Tag Archives: Nutrition

How You Can Improve Eating Behavior in 2013

New Years calanderJust in time for your New Year’s Resolution, this great article provides a few tips to help keep you on the right track for 2013!

Courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Carolyn O’Neil

If you’ve banned bonbons and sworn off french fries, I don’t need to tell you that New Year’s diet resolutions are among the most popular self-improvement declarations.

But the trouble with telling yourself to make big changes — whether it’s with food or finances — is that it only takes a few slip-ups and you’re back to your old tricks again. That’s why nutrition experts say don’t be so rough on yourself, because adopting healthier eating behaviors takes some time.

In her new book, “The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook,” registered dietitian Janet Helm writes, “One recent study found that it takes an average of 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic.”

She adds that long-term behavior change is the result of small victories and little daily tweaks. For instance, when ordering a veggie omelet, ask the kitchen to double up on the veggies and halve the cheese to shave off significant calories and add fiber and nutrients.

Sometimes a new habit means continuing to enjoy the splurge foods you love, but less often.

“Eat your special foods in reasonable amounts,” registered dietitian Jill Nussinow suggests. “If you love cheesecake and eat it a few times a year, that’s fine. Love great croissants? Eat them occasionally, as in when you go to Paris or the best bakery around.”

Be specific

Diet declarations such as “I’ll never eat out again!” are just way too broad to be believed. Helm advises being as specific as possible so goals are action-oriented. For instance, instead of “I’ll be more active,” she suggests “Get up 30 minutes earlier so I can walk in the morning before work.”

Or, let’s say you love Southern foods. Rather than promising to back away from bacon totally, learn to enjoy Southern flavor favorites in moderation.

Resolve to eat more

While most folks think of nutrition improvements as a list of the things they’re not supposed to eat, registered dietitian David Grotto has come up with the lists of food you should be eating more to be healthier.

In his new book, “The Best Things You Can Eat,” he ranks nutrient-rich foods “For everything from aches to zzzz.” For instance, Grotto’s top foods for lowering cholesterol fall into three categories: whole grains, berries and legumes. Garlic, apples and olive oil make the list, too.

Another happy side effect of eating more healthy foods is that they keep you feeling full while crowding out the junk foods and fast foods you may be trying to consume less of in 2013.

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” Email her at carolynoneil@aol.com.

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Taking Charge of Your Family’s Nutrition

Overwieght ChildCourtesy of Going Beyond Insurance Coverage: Actionable Ways to Protect
Your Family’s Health
. Follow link for more articles.

By Hannah Cotts

Obesity in children today causes more health problems than drug abuse or smoking. One in three U.S. children and adolescents are overweight. This alarming statistic equates to a dramatic rise in health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, respiration illness, orthopedic problems and high cholesterol. Overweight children suffer social effects as well; frequent teasing can lead to a negative body image, low self-esteem and depression. The American Heart Association predicts that the habits of overweight children will lead to a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents.

Diabetes, the most common illness related to obesity, is a condition that must be carefully managed, and the associated costs are high. The American Diabetes Association reports that 10% of U.S. health care expenditures are related to diabetes; these patients commonly have medical expenses that are 2.4 times more than those without this illness. Heart disease, the most common diabetes complication, costs billions of dollars per year to families, insurers and taxpayers. For the  43% of patients who fail to properly manage their disease, it is estimated that $11,000 per year is required to maintain their health. Even with proper management of insulin dosages, monthly costs for insured patients can run as high as $120 a month.

Ensuring nutritional health for your family requires foremost that you are a good role model for healthy eating. Setting this example teaches your children that it is normal activity to choose foods lower in sodium, refined sugars and fats. Purchase whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible and opt for whole-grain breads over those containing refined flours. Junk foods like chips, candy and sugary cereals should be removed from your home and replaced with cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooking at home generally means that meals are healthier than eating out, and study after study has shown that eating together as a family promotes psychological well-being. Keep mealtimes consistent, offer several healthy options and allow your child to decide when he or she is full.

Other tips for ensuring that your child has a healthy diet include:

• Freeze individual boxes of low fat milk or soymilk and place in packed lunches for school

• Serve whole-grain or hot cereals with low fat milk

• Consider fun foods like string cheese or low fat frozen yogurt for dairy consumption

• Add a handful of high-fiber cereal to your child’s regular breakfast cereal

• Offer a fruit or vegetable with every meal

• Add low fat margarine, parmesan cheese or a light dressing to vegetables for flavor

• Dice vegetables very finely for use in sauces, meatloaf or pasta dishes

• Make popsicles with pureed fruit and yogurt

• Freeze berries, grapes and melon balls to add to cereal or yogurt

• Introduce fish, twice per week if possible; many chicken recipes are easily adapted to use milder fish like tilapia or cod

• Shop with sustainability in mind, and choose albacore tuna and wild-caught salmon over farmed or overfished species

• Limit red meats and offer healthier chicken or turkey instead

• Serve appropriate portion sizes

• Avoid commercial peanut butters loaded with sugar and fat, and opt for healthier choices like almond butter or organic peanut butter
There are some staples that are a part of a typical American childhood. While these can be provided in a healthy manner, there are some  common misconceptions about them. The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for instance, is a lunch box favorite. Remember that white bread has very little nutritional value, commercial peanut butter is loaded with excess sugar and hydrogenated fats, and most jellies have unnecessary sugars added. Choose whole-grain bread, organic peanut butter and sugar-free jellies or jams for this childhood treat.

Many parents also believe that whole milk is the best nutritional option for children. While infants and toddlers do need extra fat for proper neural development, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids older than 2 drink only 1% or skim milk. Snacks like applesauce and granola bars may seem healthy at first glance, but read labels carefully. Two popular brands of commercial applesauce, for example, contain refined flour, hydrogenated fat, high fructose corn syrup and numerous chemicals used for preservatives. A healthier option lists apples as the first ingredient on its food label and has no added sugars.

Learning to  properly decipher food labels is an important part of making healthy food choices. Ingredients are listed in a most-to-least order, so the first few ingredients on the list are what make up the bulk of the product. Cereal manufacturers, for example, are allowed to label a product “whole grain” with only a tiny amount of actual whole grain in the cereal; check labels carefully to ensure that whole-grain flour is among the first 3 ingredients listed. Sugars are another culprit that may be hiding behind names like high-fructose corn syrup or white grape juice concentrate; multiple items like this indicate that a product is packed with sugar. Tricky marketers similarly take advantage of lax labeling guidelines with the content of fruit, fiber and fats, so it behooves parents to pay close attention to food labels

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Digestion Foods: The Best And Worst Foods For Your Digestive System

Courtesy of The Huffpost Healthy Living

By Amanda L.Chan, to read more by this author Click Here!


When it comes to the best foods for digestive health, perhaps the best way of thinking about it is this: If it doesn’t cause any symptoms, then it’s good.

There are “foods that clean out your bowel system. Foods that help to keep you regular. Foods that will not increase reflux. Foods that won’t cause diarrhea,” Kristi King, R.D., a senior dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells HuffPost.

Good digestion starts the moment you put a food in your mouth, King adds, noting that foods that are “good” for digestion are generally those that make the digestive process easier.

Different nutrients from foods benefit the body in different ways, says Dr. Matthew L. Bechtold, M.D., F.A.C.G., a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Health Center at the University of Missouri – Columbia. However, even nutrients that aren’t readily absorbed by the body can be healthy — fiber, for instance, helps to ensure regular bowel movements.

Fiber is the “Roto-Rooter, the Drano, of the digestive system,” King says, though she notes that it is possible to have too much. People should generally have between 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day, which is the amount in five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables and about four to five servings of whole grains.

The body is designed to digest many types of foods, but everyone is different in that some foods may trigger digestion-related symptoms for some and not others, Bechtold says.

Bechtold and King offered up some of their picks for the best and worst foods for digestion, based on their ability to help keep things moving in the body, as well as their likelihood of triggering nasty symptoms like diarrhea and acid reflux.

BEST List: Fruits and Veggies
  1. Fruits And Vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are great for digestion because most are high in fiber, King says. Bechtold adds that the fiber in produce has an added benefit of regulating bowel movements.
  2. Whole Grains. Whole grain foods, including brown rice and wheat, also contain lots of fiber, making them another top food group good for digestion, King says. (Obviously this advice may not apply for people with chronic conditions like celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, since wheat contains gluten.)
  3. Bananas. While all fruits and vegetables are generally good for digestion, bananas in particular are great because they don’t irritate the stomach. That’s why they’re part of the “BRAT Diet” for vomiting or diarrhea — that is, the bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast diet. “Those are the four things that tend to be the easiest tolerated amongst people and they tend to be bland, so they won’t irritate the stomach like other foods,” King says. They are also good for replacing the body’s electrolytes, she adds.Water
  4. Water. “Water is excellent for digestion, and that’s one thing I think people don’t drink enough of,” King says. Water helps the digestive process because it helps move things through the intestines.
  5. Ginger. Spices and herbs like ginger, turmeric and peppermint are great for settling an upset stomach, King says. Try drinking ginger or peppermint tea, or sucking on a peppermint lozenge.
  6. Probiotic-Containing Foods Like Yogurt. Probiotics are good for the digestive system because they contain good bacteria that crowds out any bad bacteria that you may have in your gut, King says. You want to look specifically for foods that contain live bacteria, such as yogurt and kefir.
  7. Prebiotic-Containing Foods Like Asparagus And Oats. Prebiotic foods contain a type of fiber the probiotics feed off of to multiply, “so it’s good food for your good bacteria,” King says. Prebiotics are found in foods such as asparagus, onions, lentils and whole grains.

WORST List:coffee

  1. Spicy Foods. Spicy foods can be bad for digestion because they may trigger acid reflux symptoms for some people, King notes.
  2. Caffeine. Similarly to spicy foods, those containing caffeine can also trigger acid reflux, as it relaxes the esophageal sphincter — the flap that keeps what you’ve eaten down in your stomach — causing food to come back up into the esophagus, King says. What about coffee, which is high in caffeine yet always seems to help us “go?” King says coffee is powerful for triggering peristalsis — the term for movement of food through the intestines — it does contain caffeine, which means it can still cause reflux. But it could help someone who is struggling with constipation, she notes.
  3. Acidic Foods Like Soda. Like spicy and caffeinated foods, acidic picks like soda can also trigger reflux, King says.bacon
  4. Foods High In Saturated Fat. Fatty foods can induce heartburn and diarrhea due to poor absorption of fat, Bechtold says. King adds that you can tell if your diet contains too many high-fat foods because your stool will float to the top of the toilet. This is a sign that you might want to cut back on the saturated fat.
  5. Alcohol. Alcohol also relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which can then trigger acid reflux, King says. Bechtold adds that it can induce inflammation in the stomach.
  6. Dairy. Dairy can induce bloating, Bechtold says, as well as abdominal discomfort, particularly for people who are lactose intolerant.

To read more stories and blogs published by The Huffpost Healthy living Click Here!

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Healthful Holiday Eating: 10 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

By Stacey Trogdon RD, CDE

A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded theaverage American gains one pound of weight over the Christmas and holiday season. They also found that this weight gain is not reversed over the rest of the year, and concluded that this probably contributes to the increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood.

Another study reported in Diabetes Care, looked at the increases in A1C and fasting plasma glucose in type 2 diabetic patients, to see whether these increases were steady throughout the year or varied seasonally. They concluded that the winter holidays did influence the glycemic control of the patients, with the largest increases being during that period, increases that might not be reversed during the summer and autumn months.

With that news in mind, the following tips can help you avoid holiday weight gain and boost your awareness of healthful holiday eating;

  1. Be realistic. The holiday season may be a good time to reconsider your weight-loss targets. Maintaining your weight, rather than losing weight, may be a more reasonable goal during this high-temptation time. Don’t deprive yourself of favorite holiday foods, but do look for ways to eat smart and in moderation.
  2. Don’t wait to eat. That is, don’t save up for the big meal. Skipping breakfast or lunch to save room—and calories—for a festive dinner is unwise. If you start out hungry you will likely overeat so be sure to eat breakfast and lunch and consider eating a small snack before you leave home such as a small handful of nuts.
  3. Be discriminating. Eat small servings of the foods you really love and pass on foods that don’t tempt your taste buds.
  4. Police your plate. If your eyes are often bigger than your stomach, using a smaller plate will help to cut down on calories. At a party, size up the plates and pick up the smallest you can find.
  5. Sneak in calorie savings. If you’re the cook, choose calorie-saving preparation methods and ingredients that will hardly be noticed by your guests. Some suggestions include:
      1. Stuff the turkey for show. But also bake bread stuffing separately, which won’t soak up turkey fat during roasting. Serve the out-of-bird stuffing topped with some of the “real stuff.”
      2. Use fat-free evaporated milk instead of whole milk or cream when you make gravy and prepare pumpkin pie.
      3. Mash potatoes with fat-free milk and reduced-fat margarine instead of whole milk and butter. Or try yogurt if you’re feeling adventurous.
      4. Chill soup or gravy overnight, and then scoop off the hardened fat. Better yet, fill the gravy boat using a fat separator.
      5. Use low-fat dressings. Make Waldorf salad with reduced-fat mayo or Miracle Whi
  6. Spritz your drinks. Stretch your alcohol calories by mixing seltzer, juice or diet soda with your drinks. Have a wine spritzer made with half wine and half club soda. Better yet, limit alcohol intake; it releases inhibitions and increases hunger, which adds up to overeating.
  7. Talk it up. Make family and friends, not food, the focus of the holidays. Spend your time socializing—away from the table.
  8. Help the host—and yourself. Bring a lower-calorie, homemade dish to your host’s table, but don’t feel obligated to announce that it’s low-calorie.
  9. Give your guests options. If you are the host, offer healthful choices for guests. Consider crudités with yogurt dip, shrimp cocktail, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, baked salmon, grilled vegetables or fresh fruit cups.
  10. Burn it off. If tempting foods are too hard to resist, rescue your waistline by burning off those extra calories. Double you’re walking time in the morning or make an extra trip to the gym for a few weeks.


Stacey Trogdon, RD, CDE CHER Diabetes Educator

Stacey Trogdon, RD, CDE CHER Diabetes Educator

Stacey Trogdon, RD, CDE, received her degree in dietetics from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Washington in Seattle. Stacey has been practicing in the dietetics field for over 20 years with a diverse portfolio of experience including clinical dietetics, private practice, diabetes education and corporate wellness. Her private practice experience included freelance writing, corporate wellness and sports nutrition. Stacey is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Association of Diabetes Educators and the Greater Spokane Dietetic Association where she currently serves as President-Elect.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Hold the Gluten, Nuts, Dairy, Etc.

Not everyone in the family may be able to eat the traditional Thanksgiving dishes this year

Courtesy of US Health News; Eat + Run


November 13, 2012

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner these days is not for the faint of heart. As the guest list grows, so too does the list of dietary restrictions.

There have always been your vegetarian cousin and your uncle with diabetes. But this year, your sister with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is bringing her gluten-intolerant boyfriend, and your nephew with the nut allergy will be joining you. Mom called to remind you that your dad’s cholesterol is through the roof, so please go easy on the saturated fat when cooking this year. Oh, and did she mention she’s just been diagnosed with lactose-intolerance?

Take a deep breath, and put away the Excel spreadsheet. Hosting a successful and delicious Thanksgiving meal for a digestively diverse crowd doesn’t necessarily translate into more work. It just means you need to get smart on strategies that make each dish meet the needs of most people at the table. Here are some tips to get started:

• Keep the side dishes vegetarian. By making most—or all—side dishes vegetarian-friendly, you save yourself the work of having to come up with a separate vegetarian entrée for the non-meat eaters. Your veggie guests will leave full and satisfied if they can fill their plates with all the vegetable and grain-based dishes you prepare. So use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock in stuffing (and leave out the sausage); use kosher (gelatin-free) marshmallows in the sweet potato casserole, and use smoked paprika instead of bacon to flavor roasted Brussels sprouts. (Alternatively, you can serve bacon-infused sauces or dressings that can be served on the side if you just can’t envision Thanksgiving without bacon!)

• Use lactose-free products in all recipes that call for dairy. Lactose-free versions of milk, plain yogurt, and sour cream are available nationwide, and lactose-free plain kefir—a thick, drinkable yogurt—is a great stand-in for heavy cream. This swap won’t affect the taste or texture of your dishes at all, but it will make them much more comfortable to digest for guests with IBS and lactose intolerance. Plus, lactose-free kefir is a lower -calorie and lower-cholesterol alternative to heavy cream. As a result, your weight-watching relatives can feel much less guilty about having a nibble of mashed potatoes or a slice of pumpkin pie. Note that aged cheeses (cheddar, Parmesan, etc.) and butter are virtually lactose-free; moderate portions of foods containing these ingredients should be well-tolerated by most guests.

• Minimize the presence of wheat flour at the table, and consider whole-grain, gluten-free alternatives. Traditional bread-based stuffing isn’t doing anyone any favors—it’s a no-go for diabetics as well as weight-conscious and gluten-intolerant guests. Why not use wild rice or quinoa as the base for a healthier and more nutritious stuffing loaded with traditional flavors like chestnut, mushroom, sage, and thyme? A dish like this also adds substance to a vegetarian meal. Separately, note that wheat flour is found in many store-bought convenience foods used in holiday fare—French’s French Fried Onions, for example, to top green bean casserole or Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup for the gravy. If you use these ingredients in your recipes, try seeking out gluten-free substitutes, or serve them on the side whenever possible to avoid contaminating the whole dish for those who must avoid gluten. If you’re making gravy from scratch, swap all-purpose flour for sweet rice flour to make it gluten-free. Easy as pie!

• Speaking of pie, make sure to offer at least one dessert that can be enjoyed by the gluten-free and nut-free crowd. If apple and pecan pies are already on the menu, why not offer pumpkin in an alternative form, like individual custards or gluten-free quick bread? How about a flourless chocolate cake or chocolate-dipped poached pears? Living Without magazine publishes a terrific holiday edition full of allergy-friendly recipes, and a simple Google search will yield recipes for hundreds of allergy-friendly desserts that can be enjoyed by everyone at the table. Alternatively, gluten-free baking mixes for cookies, cakes, and brownies—most of which are also nut-free—are widely available in supermarkets nationwide and help you whip up another dessert in no time flat. As if it needed to be said, fresh fruit is always an appropriate and safe option for ending an indulgent holiday meal. Simply offering a bowl of clementines or platter of fresh grapes is a gesture that will be appreciated by guests with dietary restrictions, and those watching their weight or blood sugar levels.

The downside of hosting a wildly successful holiday meal in which everyone feels included, of course, is that they’re likely to come back next year. Consider yourself warned!

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN, is a NYC-based registered dietitian whose clinical practice specializes in digestive disorders, Celiac Disease, and food intolerances. Her personal blog, www.tamaraduker.com, focuses on healthy eating and gluten-free living.

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The Halloween haul: how to avoid temptation with so much candy in the house!

It's scary how much candy we consume this time of year

It’s scary how much candy we consume this time of year

Courtesy of Providence Health Plans Monthly Newsletter 

Ah Halloween – when hordes of children in darling or dreadful disguise hit the sidewalks in search of treats. When the last trickster scares up a treat, you’ll turn off your porch light and retreat inside – with more candy than you started with. 

As a parent, you’re charged with preventing a scene at your house as your little goblins tear open another row of Smarties and one more Reese’s with wild, sugared abandon. But if you don’t want them overindulging, you certainly don’t want to overdo it, either. You’re the grown-up – you don’t have to eat it all. Consider these tips for lightening your load if Halloween candy continues to whisper sweet nothings into your ear:

  1. Buy candy you don’t like. Start where you shop for Halloween candy. If you love chocolates, buy gummy treats. If you love suckers, buy licorice. Bring home something you’re not fond of and you’ll be less likely to pilfer from the stash. And don’t buy it too early. By waiting, it’s possible the most enticing choices will already have been ripped from the shelves, making your selection even less tempting.
  2. Stick it to your sweet tooth. When you feel your hand creeping toward the candy bowl, grab a piece of gum instead. Sugarless gum can satisfy your sweet-tooth craving without doing the same damage as a handful of miniature Snickers.
  3. Give it away. Your kids don’t have to eat it all, either. Have them choose a reasonable amount to keep, and give the rest away. You can bring it to work and leave it in a common space where everyone can help put a dent in it. If your coworkers absolutely don’t want one more Tootsie Roll in their midst, then really give it away – as in, overseas away. Yes, there really is a Halloween candy buyback program that supports Operation Gratitude. Better their barracks than yours.
  4. Bust a move. Oh, how you love those one-bite Milkyways. So, satisfy your cravings and just move a little more. At work, take more breaks to stretch and walk, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. At home, skip the half-hour sitcom for something else that gets your blood pumping, such as sit-ups or a couple of laps around the block with (or without) the dog. Even folding laundry can burn some of those Milkyway calories – as long as you don’t do it sitting down.
  5. Cut yourself a deal. So you want that Hershey’s bar and the candy corn, too? Fine. Pair them with an apple. Let yourself have your treat, without the trick of wanting more. You don’t have to feel deprived, and you can give yourself points for not going whole-hog on the sugar. If an apple isn’t your thing, substitute what is: a big glass of water or a cup of hot tea, some carrot sticks, a banana or string cheese.
  6. Go to the dark side. Dark chocolate – ideally, chocolate with a 70 percent or greater cocoa content – has been shown in numerous studies to be beneficial to your health. Moderation applies.
  7. Give yourself a break. The KitKat variety may be delicious, but you deserve to give yourself a break when it comes to your emotional health. Most of us love a sweet treat, but some of us struggle with the whole moderation thing. Ease up on the guilt by doing your best to find balance between sweet treats and the foods that nourish your body. Maintain a healthy diet (you knew this was coming, right?) that includes plenty of vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fresh fruits, and lean meats and fish, while taking pleasure in the occasional sweet treat.
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Importance of Breakfast

For many people, mornings are a busy time.  With early work meetings, late nights doing homework, children’s extra-curricular activities, whatever the reason, breakfast is sometimes rushed or skipped altogether.  It is true though, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A common misconception is that skipping breakfast can help you lose weight. NOT TRUE!  Failing to “break your overnight fast” can slow your metabolism making it much harder for your body to burn fat. Studies show people who skip breakfast are also more likely to eat sugary snacks throughout the day.

Eating a healthy breakfast is vital for your mind as well as your body. Eating breakfast boosts your mood, aids in concentration and improves memory. If you feel rushed in the morning, prep your morning meal the night before or make your meals portable. For example:

  • Cut up vegetables and store them in the refrigerator. Mushrooms, spinach, etc. can use in an omelet or a whole wheat tortilla with egg whites. Cooking eggs takes only a few minutes.
  •  Make a breakfast burrito from the ingredients above wrap the burrito in aluminum foil and take it on the go.
  • Cut up fresh fruit and store in a portable container, such as Tupperware,  so you can grab it on the way out the door.
  • Make instant oatmeal in a microwave safe Tupperware and take it on the go as well.
  •  Prepare a smoothie in just a few minutes in the morning with cut up fresh fruit, yogurt and ice.

Whether you want to lose weight or simply be a little healthier, it is vital that you start your day with a nutritious breakfast.

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85210 Article Review

This review was featured in the “What you Had to Say Section” of the March issue of Spokane/CDA Living Magazine.

There are so many diets, eating plans, work out regimens and “get skinny quick” scams out there, which can be frustrating because they don’t work. I think everyone should read 85210: The Hottest Number in Town in your recent issue. Bravo for presenting the facts: Get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat your veggies, don’t eat junk and get moving. It is so simple and yet we exhaust ourselves trying to find an “easier” solution. There never will be anything easier than just doing what you’re supposed to do.

Randi Greene
Spokane, WA

If you haven’t read the article read it on our blog!    https://stepupspokane.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/85210-the-hottest-number-in-town/

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Nutritionists, Dietitians and Diets, Oh My!

By Julie Humphreys, Step UP Director
Courtesy of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine March 2012

We really don’t like the word “diet.” Even in its purest form as a noun, it means “food and drink regularly provided or consumed” and “habitual nourishment.” Nothing wrong there. But drop a couple rungs down the ladder in Webster’s definition of diet and you find “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight going on a diet.” Yikes, eat and drink sparingly? Now we’re facing restrictions, and the truth is we don’t like to be restricted.

That is part of the reason for a name change in the nearly century- old organization,
the American Dietetic Association. In September the association voted to change its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bringing the word nutrition into the fold was very intentional for reasons best explained by Spokane dietitian Heather Gabbert who did an informal poll last summer. When she asked, “What do you think of when you hear the words dietitian and nutritionist?” One response stood out: “When I hear dietitian I think of someone who is going to tell me what I can’t do. When I hear nutritionist I think of someone who is going to help me do what I need to do to get better.” Touché, that’s exactly what the well-meaning, educated, helpful dietitians of the world face.

So bring on the name change, but in doing so, you bring up a major point of clarification on the professions of dietitians and nutritionists. And this is information you, the consumer need to know. Dietitians are attempting to convey their modern day mission of who they are, what they do, and how they can help you improve your health and prevent serious diseases down the road.

Around the time of World War I, dietitians were diet planners or cooks. What they did was geared toward the medical treatment of disease, now called medical nutrition therapy. In the 21st century we know that nutrition affects your total health and quality of life in a variety of ways every day. Just like doctors, dietitians today have many and varied areas of expertise: sports nutrition, diabetes, pediatric, long term care, etc. And most of all what they have and always have had is a science background. “Nutrition is a science, not a philosophy or a feeling,” says Kim Larson, Registered Dietician (RD), and Director of Communications for the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The biggest distinction between a dietitian and a nutritionist is a science-based nutrition education and training that includes at least a four-year degree, along with passing a national board exam to become a Registered Dietitian. But Larson says the term nutritionist is not regulated and anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. She points out that nutrition is about the physiology of how food is used in the body and that involves a lot of chemistry to learn how the components of food are digested, absorbed and metabolized. Again, nutrition is science, so nutritionists should know science.

Still the word nutritionist is hot right now. There’s a big trend of people calling themselves nutritionists. With the Internet we have unlimited nutrition information at our fingertips and not all sources of that information are credible. It is wise to take a “consumer beware” stance when seeking out nutrition and health information and make sure it comes from people and organizations with credentials, a qualified background and formal education. Note that the former Dietetic Association added the word nutrition to its new title, not the word nutritionist. Larson says, healthcare professionals, like RD’s, need to change with the times and let consumers know they offer quality nutrition information and services they can count on to be safe and accurate. Elizabeth Abbey, a dietitian who teaches nutrition at Whitworth University says there are nutritionists out there who are qualified, it’s just a matter finding out if they have credentials, and if so, what kind. Abbey points out you can take an online class over the Internet on a weekend and be a nutritionist with a certification by Monday. She says there’s a booming interest in nutrition as a career and there are expanding opportunities in the field, which is bound to attract people who want to jump on the nutrition bandwagon. A major red flag, she says is a nutritionist who is tied to a product. The supplement business is a 28 billion dollar business and Americans spend 40 billion a year on weight loss programs and products. Beware of someone who stands to see a monetary gain through products with his or her nutrition advice. Larson reminds us, “Nutrition is big business, big money.”

What can a dietitian do for you? In general they teach, support and help motivate you to develop lifestyle, food, eating and exercise behaviors that are right for you and that will improve your health and performance as well as prevent and treat diseases. The dietitian can help you make changes, but that’s just one part of a bigger picture. “Good nutrition is multi-factorial in that it not only involves a conscious personal choice to eat better and get enough physical activity and exercise,” says Abbey, “but it also addresses the psychological, social and environmental aspects (access to quality food) of eating.”

Why we eat what we eat has a lot to do with our culture, so changing our bad eating habits involves not only personal change but change in the culture and the food industry. Larson says all these things have to be integrated so healthy food is readily available. She says we are making progress but it’s an uphill battle with so many new foods coming out that literally put us on the path to heart attack and disease. Foods high in sugar and fat sell. We want them; companies provide them. According to Larson, “Behavior changes are hard and once someone makes them, they have to be supported by their environment.”

Food, nutrition and exercise are all subject to trends just like most everything in life. Larson reminds us that fad diets are always a problem so we as consumers have to know how to evaluate them. Here are some things to look for in diet trends to which dietitians warn, “watch out!”
Following a low-fat diet to lose weight. This was popular in the 80s and 90s but actually resulted in people consuming more calories and gaining weight. Low-fat diets can also lead to not enough “healthy” fats from avocados, nuts, fish and oils.
Avoiding or limiting foods. If you take out most of or an entire food group you risk creating a nutrient shortfall. For example, eliminating all milk products can cause a shortage of important nutrients that help prevent bone fractures in children, and osteoporosis in adults.
Low-carbohydrate diets. This is probably the most current popular weight loss diet. But when you eliminate all carbs you are missing out on fruits, whole grains and fiber that protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. These diets also lead to bigger intakes of meat, cholesterol and fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Weight-loss diets. They are now known to be linked to weight gain with up to two-thirds of dieters regaining more weight than they originally lost. This is in part because dieting predicts unhealthy eating behavior like binge eating.
Taking dietary supplements. Doing so may provide nutritional insurance but can pose some risk. Heavy supplement users may be getting too much of some nutrients and supplements don’t provide all the healthy components of foods.

Avoid super low calorie diets such as a 500-calorie diet. You will naturally lose weight if your intake is that low. You could eat 500 calories of chocolate cake for your daily intake and lose weight, but you won’t get essential nutrients your body needs and when your body doesn’t get enough and proper food it pulls from your muscle.

Another mandate from dietitians is to not skip meals, and there’s good reason. Meals are fully digested usually within about five hours, with carbohydrates within three to four hours. So you are out of fuel every three to five hours, and as soon as your body doesn’t have enough energy it starts breaking down lean muscle. And the cumulative effect is even worse as you continue to deny your body proper fuel at regular intervals.

Those are things to watch out for, but what about things to incorporate in your attempt to eat well and keep your weight in check? Dietitians support these tips:

• Use moderation, variety and balance in your food choices. It may not be flashy, but it’s tried and true.
• Consider taste, enjoyment and social and cultural factors in your food choices. Diets that don’t will not be successful in the long term.
• Select foods from all food groups. Each group provides important and unique nutrients.
• Most all food can be made part of a healthy diet.
• Try not to label foods as “good” or “bad” foods.
• Choose nutrient-rich foods that have a lot of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Keep in mind it’s your diet over time, not individual foods or even single meals that will ultimately affect your health.

March is National Nutrition Month and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is promoting “Get Your Plate in Shape.” In simple terms your meal plate should look like this: half fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains and a quarter protein.

Here’s  how:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties, as well as beans and peas. When buying canned vegetables choose “reduced sodium” or “no salt added” and rinse other canned goods like beans, corn and peas to reduce sodium levels.
Make at least half your grains whole: Choose brown rice, barley, and oats and other whole grains for your side dishes. Switch to 100% whole grain breads, cereals and crackers.
A quarter of your plate should be protein: Eat different protein foods like seafood, nuts and beans, lean meat, poultry and eggs. Eat more plant-based proteins like nuts and beans, and whole soy foods like tofu and edamame. At least twice a week, make fish and seafood the protein on your plate.

To find a dietitian in your area go to http://www.eatright.org and click on “find a dietitian.” While it appears ironic that dietitians are seeking to distinguish themselves from nutritionists yet they’ve added the word “nutrition” to their national title, it’s really not, they say. Because dietitians are all about nutrition; sound, studied, tested, true science based nutrition that translates to solid helpful information to you the consumer as you try to figure out how to eat right for your health.

Julie Humphreys is a health reporter and Director of Step UP Spokane, a community effort to encourage you to eat right and exercise. Visit http://www.stepupspokane.org for more nutrition information and to track your physical activity with free activity challenges.

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Get Your Plate in Shape


The timing for National Nutrition Month and it’s theme for 2012, “Get Your Plate in Shape” couldn’t be better! Just as many of us start slipping on those New Year’s resolutions we made, here comes a gentle reminder to keep it up or to maybe challenge yourself and your family further! To get the American plate in shape it is recommended that half the plate be dark or brightly colored produce, a quarter of the plate whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or quinoa, with the remaining quarter of the plate containing a lean protein source–ground sirloin burger, flank steak fajita, veggie burger made with beans, grilled, wild-caught salmon or lentil soup, for example. Physical activity is equally important! Get moving and Get Your Plate in Shape, Spokane!

This article is courtesy of registered dietician, Heather Gabbert of Cancer Care Northwest and media representative for Greater Spokane Dietetic Association. For more information on National Nutrition Month and getting your plate in shape go to http://www.eatright.org.

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