Main Nutritious Intent Website

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Smarter Snacking

When a snack attack takes us by surprise, we rarely take the time an effort to search out a healthful, balanced option, so the first key to smart snacking is to plan ahead.  Portability, produce, and low-prep time are just some of the things to keep in mind when choosing snacks for yourself and your family. Here are few other tips to consider that meet those three criteria.
Location, location, location. Think through your day and decide where to stock some handy snacks to help you avoid the same path to the drive-thru or vending machine.  Some dried fruit, nuts, jerky or dry cereal in your desk at work, in your car’s glove box, or in a pocket of your backpack should contain at least a few non perishable snack items.  
Know your audience.  Whether you have grade schoolers or teenagers bursting through the door around 3:00, chances are they will be famished.  And while cheese sticks, almonds and grapes sound like a picture perfect snack, your kids may have other ideas.  And regardless of how ideal the nutrition content of a snack may be, if it doesn’t go in their mouth, it is a moot point.  So look at the foods they currently eat, choose, or buy for themselves and find ways to up the nutrition.  One example is Cup Noodle – a common teen snack go-to now has a new veggie version with a full serving of veggies per container/serving.  They recently reformulated their recipe so that it now has sodium below 50% daily value, no artificial flavors and no added msg.  (#sponsored) When my kids started driving and bringing home their own snack food stashes, this is the kind of food they gravitated towards.  So gently nudging them towards a choice with more veggies is a move in the right directions that doesn't cause them to rebel against their well-intentioned dietitian mother.  Be realistic and take small steps toward better nutrition with your kiddos. 
Prep ahead Something as simple as popping some microwave popcorn while you brush your teeth and bagging it up, and grabbing a clementine or banana on your way out the door will help you hit the spot later in the day as you wait during carpool duty.  Involving your kids in creating their own trail mix, then pre-portioning it out makes a portable snack with very low prep time, and with the addition of dried fruits also hits the produce requirement.  Smart snacking rarely happens spontaneously, but with just a few minutes of planning and preparation, it takes you a lot closer to meeting your nutritional goals in a realistic way for the whole family.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fall Flavor Crave

As the seasons shift and we anticipate cooler weather, our tastes and craving naturally shift as well.  Fall means comfort foods full of warm, rich, flavors unique to the season. The health benefits of eating seasonally include keeping produce intake high, fiber, vitamin A, C, Potassium and other nutrients and compounds that actually boost our immune system and reduce inflammation to keep us healthier this time of year.  Here are some ways to enjoy fall flavors while boosting nutrition at the same time:
Maple is a classic fall flavor and pairing it with some smoky and fall fruit flavors makes for a quick and fresh lunch or dinner go-to sandwich.  I love Eckrich ham fresh from the deli because it is a quality product that makes meal prep simple and quick so you can enjoy more time together as a family.  Spread some rustic bread with a maple mustard, added some Swiss cheese and then some sliced fresh pears and some spinach and deli ham.  It is a simple, yet satisfying way to work in some great nutrition while satisfying some fall flavor cravings.

A discussion on fall flavors wouldn’t be complete without pumpkin.  Caribbean pumpkin-ginger soup is a recipe that packs in all sorts of health benefits. Vitamin A and fiber are some of the obvious nutrients this fall comfort food offers but there are some heart health benefits as well.  September is Cholesterol awareness month so using Mazola corn oil in the recipe also adds some health benefits.  The Journal of Clinical Lipidology has published a study that found that corn oil like Mazola can help lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil.  Another one of my fall flavor traditions is to make homemade fried apple fritters, and corn oil works perfectly for that as well.  

Add fall fruits in unexpected ways.  Kale, spinach and cabbage are in season right now, so consider tossing some cubed or sliced apples or pears into your salad.  And enjoy some anti-inflammatory health benefits by poaching or baking up some apples or pears with some cinnamon for the quintessential fall dessert.  

The take home message is that the more appealing our food is, the more likely we are to enjoy it and find satisfaction from the meal. That behavior increases the nutritional benefit as well as helps reduce stress hormones and promote wellbeing. So the good news is that enjoying seasonal flavors is actually the healthiest as well as the tastiest plan.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Apple A Day

Think that the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is stuff and nonsense? Think again.  Here are just a few of the nutrition benefits of one of the most modest members of the produce department.
Apples are good sources of:
  •  fiber
  • vitamin C 
  • all sorts of phytonutrients.  
Eating apples on a regular basis helps lower cholesterol and subsequently risk of:
  • heart disease and stroke
  • lowers risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes
  • helps improve gut health 
  • helps with weight management.  

One of the main benefits of apples is also a reason they are passed over – they are so universally available that they are almost invisible.  So start seeing apples.  They are one of the most consistently available and inexpensive items in the produce department, to say nothing of being found at breakfast buffets and fruit bowls everywhere.  

But you may be a bit tired of the traditional plain apple, so here are some ways to fall in love again with nature’s unsung powerhouse:

Add apples to your oatmeal or as part of your parfait. Bring apples into the breakfast scene by slicing them onto your oatmeal (you can cook them with the oatmeal if you like a softer, cooked texture), or dice them and put them on your Greek yogurt parfait.  

Top your toast or English muffin with some nut butter and thin sliced apples, or even add it into your grilled cheese for a sophisticated flavor combination of savory, sweet and tart. 

Make an apple sandwich for lunch.  Spread a cross-sectional slice of apple with some peanut butter, sprinkle with some granola and put an apple slice on top.  

Pull out your apple-prep tools.  Chances are you have an apple slicer, corer or peeler somewhere in the back of a drawer or pantry.  And since a lot of the nutritional benefits are found in the peel, let your kiddos eat the apple “ribbons” as you run them through a peeler. 

No time or energy to bake an apple pie? Make a batch of baked apples in a crockpot or bake them in the oven and freeze them in individual portions for the perfect comforting snack or addition to breakfast on a cold morning.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Better Brown Bagging

Most people understand that packing a lunch saves time, money and your health and yet two thirds of the workforce still eats out at lunchtime.  Here’s a little food for thought to motivate your lunch-packing efforts.  

If you ate out every day for lunch and only spent $5/meal, that adds up to $1,250.  A more realistic estimate is spending $10/day including drinks, coffee, etc. and that adds up to $2,500.  If you could save more than half of that amount by packing your own lunch, you could start planning a fun vacation by the year’s end and would probably have dropped a few pounds in the process. 

Another consideration is time.  Think about not just how much time you spend going out to lunch, or waiting in the drive-thru, but how you are spending your lunch break. The extra 10-20 minutes it takes to go out for lunch, wait in lines and deal with traffic frustration could be much better spent on a relaxing walk, sharing some humor with a co-worker, or even using a mediation app on your phone.  Your blood-pressure would no doubt thank you.  

So what are some ideas to keep brown-bagging from becoming boring?
  • Vary textures.  Adding crunchy salad toppings can go a long way towards keeping you satisfied.  Maybe you need a little creaminess, so try a soft cheese.
  • Try breakfast for lunch.  Who says waffles are just for breakfast? Add in some seasonal fruit and maybe a yogurt and you’ve got breakfast for lunch.  
  • Mix up the protein.  It doesn’t have to be a ham and cheese sandwich everyday.  Consider packing some jerky to go along with some soup, or salad to provide a satisfying savory source of protein.  
  • Try grown-up spins on your childhood favorites.  Instead of PB&J, try a different nut or seed butter.  Spread some sunbutter on a tortilla, wrap around a banana and you’re set.  Or add some chili paste, chicken and basil for a thai wrap.  

When all it said and done, your wallet may fatten up, but chances are you won’t when you decide to become a brown-bag pro.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Back to School, Back to Good Nutrition

When a school-schedule-routine-change hits, some healthy habits tend to fall through the cracks. Here are some tips for after school snacks, quick family dinners on school nights and packing power-lunches that will ensure you hit the ground healthy and running when that school bell rings.

The classroom as well as the playground can be hot this time of year and hydration becomes very important. Make sure both you and your kids aren't going to school without something to drink.  Water is always a great idea and there's Sportwaters and natural-ingredient sports drinks to help kiddos stay hydrated.  Choose what works best for your kid's personal preference and if possible, choose a larger bottle with a larger opening to make hydrating or refilling simple.

Another challenge with busy school schedules is avoiding the siren-song of the drive-thru on busy nights. One simple, cost-effective and quick solution is to think inside the can.  We talk a lot about the nutrition of fresh produce, but there is a lot of nutritional benefit to be found in canned foods.  Kids and adults who use six or more canned foods per week are more likely to have diets higher in 17 essential nutrients. Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and canned within only four hours, sealing in their nutrition and flavor – as opposed to the produce liquefying in your refrigerator drawer.  Recipes like a chicken burrito salad bowl comes together in a snap with ingredients you can always keep on hand in your pantry and definitely beats any drive-thru fare.

Reinvent old favorites.  If your child starts to complain about the lack of variety in his lunchbox but you both know they are too picky to try the adventurous lunch ideas you find online and on Pinterest, come up with ways to reinvent old favorites.  There’s nothing nutritionally inferior with a PB&J paired with some fruit and veggies - just  get creative with the presentation.  Go ahead and roll out the slice of bread, slather it up with heart-healthy nut or seed butter, whole-fruit jam and roll it up into cute little cylinders.  

Keep kiddos involved in the planning and packing of their lunches.  Not only should they have some say as to which fruit they are willing to eat, but are also their own portion expert.  Don’t overdo the portion sizes.  Sometimes a mountain of baby carrots looks too overwhelming to even try, but 5 baby carrots isn’t so threatening and is easily eaten.  Use the handful rule to keep portions age appropriate.  Remember that small kids with small hands only need small portions. Keeping it small keeps it from being overwhelming and tossed uneaten into the garbage can.  Food is only as nourishing as it is appealing, because if it doesn’t make into the mouth, it doesn’t provide any nutrition.   

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Orthorexia: When Healthy becomes Harmful

Orthorexia vs. Normal eating: orthorexia literally means “righteous eating” or an obsession with healthy eating.  Healthy eating or following a healthy eating plan is not the harmful part.  The harm comes when healthy becomes the all-consuming driving force.  Healthy is fine, but obsession isn’t.  There really is too much of a good thing, and that applies to healthy eating patterns. This pattern of obsessive healthy eating is a growing category of disordered eating that is fueled in part by social media.  So beware of what you consume not just from your plate, but from your phone as well. 
Eating behaviors fall on a continuum between apathy (don’t care about nutrition at all and make no effort to eat foods that make them feel healthful, vigorous and nourished) to orthorexic attitudes (everything must be the most nutritious food, and you only eat “good” or “healthy” foods).  Normal eating lies somewhere in between and allows for a healthful diet with “fun” foods as well.  Food rules shouldn’t be rigid or extreme, and people shouldn’t be judged for the way they eat.  
Answering yes to any of these questions indicate a tendency toward orthorexic attitudes and behaviors. 
1.   Do you ever wish you could just eat a food without worrying about its nutritional quality?
2.   Do you find it hard to eat food prepared with love by family or friends?
3.   Do you find yourself avoiding eating situations where you are not in control of the menu?
4.   Do you often label foods as good or bad (and yourself as good or bad depending on what you ate)?
5.   Do you feel in control when you stick your idea of the perfect diet?
6.   Do you find yourself having to follow more and more food rules instead of less?
7.   Do you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how someone else can possible eat a certain way?
Maintaining optimal nutrition requires balance, moderation and enjoyment so keeping healthy routines is great, just make sure they aren’t too rigid or restrictive.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Better Backyard BBQ

Summer is the peak season for lots of things, one of which is barbecuing. Unfortunately foodborne illness is one of those things that peaks during summer months.  Here are a few creative tips to keep the fun in your cookout while keeping your guests safe as you barbeque your way through summer.  

Think outside the burger box.  Try mixing up some of your main-dish mainstays.  Fresh pork tenderloin makes a great go-to for grilling.  It is an all-natural, lean and flavorful source of protein with some great versatility.  You can grill the entire tenderloin, slice it for grilled Cuban sliders, or you can dice it and kebab it for a speedier cooking time.  And since lean pork cuts like this fresh pork tenderloin are recognized by the American Heart Association as heart healthy food, you can feed your guests knowing that in a 3 oz serving size you’re delivering 22 grams of protein, minerals like potassium and zinc as well as b-vitamins all for only 120 calories. So get creative with your main.  

Pick sides.  This has two meanings.  First of all – don’t hesistate to toss some fresh produce on the grill to round out your menu in a fun, delicious and festive way.  The other meaning is to keep raw and cooked foods on separate sides of your grill.  Cross-contamination becomes a real risk, especially when we leave the comforts of the kitchen.  Keep wipes and water handy and be sure to keep separate surfaces for raw and cooked foods to avoid risk of foodborne illness.

Take a temperature.  Nothing is quite as disturbing as biting into a grilled chicken kebab and seeing pink. . . instead, take a minute to check the internal temperatures of your meat and poultry.  While ground beef should be cooked to 160 and poultry to 165.  Whole cuts of beef and pork are safe at 150.  Remember that most thermometers have the sensor in the tip, so make sure the tip is centered in the food.  

Set a timer.  Hot foods should stay hot and cold foods should stay cold, but that isn’t always easy outside.  A cooler with ice works great in a pinch in place of a fridge.  Insulated bags or coolers can help keep warm foods warm, but for extended periods of time, try wrapping bricks or larger rocks in foil and heating them on the grill after you’re done cooking the food.   Place them on towels in a cooler to provide decent hot storage for warm foods.  But the simplest way is to set a timer on your phone or watch.  You don’t want foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours, so once that 2-hour alarm goes off, make sure all food is safely stowed or disposed of.  

Truly, when it comes to food safety, it is much better to err on the side of caution than to risk the vengeance of foodborne illness later on.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Dark Side of Dieting

45 million Americans go on at least one diet each year. And while dieting is not a cause of eating disorders, it is often a precursor to disordered eating.  More than one third of dieters progress to pathological dieting and up to one fourth of those develop actual eating disorders. You may think that as a “casual” or “occasional” dieter, there is no risk or downside to going on a diet here and there.  Think again. Restrictive-diet behaviors not only carry serious psychological and physiological side effects for you, but spills over into the lives of those around you.  Consider these sobering consequences that come from the dark side of dieting:
  • 75% of women perpetuate unhealthy thoughts and behaviors about food and their bodies. It should come as no surprise then that half of all girls ages 9-10 are dieting.  Your thoughts about your body don’t just affect you.  To quote the musical Into The Woods,  “children will listen”.  Ask yourself: Would I feel comfortable if my 9 year old daughter or niece or sister or granddaughter said what I say about my body, my weight, or size? Would I want them to follow my eating/dieting behaviors?  If the answer is no, then you’d better stop.  Unhealthy and negative thoughts and behaviors are dangerous at any age.  
  • Dieting behavior leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia (uncontrolled negative thoughts about perceived flaws in one’s body), and distrust of one’s body signals and cues, and ability to maintain good health.
  • Restricting calorie or nutrient intake can cause the body to slow down in an effort to conserve energy.  The body is designed to avoid starvation, and dieting sends a strong starvation signal because you are not responding to the body’s normal hunger and fullness cues. The body then becomes very efficient in order to maintain energy stores.  No wonder 95% of diets fail!
  • Diets that lead to quick, dramatic weight loss generally involve losing lean muscle mass as well as fat.  Less muscle means lower metabolism.  In addition, significant weight loss can lead to fatigue, tiredness and lethargy, all of which slow down metabolism even more.  Does dieting slow metabolism?  Yes.
  • Repeated dieting makes it harder and harder to lose weight.  The more you diet, the longer it takes and the more you have to restrict to lose weight that previously came off with less effort. Yo-yo dieting further slows and damages the system.   This is not what healthy looks like!
  • Dieting destroys your relationship with food and erodes your confidence in your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.  The more we ignore these signals, the fainter they become until you may no longer feel sensations of hunger of fullness.  Food becomes a source of stress or fear instead of a source of enjoyment.  Not only is this not healthy, but not happy either!
True health comes when you treat your body with respect, respond to it’s cues and signals and accept your own individual picture of health for your individual body type.  Health and happiness are inseparable, so don’t let dieting come between you and happy health.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Health at Every Size

Funky Kids

Health at every size is a movement in healthcare that is gaining traction.  In a world where body shaming, weight stigma, and food fear and guilt are showing up in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on our feeds, pages, and inboxes, the concept of Health at Every Size provides a refreshing alternative.  HAES celebrates body diversity and honors differences in individuals, challenges the narrow cultural assumptions on weight, encourages finding joy in being physically active and eating in a flexible, mindful way that values pleasure and health.

It is some brilliant but scary marketing that allows a 66 billion dollar weight loss industry to continually grow when 95% of diets fail long-term.  Ironically and sadly, the success of the industry is built on the failure of individuals.  What’s more, the reality is that the more America diets, the less healthy we become. We accept all sorts of diversity in people, but very little diversity is accepted when it comes to body size.  

At this point most people raise the issue, “but doesn’t being fat mean you are unhealthy?”  Maybe yes, and maybe no.  Some health issues are governed largely by genetics and other factors outside out control, while other aspects of our health are well within our control through our behavior.  But let’s be clear.  Weight is not a behavior.  Think about that for a moment.  These are behaviors:
·      how we move and exercise
·      what, when and how we eat
·      how much sleep we allow
·      how we balance work and relaxation
·      how well we hydrate ourselves
·      how often we seek medical care
These are all behaviors that we can alter and improve. We can improve those behaviors, but body weight and size may or may not respond in the way we expect.  Fitness and fatness are not mutually exclusive terms, and it is important to realize that while every body is a good body, every body should and will look different.  Health doesn’t have a specific look or shape.  I recommend that everyone watch the Youtube video Poodle Science with their family as a way to start thinking about your views and perspectives on weight, size and shape.

It’s important to understand that the term is Healthat Every Size, not apathyat every size.  This is encouraging healthful lifestyles, but in a gentle, individual approach that helps heal relationships with food and is based on self-compassion, not guilt.  If repeated dieting causes you to become a casualty from the war on obesity, embrace the new peace movement, Health at Every Size.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Brunch Better

Weekend brunch is a tasty tradition for many folks.  However, it can also be a calorie and fat-laden meal if you don't take care.  Here are a few tips to ensure that you not only optimize nutrition, but will also keep you from blowing your whole day's worth of calories before noon.
Minimize your caloric beverage.  If you are set on drinking juice, you serve it in a small glass.  A serving of juice is 4 oz and contains 60 calories.  So with just a few swigs, you've downed a bunch of calories without the satisfaction of actually eating.  It’s better to go with water.
Make meat a side dish, not the anchor of the meal.  Breakfast meats such as bacon, sausage and ham are typically high in sodium and saturated fat, so keep portions small.  I love bacon, but a slice or a link is enough to satisfy that craving.
Consider yogurt.  A great source of protein, calcium, vitamin D and probiotics, it pairs well with fruits and whole-grain cereals for a beautiful and tasty addition to your brunch.
Incorporate fruits and veggies.     
Fruit plate or salad
Fresh berries to top waffles, pancakes or yogurt.
Hashbrowns (shredded potatoes or the loose hashbrowns have less fat than the formed, patty-style).
Roasted potatoes or other veggies make a great savory breakfast side.
Mix vegetables into eggs, stratas and omelets  
Go with whole grains in baked goods.  From pancakes & waffles, to french toast, to muffins and coffee cakes, swap out at least half of the flour with whole wheat or choose whole grain bread that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.  Breakfast can be a great way add in fiber through whole grains.  Oatmeal brulee is one of my favorite whole-grain brunch foods.
Oatmeal Brulee: Make traditional, quick or steel cut oats according to the package, stir in some chopped dried fruit of your choice while it cooks.  Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla or grate some nutmeg in to bring a bit more flavor to the party.  Dish up into bowls, sprinkle with brown sugar, and caramelize under the broiler or with a culinary torch.  Serve with some milk on the side.

A few small tweaks will leave you with a satisfied, delicious eating experience without feeling sluggish the rest of your day.