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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

National Nutrition Month: Put Your Best Fork Forward

Forks are by far the most interesting of all eating utensils.  So functional, so sharp and so daring.  When it comes to food and nutrition, do you consider yourself functional, sharp and daring?  I think we could all use a little polishing when it comes to our eating and nutrition skills, so here's a few suggestions to help you put your best fork forward:
Put your best fork forward by incorporating a few simple but powerful changes in your eating routine.
Go for the best balance. 
  • Best balance means aiming for a protein, grain, fruit and veggie at each meal 
  • Best balance means balancing your hydration status by drinking more water.
  • When a snack attack hits, balance your nutrition by eating a fruit or veggie first. 
Go for the best flavor. 
  • Try tasting your food before salting it. 
  • Try a new fruit or veggie this week.
  • Try a new ethnic flavor like ginger, turmeric, cumin or tarragon (search for recipes by ingredient here)
Go forward with best eating habits. 
  • Try upping your manners at mealtimes by saying say please and thank you and chewing with your mouth closed. Take smaller bites
  • Don’t inhale your food, take a little time to savor and enjoy your meal, don’t inhale it. 
  • Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals by eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you start to feel full. 
Go forward - literally. 
  • Try to walk a little faster or farther today.
  • Try a new exercise like yoga, bokwa or groove.
  • Try a few extra reps in your current workout or simply turn up the tunes when you clean the house and see how much more active you'll be.
In short, put not only your best fork, but best foot forward and see just how much more delicious and healthy your life will become!

Moderation Monday

March is National Nutrition Month and with it, I'm kicking off a new weekly blogpost series entitled "Moderation Monday".

 I know that in the food world, "meatless Monday" has already stolen the alliteration stage, but I'm a sucker for alliteration as well. . . Once a week I'll be playing devil's advocate to the latest food fads, trends and beliefs.  Why?  For one thing, there's a lot of unbalanced, mis-information out there that blinds folks with its popularity in the media.

Another reason is that there's a lot of baby-thrown-out-with-the-bath-water going on when it comes to nutrition.  So every Monday, keep an eye out for the voice of one down-to-earth, real-food-loving, deliciously normal dietitian as I try in my small way to bring nutritional balance to the force.  It may shake your world a bit, it may challenge your current nutrition beliefs, but it will be entertainingly informative.  So stay tuned - the first installment of Moderation Monday starts March 6th!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Nutrition in a Can

For years  people have viewed canned produce as an inferior step-child to fresh or frozen produce, but you shouldn’t overlook these budget superstars.  Here’s why:

Nutritional Value: 
Certain foods actually increase in healthy nutrients and antioxidants when canned due to the heat processing.  Tomatoes and corn are just to examples of canned produce providing more available nutrition than their fresh counterparts.  While the total amount of vitamin C is reduced in the canning process, other antioxidants are increased. 

Individuals who incorporate canned produce into their diets have a higher intake of fruits and veggies than those who eat solely fresh and frozen.  When it comes to maximizing your nutrition, more fruits and veggies are the best way to improve your overall diet. 

When selecting canned produce:
Fruits – added sugars in the form of syrups.  Packed in water or juice is the best option.
Veggies – low or no sodium.  Draining and rinsing can reduce sodium by almost 40%.

Some concern has surrounded canned foods due to amounts of BPA which is found in the resin linings. Even though the amount is regulated by the FDA, I reached out to some companies of brands you may see on the shelves and here’s what I learned: Western Family and Conagra brands including Hunt’s and Rotel do not use BPA. These are just a few brands who have chosen to eliminate BPA.  More and more, canned food producers are getting rid of BPA.

Obvious benefits: 
They save time and money.  We all appreciate the convenience of opening a can of kidney beans vs. soaking and cooking, and it’s always nice to have some year-round produce available at a fraction of the cost of fresh produce. 

So whether you’re making minestrone or tamale pie for dinner or even some cowboy-caviar dip for a game night at home, enjoy the many benefits of nutrition in a can.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Love Food? That's a Healthy Sign

What is one of the longest and closest relationships you will ever have in your life? Your relationship with food.  Yes, you are in a relationship with food – the question remains, how healthy is that relationship, is it a happy or a love-hate relationship?
Here are 5 questions to start you thinking about your relationship with food:

1. Do I hear myself saying (out loud or to myself), “I was good today (or bad) because I ate ______”?
This is a common mindset in today’s society. Labeling yourself as bad or good depending on what you ate, or on a more basic level, classifying food as good or bad has become tragically common.  Food is not an ethical or moral issue.  Certain foods may have differing nutritional compositions, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil or morally superior.  Its all about moderation, balance and circumstance.  For example, if you were stranded in a snow cave, you’d be much better off with a candy bar than a bag of salad. 

2. Do you feel shame or guilt after eating certain foods?
So many times people base their decisions to eat or exercise on what they ate that day or the day before.  Using food as a reward or punishment is not healthy, nor does it lead to a happier life.  Sadly, companies have cashed in on guilt through their media and marketing campaigns.  Slogans like “sinfully delicious”, or even the term “clean eating” have very negative, shameful connotations.  

3. Have I given up any favorite foods because they weren’t “healthy”?
Long-term deprivation is one of the key motivators for breaking a health resolution.  If I were to give up chocolate, a little chunk of my happiness would fall away.  There are all sorts of special-occasion foods that carry personal and cultural importance in our lives.  One family tradition I was raised with that still continues is chocolate chip cookies on Sunday night.  It is a delicious, happy, family and friend-filled tradition that provides much more than 110 calories.  And knowing that cookies will happen again allows you to eat just what is satisfying and leave the rest on the plate. 

4. Do I feel anxious about eating at social functions or around other people?
When eating or anxiety over food starts to interfere with your interactions with other people, a red flag should go up as a warning signal that all is not well and happy with your food relationship.  Do you alter what and how much you eat depending on who you’re with and what they are eating?  Do you find it hard to eat at family dinners or social events because you follow a self-imposed restricted diet? (Allergies and diagnosed medical conditions do not apply here as they are a different matter altogether when it comes to eating and valuing food)

5. Do I look forward to, slow down and savor mealtimes?
Food is so much more than just a checklist of nutrients.  It should be an enjoyable, anticipated event.  Do you inhale your food on the go?  Do you really enjoy the flavors and textures of the food you are eating?  Our bodies are even physiologically designed to gain optimal nutrition from foods that we find appetizing.  Food is meant to be enjoyed. 

So if you are a food lover – take heart.  Chances are your healthy relationship with food is leading you toward life-long health and happiness.