as pineapple rings or grapefruit slices.
4. Curb cravings while cooking.
Cooking can be a very tempting time to snack as we are naturally hungry prior to a meal and we are surrounded by the sights and smell of delicious food. Beware of the extra snacking that can happen with over sampling as you cook. Brushing your teeth or chewing gum while cooking helps keep extra tidbits out of your mouth as you cook. Also, keep a big glass of ice water handy so when you get the yen to nibble, you can reach for the water instead. Also, when tasting sauces, gravies, or creamy soups, try using a butter knife instead of a spoon. A spoonful of gravy or sauce contains 10-20 calories, whereas with a butter knife, you'll only be getting 1-2 calories. That can end up saving you 50-100 calories just before dinner!
5. Keep only the healthy things visual.
Marketing relies heavily on visual cues to spark our interest, appetites and ultimately our spending. What are you marketing in your own kitchen? Is the cookie jar on the counter? Try placing it in the cupboard and replacing it with a bowl of fresh fruit. Is the first thing you see in the pantry cookies and candy? Place them behind the nuts, dried fruit and cereal. Swap out your candy dish for a bowl of pistachios or almonds. Place fruits and veggies in clear, visible containers, front and center in your refrigerator. If you see it, you're more likely to want to eat it.
6. Keep Kitchen hours.
Keep in mind that a kitchen doesn't need to be open 24/7. It is ok to close the kitchen between meals and snacks. Feeling hunger is normal and we should feel hungry multiple times a day. Diets teach us to fear hunger, but don't buy into the notion that food is more powerful than you.
Make it a family rule to only eat in 2 rooms of the house. There is no need to eat in every recreational or personal room of the house.

Studio 5: Curbing Kitchen Grazing

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Want Better Health? Be the Leading Lady/Man in Your Own Life

I enjoy movies as much as the next person, and yes, I've even daydreamed of living in a certain movie from time to time. But I propose that there are some beneficial health lessons to be drawn from the concept of a movie set.

Nothing makes or breaks a movie more memorably than its dialogue. What does that have to do with your personal health? Simply this -- we become what we tell ourselves. So what is your mental dialogue when you look in the mirror? Are you giving yourself leading-lady-worthy lines? Truly, we believe what we tell ourselves, so try telling yourself that you are beautiful, healthy and energetic. It is a great way to start yourself down that self-fulling-prophecy path.

When was the last time you thoughtfully chose the soundtrack to your life? Mine varies wildly. Sometimes the kitchen scenes of my life just call out for some reggae. Other times, the housecleaning scene calls out for some Thompson Twins and Erasure. Often, the exercise scenes of my life call for special soundtrack selections -- anything from an inspirational lecture to merengue -- depending on my mood. What does this have to do with health? We move more and with a wider variety of movements when we listen to music. From tapping your toe in a waiting room to dancing down the hallway, music moves us. So the next time you have a mundane or tedious task, crank up the tunes and burn some calories.

Remember Mister Rogers? He would always change his shoes when he got home. Don't underestimate the power of comfortable athletic shoes. Gym shoes don't need to be worn exclusively at the gym. Sometimes simply changing your footwear can change the way you run up the stairs or the speed at which you put those groceries away. This is coming from a dedicated slipper-wearer, so I understand the need to relax in furry slippers, but try swapping them out for nice, cushioned walking shoes and see how it changes the way you do the laundry. Plus, you can always dance along to that soundtrack better if you've got something a bit more supportive than flip-flops on.

Picture a film set. What do you picture off camera back behind the directors chairs and all the action? A nicely laid buffet table. The bad news is this: you are also the caterer. The good news is this: it doesn't take much time or effort. Take 10 minutes after you get home from grocery shopping to wash and cut up your produce, place in small snack-size bags or clear visible containers and put them front and center in the fridge. That is your buffet. It is surprising how much more likely we are to eat fruits and veggies if they are cleaned, cut, and waiting happily for us as we open the fridge. Not many people in midst of a snack attack will say to themselves, "Hmm, I'm a bit peckish. . . I think I'll wash, cut and slice this pineapple." Make the healthy stuff visible and convenient.

So be the leading lady or leading man in your own life and with a few tweaks to your dialogue, soundtrack, wardrobe and catering, you can ensure your life's movie is a health blockbuster, not a health-horror film.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Still want to diet? Ask yourself these questions first

Before you decide to take the plunge and start a diet, take a minute to ask yourself these 5 questions. If you answer no to any of them, you'd best look elsewhere for weight-management help.
And as always -- when in doubt, talk to a registered dietitian.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Special Occasion: The Lost Art of Eating Out Sparingly

We have the tradition of letting the birthday person in the family choose the restaurant for their birthday dinner. (They also get to select the menu for the eat-at-home birthday meal, but that is another blog post altogether.) The kids ponder over their choice months in advance and truly look forward to eating out. Why? Because it is a special occasion. Does that mean that as a a family of 4, we eat out only 4 times a year? Not at all. But the times that we do eat out are special occasions. Daddy-daughter, mother-son dates, not to mention dates with my husband all fall into that category. Family parties occasionally call for pizza just as some families have traditions to eat at certain restaurants for certain holidays. All of those things qualify as special occasions.

However, soccer nights every Tuesday and Thursday, or every time you are running errands near the dinner hour, or every Friday & Saturday just because it is the weekend do not constitute a special occasion. Those things are by definition are fairly routine. Those times are what freezers & crockpots, salad, taco or any other quick or make-ahead meals were made for. So resolve to make 2013 special - and keep the drive-thru, takeout and eating-out where they belong, out of the weekly schedule and back in the special occasion category. Not only will your heart and waistline thank you, but your wallet will as well.