January 3, 2013

Boosting Energy

As our energy levels decrease because of our overstressed lifestyles, many people look for a quick fix to combat fatigue.

Energy drinks mask the symptoms of fatigue and dehydrate the body. The majority of energy drinks contain excess sugar, high levels of caffeine and other stimulants.

Recently, the 5-hour Energy shot and Monster Energy drink have come under fire.

The Food and Drug Administration said this month that 13 deaths have been reported after consumption of 5-hour Energy. Last month, the parents of a 14-year-old girl filed suit, alleging that she died after drinking two Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period. Anais Fournier's underlying heart condition was complicated by caffeine toxicity, according to the death certificate.

Relying on caffeine and energy drinks makes us feel worse in the long run by causing our system to crash.

Continued fatigue decreases the immune system, making us more susceptible to depression and illness.

So what to do? Exercise, sleep and reducing stress are important in fighting fatigue. But our eating habits also directly affect energy levels. And nutrition can affect energy levels throughout the day.

What you should know about caffeine

Here are some tips on healthy ways to boost your energy:

Drink water

The body needs water -- multiple glasses a day.

Being hydrated is an easy and inexpensive way to increase energy levels. You don't need vitamin water or sports drinks; they only add extra unneeded calories. Keep a fresh water source with you at all times and drink throughout the day. Add lemons, limes or oranges for taste variety.

Eat breakfast

This is the meal that sets the stage for the entire day. Studies show that breakfast helps keep you alert, starts your metabolism for the day and keeps you satisfied until lunch.

But a healthy breakfast is the key. Good options include whole-grain cereals, breads, fruit and lean protein instead of doughnuts, pastries and white breads. A hard-boiled egg sliced into a whole wheat pita, oatmeal with fruit, and whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter are all healthy choices.

Don't forget protein

Not consuming enough protein during the day can be a primary reason for fatigue. Protein-based foods provide the body with fuel to repair and build tissues. Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down in the body, providing a longer-lasting energy source. You can find protein in poultry, fish, lean red meat, nuts, milk, yogurt, eggs, yogurt, cheese and tofu.

Keep your carbs smart

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of fuel. Pick whole grains like cereal, brown rice and whole wheat bread, and avoid sweets, which cause energy to plummet. Many processed carbohydrates contain little to no fiber. Always read the nutrition label.

Snacks are important

If you let yourself get too hungry between meals, your blood sugar falls, and you get lethargic. Keep your blood sugar and energy level steady during the day by consuming snacks. Choosing the right snacks prevent peaks and valleys in energy.

Combine complex carbs with a protein and/or fat for lasting energy. The protein and fat slow the breakdown of sugar into the blood, preventing fatigue. Snacks also can prevent overeating at mealtimes. A few examples of smart snack choices are yogurt with fruit, mixed nuts, veggies with hummus, pears with almond butter, whey protein shake or blueberries with a cheese stick. Plan ahead!

Omega-3 fatty acids

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, combat depression and improve mood and memory. Try to focus on omega-3 fats from food rather than supplements. Excellent sources include salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, leafy greens and hemp seeds.


Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral important in converting carbohydrates into energy. Other good sources of magnesium include whole grains and dark green vegetables.

Don't skimp on calories

Skimping on calories decreases your metabolism and causes you to feel lethargic. Keep your energy levels high and increase metabolism by meeting your caloric needs each day. Whole foods are preferred over supplements to obtain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals instead of one or two single nutrients. Consume a variety of foods for overall health but also to keep your energy levels high.

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December 6, 2012

Are you at risk for diabetes?

If you're a woman, chances are you worry about breast cancer. But did you know that twice as many women die of diabetes each year?

In fact, one in 10 women over the age of 20 is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes -- and because diabetes has no clear symptoms, many more have it without even knowing. Could you be one of them? Here's what you need to know about this killer disorder to help prevent it.

Why Is Diabetes Dangerous?

Diabetes wreaks havoc on your body by preventing it from using carbohydrates, its main source of energy. Normally, when you consume carbohydrates, your body converts them into glucose and then produces a hormone called insulin to make the glucose into energy. But with diabetes, your body can't produce enough insulin, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of becoming energy. This can lead to serious conditions, from blurred vision and gum disease, to kidney failure and coma.

What You Can Do Right Now

The good news is that you can help prevent diabetes. Make these smart lifestyle changes, and you'll decrease your risk significantly:

1. Brush and floss like your life depends on it.

It does! A new study shows that developing gum disease can actually increase your blood sugar and, consequently, your risk of developing diabetes. This makes flossing and brushing more important than ever -- especially if you have other risk factors.

2. Walk 30 minutes a day.

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a major federal study, found that walking just half an hour a day reduces your chances of developing diabetes by 30 percent. Even if you don't see big results on the scale, you're helping your insulin work better.

3. Opt for the "plate method."

To maintain your weight, try the "plate method," where you designate a space on your plate for every type of nutrient you need. At every meal, fill your plate half with vegetables, a quarter with healthy protein (i.e., chicken, lean meat or fish), a quarter with a whole-grain carbohydrate (e.g., brown rice or a whole-wheat roll), then add a piece of a fruit or a low-fat yogurt on the side, and you've done it!

4. Swap brown for white.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that opting for brown rice instead of white can reduce your diabetes risk by 16 percent. Choose another type of whole grain, such as barley, and you'll lower your risk by 36 percent!

5. Choose "whole" vs. "enriched."

Go directly to the ingredients list when evaluating foods at the grocery story. Look for the word 'whole' rather than 'enriched' -- whole-wheat or whole-grain rye, for example. Enriched products may sound healthy, but they are actually refined foods to which a few synthetic nutrients have been added to make up for the natural nutrients stripped during refining.

6. Learn to love salads.

Leafy greens do double duty when it comes to diabetes prevention. The magnesium in romaine, spinach and their dark-green brethren may help fight diabetes, but so does the vitamin D. Several studies show a link between low vitamin D levels and greater insulin resistance. Plus, eating plenty of high-volume produce makes you less likely to indulge in snack foods full of refined sugars.

7. Go nuts!

Eating 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or an ounce of nuts five or more times a week cuts your risk of diabetes by 20 to 30 percent, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

8. Know your risk.

Although anyone can develop type 2 diabetes, three factors increase your risk: age, family history and obesity. Also be aware of common symptoms, including the following:

Excessive thirst and urination
Tingling sensations at the hands and feet
Wounds that heal slowly
Red, inflamed, bleeding gums
Blurred vision
Increased number of vaginal yeast infections

If you are at risk or are concerned about any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, who can check your glucose levels and give you a proper diagnosis.

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November 26, 2012

Last-Minute Lunch Fixes

1. Asian Lettuce Cup: Fill a Bibb lettuce leaf withleftover chicken, sliced carrots and chopped peanuts.

2. Club Kebabs: Thread quartered grape tomatoes, leftover meat (like chicken), lettuce, and bacon pieces on a skewer. Serve with a favorite salad dressing for dipping.

3. Two minute Taco: Stuff a taco shell with black beans, corn, tomatoes, shredded cheese and a splash of lime.

4. Inside out Wrap: Smear cream cheese on a breadstick, pretzel rod or a thick cucumber strip, and wrap with sliced deli ham or turkey.

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October 1, 2012

Diets - Do They Really Work?

We've all got our pet theories on how to lose unwanted pounds. Eat like a caveman. Eat like a monk. I prefer the "brush your teeth at night so you won't eat a cookie" approach.

Some diet strategies work ... at least for the short term. Others are deceptive and misleading, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Which is why they are cracking down on unproven weight loss claims. Case in point: Medifast -- the company that sells low-calorie meal substitutes -- has been charged by the FTC for making claims about their diet plan that are unsupported by reliable scientific evidence.

So what do well-controlled human studies tell us about the best ways to lose weight? Here are some proven ways to shed extra pounds adapted from a recent article in Environmental Nutrition newsletter:

· Don't believe in magic. There is no secret formula or food that will make weight fall off your body without effort. Be especially careful if a diet plan eliminates an entire food group, such as one devoid of all fruit or grains.

· Pay attention to calories. They really do count. It doesn't make sense, for instance, to avoid a 100-calorie baked potato in favor of a 900-calorie giant steak. A proven strategy for weight loss is to eat small portions of high-calorie foods.

· Spread calories over the day. Studies show that people who skip meals tend to eat more calories and have trouble losing weight. A goal for most people is three small meals a day.

Eat more high-volume, low-calorie foods. A plateful of food does not have to be a plateful of calories. Two cups of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and cucumber, for example are full of nutrients and fiber for a mere 50 calories. The same amount of pasta or rice has fewer nutrients and 500 calories.

· Focus on nutrient-rich foods. Several studies show that eating foods high in nutrients and low in calories (fruits and vegetables anyone?) is an effective strategy for weight loss.

· Move it, move it, move it! Research continues to show that exercise combined with a good diet plan can help us lose weight without starving. The goal? At least 30 minutes of activity most days plus at least 2 days a week of muscle strengthening exercise.

· Eat more fiber. It may be one of the most important hunger-controlling nutrients we know of, say experts. Where is fiber? Only in foods that begin life in the ground: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and other plant-based foods.

· Eat fewer SoFAS. That's nutrition-eze for "Solid Fats and Added Sugars." Solid fats can be identified on food labels by checking for "saturated" or "trans fats." Sugar and syrup are examples of "added sugars."

· Don't drink your calories. One 12-ounce soda adds 150 liquid calories. And these extra calories seem to slip in without the body being aware. Weight loss is easier when these extra calories are eliminated.

· Learn "portion control." Hint: It's not what is usually served in a restaurant. Eating half our usual intake is a proven way to eat half our usual calories ... and lose weight.

· Create a meal plan ... one based on scientific research. A good place to start is www.myplate.gov to access "SuperTracker." It will show you a weight loss plan that works ... for life.

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September 24, 2012

Rise and Shine - Mom Style

Whether you're a morning person or not, you'd be amazed at how much a difference half an hour can make when it comes to getting your day off on the right foot. What is the number one reason why you should start waking up just a tad bit sooner? Um, hello, "me" time, anyone!?

1. To have enough time to prepare a healthy breakfast

One really powerful reason for moms to start their day earlier is to eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight than non-breakfast eaters. Yes, you can grab breakfast on the go, but we also know that people are more satisfied from meals when they have taken the time to sit down without distractions and pay attention to the food that they're eating.

2. To get in the right mindset for the day

Starting your morning half an hour earlier gives you ample time to set the tone of your nervous system for the day. The simple practice of mindfulness -- no pretzel-positions or mantras required -- helps your brain and neurotransmitters get into an optimal 'set' for the day. In turn, this provides you with better emotional resilience and response flexibility. Even better, in as little as three weeks of mindfulness practice, your brain responds by creating new neural pathways that support healthier relationships with your kids, your spouse and yourself!

3. To enjoy some "me" time

As a mom, starting your day 30 minutes earlier gives you time to check your emails, drink your coffee in peace and even do some meditation or stretching. The benefits really boil down to 'me' time (mom's energy time!), so that I'm better prepared for the day ahead.

4. To get things done around the house

You can do so much with just an extra half hour, especially if your kids are still asleep. Try to put in a load of laundry every morning; it eases the stress of doing an entire day's worth.

5. To squeeze in a workout

I often encourage my clients to wake up earlier so they can spend some time working out. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise will give you more energy throughout the day and really get your blood pumping, something we know all moms can benefit from.

6. To get yourself ready

Last but not least, you can utilize this time to put on some makeup and do your hair so you don't feel completely disheveled throughout the day. Getting up 30 minutes earlier is a win-win situation for any mom. One of the most important things as a mother/caretaker is to remember to take good care of yourself!

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September 10, 2012

Tailgating Tips

Fire up the grill. Lower the tailgate. It's time for some football and the start of the tailgating season!

Unfortunately, traditional game day fare is loaded with calories. A fan can easily consume 1,200 calories at a single game. Let's look at how long it takes to use up the calories from some favorite football foods:

--- Two beers = One hour of walking

--- Four chicken wings = 30 minutes of jogging

--- One cracker with cheese spread = 13 minutes of performing with a marching band

--- A serving of lasagna = Running the length of 89 football fields

--- Two slices of pepperoni pizza = Climbing 6,000 steps

--- 15 to 20 potato chips = One hour of doing "the wave"

But you can score your own touchdowns and bring nutrition along to the party with a few thoughtful changes. Whether you're packing up the car or sitting on the couch, here are some suggestions on how to lighten up your food choices:

--- Cheese tray -- use reduced fat and reduced sodium cheeses

--- Chicken wings -- grill boneless, skinless chicken tenders; you can still add the hot sauce, or try low-fat honey mustard sauce or a rub

--- Tortilla chips and dip -- use low-fat cheddar cheese, fat-free sour cream and baked tortilla chips; add salsa to sneak in a serving of veggies

--- Hoagie -- use whole-grain rolls, low- or reduced-fat cheese, turkey or grilled chicken; load up on the vegetables beyond the usual lettuce, tomato and onion by adding grilled peppers, mushrooms and even squash

--- Burgers -- use extra lean (97 percent) beef or turkey or try veggie patties; use whole-grain rolls and, again, load up on the veggies

--- Pasta salad -- use whole-grain pasta and try a light salad dressing; add vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes and carrots

--- Meatballs -- use extra lean (97 percent) ground beef or turkey; bake the meatballs instead of frying or pan cooking

Having food available for a four-hour game can lead to mindless snacking. Here are some tips to intercept that problem:

--- Have a beginning and ending time to eat

--- Put food away and out of sight when not eating

--- Provide lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and low-calorie, low-fat dips as snacks at designated times

--- Stay active -- do the wave. Park as far away from the stadium as possible. If at home, get off the couch during breaks in the action and get moving by doing some steps in place or a stretching activity

--- Drink alcohol in moderation and stay hydrated with water -- drink water pregame, during the game and post-game

Remember to celebrate your health while celebrating your favorite team's victory!

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August 31, 2012

Sugars A-Z

Added sugars in the foods we eat supply simple, quickly digested carbohydrates which the body transforms into energy. Ask any long distance runner or cyclist how they would fare without them! But in excess, they can add empty calories to our eating plan. As in all things nutritional, it is important to know what you are eating and to balance small servings of sugary fun foods with the greater emphasis on the foods that support good health. Sugar can be even enjoyed by people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the key to keeping your blood glucose levels on target is to substitute small portions of sweets and sweeteners for other carbohydrate-containing foods in your meals and snacks.

Studies have found that the main contributors of added sugars in our diet are soda and energy/sports drinks, baked desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, and candy. In an average 2,000 calorie diet, the usual added sugars intake for adults is 20 teaspoons a day (about 80 grams). Compare this with the USDA Dietary Guidelines recommendation of no more than eight teaspoons of added sugars a day (about 30 grams).

Moderation and awareness is the key. Did you know that a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 35 grams of sugar? That's nine teaspoons- just about all of the added sugar you should have in a day. So having one can as your daily treat could fit into a healthy diet, but having it as your beverage of choice, several times a day, will bust your sugar budget.

Of course, one could totally avoid added sugars and fare very well. Added sugars are not a necessary nutrient. But most of us enjoy an occasional or even daily treat and in small amounts this adds a lot of fun and flavor into our day.

Is one kind of sugar better than another? Nutritionally, all sugars provide simple carbohydrates, but molasses also contains an appreciable amount of iron. Regular molasses has about one milligram of iron per tablespoon; blackstrap has about three milligrams. The Daily Value for iron is 18 milligrams. Fructose would be ok for someone with diabetes because it doesn't raise blood sugar levels, but in excess it can raise triglycerides levels, with is unhealthy for your heart. The rest of the sugars, even in raw form, have such negligible amounts of trace minerals that it is not worth considering them as a nutrient source.

The best sweet treat you can eat- fruit! Loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients, and providing fiber as well, getting your sugar from whole fruit is the best choice.

Here are some facts you may not have known about these popular sugars and sweeteners. One thing they all have in common is that they contain simple carbohydrates and have no other appreciable nutrients, except for molasses.

Agave nectar is a highly processed type of sugar from the Agave tequiliana (tequila) plant. It is mostly made up of glucose and fructose sugars. Agave nectar is about one and a half times sweeter than regular sugar. Agave nectar or syrup ranges from 90% to as little as 55% fructose (similar to high-fructose corn syrup), depending on the processing.

Barley malt syrup is grain syrup processed from sprouted barley. People who must avoid gluten must avoid products made with wheat, barley and rye, so barley malt syrup is off limits.

Brown sugar is made from the sugar crystals from molasses syrup. Dark brown sugar has a deeper color and stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Brown sugar tends to clump because it contains more moisture than white sugar.

Caster sugar/castor sugar very finely granulated sugar that was formerly sprinkled from a castor (a bottle with a perforated top for sprinkling sugar, etc., or a stand containing such bottles)

Confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar) is granulated sugar that has been ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking.

Corn syrup is a processed sweetener made from corn. Corn syrup is about 80 to 85% maltose, dextrin, dextrose, and other polysaccharides and 15% to 20% glucose.

Demerara sugar is a light brown sugar with large golden crystals, which are slightly sticky from the adhering molasses. It is popular in England, often used in tea, coffee, or on top of hot cereals.

Evaporated Cane Juice is the common name for the cane-based sweetener produced directly from milled cane using a single-crystallization process. The filtered, clarified juice is evaporated into syrup, crystallized and cured. This free flowing sweetener has a light golden color and retains a hint of molasses flavor because there is no further processing.

Fructose (fruit sugar) is the naturally occurring sugar in all fruits. It is also called levulose. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, which also contain other sugars. Modest amounts of fructose do not boost blood glucose levels, making the sweetener attractive to diabetics. However, large amounts increase triglyceride levels in the blood, along with the risk for heart disease.

High fructose corn syrup- a highly refined sugar made from corn.
The name "high-fructose corn syrup" is not very accurate. It is high only in relation to regular corn syrup, not to sugar: Table sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose High-fructose corn syrup has roughly the same make-up as table sugar. Most HFCS is 42 percent or 55 percent fructose, the remainder is glucose.

Honey is a combination of fructose, glucose, and water, which bees produce from plant nectar. On average, honey is nearly 20% water, and contains about 40% fructose, 30% glucose and 1% sucrose. The remainder is a mixture of other sugars and minute traces of naturally present acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Honey's flavor depends on the source (clover, orange blossom, sage, etc) of nectar. (Warning: Don't feed honey to babies who are less than one year old--it may cause infant botulism.

Invert sugar is a sugar that is made by dividing sucrose into its two parts: glucose and fructose in a process called inversion. Invert sugar is used mainly by food manufacturers to retard the crystallization of sugar and to retain moisture in the packaged food. Home cooks make invert sugar whenever a recipe calls for a sugar to be boiled gently in a mixture of water and lemon juice.

Jaggery is a tan, unrefined sugar that is common in India. It's made from the sap of palm trees or sugar cane. It's often sold in solid cakes.

Maple syrup is the mixture of sugars formed when the sap of sugar maple trees is boiled down to thick syrup. Maple sugar contains about 33% water and 60% sucrose. The remainder is a mixture of glucose, other sugars and minute traces of naturally present acids, minerals and some B-vitamins.

Molasses is the thick, dark brown, uncrystallized juice obtained from raw sugar during the refining process. It is a by-product of the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar. After the juice is extracted it is boiled until the water evaporates and the syrup remains. This substance is then put into a centrifuge in order to separate the raw sugar crystals from the syrup, and what is left is the molasses.

The results of this first boiling and removal of sugar crystals is called light molasses, this type has the highest sugar content (since comparatively little sugar has been extracted from the juice).
Dark molasses comes from the second boiling and sugar extraction and is used to flavor sweets (such as shoofly pie and gingerbread) and baked beans and sauces, like barbecue sauce. Light and dark molasses can generally be used interchangeably.

The third boiling of the sugar syrup creates blackstrap molasses, which is very dark and thick and has a strong, bitter flavor. Blackstrap is also used in the manufacture of livestock feed.

Sulfured molasses is made from young green sugar cane and is treated with sulfur dioxide fumes, which act as a preservative during the sugar extraction process. Unsulfured varieties can be made from more mature raw materials, and the juice is clarified as it is processed.

Muscovado sugar is a British specialty brown sugar. It is very dark brown and has a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar.

Raw sugar is the nearly pure sugar crystals covered by a thin film of molasses. Raw sugar is granulated, solid, or coarse, and is brown in color. It forms when the moisture from the juice of the sugar cane evaporates. It has been clarified to remove non-sugar plant materials like wax, fats, and gums from the juice, and then concentrated by removing water to protect the sugar from caramelization. It is then crystallized-by evaporating the last portion of water under very tight controls in a vacuum pan. The mixture is spun and dried; yielding raw sugar that is approximately 96-98% sucrose.

Rice syrup is composed mainly of simple sugars, glucose, maltose and maltotriose. It tastes about half as sweet as table sugar. There is some concern for those who regularly consume large quantities of rice products that the naturally occurring arsenic in some of these products may be problematic. For more information, see links at end of this article.

Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural) is a brand name for organic evaporated sugar cane juice. According to the producer, it is made by extracting the juice and heating it in a large vat. Once the juice is reduced to rich, dark syrup, it is hand-paddled. Hand paddling cools and dries the syrup, creating the dry porous granules.

Sucrose (table sugar) also known as cane sugar, granulated sugar, sugar, white sugar, sucrose, and refined sugar. It is made up of glucose and fructose and is extracted from either sugar beets or sugar cane. Cane sugar and beet sugar are identical in chemistry and quality. Some cane sugar is processed using a by-product of animal bones, so some vegetarians prefer beet sugar to cane. Manufacturers don't always specify whether their product is beet sugar or cane sugar.

Turbinado sugar This sugar is raw sugar which has been partially processed, where only the surface molasses has been washed off.

Zucker hut (sugar hat) is a traditional German treat. During the Christmas and New Year's holidays, Germans pour rum over these sugar cones and ignite them to make feuerzangebowle, or fire tong punch.

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August 16, 2012

Frozen Treats

In 1984, Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month. I'm a month behind, but the hot days of August warrant a look at the treat most of us turn to when we want to beat the heat.

Ice cream, derived from "iced cream" or "cream ice," is a frozen dessert usually containing milk and cream and often combined with fruits, flavoring and other ingredients. The United States produces 1.6 billion gallons of frozen desserts annually. We export 40 million gallons to other countries (especially Japan) and eat the rest.

No one really knows the exact date when ice cream was concocted, but it is known that in A.D. 54, Nero was fond of "sweet snow," which was simply snow flavored with fruit, wine or honey.

Since then, the frozen treat has morphed into a variety of products -- frozen custard, ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet, ice milk, to name a few. All these varieties have nutritional differences:

--- Ice cream is a mixture of dairy products (milk and cream) containing at least 10 percent milk fat, but often contains a much higher milk fat content. Check the label.

--- Reduced-fat ice cream contains at least 25 percent less total fat than ice cream.

--- Low-fat ice cream, previously known as "ice milk," contains less than 10 percent milk fat or a maximum of 3 grams of fat per serving. The name "ice milk" went away with the new FDA labeling regulations for frozen products implemented in 1994.

--- Light ice cream has at least 50 percent less fat or 33 percent fewer calories (as a result of less milk fat and/or less added sugar) than ice cream.

--- Non-fat ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per 1/2 cup serving.

--- Frozen custard is a dairy-based product (milk and/or cream) that also contains egg yolks for added richness. Less air is also whipped into frozen custard. Like ice cream, it contains at least 10 percent milk fat.

--- Frozen yogurt is ice cream with the addition of yogurt cultures. The milk fat of frozen yogurts can vary, but most have a fat and calorie content similar to light ice creams. Frozen yogurt usually contains no cream.

--- Sherbet is usually made from fruit, water, sweetener (sugar or artificial sweetener) and milk or cream. It must contain enough milk or cream to have at least 1 percent, but not more than 2 percent, milk fat. Some products may contain egg whites.

--- Sorbets are a nondairy dessert made with sugar, water and fruit puree or other flavoring.

--- Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream. At 4 to 8 percent milk fat, it has less fat than ice cream and may contain egg yolks.

--- Ices are just water, sugar or other sweeteners and flavoring.

--- Nondairy frozen products, other than sorbet and ices, are made with an alternative milk -- rice or soy or even coconut, hemp or buffalo milk.

So where do we go from here in terms of making the healthiest choice in frozen treats? That's a tough one. One would think that going with a product with lower or no milk fat would be good. But what sorbets and ices lose in milk fat, they make up for with sugar content, which doesn't give them a gold nutrition star.

Generally, go for the lower fat product, but also keep in mind the sugar content -- as always, read the label and pay attention to portion size. Keep your frozen treat at 1/2 cup. (Sorry!)

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August 13, 2012

Happy Grilling: The Healthy Way

Often, we enjoy the summer joy of outdoor grilling so much that we overlook the health risks. But the good news is that you can strike a balance between outdoor grilling and good health.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there are two aspects of outdoor grilling that can create a higher risk for cancer.

The first involves charring food on the grill.

When meat is well done or charred on the grill, cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can form.

Scientists theorize that these substances have the potential to damage DNA in ways that might increase the likelihood for cancer, particularly when beef, poultry or fish are the foods being grilled.

The second concern involves the large portions of red and processed meats that are commonly cooked on outdoor grills.

A steady diet of these meats can increase the risk for colorectal cancer, regardless of where they are cooked.

Take heart. You can fire up the grill and savor the opportunity to enjoy preparing yummy foods in the great outdoors by utilizing the following healthy grilling tips:

Get the red (meat) out

Instead of burgers, steak and hot dogs, opt for fish or chicken.

Focus on grilling colorful fruits and vegetables. Plant foods contain naturally occurring compounds called phytochemicals, which can help provide protection from cancer.

Choose vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, onions, eggplant, zucchini and corn on the cob because grilling brings out their best flavors. You can cook them in a grill basket, cut them into pieces for kebabs, or coat them with a small amount of olive oil and grill whole.

Use fruit that is a day or two away from being ripe. This will help maintain its texture. Cut the fruit before placing it on the grill. Brush the fruit lightly with oil to keep it from sticking and serve with a dollop of yogurt or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Marinate, marinate, marinate

Always marinate meat before grilling, and choose a marinade with vinegar or citrus in it. Scientists believe the acids in marinades that contain vinegar and citrus may reduce the formation of HCAs.

Trim and precook your meats before grilling

Use the oven, stovetop or microwave to precook your meats, lessening the time the meats have to spend on the grill.

To avoid food poisoning, be sure to put the partially cooked meat on the preheated grill immediately to complete cooking process. Cut off visible fat to reduce on-grill flare-ups.

Take your time

Slow down the cooking time on the grill with a low flame to help keep charring and burning to a minimum.

This will reduce the production of HCAs and PAHs. Also, cook food in the center of the grill and move coals to the side. This will prevent fat and juices from dripping on them which also causes flare ups.

Once the food is done, be sure to identify and trim off any charred portions of the meat.

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August 9, 2012

Eating Well

Q: What is intuitive eating?

A: It's an approach that helps you have a healthy relationship-- mentally and physically--with food. Intuitive eating is the opposite of dieting: You reject rules for what to eat and not eat. Instead, you listen to and trust your body's natural cues of hunger and fullness.

In other words, you eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. If you're following dieting rules and feeling unsatisfied, chances are you're constantly thinking about food. When you eat intuitively, you pay attention to whether a meal was enjoyable and whether it sustained you for the next few hours.

Q: Can eating intuitively help someone lose weight?

A: Well, first I want to say that research suggests that dieting doesn't work--many studies have shown that even when dieters lose weight they often end up regaining what they lost, and sometimes even more. But a series of studies done in Italy that taught people to essentially eat intuitively found that people who needed to lose weight lost and those who didn't need to lose maintained their weight eating this way. I've seen this in my patients too.

If they're already at a healthy weight, then their weight stays in the healthy range, and if they need to lose, they naturally do. The problem is a lot of people still want to be thinner, even if they're at a healthy weight.

Q: How can someone start eating intuitively?

A: A few questions to ask yourself are: Do you have rigid rules about food? Are you an emotional eater? Can you recognize hunger? Generally, I find that hunger is a good place to start. If someone doesn't know how to recognize when they're hungry or full, it's going to be hard to tackle the other principles, like ditching strict food rules.

A lot of people are good at the extreme-- 'I'm going to pass out, I'm so hungry"--but they miss gentle hunger signs and as a result they get too hungry, which makes it easy to overeat. And often people don't pay attention when they eat, so they eat well past the point of being satisfied.

Q: How can people cue into feeling full if they're not used to doing so?

A: Start by taking time out to listen to your body and what you need. In the beginning, pick one meal a day to really pay attention to. While you're eating, truly taste the food and notice what's going on in your body. Ask yourself how the food tastes. Is it meeting your expectation? Where's your hunger level? Where's your fullness? Are you satisfied?

All of this can be incredibly difficult to do. People are so used to checking e-mail, reading, or having the TV on that eating a meal without any distraction is a good first step. Doing so can be very freeing.

Q: Intuitive eating includes this idea of "unconditional permission to eat," meaning no food is taboo. But will this lead people to eat too many "forbidden" foods?

A: I hear this a lot. When you remove the guilt from eating certain foods and know that you can have it again another time, you get to ask yourself, "How does the food taste? Am I satisfied? Do I like how I feel physically?"

I had a patient who was addicted to French fries, and what she discovered by giving herself permission to eat them was "while I do love French fries, I'm no longer willing to have them when they're cold and limp" and she ended up having them less and less often and only when they were perfect. Even if someone's been eating this food for a long time, when they give themselves permission it's often the first time they're truly tasting it.

Q: You've talked about how it's OK to eat French fries and chocolate, but where does healthy eating come in?

A: Once you're in touch with your hunger, fullness and satisfaction, then you integrate health. You can think about what your body might need nutritionally. When people are attuned to their bodies, healthy eating actually feels good and is not done out of penance.

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July 9, 2012

BBQ Food Showdown

In situations such as this, when the choice is bad vs. worse, is it possible to make a choice that's nutritionally superior? Oh, the challenge! In the name of picnics and great Canadian barbecues, let's see who comes out a winner in the battle of 'burgs and 'dogs.

Smack-down No. 1: hot dog vs. hamburger: In this case, the better choice depends what your priorities are. If you're focused on weight loss, then the hot dog might actually be the victor, clocking in at about 150 calories for a straight-up beef dog (note that sausages and jumbo dogs can creep into the 250-plus calorie range), while burgers usually range from 300 to 600 calories per patty, depending on size and cut of beef used. Looking at it another way, however, hot dogs typically contain nitrates, compounds associated with increased cancer risk when consumed as part of cured meats such as hot dogs, bacon and sausages. And while your best bet is probably a fresh burger made from locally raised, grass-fed beef, let's just assume that's not an option.

Winner: I'll go with a ground beef burger, assuming it's not a high-calorie, bacon- or cheese-infused varietal, and then save the extra calories by eating less bun or potato salad.

Smack-down No. 2: monster whole-wheat bun vs. mini white bun: It's well documented that whole grain foods are nutritionally superior than those made from white flour. But in the case of some hamburger buns, the whole-wheat variety may provide nearly twice the 120 to 140 calories little white buns do. And yes, my low-carb friends, you could go bun-free (or do the bun shuffle, where you slide the bun along the burger with each bite, eventually leaving the burger in your belly and most of the bun on the plate), but let's indulge wheat-lovers for a moment.

Winner: I'd actually go with the lower calorie white bun; the whole-wheat ones may be a bit more nutritious, but the extra calories just aren't worth it.

Smack-down No. 3: potato salad vs. coleslaw: In one corner, you have potato salad, which will provide you with a smattering of protein from eggs, but also a heavy caloric burden from mayo, potatoes and egg yolks. The ultimate cost? Around 150 to 200 calories per half-cup serving, which is on par with ice cream. On the other hand, there's coleslaw, which offers nutrient-rich cabbage, along with either an oil-based vinaigrette or a mayo-based cream sauce.

Winner: Coleslaw. Not only is it lower in calories (half of potato salad) with a limited impact on blood sugar, the cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, and foods from the cabbage family may help lower your risk of certain cancers.

Smack-down No. 4: pop vs. diet pop: A pretty common question: What's better, sugar or sweeteners? On the one hand, we have pop, which is sweetened with sugar, and provides about 120 to 150 calories per can. Then you have diet pop, which is calorie-free, but comes with the controversial addition of some type of non-nutritive sweetener. One (the regular pop) will undoubtedly cause an undesirable blood sugar spike-and-crash scenario, while the other (the diet pop) could disrupt your body's ability to modulate sweet cravings, and regular consumption might be associated with metabolic syndrome (a condition associated with type 2 diabetes).

Winner: If the situation is a true one-off, I would go for the diet pop -- the single dose isn't going to destroy you, so you might as well save the sugar and the calories for ice cream. But I'd suggest keeping it to an occasional can in either case -- and the best bet, of course, is water alone.

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July 3, 2012

Season Your Food Right in the Summer

Bite into a picnic hamburger, chicken kebab, corn on the cob, or a spoon of coleslaw and what you want is a big burst of juicy, delicious flavor, right?. But will a plateful of great taste come loaded with fat and calories? Not necessarily. Most popular summer foods can be prepared deliciously without high-calorie culprits like butter, mayonnaise and creamy dressing. Here's how:

Dry Rubs
A dry rub is a blend of spices and seasonings that flavor meat without calories. It works its magic by creating a flavorful crust on meat rather than smothering it with gooey, fatty, overpowering liquid such as BBQ sauce. Dry rubs compliment the natural flavor of meat without fat and you can tailor your mix of seasonings for a taste that's slightly sweet, salty, spicy, or a little bit of everything. Dry rubs are best on foods that cook quickly and popular spices include paprika, dry mustard, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, unrefined salt, white pepper, lemon pepper, cayenne, coriander, cumin, dried lemon/lime zest, brown sugar, sage and thyme.

Wet Rubs
A wet rub is essentially the same as a dry rub, but with moisture that helps the flavors seep into the food. Wet rubs are great on meat, poultry, seafood, and veggies that grill slowly, such as portabella mushrooms and zucchini. The wet component of your rub can be anything, from beer, wine, bourbon, soy sauce, cider vinegar, vegetable oil (peanut, olive, canola etc.), to Worcester sauce, honey, molasses, Dijon mustard, and fruit juice. To keep calories to a minimum go with flavorful liquids like vinegars, mustards, or tomato sauces.

Brining is a process similar to marinating that involves soaking meat in a solution of salt and water before cooking. Brining hydrates the cells of muscle tissue so it cooks up tender and juicy.

Smoking is the process of flavoring and cooking food by exposing it to the smoke from burning plant materials (usually wood). Meat and fish are the most commonly smoked foods and cold smoking is best for adding smoky flavor without dehydrating the flesh.

Lemons, limes and oranges make it simple to jazz up those proteins headed for the grill. Citrus fruits not only add bright, tangy flavor, citric acid helps tenderize flesh by breaking down connective tissue so that meats, fish and poultry always come off the grill moist and tender.

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June 7, 2012

Five Changes to Help You Get Healthy This Summer

Slash the white stuff: This includes the obvious, like white breads, pastas and rice, as well as sweets and sugary drinks (including fruit juice, sweet tea and many smoothies and specialty coffee drinks). It also includes those perceived-as-healthy foods like restaurant-style wraps and deli bagels. While they may seem diet-friendly, many can pack in the carb-equivalent of six slices of bread.

Blast excess bloat: Not only are the above-mentioned sugars and white carbs typically calorie-dense foods that won't keep you full for long, these carb-rich foods and drinks can also cause you to retain fluid.

Cutting back, an obvious way to avoiding bloat, gives us just one more reason to adhere to the USDA's recommended upper limit of 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. Keep in mind that limiting high-salt foods requires more than simply putting down the salt shaker. It also means nixing most fast food and canned goods, and checking the labels on "diet" foods such as reduced-fat salad dressings and low-calorie frozen dinners, since many can be packed with hundreds of milligrams of sodium.

Prevent muscle loss: Not only does muscle mass help to give a lean, toned appearance, it also increases the number of calories we burn. Maximize muscle maintenance and growth by incorporating a protein-rich meal or snack every three to four hours throughout the day, emphasizing lean proteins such as seafood, skinless poultry, extra-lean ground beef and pork tenderloin, as well as nonmeat options such as plain low-fat Greek yogurt and veggie burgers.

Move it: The immediate benefits of exercise are three-fold: You burn more calories, shed excess water via sweat you get a boost to mood (potentially helping to fend off cravings). Aim for at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to intense exercise on most days (for example, a brisk walk, running, singles tennis, or cycling). If that's too much at first, start small and gradually increase time and intensity.

Track it: Keeping a log of food and exercise can help you stay focused and identify potential problem areas. Old-school pen and paper journaling works just fine, or try an easy-to-use smartphone app like My Fitness Pal.

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May 3, 2012

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Avocados

Guacamole, made predominantly of avocados, is a popular food people eat on this cheerful holiday. Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6.

Break out the maracas and bongos and celebrate: Avocados are good for you. Half of an avocado is 160 calories. It contains 15 grams of unsaturated fat, just 2 grams of saturated fat and has no cholesterol. Although it is high in fat, it is coming from a healthy source.

Unsaturated fat - like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, olives, vegetable oils and avocados - are considered to be heart-healthy fats because they help to lower bad or LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats such as those found in animal products, full-fat dairy products and processed foods are unhealthy because they increase bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.

As suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 10 percent of a person's total calories should come from saturated fats. If following a 2,000 calorie a day diet, one should consume less than 65 grams of total fat per day and less than 20 grams of saturated fat.

While avocados are relatively high in calories, as long as it is portion controlled, avocados are healthy and can be used in other recipes, or as a butter substitute because of its smooth and creamy texture.

For comparison, 1 tablespoon of butter has 100 calories, 11 grams of fat and 30 milligrams cholesterol. It is much better to eat avocado or use it as a sandwich spread than butter or mayonnaise.

Chunky Guacamole

1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cup fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 avocado
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds removed, if desired

Cut the avocado, remove pit and spoon out flesh into a bowl. Mash avocado with fork until all large pieces are gone. Add lime juice to desired taste and mix. Add garlic salt and salt. Mix in chopped cilantro, tomatoes and onions. Add diced jalapenos if desired.

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10 Ways to Cut Salt and Sugar

Here are 10 simple ways to keep salt and sugar out, while keeping big flavor in.

1. Wash away salt

Rinsing canned vegetables under cool running water reduces their sodium content by about 40 percent, according to The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. The same holds true for other canned foods, including beans, tuna and chicken.

2. Add seasoning while you cook

Roast veggies by tossing them with a few teaspoons of olive oil, some lemon juice, a small pinch of salt and a few dashes of pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400°F, or until lightly browned, stirring every 5 minutes.

3. Try a fresh twist on eggs

If you sprinkle a little dried thyme into your scrambled eggs, you won't be tempted to pass the salt shaker over them.

4. Cut back on taco seasoning

Use only half the packet that comes with a kit. Then punch up the dish with chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder or your favorite spice mix.

5. Mix and match for the perfect sauce

Along with your regular spaghetti sauce, buy a low-salt variety. Mix them together, then gradually phase out the saltier one.

6. Sweeten up breakfast

Add cinnamon and dried berries or apricots to your breakfast cereal.

7. A fruity alternative to syrup

Instead of using syrup on pancakes and waffles, make a raspberry sauce by mixing 1 cup berries with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and cooking until thickened.

8. Add a hint of flavor to rice

To add a new dimension to this plain starch, throw a cinnamon stick or a pinch of cardamom or ginger into the pot before the water begins to boil.

9. Substitute fruit in recipes

If a dessert recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, swap in ½ cup fruit puree (make your own using apples, prunes or pears, or use jarred baby food).

10. Give veggies a new twist

Add a touch of sweetness to cooked veggies. Carrots pair well with ginger; mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon; spinach with a touch of nutmeg.

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April 12, 2012

Try Something New: Flaxseed

Flaxseed is best known for supplying our body with an essential fatty acid -- alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA -- and fiber.

ALA is thought to contribute to a range of health benefits, including the production of anti-inflammatory agents, and providing cardioprotective abilities. In fact, some studies have shown that ALA could help prevent heart attacks. Not many foods are rich in ALA. It is found in canola, flaxseed and soybean oils, and in walnuts.

ALA is converted in the body into the type of omega-3 fatty acids that are found mainly in fish. These omega-3 fatty acids make the platelets in our blood less likely to stick together and might reduce the inflammatory processes in blood vessels. Thus, the omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood clotting and lessen the chance of a heart attack.

The soluble fiber in flaxseed helps lower blood cholesterol levels, and the insoluble fiber in flaxseed keeps your digestive system running smoothly and helps prevent constipation.

Flaxseed is found in whole-seed form, as well as ground and as oil. Your body cannot derive any nutritional benefit from flaxseed if you consume the seeds whole. They will pass right through your body, so ground flaxseed is the best.

If you buy ground flaxseed, it can go rancid quickly because of its high fat content. Ground flaxseed that is rancid will smell like oil paint. The best bet is to buy the whole-seed form of flaxseed and grind it using a coffee grinder or a small food processor. If you do buy the ground flaxseed, store it in the freezer and smell it before each use.

Just one tablespoon of flaxseed provides about 47 calories, 3.3 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of fat, which is heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

Here are some ways to incorporate flaxseed into your diet:

» Stir ground flaxseed into cooked cereals or yogurt.

» Substitute flaxseed oil for other oils in salad dressings.

» Stir a tablespoon of flaxseed into your morning orange juice.

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March 26, 2012

How to Eat Smart After Dark

Forget the common myth: nighttime eating isn't a diet downfall in itself. In general, eating after 7 or 8 p.m. isn't really a problem unless you've already eaten too much during the day.

If you're trying to lose weight, focus on how much you eat all day, not when you eat. Don't worry if you've eaten healthfully before and need to have dinner after 7.

If you've eaten a lot already, however, have a smaller dinner or snack so you don't blow your calorie budget for the day. Pigging out on fatty, salty or sugary foods isn't good any time of day.

If you have frequent heartburn, keep your evening meal small and low in fat. Fat relaxes the valve that blocks painful stomach acid from getting into your esophagus. Having big, heavy meals shortly before you lie down to sleep - when gravity also works against you - is a common recipe for discomfort.

If you have trouble falling asleep, have a small, carbohydrate-rich snack such as a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal, fruit or air-popped popcorn. Carbohydrates help the body make tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes deep sleep. Another option is tart dried cherries, which contain a hormone called melatonin that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Note: Avoid alcohol, which can disrupt sleep.

If you need to stay awake or alert, steer away from carbohydrates and focus on healthy proteins such as lean meat, chicken or fish instead.

If you just worked out, make sure your meal has a combination of protein and healthy carbohydrates for muscle growth and recovery. Two examples: spaghetti and mini meatballs or grilled chicken over mashed sweet potatoes.

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March 8, 2012

Get Your Plate In Shape

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthy eating. National Nutrition Month (NNM) celebrates the importance of a healthy lifestyle through sound eating habits and physical activity. This year's theme is "Get Your Plate in Shape." This theme supports the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans and the USDA's new food icon, My Plate, which reminds everyone to be more mindful of the foods we eat.

5 Ways To "Get Your Plate in Shape"

1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Add color to your plate by choosing from different types of produce.

Choose fresh, frozen, or canned. Choose "reduced sodium" or "no salt added" for canned vegetables.

2. Make half your grains whole

Read the label. Check for 100 percent whole grain for breads, cereals, pastas, and crackers, and other grain products.

3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk These have the same amount of calcium as whole milk products, but less fat and calories.

4. Vary your protein

Choose between seafood, nuts, beans, lean beef, poultry, eggs, and more.

Aim to have fish two times per week as your main protein source.

5. Portion control

Be in control of portions by cooking meals at home more often than you eat out.

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February 2, 2012

80/20 Rule

"80/20 rule" to eating: The idea is this: Focus on eating well 80% of the time, and don't worry about the other 20%. Some prefer to use a 90:10 ratio. Either way, I like it, and it's realistic, doable, and can result in good health overall.

The beautiful thing about subscribing to the 80/20 (or the 90/10) rule, is that mentally, it allows you to start feeling okay about what you may have otherwise thought of as "cheating on your diet". Ban the word "cheat day" or "I blew it" from your eating vocabulary! You are not cheating, but if you continue to view it as so, you are depriving yourself of normal eating behavior.

- Eat small amounts of food at about the same times each day, preferable 3-5 times a day

- Consume plenty of water, and limiting all nutritive, caloric beverages to no more than about 24-36 ounces a day (these would be nonfat or low fat milk, fruit or vegetable juices)

- Limit non-nutritive caloric beverages (soda, sports drinks, juices, alcohol) to no more than 16 ounces a day (less on most days for most people).

- Enjoy the food choices you make, and add variety to your diet - in other words, eat all types of food that you like, just not too much of it. Is your grandmother's voice in the back of your head? Listen to it.

- Do however try new foods. Aim for adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into you diet - and eat the ones you like. Invest in a few good cookbooks.

- Limit deep fried food. Who doesn't love fried food? I enjoy good French fries, potato chips, or fried seafood once in a while, but eating fried food daily is not going to keep you at a healthy weight, so enjoy it only occasionally, and eat less of it.

- Sit down and enjoy your food. Being distracted while eating does not allow you to focus on how the food tastes, and when you are full. You also may tend to eat too quickly, causing you to eat too much.

- Exercise. In 2012, when we have technology at our fingertips that was unimaginable in 1970, we must make an effort to move our bodies. We actually must think about it and plan it, because our day to day lives rely on technology that forces us to be sedentary: Sitting at computers, using automated devices (automatic washing machines, automatic coffee grinders - my grandmother used a hand-crank to grind beans - snow blowers, leaf-blowers, people-movers) cars, buses, elevators, etc.

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December 6, 2011

Lunch Makeover for the Whole Family

We all could use a little more time before work or school in the morning, but you shouldn't have to sacrifice a healthy, tasty meal. Especially with children, it's important to remember that you need to emphasize foods that promote health and energy rather than "diet" foods.

Plan Around MyPlate

Don't be discouraged if planning your grocery list around a menu sounds daunting. Instead focus on keeping a stock of necessary supplies on hand, including items from each food group on the new USDA MyPlate . Fresh fruits and vegetables for munching pair well with any meal - grapes, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and whole pieces of fruit like bananas, apples and pears. Lay the foundation for a healthy sandwich by stocking 100% whole grain breads, pita and tortillas. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit round out a satisfying trail mix.

Rethink Your Drinks

Be sure your lunch includes a nutrient-rich beverage. 8 ounces of lowfat or fat free milk fulfills one of the three daily recommended servings of dairy in the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. And this fall, flavored milk is projected to have 38% less added sugar than five years ago and just 31 more calories than white milk in schools. Most of the flavored milks have fewer than 150 calories per serving.

Repurpose Leftovers

Toss roast beef into salads and grilled chicken into a satisfying wrap rounded out with spinach, hummus and chopped tomatoes. Transform pasta and rice into a chilled salad with chopped cucumbers, shredded carrot, cheese and light vinaigrette. Skewer cherry tomatoes between turkey meatballs.

Batch Cook on Sunday

On your day off, prepare a simple dish that is large enough to supply lunch for a few days. A combination of garbanzo beans, whole wheat pasta or quinoa, edamame, bell pepper and cucumber tossed in light vinaigrette packs in protein and fiber to satisfy your hunger and fulfill three food groups in one bowl.

Skinny Dip
Everyone loves to dip. Match hummus with celery sticks, almond butter with baby carrots, and natural chocolate hazelnut butter with whole wheat pretzels. Try light ranch dressing with cucumber coins and whole grain pita chips with salsa.

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November 28, 2011

Decrease Your Risk for Diabetes

The numbers are nuts: More than 25 million people in the United States have diabetes -- and that's almost 10% of the population.

Here's what's even crazier: Making just one key lifestyle change can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by roughly one-third, suggests a new government study that collected data on more than 200,000 adults. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked at how five specific lifestyle factors affected diabetes risk. They found that individually, each factor could lower your odds by about 30%; the combination of all five may reduce risk by about 80% -- even if you have a family history of diabetes. Here are the five changes to make, starting today, to help you stay out of those staggering statistics:

Drop extra pounds.

The more fatty tissue you have, the tougher it is for your body to make and use insulin properly, which can cause too much glucose to build up in your blood. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes; in fact, the NIH study suggests that just being at a healthy weight reduces your risk by up to 70%. The good news: Every pound you lose improves your health.

Move more.

The list of benefits speaks for itself: Exercise helps you lose weight, lower your blood sugar and boost insulin sensitivity. Shoot for at least 20 minutes a day; brisk walking is an excellent option, and so is going for a bike ride.

Eat more fiber and whole grains.

Both help improve blood sugar levels and reduce your risk. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds; to increase your intake of whole grains, switch to brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. More healthy eating tips: Choose lean meats and non-fat dairy products, have fish a few times a week, cook with liquid oils instead of solid fats, and cut back on the snacks and sweets.

Don't smoke.

Heavy smokers -- those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day -- almost double their risk of developing diabetes, when compared with non-smokers.

Stick to one or two drinks max.

That's one for women, two for men: A little alcohol is fine, but drinking too much, too often can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and ultimately lead to diabetes.

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September 1, 2011

Protein-Rich Breakfast Ideas

New research shows that you'll feel full longer and may get less hungry throughout the day if your first meal has protein-rich foods, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, low-fat dairy products or lean meat, and fiber-filled fare, such whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, fruit and vegetables.

These foods appear to have more staying power than highly processed foods such as bagels, muffins, doughnuts and sugary cereals.

The findings are especially important for school-aged children who may be ravenous by lunch time if they don't eat a good breakfast.

Start your day out right with these protein-rich breakfast ideas:

One cup of Greek yogurt

Served with: One slice whole-wheat toast with a teaspoon of peanut butter or trans-fat free tub margarine and fruit.

Vanilla-mango parfait

Made with layers of:

•1 cup vanilla yogurt

•1 cup cubed fresh or previously frozen mango (or other fresh fruit)

•½ cup whole-grain cereal

Served with (choose one): One cup reduced-fat milk or one serving of 2% Greek yogurt with fruit

Banana smoothie:
Blend 1 cup fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, a medium banana, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Serve with ½ whole-wheat English muffin topped with a teaspoon of peanut butter or trans-fat free tub margarine.

Slice of pizza and 8 ounces 100% orange juice.

Toasted whole-grain waffle sandwich with 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, peanut or almond butter with ¼ cup raisins; serve with 1 cup low-fat yogurt or milk.

Breakfast pita: Scramble one or two eggs and place in half a whole wheat pita pocket then top with ¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheese and salsa; serve with 8 ounces 100% orange juice.

Plain, 1 minute or instant oatmeal microwaved with fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk with small chopped apple stirred in and topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.

Protein-rich oatmeal

Made with:

•½ cup of old-fashioned oatmeal

•Scoop of vanilla-flavored whey or egg protein powder

•Handful of almonds

•Serving of fresh fruit

Served with: One cup of 1% milk

Breakfast burritos or sandwiches

Made with:

•Whole-wheat tortilla, whole-wheat toast or whole-wheat sandwich thin bread

•½ cup egg beaters or egg whites

•Two ounces of either lean ham, turkey or turkey bacon

•One piece of reduced fat cheese

•Topped with veggies and salsa

Three hard boiled egg whites with whole wheat toast and a piece of fruit.

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August 29, 2011

Four Ways to a Healthier Life

Don't smoke, eat healthily, exercise regularly, and go easy on the alcohol, and you are likely not only to have fewer chronic health problems, but also to live longer, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that concludes neglecting to follow these four healthy behaviors is responsible for much of the illness and death linked to chronic diseases.

The CDC suggests you:

1. Avoid Tobacco: if you don't smoke, don't start, and if you do, quit now. Get in touch with 1-800-Quit-Now and they will help you (for resources in other countries, contact your local health authority, or look for useful resources on the internet, such as quitsmokingsupport.com).

2. Limit Alcohol: men should have no more than two drinks a day, women no more than one.

3. Improve Your Diet: eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, switch to fat-free and low-fat dairy and seafoods. Cut down on salt and foods high in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugar, and refined grains.

4. Exercise: do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking spread over at least five days each week, or on three days a week or more, do a total of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise such as jogging or race walking (this raises heart rate more than brisk walking).

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June 6, 2011

My Plate

The government is dishing up healthy eating advice, not with a new food pyramid, but instead with an image of a plate.

The icon (www.choosemyplate.gov), called My Plate, is divided into four sections -- fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. It replaces the familiar pyramid image, which was first introduced in 1992 and revised in 2005.

The symbol conveys the seven key messages from the Dietary Guidelines: Enjoy food but eat less; avoid oversized portions; make half your plate fruits and vegetables; drink water instead of sugary drinks; switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk; compare sodium in foods; and make at least half your grains whole grains.

From a practical point of view, the plate image will help people make better food choices.

Posted by Lisa at 6:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2011

Visual Guides for Portion Size

In an effort to help people realize how much is too much when it comes to food portions, here are some updated visuals for portion equivalents.


Deck of cards: 3-ounce portion of meat or poultry

Checkbook: 3-ounce portion of fish

Cassette tape: 1 slice of bread

Baseball: 1 cup salad greens

4 stacked dice: 1 ounce of cheese

Hockey puck or tuna can: 1 bagel


Smartphone: 3 ounces of chicken, meat or fish

CD: 1 slice of bread

iPod nano: 1 ounce of chocolate

Pedometer: 1/4 cup of raisins or dried fruit

First-generation iPod shuffle: 1 ounce of cheese

Small thumb drive: 1 tablespoon of salad dressing, sour cream, mayo

AC power adapter: 1/2 cup ice cream or frozen yogurt

Computer mouse: 1 baked potato

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May 11, 2011

Granola Bar or Candy Bar?

Granola bars got their healthy reputation as the mountain hiker's snack of choice. Some bars are full of nuts, seeds, whole oats and other nutritious foods. Other granola bars are covered in chocolate or loaded with chocolate chips and artificial ingredients, but aren't much better than eating a candy bar. The best granola bars contain the following:

* 4 grams or more fiber
* 6 grams or less sugar
* 5 grams or less total fat with unsaturated poly- and mono-fat the preferred source
* 6 grams protein or more

You don't have to go to a health food store to find a healthy version. One example available at the grocery store is the Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar Dark Mocha Almond; it meets these recommendations and tastes great, too!

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April 12, 2011

Spring Clean Your Diet!

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has a lot to do with your environment. For most people, your environment includes home, work, and all points between. Why not give these a much needed makeover with the rest of your spring cleaning? Use this checklist to clean the slate, and your plate, in time for swimsuit season:

Clean out and restock your refrigerator and freezer

First, check for past-due expiration dates to make room for new. Compost, recycle, or reuse what you can and discard the rest.

Be sure to clean underneath and behind the unit to make sure the appliance runs as efficiently as possible and keeps your food at the proper temperature (under 40 degrees for the fridge). Finally, fill it with fresh produce, lowfat dairy, and lean protein.

Go on pantry patrol

Consolidate open boxes of pasta, cereal, bars, and more and again check for spoilage and long-gone expiration dates. Reorganize spices, soups, flours, sugars, and other pantry staples to help cut down food preparation time. Grade your pantry for how "natural" it is. Is it chalked full of processed foods, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors? Then, it's time for a makeover! Contact your local food bank to learn which perishable items they will accept and donate what you cannot (or won't) use.

Dust off the gym bag

Pack your bag with all the essentials for Day 1 of your "back on track" plan. For example, arm your bag with water, socks, shoes, undergarments, athletic attire of choice, toiletries, even post-workout snacks like trail mix and Gatorade. For even greater inspiration, treat yourself to a new outfit or new shoes!

Find a group fitness class to try

Be it spinning, zumba, yoga, or otherwise, there is certainly strength in numbers when it comes to exercise. Check out local class times and locations and mark it on the calendar. Better yet, find a friend tag along with and sign-up together.

Farmer's Market, here I come!

Find out when your local market opens for the season and look into when a community-supported agriculture (CSA) near you begins their distribution of produce.


As temps increase, so does your body's need for water. Make sure you sip on water throughout the day and with meals. Try to choose water over any other beverage, especially those with caffeine like diet soda, coffee, or tea.

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March 14, 2011

Eating more...whole grains!

How much each day?

The guideline.
The dietary guidelines say we should make sure that at least half of the six servings of grains we eat in a day are whole, not refined. In short, we should "Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains."

Daily amount.
A person consuming 2,000 calories per day should have at least 48 grams of whole grains (or three servings) and an equal amount of refined grains. You can get about 16 grams of whole grains from any one of the following: a one-ounce slice of bread, one ounce of pasta or rice (uncooked), a six-inch tortilla, or about one cup of cereal.

Enriched grains. The other three servings can be refined, as long as they're enriched. These are refined grains that have nutrients such as folic acid or calcium added to them. Whole grains are not enriched, so if you replaced all your refined grains with whole ones, you'd need to get those nutrients elsewhere, perhaps through dietary supplements.

Whole vs. refined

Common whole grains.
These include barley, corn (whole cornmeal and popcorn), oats, rice (brown and colored), rye, wheat and wild rice.

The whole seed. A whole grain contains all the components of the grain seed, including the bran, germ and endosperm; those parts are stripped away when grain is refined.

Nutrients. Whole grains contain fiber and important vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium and B vitamins, all of which are lost when grains are milled to remove the bran and germ (making them "refined").

Health benefits. Eating whole grains may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and is linked to lower body weight; it may also help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Shop smart

Stamp of approval. A growing number of products carry the Boston-based Whole Grains Council's stamp, which highlights the amount of whole grain per serving. Check the ingredient list: some kind of whole grain should be listed first or second (after water).

"Multigrain." Be aware that whole-grain content isn't listed on Nutrition Facts panels, and labels can be misleading. For instance, multigrain bread may have plenty of whole grains or none at all.

"Bran," "wheat germ."
The Whole Grains Council notes that these terms do not signal whole grain content.

Fiber. Don't get confused by fiber content: Whole grains have fiber, but a food that has fiber doesn't necessarily have whole grains.

Eating whole grains

Start with cold cereal. This is a tasty and convenient source of grains, but some brands have more whole grain than others. General Mills has reformulated its cereals to have at least 8 grams per serving (some have 16). Be conscious of sugar content, though: Lucky Charms have 10 grams of sugar per serving. Better yet, choose Cheerios, which have 1 gram of sugar per serving.

Or cook up some hot
. When you cook oatmeal, whose whole oats count as whole grains, you can control the amount of sugar, salt and butter. You can also add uncooked oatmeal to your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe, or use it in homemade breads, muffins and cookies.

But don't ignore the everyday ones. Popcorn - air-popped, popped in the microwave or cooked on the stovetop in a little bit of olive oil - is a perfectly legit whole grain. (Just go easy on the butter and salt.) So is the corn in cornbread and tortilla chips. Again, though, keep an eye on the sodium and fat.

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March 9, 2011

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!

March 9, 2011 is National Registered Dietitian Day!

Should you see an RD? Here are ten reasons why consulting with a registered dietitian could benefit you if:

1. You have diabetes, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure.
2. You are thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery.
3. You have digestive problems.
4. You're pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

5. You need guidance and confidence for breastfeeding your baby.
6. Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully.
7. You need to gain or lose weight.
8. You're caring for an aging parent.
9. You want to eat smarter.
10. You want to improve your performance in sports.

To find an expert in nutrition and get on the right road to health and well being, visit eatright.org.

Produced by ADA's Strategic Communications Team

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February 2, 2011

New Dietary Guidelines

So what should the new American diet look like? The new guidelines suggest:

* Eat more seafood -- at least 8 ounces a week
* Eat more fruits and vegetables
* Substitute healthy oils for solid fats (such as margarine)
* Lower your sodium intake
* Avoid fast foods
* Exercise more

* Read food labels
* Substitute whole grains for refined grains
* Eat more beans and peas
* Get plenty of fiber, potassium, and vitamin D
* Eat/drink more nonfat or low-fat dairy products
* Replace high-fat meats with lean meats
* For some Americans, drink less alcohol
* Get off your SoFAS (Solid fats and added sugars)

For more information click here.

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January 24, 2011

Cereal Check

The question

What should I look for in a healthy cereal?

The answer

I have a few criteria for choosing a healthy ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. The most nutritious cereal is one that's low in fat and sugar, high in fiber and made with 100 per cent whole grains such as oats, whole grain whole wheat, whole rye, flaxseed or brown rice.

For starters, read the ingredient list. Look for whole grain to be listed first. This means that the cereal is predominately whole grain. If a whole grain is listed second, you might be getting only a little whole grain. (Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight.) There's one exception here: 100% bran cereals. While bran cereals do not include all parts of the grain kernel, you can consider them whole grain since they're a concentrated source of bran that's missing from refined grains.

Next, read the nutrition label. Choose a cereal that has at least five grams of fiber and no more than eight grams of sugar per serving. Cereals with dried fruit can exceed eight grams of sugar. That's because the sugar numbers on the nutrition label include both added sugars and naturally-occurring sugars in fruit. Cereals with raisins, blueberries, strawberries (not strawberry filling!) and cranberries will have a little more sugar but they'll also have more fiber.

Also consider sodium. Once you start reading labels, you might be surprised to see how much sodium some cereals deliver. For example, some high-fiber breakfast cereals can deliver as much as 20 per cent of your daily requirement in one small serving. Choose a lower sodium cereal with no more than 240 milligrams per serving.

One more tip - keep your serving size in check. By dry weight, an official "food guide" serving of ready-to-eat cereal is 30 grams. In household measures, 30 grams of dry cereal will vary depending on the density, or weight, of the cereal. In general, a serving size of a flake cereal is typically ¾ to 1 cup. The serving size for denser cereals like granola and muesli is 1/3 to ½ cup.

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January 15, 2011

New Year. New You.

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, when really they should be worried about what they eat between the new year and Christmas.”

– Anonymous.

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November 10, 2010

Start! Eating Healthy Day!

Start! Eating Healthy Day (which, let's face it, should be every day) is today! It is part of an American Heart Association campaign to encourage us to make better food and eating choices. Get started today!

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November 4, 2010

Smart Shopping Tips


- Fresh fruits and vegetables should fill half your grocery cart, just like they should fill half your dinner plate.

- Fruits and veggies with thin skins (apples and grapes )are more often treated with pesticides than those with thick, tough skins (bananas and grapefruit).


- Packaged raw chicken can have up to 200 milligrams of hidden sodium per serving. Try Smart Chicken or Just Bare Chicken, brands that do not use sodium nitrates as preservatives.

- Cuts of beef or pork labeled with the word "loin" are leaner.

- Eat salmon or tuna at least twice a week for their heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Look for "wild-caught" fresh or frozen salmon; it's likely to have fewer contaminants and pollutants.

- Limit your consumption of deli meats and lunch meats. They are high in sodium and preservatives. When you do buy, Hormel Natural Choice or Oscar Mayer Natural are among the brands that have no artificial ingredients.

- Instead of deli meat for sandwiches, consider hummus, Laughing Cow light cheese wedges, tuna or a vegetarian burger that can be microwaved.


- When buying bread, the word "whole" - as in "whole-grain" or "whole-wheat" - should be in the first ingredient. On the Nutrition Facts panel, the bread should have at least 3 grams of fiber.


- Look for whole grains and high fiber. Kashi brand has several high-fiber cereals.

- Granola can be nutritious, but high in calories, so stick with 1/4 cup portions.

- Buy plain rolled oats instead of instant oatmeal in individual packets to avoid added sugar.

- Check the Nutrition Facts panel. You need at least 16 grams of whole grains to count as one of the three daily servings recommended.


- Choose reduced fat cheeses and low-fat or skim milk.

- Greek yogurt has twice the protein and is fat-free. Watch for added sugars in yogurts.

- Stay away from stick margarines or any spread with the word "hydrogenated" in the ingredients list. That means trans fat, the most dangerous fat for heart disease.

- If you prefer natural products, buy a whipped butter, which means it's whipped with air, so you'll use less.

- Don't be afraid of eggs. They are a great source of protein and have all the essential amino acids.


- Frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh and can be more affordable. Buy them without added sugars or sauces.

- In general, stay away from frozen dinners. If you must purchase these, look for one with 600 grams of sodium or less and at least 15 grams of protein for satiety. Check these brands: Kashi, Lean Cuisine Spa Cuisine and Healthy Choice Select Entrees.

- Instead of frozen dinners, stock your freezer with Jennie-O turkey burgers, frozen fish fillets (without breading), Birds Eye Steamfresh brown rice and frozen vegetables.

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October 28, 2010

Mindful Eating

When we sit down to eat, our minds are often preoccupied — maybe we're reading a newspaper or magazine, watching television, or sitting at a desk at work, doing multiple tasks on the computer or telephone.

When we eat without paying attention to our food, suddenly we will realize the plate or bowl is empty without our knowledge.

The best thing to do is slow down — chew your food and put the fork down in between bites, because the faster you eat, the less likely you are paying attention to your food.

Being mindful of eating will give your digestive system time to process the food and will make you feel satisfied. Sometimes you may not realize how much you are eating, what you are eating or why you are eating. Often we eat more than we think.

The decisions we make about food may subconsciously influence overeating, which leads to gaining weight. Sometimes it's easier to change the environment in your home or workplace than to change your food habits, leading you to eat less and enjoy food more.

Don't feed feelings

Know the difference between mouth hunger and stomach hunger: Stomach hunger is your body's way of telling you it needs food, whereas mouth hunger is the urge to use food to soothe feelings of boredom, anger, sadness, stress or nervousness.

You should also know the difference between a serving and a portion. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat, whereas a serving is a measured amount of food or drink.

If you eat because of your emotions, you may want to start keeping a food diary of what you eat, when you eat and why you eat, because this makes it easier to make changes in your eating habits. Find a balance between eating and your emotions, and you can still enjoy your comfort foods.

The problem is our absentminded way of eating can lead to obesity.

You can prevent mindless eating by cutting down on high-calorie snacks. Try to avoid having an excessive amount of food on the table so you won't be tempted to go back for seconds. Use small serving utensils, plates and bowls and then go for a walk or bike ride.

Visualize what you are eating, since your stomach can't keep track of the calories you are consuming.

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September 13, 2010

Live Well. Feel Well. Be Well.

It's that time of year again! The kids are back in school. The weather's getting cooler. Cold and flu season is upon us. Be sure you and your family are armed and ready to fight back:

-- Get moving. Sedentary people are more likely than others to become ill. Exercise -- even just a half-hour to an hour of walking -- has been shown to keep you functioning and to boost immunity.

-- Stay rested. It's essential to get enough sleep -- ideally 7 1/2 to nine hours -- because proper rest helps the body repair injuries caused by stress, illness and invading organisms such as viruses.

-- Don't stress. Stress hormones can make you more susceptible to infection. So try not to get worked up over that resurgent rush-hour traffic and focus on maintaining a less confrontational and low-stress lifestyle.

-- Look on the bright side. Optimistic people tend to have a better immune response.

-- Drink up. If you feel a cold coming on, consume plenty of fluids. This helps keep your organ systems functioning optimally and is very important for proper immune response.

-- Avoid germs. Many people don't follow basic rules of hygiene. It's important to wash or sanitize your hands frequently -- such as after using that germy shared pen at the supermarket -- and to steer clear of coughing, sneezing or otherwise obviously ill people.

-- Get a flu shot. This is one of the simplest means of staying well, particularly for the very young, for older people and for those whose immune systems are compromised.

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August 16, 2010

Making Room For Legumes

You might already be aware of the health benefits of chick peas, beans, lentils and other members of the legume family, but that doesn’t mean you’re eating them. Beans and legumes are most commonly found in dishes from Central and South America, Asia or the Mediterranean. Yet their rich nutritional value makes them a valuable addition to almost any diet.

So how to incorporate these unique and powerful foods into our diet?

Beans for beginners

If you rarely, if ever, eat beans or legumes, one of the easiest ways to start is with hummus.

The now-ubiquitous dip is made from mashed chick peas, along with variable amounts of garlic, lemon, salt and tahini (sesame seed spread). Of course, now that hummus is common fare in grocery stores and restaurants alike, you can find variations made with different spices and peppers, or even made from different beans.

Calorie-wise, hummus is neither the lowest (salsa), nor the highest (artichoke and asiago) of the common dips, so most people can safely enjoy anywhere from 2 tbsp (50 calories) to ¼ cup (100 calories) without blowing their caloric budget. As an added benefit, you get a nice balance of protein (5 grams per ¼ cup), fiber (4 grams per ¼ cup), and healthy fats (from the tahini), not to mention antioxidants from the chick peas and garlic.

Chili is another simple way to add beans to your diet. Be it a vegetarian chili or a more traditional recipe made from lean ground beef or turkey, beans (most commonly red kidney beans) add flavor, texture and fiber to this popular dish.

For those who frequent salad bars or the fresh counter at the grocery store, a mixed bean or chick pea salad makes an easy choice, no culinary skills needed. A bean salad can make a nice side dish at meal-time, but it can also be used as a filling afternoon snack.

Intermediate beans

If you’re ready to try cooking with beans or lentils, but don’t know how, it’s easiest to start with the canned stuff. The salt content can be high, but washing the beans and discarding the liquid will help — and canned varieties tend to be less gas-producing than dried beans. Since no cooking is needed, simply grab a can opener and start experimenting with a range of dishes. Try adding lentils to soup, black beans to salad, or chick peas to a stir-fry.

You can also mash or purée beans and use them in dips, soups or wraps. Puréed lentils can be used as the base for a hearty lentil soup, black beans can be used to make quesadillas. Try adding some cumin, a bit of salt and pepper, and blend with grated cheese to make a quick meal that becomes well-balanced with a side salad or vegetable soup. Of course, chick peas can also be tossed into a blender to make hummus.

If you’ve never made a bean salad, it’s quick, inexpensive and best of all, easy. While the variations are virtually endless, try mixing a can of chick peas, a can of corn (or two cobs of cooked corn) and some chopped carrot and green pepper. Make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and voila: You have a bucket of side dish salad for less than $2. You can also try mixing black beans with red onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, and avocado to make an easy side salad or pita topper.

The bottom line

Whether it’s a scraping of hummus, or a more complex side or entrée, adding beans and legumes to your diet makes good sense economically, ecologically and for good health. Aim for a ½-cup serving (or ¼ cup of hummus or bean dip), three to four times per week, or as often as you’re able if these foods are new to you.

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July 12, 2010

What About Agave?

Agave has about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to 40 calories for the same amount of table sugar. But because agave is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it – which means you can achieve the same sweetness for about the same number of calories.

The bottom line is that refined agave sweeteners are not inherently healthier than sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. Nutritionally and functionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose (Karo) syrup. It does contain small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but not enough to matter nutritionally.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggested that consuming fructose may be less healthy than consuming similar amounts of glucose. Study participants who consumed fructose were found to gain more unhealthy visceral fat, were more insulin-resistant, and were at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

One of the most celebrated properties of agave is its profile on the glycemic index, a scale that measures how much various foods raise blood sugar levels. Agave ranks lower than many other sweeteners on the glycemic index. As a result, some manufacturers tout it as a "diabetic friendly" sugar.

However, the American Diabetes Association lists agave along with other sweeteners (table sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, maple sugar, and confectioner’s sugar) that should be limited in diabetic diets.

Experts agree: The American diet contains way too much sugar, especially in the form of sweetened beverages.

One of the simplest ways to improve the healthfulness of your diet is to reduce the amount of all simple sugars -- agave, sucrose, honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, molasses, brown sugar, corn syrup, turbinado sugar, and more. When it comes to sweeteners, the choice is yours -- but keep in mind that all caloric sugars are virtually the same.

It's better to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruit than with any kind of concentrated sugar. Not only is it unprocessed, and fiber- and nutrient-rich, it has an even lower glycemic index than agave.

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July 8, 2010

Try Something New: Legumes

What are legumes? They are seeds that dry in their pod. Legumes include beans (kidney, pinto, Lima, cannellini, black), lentils, peas (chickpeas, black-eyed peas, purplehull peas/cow peas) and nuts. Some may refer to them as dried beans, which include canned, frozen or cooked bean varieties.

In 2005, United States Department of Agriculture-Dietary Guidelines included beans as a subgroup of vegetables. It is recommended that three cups per week of legumes be included to assist in meeting total recommended vegetable servings. In addition, beans may be used as a lean protein source or meat substitute. In this case, beans fall into a subgroup of the meat group called dried beans and peas, as a plant-based protein. Legumes are rich in nutrients, offering the flexibility to fall into either category.

Beans are high in protein, iron, folate, potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, calcium, complex carbohydrate, while having no cholesterol, low in sodium, fat, saturated fat and calories. They are rich in phytonutrients and are gluten-free.

Legumes offer a great amount of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which can help in the management of weight, diabetes, lowering cholesterol and colon health.

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June 29, 2010

A Colorful Plate!

At dinner tonight, look down at your food. Not at the kind of food. But at the color of the food. Knowing your foods colors is a good way to remember how nutritious they are.

Red foods like tomatoes will help cut the risk of heart disease, cancer and strengthen your immunity.

Orange and yellow foods can protect your skin and lungs. Purple, dark red and blue foods boost brain power, and also protect the heart. And white foods, like garlic, are good for the heart and can help against certain cancers.

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May 14, 2010

35 Dietitians and A Guy Gone Wild!

This is a great reminder written by fellow RD Jenna A Bell, PhD, RD, CSSD. Even dietitians splurge on not-so-healthy foods...but these foods are not part of our daily diets. Dietitian's favorite word: moderation! Hmmm...what's my splurge food? Chili's Skillet Queso! Cheese dip and seasoned beef, fried chips and salsa.

Check out her article:

Sure, all foods can fit in your diet. You're right, you shouldn't feel emotional guilt about what you put in your mouth. Feel guilty if you purposely run over your neighbor's cat, but don't waste those feelings on food and nutrition. We should eat until we are satiated...balance our calories with our activity...consume a variety of foods...all in moderation. That said, sometimes we must stray. We must go wild. We adore some foods that provide us very little nutritional value, are dense in calories and fat (rather than vitamins and minerals), are just too salty and fried, or even processed in a way that make us question whether they deserve to be called "real food".

Click here for the full article

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March 30, 2010

Eating More: Yogurt

Yogurt is a nutrient dense food...as long as you look carefully at the label. Nutrient highlights include calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein. It's also been linked with helping lowering blood pressure and weight loss.

What to look for:

Per 6 ounce serving:

Calories: 100-150
Fat: 3.5 grams or less
Saturated fat: 2 grams or less
Protein: at least 8-10 grams
Sugar: 20 grams or less
Calcium: at least 20% of the daily value
Vitamin D: at least 20% of the daily value

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March 24, 2010

Spring into Summer!

* Take advantage of the warm weather to increase your exercise regimen. Play a game of Frisbee, volleyball or tennis; take long walks; or swim.

* Make seasonal vegetables the focus of your meal. Indulge in salads and steamed vegetables.

Season vegetables with spices, lemon and balsamic vinegar, a little Parmesan cheese and low-fat dressings. Make these the largest items on your plate and add small portions of protein and/or starch.

* Grilling your food is a great way to add flavor while reducing fat and calories. Grilling meats allows some fat to drip off, which lowers fat and calorie content. Try wrapping fish or chicken in foil and add vegetables and seasonings to the grill.

* Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruits. Bypass cakes, cookies and ice cream and opt for fresh berries, melons and even some of the more exotic fruits that are available instead. Fruit is fat-free, high in nutrients and fiber, and a natural energizer.

* Stay away from empty calories. It is important to drink plenty of fluids during these warm summer months, but juice, whole milk, regular soda and alcoholic beverages are high-calorie drinks that you want to avoid. Alcoholic beverages contain empty calories and may stimulate your appetite. Instead, fill up on water, seltzer, juice diluted with seltzer, low-fat milk or iced tea.

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March 4, 2010

Nutrition From the Ground Up

March is National Nutrition Month and this year's theme is Nutrition From the Ground Up. What does this mean? First, focus on foods that come from the ground - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans. These foods are the most nutrient dense. It also means healthy eating requires a healthy base. Think of it as your often, sometimes and rarely foods. The often category includes foods like whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, oatmeal), fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein like chicken, sirloin, nuts, and beans, low fat dairy foods like yogurt and 1% or fat free milk and healthy fats such as olive or canola oil, and avocado.

These foods should make up your healthy base and should be eaten almost daily. The sometimes foods include foods like white rice, pasta, white bread, pancakes, canned fruit in light syrup, potato salad, french fries, 2% milk, light ice cream, regular cottage cheese, chicken leg, eggs, sunflower seeds, low fat salad dressing, and light cream cheese. These foods you should not have every day, but a few times a week is ok. The rarely foods include foods such as biscuits, doughnuts, sugared cereals, fruits canned in heavy syrup, hashbrowns, creamed vegetable soups, whole milk, ice cream, cheese, bologna, spareribs, fried chicken, sausage, butter, stick margarine, and cream cheese. These foods should only be eaten once in a while. If you eat a lot of these types of foods, you can try replacing them with a food in the often category. For instance, replace your daily cinnamon roll with a cinnamon raisin wheat english muffin. Or order a side of fruit instead of the hashbrowns when you eat out at a restaurant. Take a look at what you eat in a whole day by recording it in a journal. Try it for a couple days and this will give you a good place to start. You'll be able to see what you need to add in and what you should think about cutting back on. It's National Nutrition Month - do something good for yourself! Good Luck!

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February 3, 2010

Foods to Help Fight Off a Cold

To keep your immune system working at its best, increase your intake of these foods during cold and flu season. You'll be glad you did.

1. Mangoes

Mangoes include a broad spectrum of antioxidants, including vitamin A and zinc. Vitamin A enhances immunity by revving up the function of white blood cells, which fight infection. Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for maintaining an overall healthy immune system.

How to get it: Whip up some mango salsa or a mango smoothie, or top yogurt with fresh mango slices. Strive to consume about 1 cup a day for the best benefit.

2. Garlic

Sometimes referred to as the "poor man's antibiotic," garlic has been eaten for centuries for its broad spectrum of therapeutic benefits. It is believed to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Even more, two compounds found in garlic, inulin and allicin, are thought to be responsible for effectively killing bacteria as well as intestinal parasites.

How to get it: Add fresh garlic to sauces and dressings. Try to eat at least a clove every day during flu season.

3. Mushrooms

Chinese medicine and Eastern cultures have relied on mushrooms for their health benefits and immune-boosting properties for centuries. Beta-glucans, a type of sugar found in both raw and cooked mushrooms, is believed to be responsible for the immune-stimulating properties.

In addition, mushrooms are the only vegetable that naturally contains vitamin D, and decreased blood levels of vitamin D have been correlated with an increased risk of catching the influenza virus.

How to get it: Add mushrooms to salads, sauces and omelets. Eat about 1 cup of white button, crimini, shitake, maitake, reishi or portobello mushrooms every day.

4. Salmon

During the winter months when the air is dry, mucous membranes dry out and crack, providing the perfect opportunity for viruses and other nasty bugs to enter the body. Eating more fish that are rich in omega-3 fats can help maintain healthy cell membranes. Salmon (and other seafood) is also a source of selenium, which has been shown to reduce the severity of a virus once a person is exposed.

How to get it: Broil a salmon fillet or salmon steak and serve with fresh mango salsa. Eat salmon twice a week.

5. Green Tea

Drinking plenty of fluids during flu season is especially important for hydration as it helps the body maintain a strong defense against bad bugs. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate, which has been shown to stop the common cold from spreading.

How to get it: Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea each day to get immune-boosting benefits and stay hydrated.

6. Yogurt

Aside from being an excellent source of calcium, dairy products like yogurt provide immune-boosting vitamin D and probiotics (also referred to as "live active cultures"). Vitamin D's production of antimicrobial substances is believed to stop viruses from spreading in the body. Probiotics found in yogurt can help the body fight infections and boost immunity by fortifying the healthy bacteria found in the digestive tract.

How to get it: Yogurt parfaits are the perfect breakfast or dessert. Make tangy salad dressings with plain yogurt or add to smoothies for an extra nutritional boost. Consume two servings of yogurt daily.

7. Almonds

Almonds contain vitamin E, which may help prevent colds and ward off upper respiratory infections. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that works in combination with other nutrients found in almonds, including selenium and magnesium.

How to get it: Make your own granola with toasted almonds, rolled oats and cinnamon. Or use almond butter instead of peanut butter. Eat about 22 almonds (or its equivalent) a day.

8. Spinach

Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse offering several key nutrients that help to boost immune function and health. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, folate, iron, vitamin B-2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B-6, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. With all these vitamins in one food, it's no wonder everyone should be consuming more of this leafy green.

How to get it: Sautee spinach with garlic and onions. Or make a spinach salad with pomegranate dressing, topped with toasted almonds. Try to have about 2 cups a day.

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February 1, 2010

Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much

Michael Pollan's new book, "Food Rules" follows in the same foot steps as his previous book "In Defense of Food". Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much. Here's a sample of some of the rules in his new book:

Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food.

Always leave the table a little hungry.

Eat meals together, at regular meal times.

Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

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January 12, 2010

Dip it! Snacks

• Dip baby carrots and cherry tomatoes in
low-fat ranch dressing.
• Dip strawberries or apple slices in low-fat
• Dip pretzels in mustard.
• Dip pita chips in hummus.

• Dip graham crackers in applesauce.
• Dip baked tortilla chips in bean dip.
• Dip animal crackers in low-fat pudding.
• Dip bread sticks in salsa.
• Dip a granola bar in low-fat yogurt.
• Dip mini-toaster waffles in cinnamon

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November 27, 2009

Snacks Make Sense

Snacking in-between meals makes sense! Snacks not only help keep your metabolism revved up, but they provide more opportunities to get key nutrients.
Try to stick to small amounts of healthful snacks from all the key food groups.

Some examples include: cups of unsweetened applesauce, containing 60 calories or less; low-fat granola bars, containing 110 calories or less; a 1-ounce serving of roasted unsalted nuts and seeds (28 peanuts, 18 cashews, or 24 almonds); 1 tablespoon of peanut, cashew or almond butter; dried fruits made without sugar, such as raisins or apricots; and whole-grain cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber per cup and no more than 12 grams of sugar.

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October 25, 2009

Rice: It's What's for Dinner

Serving rice for dinner is a smart and easy way to put a budget-friendly meal on the table in minutes.

Rice makes perfect sense for money-minded consumers. Rice grown in the United States averages 10 cents per serving, making it an economical dish that can be used to stretch meat and vegetables. Eighty percent of the rice consumed by Americans is grown in the United States.

The average one-half cup serving of rice contains 100 calories. Available in regular and quick-cooking varieties, brown rice is 100 percent whole grain and contains disease-fighting nutrients. One cup of it gives two of the three recommended servings of whole grains daily.

Rice also is highly digestible and is the least-allergenic grain. It can be enjoyed by individuals needing to avoid gluten.

Here are tips for preparing perfect rice from the USA Rice Federation:

- Accurately measure rice and liquid.

- Rice triples in volume, so use cookware appropriate for the amount of rice you are preparing. Keep a lid on the pot during cooking to prevent steam from escaping.

- Do not stir; it releases starch, resulting in rice that is sticky.

- At end of cooking time, remove lid and test for doneness. If rice is not tender or liquid not absorbed, cook two to four minutes longer.

Rice pairs well with a variety of meats, beans, vegetables and ethnic flavors, making it a versatile dish. The USA Rice Federation suggests "Healthy Rice Bowls" with rice as the foundation, combined with vegetables and lean meat for an economical, easy and healthy meal solution. All ingredients listed for these "Rice Bowls" are cooked if needed and ready-to-eat:

Tex-Mex Rice Bowl: Layer 1: brown rice. Layer 2: corn with peppers, black beans. Layer 3: cubed cooked chicken. Layer 4: salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Thai Rice Bowl: Layer 1: brown rice. Layer 2: sautéed bell pepper strips, onions and sliced carrots. Layer 3: cubed cooked chicken. Layer 4: peanut sauce and chopped peanuts.

Greek: Layer 1: brown rice. Layer 2: sautéed spinach, onion and tomatoes. Layer 3: cubed cooked chicken. Layer 4: feta cheese and black olives.

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October 20, 2009

Quick, Nutritious Breakfast Ideas

* Cheese slices on toast
* Iron-fortified cereal with milk and banana slices
* Whole-wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana

* Pita pizza
* Freezer pop made with low-fat yogurt or milk plus 100 percent fruit juice or fresh fruit
* Leftover macaroni and cheese, pizza or spaghetti
* Apple and cheese slices between whole-wheat or graham crackers
* Breakfast cereal topped with fresh fruit and a scoop of frozen yogurt

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September 13, 2009

Mindful Eating Tips

* Eat enough but not more - Learn how much food I need to eat in order to be satiated or satisfied, but not so much as to be full. Be aware of what being full feels like and do not eat beyond that point.

* Love my food - Look at it, smell it, savor it. Enjoy every moment of eating it and take my time.

* Don't be seduced - Be aware that I can be influenced by things such as advertisements, being at a party, or being at a restaurants. Take the time to notice if I am truly hungry or just being triggered to crave food because of my circumstances.

* Don't feed the feelings - Don't just eat because of how I feel. Eating a candy bar will not make my stress go away. Moods are impermanent and will pass. Just be patient.

* Just eat - Focus on eating when I am eating. Clear my mind and be present with my food.

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August 23, 2009

Nutrient Analysis

Want to know how much calories, fat, protein, carbs, fiber, etc are in specific foods? Go to CalorieKing.com! This is a huge database of food which is really easy to use and search. It includes some brand names, restaurant food and generic foods as well. Also try going to specific restaurant websites to find their nutrition information.

Posted by Lisa at 9:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2009

Probiotic Basics

Just because a food product says “probiotic” doesn’t mean it’s a probiotic. Even more aggravating, manufacturers often leave important information off the label, such as whether the product contains live organisms or the full name of the bacterial strain. Some advice:

Watch the dates: The organisms can die off while the product is sitting on the shelf. The best way to ensure it has an effective number of live bacteria is to look at the “best by” or expiration date.

Get enough microbes.
Easier said than done. There is no single dosage for probiotics; studies have documented health benefits for products ranging from 50 million to more than 1 trillion colony-forming units (the measure of live microbes) per day. The amount you need is the amount that the study on your product showed was effective. There is a clinical study, right--

Scour yogurt labels.
Look for yogurt products with “live and active cultures” and avoid the ones that say “made with active cultures.” Those may have been heat-treated after fermentation, which kills the bacteria. Also, Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria are less sensitive to stomach acid and more likely to make it into the colon alive than other names you might see on the label, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilis.

Scour yogurt labels, Part II. Remember that even “live, active cultures” aren’t necessarily probiotics, meaning they may not have been tested for health benefits.

Speak the lingo.
A probiotic is defined by its genus (e.g. Lactobacillus), species (e.g. rhamnosus) and strain (a series of letters or numbers). “Products that list the genus and species and also the strain tend to have inherently better quality control and products,” said probiotics expert Gary Huffnagle.

Watch for too-perfect names.
Dannon calls its bacterial strains Bifidus Regularis (in Activia) and L. casei Defensis (in DanActive)—for marketing purposes. These are made-up, consumer-friendly, trademarked names.

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June 23, 2009

Dry vs. Cooked Oatmeal

Q: Is it okay to eat dry oats straight from the box? Are they as nutritious as cooked oatmeal?

A: Yes and yes. The oats that you buy for oatmeal and baking have had their tough outer husks removed and are usually lightly steamed (precooked) to soften them and keep them from sprouting and spoiling.

This makes them edible without further cooking. In contrast, raw oat kernels, straight off the stalk, are fed to livestock and, like other raw cereal grains, are not considered fit for human consumption.

Many people like dry oats better than cooked oatmeal. In fact, the popular Swiss cereal called muesli is a mix of dry rolled oats (or other rolled cereal grains) with nuts, seeds, and fruit—though it’s usually eaten after adding milk or yogurt, or soaking the oats first in water. Similarly, dry oats are found in granola.

Dry or cooked, oats provide protein, some B vitamins, and other nutrients, and they are rich in fiber—notably beta glucan, a soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and helps control blood sugar.

Dry oats can cause bloating and discomfort, though, since they absorb fluid and expand in the digestive tract. Start with small amounts and drink plenty of liquids. You can add dry oats to other dry cereals or use them as a topping for fruit and yogurt.

Source: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

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May 3, 2009

Top 5 Functional Foods

Salmon came in at number one because of its potent omega-3 fatty acid levels which can benefit heart health, brain health and more.

The American Heart Association suggests about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids each day for people with coronary heart disease. For healthy people, they recommend eating fish twice a week.

Oats were second because of its high-fiber content. It can also lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Most Americans eat 15g a day, about half of the 30g recommended to ward off disease.

At three, antioxidant-rich blueberries were highlighted for their ability to protect the body against free radical damage and the chronic diseases associated with aging.

Low-fat milk took fourth due to its high levels of calcium and vitamin D.

Low-fat yogurt
came in at number five due to high calcium content and healthy bacteria. The label should read ‘live and active cultures’ .

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April 14, 2009

Fat Myths

Myth #1: If you eat more fat, you get more fat.
The truth is if you eat more CALORIES than you burn, you will get fat. Fat actually helps you stay fuller, longer so a little of the good stuff may prevent you from overeating later. Active women should aim for 45 to 65 grams per day and active men, 50 to 70 grams per day.

Myth #2: Butter is better for you than soft spreads.
Wrong! Butter = cream = saturated fat. All of the health organizations and experts recommend keeping saturated fat to a minimum.

Soft spreads, like Promise Buttery Spread, are a healthier choice because they are 70 percent lower in saturated fat, cholesterol free, and contain 0 grams trans fat per serving. Look for those made with nutritious oils like canola and soybean, and use spreads in cooking, baking, and spreading.

When choosing a soft spread, the FDA advises consumers that when comparing foods, to look at the Nutrition Facts panel, and choose the food with the lower amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

Myth #3: All fats raise your cholesterol and clog your arteries.
Only some fats may raise your cholesterol, while other fats may actually IMPROVE your cholesterol. The ones to avoid are the saturated fats (animal fats) and trans fats (processed baked goods, French fries, and fast food).

Instead, think plants and fish. Oily fish, avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds (and their oils) are important for everything to smooth skin to losing belly fat.

Myth #4: Avocados and nuts are fattening, so should be avoided.
Although all fats are equally caloric, some fats provide more health benefits than others. Keep your portions of pistachios, almonds, and peanuts to a quarter cup per day and your avocados to a few slices or scoops of guacamole, and you will be on your way to better health.

Myth #5: Fish that are lowest in fat are better for you than oily fish.
Actually, the oilier the fish, the better. Fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, and sardines contain the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Contrary to the belief that you can get these from walnuts and flax, the most beneficial kind are only found in fish.

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April 5, 2009

Benefits of fiber

• High cholesterol: Fiber from certain sources can help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by binding to it in the digestive tract and carrying it out of the body. Oats, barley, beans, legumes, ground flax seeds, apples, citrus fruit, carrots and psyllium husks are great sources of cholesterol-lowering fiber.

• Diarrhea: Fiber draws water, helping to form bulky stools. It is often helpful for relieving diarrhea for this reason.

• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This condition is characterized by alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. A high-fiber diet can help ease both of these troublesome symptoms. However, it could make gas and bloating worse, so be sure to drink plenty of water with high fiber foods or minimize them during periods of bloating and cramping.

• High blood sugar: Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugar, so it is great for people who need to control their blood sugar levels, especially diabetics and those with insulin resistance. A high fiber diet can also help prevent diabetes.

• Overweight: High fiber foods are more filling than other foods and they tend to be chewier, so they take longer to eat, giving your brain a chance to register satiety before you have overeaten. They also take longer to digest, which means they stay in your stomach longer and help delay hunger. All of these benefits combine to help you eat less and control your calorie intake, especially since fiber-rich foods are also naturally lower in calories than most fatty or processed, low fiber foods.

• High blood pressure: Studies have confirmed that a high fiber diet helps to lower blood pressure, probably because blood pressure lowering foods such as produce, whole grains and beans are some of the best sources of fiber in our diets. A minimum of 25 grams of fiber a day is needed for any blood pressure lowering benefits.

• Premature death: each additional ten grams of fiber you eat can reduce your risk of dying from all causes by 9%. Adding just ten grams of roughage to your daily minimum requirements can lower your risk of dying from heart disease by 17%. Those who begin eating a fiber-rich diet early in life realize the most protection.

Recommended: 20-30 grams each day.

Sources: fruits and vegetables (especially if they have an edible skin), whole grains (such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, bran flakes, shredded wheat, brown rice, popcorn, whole wheat pasta and tortillas), beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

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January 24, 2009

Portion Proportion


Meat or poultry: 3 ounces equal a deck of cards equals palm of your hand

Salad dressing: 2 tablespoons equal a shot glass

Pasta or rice, cooked: 1 cup equals 1 baseball equals a tight fist

Hard cheese: 1 ounce equals 4 dice

Pancake/waffle: 4 inches equals diameter of a CD

Cheese slice, deli meat: 1 ounce equals diameter of a CD

Nuts, dried fruit, granola: 1/4 cup equals a golf ball

Veggies, berries: 1 cup equals a baseball equals a tight fist

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January 15, 2009

Smart Snacking

Visit the new interactive website, www.licensetosnack.com, developed by the American Dietetic Association and Frito-Lay North America. It includes information for consumers to make better decisions about snacks.

You'll find a supermarket tour and information on mypyramid. It also has health tools such as calculators for BMI, Calorie Needs and Target Heart Rate.

Posted by Lisa at 7:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2008

Getting Older, Eating Better

Experts say the following eight essential nutrients can help you stay healthy.

• Protein — Older adults need at least five ounces, or two servings of protein a day. You can get that protein from meat or dairy — milk, cheese and also yogurt supply protein. Try other protein sources, such as eggs, beans and peanut butter.

• Vitamin D — Vitamin D helps deposit calcium in bones and keeps bones strong.

The body makes vitamin D after sunlight hits the skin. Twenty to 30 minutes of sun exposure two to three times per week is plenty. Most milk and cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

• Calcium — It's never too late to consume more calcium. If you are over age 50, you should get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. Milk, cheese and yogurt are the best sources of calcium.

Dark green, leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified fruit juices and cereal also have a lot of calcium.

• Vitamin A — Dark green, leafy and yellow and orange vegetables — such as cantaloupe, carrots and yellow squash — all help eyes adjust to dim light and protect skin tissues.

• Vitamin C — One common problem with aging is iron deficiency. It can lead to anemia. Eating vitamin C in iron-rich foods helps your body absorb iron. Choose iron-enriched cereals, beans, whole grains, lean meat and poultry. Eat vitamin C-rich fruit — such as oranges, guava or papaya — or fruit juice at meals.

• Folate — It helps red blood cells develop to carry oxygen through the blood.

Good sources are kidney beans, spinach, strawberries, green peas, broccoli and romaine lettuce.

• Vitamin B12 — Too little vitamin B12 can also lead to anemia. Eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy foods for this vitamin.

• Water — Older adults need at least eight eight-ounce cups of fluids per day — especially water. Remember that juice, milk and soup offer other nutrients as well.

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June 12, 2008

Eat Smart: Breakfast

Each breakfast in about 300 kcal.

Blueberry and Toasted Almond Museli

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cut skim milk
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

Mis oats and milk. Let sit for 15 mins. Top with blueberries and almonds.

Peanut Butter ans Banana Smoothie

10 oz skim milk
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 medium banana

In a blender, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Use 6 ice cubes for a thicker consistency.

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito

1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp salsa
2 Tbsp low fat chedder cheese, shredded
1 small whole wheat tortilla

Scramble eggs, beans and salsa and cheese. Fill tortilla with egg mixture.

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April 3, 2008

Au Bon Pain is Now Petite

It's like the antisupersize. Au Bon Pain, the Boston bakery chain, is serving up the latest in meal control: Portions, a line of 14 dishes all 200 calories and under.

The small plates can be mixed and matched and the concoctions include everything from hummus and cucumbers to Thai peanut chicken to Brie, fruit, and crackers.

The portions concept addresses a growing consumer demand for smaller, lower calorie meals, the company says. And it follows Quizno's introduction in January of 200 calorie flatbreads known as Sammies.

Au Bon Pain says it is expecting big things from its small meals. At Au Bon Pain's International Place location, 120 Portions were recently sold during the first day of the Portion's launch, far exceeding sales target of 250 servings per cafe per week.

The Portions line has been in tests throughout Greater Boston since the fall, and the concept will be rolled out to all of the chain's 182 stores nationwide this month.

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March 11, 2008

Baked Beans: yea or nay?

The upside: Beans are packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream.

The downside: The baked kind are typically covered in a sauce made with brown and white sugars.

And because the fiber is located inside the bean, it doesn't have a chance to interfere with the speed at which the sugary glaze is digested. Consider that 1 cup of baked beans contains 24 g sugar: That's about the same amount in 8 ounces of regular soda.

The healthy alternative: Red kidney beans, packed in water. You get the nutritional benefits of legumes, but without the extra sugar. Try splashing some hot sauce on top for a spicy variation.

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February 27, 2008

Is (fill in the blank) more nutritious than white granulated sugar?

The blank can be honey, brown sugar, rock sugar, raw sugar, molasses, corn sugar, maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, or any other sweetener. Some of the so-called natural sugars are less processed and, hence, retain a more robust flavor.

Nutritionally, they are almost the same. They contain the same calories as white sugar and are metabolized the same way. Some natural sugars, such as honey and evaporated cane juice, contain minute amounts of minerals. Unless we eat a gigantic portion of these natural sugars daily, the difference in mineral content is insignificant.

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February 16, 2008

Is Organic Better?

The advantages of eating foods containing fewer chemicals, pesticides, and hormones are certainly appealing. A decade ago, organic was a term mostly associated with produce, but this is no longer the case. Grocery aisles are filled with organic products, as many packaged products have an organic version.

Packaged products labeled organic are not always healthier, such as organic candy, chips, frozen pizzas, and cola. In 2005, the U.S. organic industry reached $14.6 billion in sales. It is one of the fastest-growing categories in the food industry, growing at roughly 20% annually. Remember, overall food choice is more important and 3,000 calories from organic food is still 3,000 calories.

Posted by Lisa at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Food, Food Everywhere

Everywhere you turn, there are opportunities to eat -- at drive-through restaurants, vending machines, even gas stations. And when food is in front of us, we tend to eat more of it, experts say.

Wansink and colleagues found that when candy was easily accessible on workers' desks, they ate an average of nine pieces a day, and didn't realize how many they ate. But when the candy was kept in their desk drawers, they ate about six pieces per day. And when they had to get up from their desks to reach the candy six feet away, they only ate four pieces.

Curb your instinct to overeat sweets and snacks by moving them out of sight -- and putting more healthful foods into plain view. Resist the urge to splurge on unhealthy foods by carrying your own healthy snacks.

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February 3, 2008

Health Tips for the New Year

We're now into the second month of the New Year and hopefully you're still going strong with your New Year's Resolutions. If January wasn't a good month for you, don't worry, goals can be set at anytime during the year - not just Jan 1. First, make sure this is a good time for you to make a change and check out my video clip for some more advice...

alt text="Health tips for the New Year"

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January 11, 2008

How much sugar can I eat?

Americans are fixated on sugar grams. Health experts can’t agree on how much sugar is too much. The WHO recommends that less than 10% of your total daily requirements should come from sugar. This would be 50 grams or 12.5 tsp on a 2000 kcal diet, 38 grams or 9 tsp on a 1500 kcal diet and 30 grams or 7.5 tsp on a 1200 kcal diet. The Institute of Medicine and the American Dietetic Association recommends less than 25% of your total calories coming from sugar.

This would mean 125 grams or 31 tsp on a 2000 kcal diet, 94 grams or 23 tsp on a 1500 kcal diet or 75g or 19 tsp on a 1200 kcal diet. The USDA recommendation is to simply limit sugar calories and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to use sugar in moderation. So, what do you do? If you are worried about your blood sugar rising as a result of sugar intake, you really need to focus on the total carbohydrates in the foods you eat. All of those carbohydrates are going to make your blood sugars go up. So, it’s best to eat a consistent, controlled amount of total carbohydrates per meal. Your brain needs at least 130 grams of carbohydrates each day to function properly. High sugar foods are empty calories, meaning they have a lot of calories and very few, if any, nutrients. Instead of counting grams of anything, I think the best advice is to focus on whole grain carbohydrates and high fiber foods. These foods are more nutrient dense, as opposed to empty calories. Concentrated sweets like sodas, syrups and candies should be limited if you have high triglycerides or have diabetes. Choose more whole wheat breads, brown rice, whole wheat pastas and tortillas. Choose foods such as white breads, white rice, candy, jams and pastries rarely.

Posted by Lisa at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 2007

Snack Time.

Pick a fruit, any fruit, and you know it’s good for you. It’s the same with vegetables and many whole grain foods. They deserve their nutritional halos.
Some foods, however, have gotten the healthy nod, when they’re actually laden with fat, sugar or both.
That's why you should always read the label. To save you some time, here are a few items that you may think are good snacks, but might be better left on the store shelf.

Granola bars got their wholesome, outdoorsy reputation as the mountain climber’s snack of choice. They’re filled with whole oats, nuts, seeds and bits of dried fruit — how could that be a bad thing?

The downside: Many granola bars are dipped in sugary syrups or loaded with chocolate chips, highly processed or artificial ingredients and aren’t much better than high-calorie candy bars. Even the less sugared-up varieties have only a little protein, a smidgen of fiber and a small amount of vitamins and minerals.

If you can’t resist: Make your own trail mix with whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereals, such as shredded wheat, with whole nuts, seeds and chunks of unsweetened, dried fruit. Otherwise, stick to bars with a short ingredient list, essentially whole grains, nuts, seeds and real fruit. Pick ones with 4 or more grams of fiber, less than 150 calories per serving and no more than 6 grams of added sugars.

Tea has been lauded for its antioxidant power. The phytonutrients in tea leaves may not predict your future, but they may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Tea leaves can calm inflammation in the body and may slow the growth of cancer cells.

The downside: Tea drinks are not the same as brewed tea leaves. Many bottled varieties contain little brewed tea, but plenty of added sugars — enough to rival soda. A recent Consumer Reports review found that all bottled tea beverages had fewer antioxidants than brewed teas. Some of them were made from “concentrates” or “essences,” and likely lack the touted benefits.

If you can’t resist: Brew your own beverage. Chill and flavor it with lemon and a small amount of sugar. If you pick a bottled tea, choose one that lists brewed tea as the first ingredient and no more than 4 grams of added sugars per serving. Studies have health benefits in those who drink 4 cups of brewed tea daily.

They’re the go-to snack food for school kids. One serving of pretzels contains 1 gram of fat, compared to potato chips’ 10 grams.

The downside: Pretzels are mostly nutritionally empty. Sure, they’re lower in calories and fat compared to chips, but they really are not a healthful snack. One serving provides nearly a quarter of the sodium a person needs each day. Because pretzels are basically bland, seasoned varieties pump up the flavor, but also the calories, sodium and fat content.

If you can’t resist: Pick a whole wheat brand. Or, how about a handful of nuts, instead? They offer a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, plus they pack some protein and fiber. Seeds, such as sunflower or pumpkin, are an option. Or try subbing-in any type of veggie sticks and a dollop of zesty dip.

The name evokes a warm kitchen and homemade goodness. The bran or berry varieties give them the image of a nutritious breakfast.

The downside: The sheer size of today’s muffins. Years ago, one muffin was 150 to 170 calories, 5 grams of fat and about the size of a racquetball. Today, a muffin averages 500 calories, 20-plus grams of fat, and are closer to the size of a small planet.

If you can’t resist: Try a different kind of muffin — a whole-grain English muffin. Spread a light layer of peanut butter on a toasted half, and then top with fruit. That’ll set you back only about 150 calories, plus you’ll have some healthy nutrients to show for it. If you must have the baked variety, pick a small muffin or split one of the overgrown ones with a couple of friends. Opt for one that contains real fruit and is made from whole grain flour, corn meal or bran.

Low-fat, low-cholesterol, virtually tasteless – they must be good for you, right? After all, one lightly salted, large-sized cake contains a mere 40 to 50 calories, no fat and no cholesterol.

The downside: Light and airy describes their taste — and their nutritional content. You won’t find much on the nutrition facts label beyond calories and sodium. Even those that boast whole grains typically remove the germ, one of the more nutritious parts of a whole grain kernel. Flavored cakes only add fat, which can be the bad “trans” kind.

If you can’t resist: Choose a plain version, but add hummus spread and sliced veggies on top. A little peanut butter adds healthy protein.

Posted by Lisa at 9:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2007

Color it Healthy!

So you've been trying to eat a more colorful plate including all the different colors of fruits and vegetables to get all the vitamins and minerals you need...right? Well, white and black foods usually get overlooked because they're not BRIGHT colors. Black-colored foods are a signal of health in some parts of the world, and it may be the next big nutrition trend in this country. Often foods are black -- or deeply hued -- because of natural plant pigments called anthocyanins that do much more than provide the color.

Derived from the Greek words for "plant" and "blue," anthocyanins are what make blueberries blue, cherries red and blackberries black (or almost black). Typically the darker the color, the more anthocyanins are inside.

Foods to Choose:

*Black beans: These dark, dense beans contain more antioxidants (including anthocyanins) than any other bean. No surprise, white beans contain the least amount. Add them to chili, soups and salads.

*Black rice: This whole-grain rice contains more fiber and nutrients compared to white rice. Some varieties look purple when cooked.

*Black soybeans: High in protein, fiber and anthocyanins, black soybeans may be better at lowering cholesterol levels than yellow soybeans, according to Japanese researchers.

*Black vinegar: Available in Asian markets, this dark vinegar is typically made from brown rice. It's similar to balsamic, but the aging gives it a woodsy and smoky flavor.

*Blackberries: These deeply hued berries are higher in antioxidants than any other fruit.

*Nigella seeds: Staples in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, these tiny jet-black seeds have a nutty, peppery flavor. Also called black onion seeds, they're used as a seasoning for vegetables, beans and bread (including naan). They can be found at ethnic markets and the Spice House.

*Black mushrooms: Aromatic and rich in flavor, black mushrooms include shiitake, wood ear and black trumpet. Dried versions are easily found in Asian markets.

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September 5, 2007

Marketing Mania

This is funny - just what a busy person needs - a sugar rush from a candy bar! Reminds me of those Snickers "Marathon" bars.

You Can Take It With You: Marketing to Those on the Go
By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer

First there was Yoplait's Go-Gurt, which sort of made sense -- sometimes you want calcium but can't spare time for a sit-down nosh. Skippy's Squeeze Stix were weirder, but we understood it: Peanut butter in a tube is basically just the traveler's take on PB on a spoon.
But now portable food has come to this:
Mars candy corporation has introduced a Milky Way 2 To Go bar.
It's what used to be the regular king-size Milky Way, see, except that it's pre-broken in half so you can eat it on the go.

A brilliant solution, clearly, to that classic vending machine dilemma: "I would love to buy this Milky Way right now, but I am not sitting at a table and am entirely without knife and fork! If only someone would invent a candy bar that did not require such elaborate preparations for consumption!"
The bar is a cousin of the newish Go-Tarts, a slightly slimmer but otherwise identical version of the Pop-Tart, whose eating, as everyone knows, previously required a china plate.
"On the Go." It's a home run phrase for advertisers. Market research firm Datamonitor reports that the number of foods with "go" in the product name or labeling has more than tripled since 2001 -- from 134 to around 500. Convenience is big, time is limited, blah blah blah. But this latest trend, in which foods are cunningly sold as On the Go even if their Go-ness was never in doubt, underscores the bigness of the concept in today's society. Is the production and purchasing of these foods really about saving time, or does buying them fulfill a deeper need?
Where is "the Go" and why do we so desperately want to eat there?
The answer to that question is part of On the Go appeal, says Nancy Childs, a food marketing professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. We actually don't want to eat "there."
"We're not used to being tied to places anymore," Childs says. "It makes us uncomfortable." On the Go foods are like iPods, she says. It's no surprise that the spike in handheld meals has coincided with the rise of a whole bunch of other handhelds. Wireless food.
If people want the iPod, not the stereo, and the portable candy bar instead of the, uh, non-portable candy bar, then that's what they'll get.
Richard J. George is a colleague of Childs's and a consultant who helps corporations find ways to advertise their products' convenience. He offers each company one major tip: "Don't tell me how good your product is. Tell me how good I am."
That Milky Way bar? It's self-aware. It realizes that you don't need to be told it's portable. "To go" is not a selling point for the chocolate, it's an affirmation of you: I recognize who you are, it says. I understand that you are the type of person who needs something to fit your busy lifestyle.
The candy bar is not actually a solution to that lifestyle. It is a status symbol, like the now-ubiquitous yoga-mat-as-proof-of-serenity. The "To Go" Milky Way is proof of chaos, proof of over-scheduling, proof that maybe you deserve to eat the candy bar, whether walking or sitting.
Brian Wansink heads Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab, which studies why people buy and eat the things they buy and eat. "The deceivingly dangerous thing about foods that are labeled 'On the Go' is the same thing that's dangerous about foods that are labeled low-fat. We don't really count them when we add up our calories." The lab recently completed a study in which participants consumed a meal standing and then sitting, and then estimated their calorie intake for each meal. Nearly all drastically underestimated the count in their stand-up meals. That Milky Way? A full 460 calories, whether you shove it all in your mouth at once or save some for later.
What starts out as On the Go usually ends up as on the hips.

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September 4, 2007

Healthy Cocktail

Sounds like an oxymoron to me! This stacks right up there with the news that chocolate and wine are good for your heart. Remember everything in moderation (an RD’s favorite phrase). Turns out strawberries, blueberries and blackberries get even more healthful when they’re accompanied by a splash of alcohol.

Researchers have found that adding ethanol to these berries increased antioxidant capacity and free-radical scavenging activity of the fruit.
Don’t forget: Moderation means 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Some people should not drink alcohol if they are taking medications, have liver problems, abuse problems or have high triglycerides. Please drink responsibly – do not drink and drive.

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May 7, 2007

Planning ahead is the key

Are homemade, sit-down dinners a thing of the past in your home? Here are some tips to help you get dinner on the table...quick and healthy.

1. Start the night before, even if it's only to cut up some carrots, bell peppers, celery and cucumber; then, when the ravenous family arrives, they can snack on vegetables with dip while you fling together a batch of chili or grill some fish fillets.

2. The night before is also the time to load the slow-cooker with ingredients for stews or braises. Refrigerate it, then plug it in next morning before you leave for work.

3. Realize that you are probably tired at the end of the day. Think about dinner ahead, and get at least part of a meal ready in advance. Just having to think about what you are going to serve is enough to make youcall for takeout.

4. Plan on cooking more meat than you need at one meal, and use it in another. An extra chicken breast or salmon fillet comes in handy. So does a double batch of rice or tomato sauce. Making a big batch of soup, pasta sauce, meatloaf or muffins on the weekend is another suggestion.

5. Freezer and pantry shelves can be loaded up with supplies. Fill you freezer full of fruit and vegetables, chicken and fish, the pantry stocked with canned beans, rice and pasta, low-sodium sauces, dressings and marinades, peanut butter and nuts.

6. Combine cooking steps to speed things up. For example: When cooking pasta, add vegetables to the boiling water at the last minute - along with a tomato or meat sauce heated in another pot.

7. Buy a whole barbecued chicken: It makes a really good dinner with a baked potato and ready-cut salad. And ready-chopped fresh vegetables make easy stir-fried dishes.

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May 1, 2007

Sweet doesn't always mean more sugar

The enjoyment we get from the taste of sugar often can be achieved without having to increase the actual sugar content in your food.

Sweetness can be enhanced by adding spices that bring out the flavor. The next time you want more “sweet��? give the following a try:

* Add ginger to a fruit glaze, then toss the glaze with fresh fruit.
* Add cinnamon to cooked cereals.
* Add nutmeg to cookies and rice.
* Spice up ground coffee before brewing with cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg or allspice.

* A touch of vanilla can sweeten coffee, puddings and baked goods.
* Carrots seasoned with ginger or sweet potatoes with cinnamon may be the key to getting your kids to enjoy vegetables.

The sweetest news: None of these spices contains the calories you get from sugar.

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March 13, 2007

Give Breakfast a Boost

Breakfast should include three food groups: a fruit or vegetable, protein and whole grain.

Slide whole-wheat or another whole grain bread
into the toaster or pour high-fiber cereals into your bowl. While white bread and cereals with little or no fiber can leave you feeling hungry a couple of hours later, high-fiber foods are more filling.

Protein is key to breakfast's staying power. Simply spreading peanut butter onto your toast can give you just the punch of protein you need. Add sliced strawberries or bananas to provide extra nutrition. Peanut butter is a great source of protein that helps to keep you full a little longer, so you can kind of avoid that midmorning trip to the vending machine or to the doughnuts.

Choose foods low in fat and sugar. If you're having cereal, look for those with less than 3 grams of sugar per serving.

Think about nontraditional breakfast foods if you're tired of the same old thing. If you like sandwiches, have one for breakfast, or dig into some leftovers.

Breakfast doesn't have to be labor-intensive.
Make a pancake roll-up by microwaving a frozen pancake, adding fresh fruit and some yogurt or cottage cheese. Whole grain waffles could also be topped in similar way. Or tuck some scrambled eggs and salsa into a pita pocket.

Smoothies made with nonfat or low-fat milk or yogurt and whatever fruit you enjoy make for a drink that's good on the go.

Grab some trail mix or string cheese.

Save time by preparing breakfast options the night before. Use prepackaged, precut fruits and vegetables.

Set the table the night before, so your empty cereal bowl serves as a breakfast reminder.

Vegetable omelets made with egg whites or an egg substitute are a good start to the day.

In an oatmeal rut? Lots of other grains, such as barley, are tasty hot alternatives.

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March 5, 2007

Whole Grain Goodness

It's pretty tough to find whole barley outside of health food stores and even the most "whole" version will be missing its hull. This "hulled barley" has still got much more fiber and minerals than pearled barley which has been stripped of the germ and the bran and polished up to six times to give it a smooth surface. Over half of the barley grown in the US is used for beer and nearly all of the rest is used for livestock, although this is a truly delicious and nutritious grain.

Hulled barley can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or at least kept away from light, heat, and moisture-it will stay fresh for up to several months. Pearled barley can be kept at room temperature for a longer time since most of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed.

Substitute hulled barley for any recipe where you see pearled barley, but keep in mind that it will take closer to two hours to cook, much longer than the 45 minutes recommended for pearled. You might want to cook it in a separate pot and add it into recipes at the end, so your other cooking times don't change. You can also serve it on its own with simple seasoning as a side dish or in grain salads.

Toasted Barley Salad with Red Bell Pepper,Corn and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

1/2 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups canned vegetable broth
1 large poblano chili or green bell pepper
1 small red bell pepper
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Nonstick olive oil spray
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped away
24 large spinach leaves

Place barley in heavy large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until pale golden, shaking pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add broth to pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until barley is tender and broth is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Uncover and let barley cool. Char poblano and red bell pepper over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag and let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and dice poblano and red bell pepper. Place barley, poblano and red bell pepper in large bowl. Add tomatoes and next 5 ingredients; toss to blend. Season salad with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover; refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Spray mushrooms with nonstick spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to work surface; slice thinly. Arrange 6 spinach leaves on each of 4 plates. Top with barley salad. Arrange 1 sliced mushroom alongside each salad. Serve while mushrooms are still warm.

Fruited Breakfast Barley
Grinding the barley cracks the grains, which allows them to cook faster and maintain their chewy texture; toasting the grains brings out a nutty flavor. To decrease morning prep, grind and toast the barley ahead of time and store in an airtight container.

1 1/4 cups uncooked pearl barley
5 cups water
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Place 1/3 cup barley in a blender; process until coarsely ground (about 15 to 20 seconds). Place ground barley in a large saucepan. Repeat procedure with remaining barley. Cook barley over medium heat 4 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.

Add water, sugar, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 25 minutes or until barley is soft, stirring frequently. Add milk; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Stir in raisins, apricots, and almonds. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 329(15% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 0.8g,mono 3.1g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 8.2g; CHOLESTEROL 2mg; CALCIUM 105mg; SODIUM 425mg; FIBER 9.6g; IRON 2.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 65.8g

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March 1, 2007

March is National Nutrition Month

As consumers increasingly take responsibility for their own health, people want all the information they can get on making healthful choices, including what to eat. Yet sometimes the public's hunger for information makes many people vulnerable to food and nutrition misinformation. That’s why the American Dietetic Association chose the theme, "100 Percent Fad Free" for National Nutrition Month.
Recommendations include:
• Develop an eating plan for lifelong health. Too often people adopt the latest food fad rather than focusing on overall health. Get back to basics and use the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid as your guide to healthy eating.

• Choose foods sensibly by looking at the big picture. A single food or meal doesn't make or break a healthful diet. When consumed in moderation in the appropriate portion size, most foods can fit into a healthful diet.
• Learn how to spot a food fad. Unreasonable or exaggerated claims that eating (or not eating) specific foods, nutrient supplements or combinations of foods may cure disease or offer quick weight loss are key features of fad diets.
• Find your balance between food and physical activity. Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness plus it helps control body weight, promotes a feeling of well-being and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
• Food and nutrition misinformation can have harmful effects on your health and well-being, as well as your wallet. Registered dietitians are uniquely qualified to communicate current and emerging science-based nutrition information and are an instrumental part of developing a diet plan that is unique to your particular needs.

Visit www.eatright.org for more information.

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January 8, 2007

Loving Legumes

The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits.

* Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
* Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.
* They are especially high in soluble fiber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.

* Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumor growth.
* And then there are the prebiotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.
* All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.

But best of all, beans taste great. Dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.

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December 29, 2006

Turn Over A New-Tritious Leaf

Whether you need to lose, gain or maintain your weight, make health your first priority for the New Year. Resolve to strive for a healthy lifestyle for a lifetime.

Keep a positive attitude and use internal rewards as motivation for better health, increased energy, self-esteem and feeling in control.

Focus now on your current weight or lifestyle and not where you want to be five months from now. The thought of losing one pound at a time is not as intimidating as losing twenty-five pounds.

For variety, eat different foods from MyPyramid's five food groups. No one food supplies all the nutrients the body needs. Eating a variety of foods, within each food group and among all groups, ensures that you meet your nutritional requirements.

For balance, eat appropriate amounts from each food group every day. A balanced diet supplies the nutrients and calories the body needs.

For moderation, choose foods and beverages to meet your energy needs and to control calories, total fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars and, if consumed, alcoholic beverages.

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December 21, 2006

Top Ten Foods

10 foods a dietitian wouldn't be caught without - and you shouldn't, either
Registered dietitians and nutritionists dispense advice about healthful eating all day long. But how do they really eat? Fitness magazine recently asked leading nutritionists what's in their pantries and refrigerators. Here are the top 10 foods they said they kept in their kitchens.

1. Low-fat yogurt

This filling breakfast and snack was on everyone's list.

2. Low-fat milk

To add to high-fiber cereal, or to drink.

3. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

For sauteing vegetables, cooking lean meat such as chicken and fish, and for drizzling on salads.

4. Nuts

"I love Planters 170-calorie almond packs because I can have a whole pack without overeating," says registered dietitian Dawn Blatner, a nutritionist at Northwestern Memorial Wellness Institute in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

5. Fruit for snacking

Have on hand some pears, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or Granny Smith apples.

6. Salad greens

Just wash, add dressing and some protein and veggies, and you've got lunch.

7. Baby carrots and hummus

The perfect pre-dinner snack, says registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite on the Food Network.

8. Whole-grain bread

Added fiber for your sandwich or toast.

9. Tomatoes in a can or jar

Good items to have on hand include marinara sauce, salsa or stewed tomatoes, says dietitian Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

10. Frozen vegetables

Good options: Green beans, snow peas and bags of mixed vegetables. "They're cut, clean and ready to cook," Blatner says.

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December 11, 2006

Hot drinks hold off cool weather

The seasons are changing, and our craving for hot drinks rises as the temperature drops.
"The benefits of hot drinks may be mostly psychological," says Kelli Morgan, registered dietitian at Paradise Valley Hospital. "Any time you can take a cup of coffee or tea and go have five minutes to yourself, it's a stress reliever. It's a good ritual to have."
But hot drinks also warm you on cold days. They relax your throat when it's sore, she says, and relieve congestion.
Hot drinks can add nutrients to your diet, too, and they easily can be made even more nutritious, Morgan says. Here's what she and other nutrition experts suggest - and if you want to create a peaceful escape, we threw in our own ideas for what could accompany your hot drink.

Health benefits: Green and white teas are high in the powerful antioxidant EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate. Antioxidants, which also are plentiful in fruits and vegetables, remove free radicals from the body, which, "theoretically, reduces cancer risk," Morgan says.
Nutrition boosters: Add fresh lemon for vitamin C or warmed nonfat milk for calcium. Stir in a few puréed berries.
Watch out for: Chai tea can be high in sugar and calories. Instead, add warmed nonfat milk and any combination of cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander or ginger to plain green tea. Skip or limit the sweetener.

Health benefits: Coffee provides antioxidants known as polyphenols, and some studies have suggested that the drink lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. But "there's really nothing healthful in coffee per se," Morgan says.
Nutrition boosters: Make it a latte or cappuccino (add one shot of espresso to a cup of hot nonfat milk) for one dairy serving.
Watch out for: Too much coffee can make you jittery and raise blood pressure temporarily. Try decaf or half-caf. Add milk for the calming effect of the calcium.
Vegetable broth
Health benefits: Antioxidant-rich vegetables deposit their nutrients in the broth, leaving health-builders such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, B-6 and C. There's no cholesterol, and broth is easy to digest.
Nutrition boosters: Make your own. Plop chopped celery, onion, carrots, zucchini, leeks, broccoli or any other vegetables from your crisper into a pot of water, and simmer. If the vegetable pieces are too large to swallow safely, strain the broth before serving.
Watch out for: Prepared broths can be high in sodium. Look for the kind labeled low-salt. If you use a meat-broth base for a change of pace, cool it in the refrigerator and skim off the fat before adding finely chopped vegetables.
Hot chocolate
Health benefits: Calcium in the milk is soothing and helps build strong bones, and cocoa beans are a good source of antioxidants.
Nutrition boosters: Make it with nonfat milk, which has the same amount of calcium as whole milk, and cocoa powder, which is extra-rich in antioxidants and low in sugar. Or use a sugar-free hot-chocolate mix.
Watch out for: A 16-ounce hot chocolate made with whole milk and whipped cream is 450 calories. Substitute Reddi-wip or low-cal Cool Whip, just 20 calories per dollop.

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December 5, 2006

Cooking your own food leads to better diet

U.S. dietitians say young adults who buy their own food and prepare meals at home have better overall diet quality than those who do not.

University of Minnesota researchers surveyed more than 1,500 people ages 18 to 23 about their food purchasing and preparation habits. The researchers found 31 percent of those surveyed who reported high involvement in meal preparation also consume five servings of fruits or vegetables daily, compared with 3 percent of those reporting very low involvement in meal preparation.

The researchers found the young adults most likely to be involved with food preparation and purchasing tend to be female; Asian, Hispanic or white; and eat at fast-food restaurants fewer than three times per week.

Still, even among study participants who were very involved in food preparation, the study found many young adults do not meet recommended dietary guidelines in what they eat.

The study is detailed in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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November 7, 2006

Eat Whole Grains Every Day

Here are some tips to boost your intake of whole grains:

At breakfast, you can:

* Have whole-grain cereal with low-fat or nonfat milk and fresh fruit.

* Top low-fat or nonfat yogurt with a crunchy whole-grain cereal, and round that out with fresh fruit or juice.

* Top a toasted whole-wheat or other whole-grain bread, English muffin or pita with egg or egg whites, low-fat cheese or trans fat-free margarine.

At lunch, you can:

* Use whole-grain breads to make sandwiches.

* Make a whole-wheat pasta salad with vegetables and beans.

* Have a cup of barley soup.

At dinner, you can:

* Use brown rice to stuff cabbage, baked red or green peppers or tomatoes.

* Use whole-wheat macaroni to make macaroni and cheese.

* Try using an unsweetened, whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish or eggplant parmesan.

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September 13, 2006

Help! What's for dinner?

The Six O’Clock Scramble is a book and website lending a hand to families trying to cook healthy meals at home. For a yearly fee of $50, 5 menu ideas (including recipes and a shopping list) are emailed to you each week. Meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare and have no more than 10 ingredients. A great way to add some variety to your everyday meals and they do all the planning for you! 6-month memberships are also available. Check out www.thescramble.com.

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August 21, 2006

Small Steps...Big Rewards

Rachel Johnson writes for Eating Well Magazine:
Daily decisions that make healthy changes stick

We all know and secretly resent them. They’re fit and thin and slip effortlessly into clothes in the tiniest sizes. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. For me, staying fit and at a healthy weight in middle age is an act of constant vigilance. I suspect it’s the same for most of us, no matter how easy it may appear to others. But this doesn’t mean we have to be marathon runners or live on celery sticks. Small things we do every day can go a long way toward staying healthy. Once they’re part of an everyday routine, they may indeed feel effortless. Here are a few things that work for me.

1. Take advantage of healthy convenience foods
I admit it: I pay extra for convenience foods when I know they’ll help me eat nutritiously. I used to feel guilty when I bought those outrageously priced packages of vegetables that are washed, sliced and ready to go. No longer. When I get home from the office at 6 p.m., having these packages in the fridge can mean the difference between a healthy or not-so-healthy meal. What’s more, by staying home and cooking rather than eating out, I’ve still saved money.

2. Schedule exercise and make it nonnegotiable
I’m amazed when high-powered, well-paid executives tell me they have no time for exercise. Who controls their lives? For years, I’ve set aside noon to 1:15 p.m. on my weekday calendar for exercise. Sure, things come up, but by scheduling it I consistently get in three to four days of noontime workouts every week. I’m also part of a group of women who have been exercising together for years. We have fun, and we keep each other motivated. We sometimes muse about what we’d all look like if we hadn’t been sweating together all these years. I vary what I do to keep it interesting. Lately I’m spinning to music on a stationary bike, practicing yoga and running on the days I can’t make it to the gym. I know I’m more productive, better able to handle stress and more content when I exercise.

3. Don’t waste calories on bad food
Think about what you are eating. I was on an early-morning flight to Chicago not long ago and was served a croissant breakfast sandwich. Knowing it was loaded with calories, my first thought was to just eat half. I took a bite. The croissant was greasy and tough, the egg was tasteless and the ham was still frozen. Yuck. I decided to eat the honeydew and cantaloupe and skip the sandwich.
I saved the tasteless calories for something more enjoyable later. Turned out that night
I had a fabulous meal in a great restaurant and knew I could indulge a bit because of the choice I made earlier in the day.

4. Never travel without workout clothes
When I pack for a trip, business or pleasure, the first things that go in my suitcase are sneakers and workout clothes. Yes, this means I can’t cram everything into a carry-on, but I rarely have to wait more than a few minutes at baggage claim anyway. Having my workout clothes means that if the weather cooperates and the area is safe, I head out for a morning run. I travel to Washington, D.C., regularly and look forward to a run past the Washington Monument before my workday begins. If I can’t get outside, I use the treadmill in the hotel gym. It’s not my first choice, but the exercise helps keep me alert during long meeting-filled days.

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August 9, 2006

Shop Smart, Eat Smart

Here are a list of pitfalls you should try to avoid the next time you plan to go grocery shopping:

1) Going to the store too frequently.Do all of the store employees know you by name? If so, you are spending too much time and money in the store. Instead—

* Do your major shopping every two weeks.
* Shop for staple items like milk, bread, eggs and juice once per week.

2) Living without a family menu. You don’t have to a rigid plan, but a general menu can make shopping more efficient. Dinners are usually the hardest meal to plan. Instead—

* As a family, decide on at least eight entrees to eat within a two-week period.
* Determine what vegetable and fruit side items you will serve with them.
* Keep extra fruits and veggies on hands for snacking.
* Replenish fresh produce when you buy staple items weekly.

3) Going to the store hungry. Don’t pick up the car keys if your stomach is growling. You will be tempted to buy foods you shouldn’t. Instead—

* Take time to have a half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with skim milk before heading out of the door.
* If the kids are joining you, make sure they are well fed, too.

4) Buying items just because they are on sale. Canned black beans are wholesome, and you should eat them as a family. However, if you have eaten them twice over the last year, don’t buy 10 cans for $5. You won’t save money in the long run. Instead—

* Plan meals around seasonal products, which tend to be on sale.
* Try to incorporate any sale products into your entrees and sides, but only buy enough to use until your next shopping trip for staples.

5) Getting caught up in brand names. Nothing can replace my favorite ketchup, but there is little difference in flavor between store brand canned fruits and vegetables and the name-brand versions. Instead—

* Know which national brands are must-haves for your family.
* Try more store brand products, which can be significantly cheaper.

6) Spending too much time in the middle of the store. The center aisles are where you find the greatest concentration of junk foods and other processed (and pricey) items that you don’t need. Instead—

* Spend most of your shopping time along the perimeter of the store. That’s where the healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat are.
* Wholesome foods like beans, grains and cereals are found in the middle of the store, but it shouldn’t take you long to grab these items and move on.

Yes, you should keep some items in stock like canned soups, fruits, meats and vegetables. Have at up to two cans per person for each canned food type in your pantry. But don’t keep frozen vegetables and fruits beyond a few months as they don’t taste very good after that. Store one package each of chicken, fish, beef and pork in your freezer, but a fully stocked deep freezer is probably unnecessary. In fact, it is a good way to lose money during a power outage.

Release some of your frozen assets and plan how you will use the food that you have gathering dust in your panty and elsewhere. You’ll be amazed at how many meals you have hiding in your cupboards, freezer and fridge.

Posted by Lisa at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Normal Eating Defined

What exactly does it mean to eat normal?

Eating that does not cause chaos in one’s thoughts and behaviors with food.
A relationship with food that is not guilt- or shame-based.
Eating that is thoughtful and connected, not obsessive.
Eating that is satisfying and enjoyable.
Eating that is flexible, and, occasionally “disordered��?.

Moderation in everything, including moderation.

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July 12, 2006

Understanding Intuitive Eating

A key component of intuitive eating is the concept of having unconditional permission to eat a food. That’s right – there are no “good��? or “bad��? foods. Nothing is off limits. How can this be healthy? Most people worry that once they start eating a “forbidden��? food, they won’t be able to stop. Studies show that the more a person is exposed to (and allowed to eat) a food, the less desirable it becomes over time. So, knowing that you can eat a particular food again whenever you want makes it less compelling to eat it now and eat it all. Now the thought to stop eating when full is no longer threatening. I think some people put too much importance on food. Not that food isn’t important, but it shouldn’t be the highlight of the party or the center of every thought you have. Relax, eat what you’re hungry for and stop when you’re full. Studies have found that Americans are worry-warts when it comes to food. They scored the highest of four countries on the level of worrying about the fattening effects of food rather than savoring it. They also associate food the most with health and the least with pleasure. We need to build a healthy relationship with food and understand that our character and self-worth are not altered by our food choices.

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July 11, 2006

Get Active!

No time to get to the gym this weekend with all the yard work to be done? You don't have to hit the gym to get the physical activity your body needs. Hit the yard!
It's easy to burn calories when mowing and edging the lawn, using the weed whacker, pulling weeds or planting your favorite annuals. For example, a 134-pound person can burn nearly 140 calories pushing a lawn mower for 20 minutes.
Step outside and give your yard and your body the nurturing they deserve.
American Dietetic Association.
Speaking of gardens, I have zucchini coming out of my ears! We’ve BBQed it, sautéed it with tomatoes once and carrots another time, added it to stir frys, added it to sandwiches, eaten it raw and even made a zucchini bread to take into work. And it just keeps growing! Anyone have any good zucchini recipes?

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June 15, 2006

Making Time for Dinner

When dinnertime comes along, everyone could use a little more time in their day. And, no one disputes the benefits of a family dinnertime.

But with two-breadwinner families, legions of academic and extracurricular activities and the obligations of community, putting a healthful meal on the table by 7 p.m. is going the way of getting up to change the TV channel.

Busy families strapped for time relish the idea of eating together, but many have turned to fast food, pizza or store-made sandwiches on the fly because they are quick and easy.

Sandra Frank, a registered dietician at Salem Hospital, said that families have a great desire to put a healthful meal on the table nightly, but that it's become nearly impossible because families don't plan, and the food isn't readily available.

"Everything is forgotten when we are tired and hungry," Frank said.

Her solution is not to buy fast food, but to resolve to work on a menu, to cook when there is more time and to use leftovers and simpler menus when there is less of it.

Her first recommendation includes grocery shopping with a list based on a menu plan.

As any good dietician should, she reminds families to stock up on on fruits and vegetables -- especially this time of year, when fresh produce is abundant -- as well as pantry items. Having the ingredients is half the battle, she said.

She also encourages families to make all members active participants in the meal-making process, from menu ideas to food preparation to cleanup.

"If it is their idea, they are more likely to try healthy eating," Frank said.

Additionally, she counsels that meal preparation should not be left to one person ("usually mom").

"Children learn valuable life skills in the process, and you'll find that working in the kitchen together opens up a great opportunity to dialogue," Frank said.

Patt Wilson, a mother from Dallas, said her best shortcut for putting together a fast, healthful meal is to always have a good supply of three canned fat-free broths in her pantry -- chicken, beef and vegetable.

In a pinch, she opens three cans of chicken broth, dumps them in a pot, adds cooked chopped chicken breast (leftover or purchased cooked that day), chopped carrots, celery and onion, spices to taste and wide noodles to make a fast entrée of chicken and noodles. She said her typical soup-simmering time depends on whether the cook wants to have a second glass of wine.

"Make a quick side salad using pre-washed greens, and dinner is on the table in about 45 minutes. If you use an electric can opener, it only takes about 35 minutes," Wilson said.

Anne Kirkpatrick, a West Salem mom with four children between the ages of 6 and 12, a busy husband and a full volunteer schedule, said she uses every hint she can find to speed healthful, home-cooked meals to the table.

"Beyond the slow cooker, whenever possible, I cook a double portion to freeze or to serve later in the week -- soups, chili, casseroles, etc. The second night, I may have to cook noodles or rice, and that is it."

Kirkpatrick also plans dinners a week at a time so there is no last-minute indecision or temptation.

"The full freezer comes in handy for unexpected schedule changes, like trips to the doctor," Kirkpatrick said.

Patti Williamson, mother to four teenagers, agreed that keeping the freezer stocked with items that create a quick meal is essential.

She often combines fruit jelly with equal parts hot sauce and then mixes in frozen, precooked meatballs and heats it all in a skillet. She serves it over Minute Rice in a hurry.

"The freezer items are versatile and can be super quick to make," Williamson said.

Denise Cedar, another registered dietician at Salem Hospital who also is a certified diabetes educator, said easy dinner ideas are key to helping the community eat fast and healthful meals.

She said she often shares quick-dinner ideas with her clients to help them avoid making choices that negatively can impact their health.

One of her favorite recipes, Veggie Egg Puff, can be assembled and cooked in less that 25 minutes -- easily the same time it would take to drive to a fast-food restaurant, order, pay, wait and return home.

"With a green salad, a slice of whole-grain bread and some yogurt or fruit, you have a balanced meal in minutes," Cedar said.

One other idea, promoted by a Texas mother, is supper swapping.

Fed up with eating on the run, nine years ago, author Susan Thacker and a friend started swapping meals.

"I was serious about wanting home-cooked meals on school nights, and this made me accountable," Thacker said. "I would cook on Sunday or Monday nights and double up the meals I was making and then swap with my friend for two nights. On Wednesdays, we'd eat leftovers, and then she'd cook for Thursdays and Fridays. We kept it simple for delivery and reheating, and we did it for 8 1/2 years. I would only cook one day per week."

Thacker recommends starting supper swapping with just one friend and avoiding casseroles, if possible. Her book insists families can jettison processed food, return to old-fashioned dinnertime values including having dessert, and parents will only have to cook about four times per month.

"I believe supper swapping is the only way I was able to consistently provide my family with traditional, sit-down dinners on weekdays," Thacker said. "I highly recommend trying it."

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April 17, 2006

Nutrient Density

Nutrient density is a measure of the nutrients in a food relative to the energy (calories) it provides. If a food has more nutrients and fewer calories, it’s considered nutrient dense. For example, 1 ½ ounces of cheddar cheese and 8 ounces of nonfat milk both have about 300 mg of calcium. However, the cheese has almost twice as many calories as the milk because it has more fat. So, the milk is more dense than the cheese making it a more nutritious choice.

Low Nutrient Dense Day

White toast with butter, 3 pieces of bacon and a glass of orange drink.
Glazed doughnut
Chicken fingers and French fry meal with a soda. Little box of raisins.
Bag of potato chips.
Sausage sandwich on a white roll and an Iceburg lettuce salad with regular salad dressing.

Nutrient Dense Day
Oatmeal made with skim milk and an orange.
Plain yogurt mixed with frozen blueberries
Whole wheat pita stuffed with leftover grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and mustard. Low fat mozzarella string cheese, grapes and unsweetened ice tea.
Banana and peanut butter
Grilled fish, small baked potato (with the skin), grilled broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.
Air-popped popcorn.

This doesn’t mean you have to eat nutrient dense foods only, everyday. Remember if you have a piece of chocolate cake – no big deal. If you have 2 pieces every day at 3pm to satisfy your chocolate craving – that could be a problem. Shoot for nutrient dense foods 80% of the time, that leftover 20% you can use however you want. Make your day of eating enjoyable. Find the nutrient dense foods you like and have them often. You’ll still have room for some of those low nutrient dense favorites too.

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April 14, 2006

Breakfast in a hurry.

Let’s say you’re on your way to work or school or an appointment and you think – think being the key word – that you don’t have time to make a healthy breakfast. Pull out of your driveway and start the timer. How long does it take you to drive to a fast food restaurant (maybe it happens to be on the way?), wait in line to order at the drive-thru, place your order, pay for the food and actually pull out of the parking lot with your breakfast sandwich and hashbrown meal in hand?
Guess what? You just had time to make a healthy breakfast at home!
Try this:
First – if you’re really pushed for time – get anything you can ready the night before. Take out the bowl, place the cereal box next to it, measuring cups, a frying pan…whatever you need.

Grab and go with a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts.
Pour a glass of milk and have a banana.
Spread peanut butter on whole wheat bread and have a glass of milk.
Top cereal with milk and peel an orange (you can peel it the night before too).
Microwave oatmeal, made with milk.
Mix cottage cheese with fruit.
Mix yogurt with frozen berries and a few tablespoons of low fat granola.
Make a smoothie with yogurt, fruit and a little milk.

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February 16, 2006

Which is better: Granola Bars or Trail Mix?

These are both good snacks to grab when you're hitting the trails. Trail mix has more calories and fat, but most of the fat is heart-healthful, mono- and polyunsaturated. Both snacks contain carbohydrates, which give you energy for your hike, but the nuts in trail mix provide a little more protein and fiber. Trail mix also has less sodium. With either snack, be aware that infinite varieties exist, and sweet additions, such as chocolate or yogurt coverings, increase the calories and fat grams. And always be conscious of how much trail mix you're eating. A small handful every hour will provide fuel for your hike without weighing you down. Compare these two snack choices yourself with the following two Cooking Light versions.

Granola Bar (two-inch square)
Chewy Coconut-Granola Bars
157 calories
4.7 grams total fat
(1.2 grams mono; 1.5 grams poly)
27.8 grams carbohydrates
2.1 grams protein
34 milligrams calcium
1.1 grams fiber
122 milligrams sodium

Trail Mix (1/4 cup)
Honey-Roasted Nuts and Fruit

194 calories
9.4 grams total fat
(5 grams mono; 2.8 grams poly)
27.8 grams carbohydrates
3.4 grams protein
30 milligrams calcium
2.2 grams fiber
82 milligrams sodium

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February 9, 2006

Peanut Butter vs. Cream Cheese

Despite peanut butter's high-fat reputation, the salty-sweet spread provides a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, plus it’s cholesterol-free. It also contains eight grams of protein and two grams of filling fiber per serving. According to the USDA, trans fats are not detectable in a standard two tablespoon serving.

Cream cheese has fewer calories and less total fat but contains twice as much saturated fat and about 30 milligrams of cholesterol per serving—that's 10 percent of the daily recommended value.

Peanut Butter (2 tablespoons)
190 calories
16g fat (3g saturated)
8g protein
2g fiber
149mg sodium

Cream Cheese (2 tablespoons)
100 calories
10g fat (6g saturated)
2g protein
32mg cholesterol
86mg sodium

Courtesy of Cooking Light

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February 8, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
–Julia Child

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January 29, 2006


Commitment is doing something you said you would long after the mood you said it in has left you.

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January 20, 2006

How bad is the average guy's diet?

People’s eating choices usually fall into certain patterns. A recent study of men’s eating patterns points out the various health risks each poses. Different groups of men may need to take specific steps to eat better, but some problems are unfortunately common.

The new study tracked 740 men for 16 years after an initial diet assessment, recording changes in their nutrition and heart disease risk. Statistical analysis of their eating habits at the beginning of the study placed each man into one of five groups: Empty Calories, Lower Variety, Higher Starch, Average Male and Transition to Heart Healthy.

Men in the Empty Calorie group ate the most refined grains and desserts, as well as the most sweets, salty snacks and high-fat meat and dairy foods. As a result, they had the highest average consumption of calories and the highest intake of cholesterol-raising saturated fat. If your eating habits put you in this group, switching to lower-fat meats and dairy products can reduce the amount of saturated fat and calories you eat.

Selecting healthier snacks and desserts, like fruits and whole grain items, will further reduce calories, fat and sugar in your food, while boosting vitamins and fiber.

The greatest risk for heart disease appeared among the Lower Variety group, which included almost one-third of the men. These men ate the least number of vegetables, fruits and whole grains of all the groups. Thus, they had the lowest consumption of fiber and many nutrients.

About a third of this group was treated for high blood pressure. Their excessive sodium intake (from many processed foods) and low potassium intake (from few vegetables and fruits) are probably related.

More vegetables, less weight gain
If your eating habits are like those of the men in this group, expanding both the amount and variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains you eat will greatly improve your diet. Your diet will also include many more natural plant substances that work better together to lower cancer risk. In addition, studies show there is less weight gain for people who eat this way.

Men in the Higher Starch group also ate few vegetables and fruits, but they stood out for their high consumption of refined grains. By the end of the study, their calorie consumption had increased to be the highest of all the groups. A high consumption of refined grains or low whole-grain consumption may increase levels of insulin and inflammation, which in turn may raise the risk of diabetes and some cancers.

Either way, you don’t need to give up all refined grains for a healthy diet. Just aim for at least three or four servings of whole grains a day. A serving can be a slice of whole-wheat bread or a half-cup of brown rice.

The Average Male group showed the worst health indicators of all. This group had the highest blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, probably due in part to their low activity level and very high incidence of overweight. Although the current daily goal for most adults is seven to ten servings, these men barely ate four servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Their saturated fat consumption also exceeded current recommendations.

The Transition to Heart Healthy group had the best overall nutrition. This group ate the most vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish with the lowest amount of saturated fat. Although their heart disease risk was the lowest of all five groups, it was still too high for good health.

Despite the differences among these five groups, they all exceeded recommended amounts of saturated fat and sodium and fell below vegetable, fruit and whole-grain suggestions. More than three-fourths of the men in every group were overweight or obese. Physical activity scores were also low in all groups. These shortcomings are warning signs, because, in addition to heart disease, they also raise the risk of cancer and diabetes.

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The AM Advantage

Is your idea of a great start to the day a few presses of the "snooze" button followed by a cup of coffee, shower and trip to the office? If the answer is yes, then you're definitely jeopardizing your weight loss success. In fact, according to Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., M.A., R.D., what you do (or don’t do) in the morning determines whether your metabolism gets revved up or stays in park all day.

Here are four ways to take advantage of the early hours:

Weigh In: Hitting the scale or tape measure first thing in the morning (after you’ve gone to the bathroom) is a good way to assess your progress. "As soon as you have time to eat, drink or work out, you’re impacting the number on the scale," says Sass.

Eat! It may seem counter-intuitive, but eating is the best way to boost your metabolism. If you stay in a food-deprived state after eight hours of sleep, your system will prepare for starvation by conserving energy. It’s a fact that people who eat breakfast consume fewer calories, take in less fat and cholesterol and weigh less, too.

Choose Wisely: While any food is better than nothing, what you eat in the AM will impact your calorie intake for the rest of the day. "A breakfast that’s 50 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent each protein and fat, along with at least five grams of fiber, will help maintain blood sugar levels and stave off hunger," says Sass. Good examples: whole grain toast with a thin layer of peanut butter and a banana, oatmeal with chopped walnuts and berries or whole grain cereal with skim milk and fruit.

Get Moving: Even if it’s just stretching while you wait for your coffee to brew or taking your dog for a 10-minute walk, any movement you do in the morning will improve your circulation and boost your energy level. Making exercise part of your morning routine has two benefits: Not only are you more likely to be consistent, but you also ensure that nothing gets in the way of your workout.

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January 16, 2006

Breakfast: fast and healthy - is that possible?

We've been told our whole lives that breakfast is "the most important meal of the day." Is there really any evidence that supports this? In fact, there is.

The American Dietetic Association cites numerous studies that found children who ate a healthy breakfast "met their daily nutritional needs, kept their weight under control and had lower blood cholesterol levels." These children also "attended school more frequently, had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased attention, reduced nurse visits and improved student behaviors."

Conversely, children who skip breakfast are less likely to consume foods with adequate levels of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, and vitamins such as A, C, B12 and folate.

Getting kids to eat a healthy breakfast is often a challenge, when hectic morning schedules and sleepy bodies are at odds with each other. Kids' cereals, pastries, doughnuts and pre-made breakfast bars and drinks are convenient, but are usually loaded with calories, sugars and fats. Remember, a healthy breakfast doesn't need to be time-consuming and complicated. A good rule of thumb to follow is, include one item from at least three different food groups, and you're sure to be starting off well. Use your imagination - the possibilities are endless!

Here are some things to try:

whole-grain cereal with milk and an orange

low fat yogurt with granola and fresh fruit

a toasted bagel with egg and cheese

oatmeal topped with raisins and nuts

a banana dog (peanut butter and a banana on whole-grain bun or bread)

a breakfast taco (shredded cheese on a torilla, foldin in half and heated in the microwave, served with salsa)

a morning pizza (toasted English muffin with pizza sauce and melted cheese)

cream cheese and fruit sandwich on whole-grain bread.

Yogurt and berry smoothie with a muffin

French toast with sliced apple or banana topping

Cottage cheese warmed in a wheat pita with chopped veggies

Here are some other ways to make morning meal preparation easier:

Set the breakfast table the night before, even if it is only for cereal and juice.

Keep pancake or waffle batter in the refrigerator, ready to pour on the griddle.

Make homemade muffins or breakfast bars on the weekends, and store in the freezer, ready to warm in the microwave.

Reheat leftovers - they're not must for dinner anymore!

Let your children know why breakfast is so important, and how it will make a difference in how they do in school. Make eating a healthy breakfast every day a family goal, and enlist your children in helping to meet it. Even young children can take responsibility for feeding themselves a simple meal each morning. They'll feel and perform better, and establish a healthy habit that will last a lifetime. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

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January 5, 2006

Turn Yourself Into an Early Riser

Rise and shine. Getting up early means more time to exercise and eat a nutritious breakfast.

If the snooze button is your best friend, consider adjusting your internal clock. It seems that early birds get health benefits night owls may miss, such as an opportunity to exercise (people who work out in the morning are more likely to stick with their regimen) and time to eat a healthful breakfast. "Early light helps us wake up and feel more alert sooner than we would otherwise," says Eric Nofzinger, M.D., a sleep expert at the Western Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh. To make the switch, use these tips from Daniel Loube, M.D., associate director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

* Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends. This allows the body clock to stay synchronized.
* If you have trouble falling asleep at night, ask your doctor if melatonin is a good choice for you. (But note that some studies have shown that melatonin may impair lung function for asthmatics.)
* Limit alcohol. It lulls you into a deep slumber for three to four hours, but once it wears off, you may wake up and be unable to fall back to sleep.
* Limit computer use at night. Some studies have shown that looking at a computer's bright display in the evening may affect the biological clock that regulates sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep.

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January 4, 2006

Quote of the Day

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.��?
–Ellen Goodman

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January 3, 2006

What's your next step?

I’ve been working on this blog for about a year now and it’s sad to see that not many things have changed in the past 12 months. As I look through the recent news articles on health – they’re the same topics I saw last year at this time. “How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions��?, “The diet that really works��?, “How to lose weight without exercise��?, “Is high-protein the answer to weight loss?��?. This is ridiculous! Why does everyone need a gimmick to follow? What’s wrong with the plan that myself and fellow dietitians recommend – the food pyramid, moderation, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, lean protein sources, healthy fats and regular exercise. Please tell me why no one trusts the wisdom of the food experts? It’s not about mixing this food group with another or eating at this specific time of the day. It’s not about eliminating entire food groups. It’s not based on celery and lettuce. It’s an accumulation of many different foods over a period of a week, a month, a year. It’s consistently finding time to exercise. It’s not a snap of the fingers or a pill you swallow everyday. It takes effort and it takes time. The question is whether or not you’re willing to take that next step.

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December 29, 2005

Moving Words

"Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills. It has to be earned through sweat."
- yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar

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December 28, 2005

Stop super-sizing and start smart-sizing

Your breakfast bagel might have looked perfectly normal this morning, but during the past 30 years it has grown freakishly large.
Originally the size of a hockey puck, a typical bagel now has the circumference of a CD. Eating just one is the same as eating five pieces of toast, enough servings of grain for the whole day.

That 28-ounce rib-eye you wolfed down last night? You ate the equivalent in protein to 28 eggs, my friend. That's three to four days' worth of your protein needs -- in one sitting. A Triple Whopper and a 42-ounce shake at Burger King? Two days' worth of saturated fat in one meal.

Back in 1960, a single-serving bag of potato chips was 1 ounce, and a bottle of Coca-Cola was 6.5 fluid ounces. Fast-forward 40 years, to 2000, and the bag of chips swells to 2 to 4 ounces, the bottle of Coke to 20.

Welcome to portion distortion, an increasingly common disorder caused by the fact that food sizes are two to five times larger than they were in the past. Bagels have ballooned, dinner plates are larger, restaurants serve obscene amounts of food. Experts say it all adds up to more calories, part of the reason that Americans are fatter than ever.

If your New Year's resolutions include losing weight or eating more healthfully, it's time to take up arms against the portion monster.
The problem is twofold: Most people have a skewed sense of what constitutes a "normal" portion size -- the terms "small," "medium" and "large" are so outdated as to be meaningless -- and it's hard to back down from the challenge posed by an 18-ounce portion of chicken piccata.

When presented with more food, you'll eat more, even if you don't finish it. It's OK on a special occasion, but the special occasions are happening every day. The problem is, you pay less per ounce for the bigger size, so there is a tendency to buy bigger and more. But the difference is less than a few dollars. Don't be lured by the bargain. It's hard to do, but at the end of the day, your health is the best bargain you have.

Two main strategies for portion control:
One is to keep a notebook in which you write down what you eat -- before you eat it. Don't add it up, don't count the fat grams. Just write it down. Seeing what you've eaten and what you're about to ingest can keep people from snacking.
The other is to avoid "the bargain" while ordering or shopping for food, a foreign concept to most Americans.

Smart-sizing strategies:

At home

Use an appetizer or salad plate for your main dish.
Don't eat out of the bag or container -- make yourself see how much you're eating.
Don't leave food on the counter; don't leave a food container or bag open.
Eat foods with built-in stopping points, such as bite-size candy bars or individually packaged things.
Buy smaller packages of food. If it worries you that you pay less per ounce with larger sizes, remind yourself that you'll end up paying more in terms of weight gain -- and possible medical bills.
Portion out single servings from a large bag of, say, tortilla chips, into small airtight storage bags. If the label says the bag contains 10 servings, use 10 bags.
Don't buy something for tomorrow. If it's around, you'll eat it. If you want it tomorrow, you'll get it tomorrow.

In a restaurant

Ask for the doggie bag before the meal; when the food arrives, put half of it away before you start eating.
Ask for extra vegetables.
Use your hand or other objects for visual reference. A portion of cheese is about the size of your thumb. Your fist is about a cup -- one serving of raw vegetables. A serving of fish should be the size of a deck of cards. Keep pancakes and pita bread to the size of a CD.
Avoid buffets, family-style restaurants or all-you-can-eat deals. Forget about the bargain.
Steer clear of dishes that include the words "large," "giant," "mega" and "jumbo."
If you're dining with someone, share an entree and a salad. Many restaurants will even plate each half separately; if not, just ask for an extra plate. If there's a "plate charge" for sharing, bite the bullet and pay it; you'll still spend less than if you'd ordered two entrees.
Order appetizers instead of entrees, or seek out and patronize restaurants that offer "half-size" portions. Let the management know you appreciate the half-portion option.
Remember that there will likely be another meal. This is not your last supper.

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December 15, 2005

14-Day Plan Improves Memory

It sounds like an infomercial from late-night TV: Follow this four-step plan and improve your memory in just 14 days!

But researchers have indeed found a way to improve memory function in older people. After a two-week study that involved brainteasers, exercise and diet changes, study participants' memories worked more efficiently.

Here's the program:

Memory Training: Brainteasers, crossword puzzles and memory exercises that emphasized verbal skills throughout the day.

Healthy Diet: Five meals daily included a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fats, whole grains and antioxidants. Eating frequent meals prevents dips in blood glucose, the primary energy source for the brain.

Physical Fitness: Brisk daily walks and stretching. Physical fitness has been found in other research to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Stress Reduction: Stretching and relaxation exercises. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which can impair memory and has been found to shrink the memory centers in the brain.

Before-and-after brain scans showed the participants experienced on average a five percent decrease in brain metabolism in the dorsal lateral prefrontal region of the brain, which is directly linked to working memory and other cognitive functions. This suggests they were using their brains more efficiently. The subjects also performed better on a cognitive test.

A control group that didn't follow the plan showed no significant changes.

"We've known for years that diet and exercise can help people maintain their physical health, which is a key component of healthy aging," said Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences UCLA. "But maintaining mental health is just as important. Now we have evidence which suggests that people can preserve their memory by adding memory exercises and stress reduction to this routine."

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November 18, 2005

Diet can help fight off that winter cold

YOU’RE SICK. You’re hacking and coughing away. It’s that time of year when more than 200 viruses hit their peak and make you feel miserable.

Your doctor said antibiotics don’t help viruses. What will? Besides listening to your mother, here’s a list from health experts:

Eat at least two cups of fresh fruit each day. Peel that orange! Bite into those strawberries! Your blood will soon be streaming with nutrients such as vitamin C to fight that nasty cold. Vitamin C also inactivates histamine, the substance responsible for your runny nose and congestion.

Eat at least two cups of something green, red or bright orange (M&Ms don’t count) for lunch or dinner. Brightly colored greens and other vegetables contain large doses of immune-enhancing substances that fight disease.

Crush a couple of cloves of fresh garlic into your food or salad dressing each day. It may not help your love life, but can stimulate your immune system to better fight off viruses.

Wash your handswith soap and warm water. Often. It keeps viruses from spreading.

Take a daily multivitamin with 100 percent of the daily value for the major vitamins and minerals listed on the label. Supplements can’t take the place of a good diet, but they can fill in the gaps on those days when you choose deep-fried mozzarella sticks over vegetables.

Add nutrient-rich foods to your diet — foods that give you a nutritional bang for a smidgen of calories. Spinach, for example. (It’s in that section of the grocery store known as “produce.��?) Put a handful on your sandwich or as a colorful addition to your macaroni and cheese. One cup is just 7 calories and is loaded with vitamin A from beta carotene — a potent antioxidant that protects your precious cells from infections.

Practice eating a wide variety of foods.
According to the American Dietetic Association, this is the best strategy to keep you healthy for life.

Get enough protein. Foods such as lean meats, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs and dairy foods release protein into your blood to reinforce your body’s disease-fighting front line. Zinc — a mineral found abundantly in lean meat — works with protein to strengthen your immune system as well.

Eat two cups of non-fat yogurt
— it contains “good��? bacteria that battle the growth of harmful germs in your intestinal tract.

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November 17, 2005

Want to get healthy? Start here.

Have you visited mypyramid.gov yet? This is the website for the new interactive food pyramid. You can plug in your age, gender and activity level and get an individual "diet plan" based on the pyramid. This isn't a diet per say which tells you exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A diet is simply what you eat everyday. A diet does not equate eating lettuce and celery for 2 days, a week or one month to lose a certain amount of weight. You'll get a guide to help you determine how much you should be eating of each food group. It will also give you advice on which foods are the best to choose in each food group. For example, whole wheat bread instead of white. Take it one step at a time. Trying to change too many things at once can set you up for failure. Once you master one new habit, move on to the next. The food pyramid is for everyone, whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain weight or gain a few pounds. Try it today!

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November 16, 2005

Quote of the Day

“Ability is what you're capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.��?
–Lee Holz

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November 4, 2005

Ice Cream is Not a Meal.

A Haagen-Dazs Mint Chip Dazzler (3 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream) has 1270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat – that’s 2 days worth. Think of it as a portable T-Bone steak with Caesar salad, and baked potato with sour cream. But that’s dinner – not dessert after lunch or dinner.
Even the mint-chip light ice cream packs 230 calories and 8 grams of fat in ½ cup serving. Compare that to a ½ cup of regular mint chip ice cream with 300 calories and 19 grams of fat. You don’t even want to know how much fat or saturated fat is in the ice cream bars! Looks like the best bet is the frozen yogurt with 200 calories and 4.5 grams of fat in the coffee flavor or 160 calories and 2 grams of fat in the strawberry banana swirl frozen yogurt. Problem is how many people eat just one half cup?

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October 31, 2005

It's not about the numbers on the scale...

Whether you count the number of people unhappy with their shape, the percentage on a diet, or the billions of dollars spent on diet programs, books, foods and supplements, the figures all show that our society has become more obsessed with weight in the past decade or two than ever before. Some argue that we should indeed be paying more attention to our weight to solve the obesity epidemic that threatens our health. Yet research shows that an obsession with becoming thin, contrary to what you might expect, creates more of a health problem.
Read more.

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October 17, 2005

Eating in the City.

When I say New York City, what foods come to mind? Pastrami sandwiches, extra-long hot dogs, super large pretzels with lots of salt or maybe greasy pizza slices. Think it’s impossible to eat healthy when surrounded by these foods? I spent the past weekend in NYC eating some exceptionally good food and also walked by many health-conscious eateries which were enticing just to see what they served. The breakfast menu at Heartbeat at the W Hotel was mouth-watering. I wish I could’ve tried 2 or 3 entrees that morning. Instead I went with the fruit-filled crepes. So good! They were stuffed with raspberries and had a side dish of fruit including apricots and blueberries. Going along with their motto of balance and well-being, they serve wheat-grain pancakes with fruit, their scrambled eggs are made with one egg plus egg whites, toast is served dry and they also have a vegetable potato hash instead of the usual buttery hashbrowns. Just to give you an idea of what else in on the menu – the vegetarian cobb salad is the complete opposite of what’s normally thought of as a cobb salad with meat, bacon, cheese and egg. It’s a bed of romaine lettuce topped with strips of portabella mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash and cashews with a side of ranch dressing.
Many restaurants list veggie burgers, turkey burgers, lots of salads, vegetarian sandwiches and simple wraps on their menus. Entrees come with salads with lots of veggies, not drenched in dressing. French fries are still an option, which can very well fit in to a healthy diet, when eaten on occasion. Just as any one of those NY-classics I mentioned above can fit in. It’s all about moderation. Balance. Well-being.

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October 3, 2005

Good to know.

The typical American eats out at least 2 times per week or more, gets no more than 1-2 servings of fruits and vegetables, gets little or no activity and watches television or plays video games for 38 hours weekly.
What can you do? How to eat more fruits and vegetables.
How to choose fast food.

Americans expect huge portions of high-calorie foods. Research shows the more food you are offered, the more you will eat.
What can you do? Join the Dirty Plate Club.

Family meals are rare. Cooking is rare. Families spend more than 60 cents of every food dollar on meals eaten away from home.
What can you do? A little help in the kitchen.

More moms are working full time jobs leaving kids unsupervised after school or sent to after school programs where healthy snacks and time for activity are scarce.
What can you do? Do your part.

The typical American kid doesn’t eat breakfast, is served fast food or a facsimile for lunch in school cafeteria, drinks at least 2 cans of soda, and gets little or no activity.
What can you do? Healthy choices for families.

Children spend 5-7 hours in front of the television or playing video games.
What can you do? How to tackle too much TV time.

Daily physical education classes at schools are scarce. In some schools it is optional.
What can you do? Move something!

Children drink soda or juice in school, at home and restaurants. Research has found that kids who drink more than 16 oz of sweetened beverages a day drink less milk and gained more weight over two months than those who drink less sweetened beverages.
What can you do? What to drink?

Obesity runs in families and environment enhances the risk profoundly. If both parents are obese, their child has a 66% chance of becoming obese. If one parent is obese, the risk is 50%. If neither is obese, the risk is 9%. Children of overweight moms are 15 times more likely to be obese than children of lean moms.
What can you do? Be a good role model.

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September 14, 2005

Nutrition in the Palm of Your Hand

Keeping food journals is one tool dietitians like to promote for successful weight loss. It makes you more aware of what you ARE eating and allows you to identify patterns in your eating habits. Ever try writing down everything you eat and drink for even one day, let alone several days at a time? Most people find this very time consuming and inconvenient to carry around a big notebook. As we try to stay up to date with the high-tech world, more and more people are turning to hand-held personal computers to help organize their lives. Not only can you keep your daily to-do lists on your personal digital assistant (PDA), you can also keep track of your daily food intake and exercise as certain nutrition programs calculate your nutritional intake for the day, calories eaten, calories burned and so on. You can look up nutrition information on the food you are about to eat or order at a restaurant. Some programs even give you diet advice when in certain situations i.e. at a Chinese restaurant. So, if you like working with high-tech gadgets, like to be (almost obsessively) organized and you’re looking for a new way to tackle your weight goals, take a look at some of these nutritional software programs available for your PDA.


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August 30, 2005

Coffee's Comeback

Coffee houses everywhere are overjoyed by the recent studies coming out touting another one of coffee’s health benefits. One article implies that coffee has more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables! Look closer and find that because Americans drink on average more than 1 cup of coffee a day and eat few fruits or vegetables, the researchers state that the food which provides the most antioxidants from our diet is coffee. This doesn’t mean you can substitute a cup of coffee for a fruit or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber in combination with the antioxidants. Dates, cranberries and red grapes have been found to have a large amount of antioxidants. Most people eat 3 of the 5 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day and consume 1.64 cups of coffee. Also, watch what you’re adding to your coffee. Whole milk, cream, whipped cream or lots of flavored syrups can counteract any antioxidant benefit of coffee. As with anything, moderation is the key. Consider how many cups you have, how big is your “cup��? and what else is in it.

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August 29, 2005

Take me out to the ball game

Most people go to a ball game to root for the home team. And as long as they’re there, might as well munch on the garlic fries and super nachos. Others, walk for miles hoping to find the food with the least amount of grease. With early evening games and endless concession stands, it’s hard to get through the whole game without eating something. Once in awhile, ballpark food can be worked into a healthy diet. If you happen to have season tickets, you may want to try some of the lower fat options as discussed in Frank talk about stadium snacks. This article lists the better and worse choices sold at the concession stands. You’ll see Cracker Jacks and peanuts on the healthy list along with frozen yogurt (sadly, those jumbo ice cream cookie sandwiches didn’t make it). Hot dogs and light beer are also on the “better��? list. Note this isn’t the jumbo dog and it doesn’t include chili, cheese and bacon. Wondering how soft pretzels rate? Check out calorieking.com.

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August 23, 2005

Interesting New Business on Its Way: Dinner My Way.

The Central Valley is getting some needed help in the kitchen department. Dinner My Way is a company geared towards busy families who enjoy home-cooked meals but simply do not have the time or desire to prepare them. Commuting 1-2 hours to work everyday is a common practice here in the valley. More and more people are holding onto jobs in the Bay area but moving farther away towards smaller towns and lower home prices. Dinner My Way offers a variety of meals with new menus each month. One option is to assemble your own entrée using the assembly line at Dinner My Way. Starting with a basic recipe, you choose which foods you want to include in your dish depending on your family’s preferences. You leave with 6 or 12 assembled entrees that can either be cooked or stored in the freezer for later enjoyment. The other option is for Dinner My Way to assemble the entrees for you based on their standard recipe. All you do is pick them up and take them home. Nutrition information is available for most entrees. It’d be nice to see special menus geared toward clients requesting low fat, low sodium or even diabetic meals.

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August 17, 2005

Get Your zzz's Consistently.

Getting only a few hours of sleep one night does not have a large impact on your body. Acute sleep loss can affect cognitive function causing short attention spans, irritability and lack of concentration. However, chronic lack of sleep can have a negative affect on your health. Consistently sleeping about 4 hours each night can cause your body to poorly regulate blood sugars similar to those with diabetes. You body is not able to clear blood sugars as well because it does not produce sufficient insulin nor is your body able to respond to the insulin. The stress hormone cortisol has also been found to be increased when chronically sleep-deprived which typically corresponds to older-age problems like memory loss and insulin resistance. Two other hormones, leptin and ghrelin, have been found to be decreased in those who are chronically sleep-deprived. These hormones work together to signal hunger in the brain. When low, increased hunger and a craving for high-calorie foods are triggered. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can also affect your food and activity patterns. You may be too tired to exercise or even complete activities of daily living resulting in less energy expenditure. Some people turn to food when they’re tired, looking for a quick pick-me-up. Food choices are also affected due to lack of energy to cook or cravings for sweeter, lower-nutrient foods. The combination of these factors can contribute to weight gain. Best thing to do? Shoot for 8 hours of sleep each night. Or, find a comfortable amount for you in which you’re able to function at your best.

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August 15, 2005

Vegas Vacation

Heading to Las Vegas this weekend…land of endless escalators, moving walkways, all you can drink (while gambling your money away) and all night buffets. Hopefully visitors are walking up and down the strip and visiting other hotels, restaurants, casinos and shops. You could easily stay in one hotel and clock no more than 1000 steps in a day! We’ll see what I can do…
And, just because the drinks are free while you’re at the tables or the slots doesn’t mean you have to overindulge on alcoholic and caloric beverages. Where else can you get a free bottle of water? Well, sort-of free...
Everything’s bigger in Vegas…even the buffets! It’s easy to overeat when you have so many different foods to choose from and they all look so good! From appetizers to meats to side dishes to desserts…there’s a little bit (or a lot) of everything. Don’t forget the salad bar, that’s a great place to start!
What I’m looking forward to? Shopping and the Day Spa.

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August 11, 2005

Peanut Butter - Good for the Heart, Good for the Soul.

One food that I often recommend to people is peanut butter. Partly because it’s a favorite of mine and partly because of it’s nutritional makeup. Usually I get surprised looks and comments concerning peanut butter’s fat, sugar or lard content. True, peanut butter is high in fat – but it’s mostly monounsaturated fat, which is the best fat to eat. Monounsaturated fats can help lower the bad(LDL) cholesterol. I’d recommend the natural style peanut butter because it does not have additional ingredients added in as the commercial brands like Jiff and Skippy do. One serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoon, which is a pretty good size scoop. One serving has approximately 190 calories, 16 grams fat (9 grams monounsaturated, 4.5 grams polyunsaturated, 2.5 grams saturated), 8 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrate. Peanut butter can be spread on toast or waffles in the morning, made into a sandwich, made into a peanut sauce, mixed into yogurt, or paired with fruit like apples or bananas. My two favorites are peanut butter and banana and toasted peanut butter sandwiches. A glass of cold milk makes this a tasty and nutritious meal or snack.

Peanut Butter Pancakes

One of my favorite pancake recipes. Or you could make regular pancakes and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on them. Mmmm, melted peanut butter :)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon roasted peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine milk and remaining ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot nonstick griddle or a large nonstick skillet. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.

Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 2 pancakes)

CALORIES 349(30% from fat); FAT 11.7g (sat 2.5g,mono 5.1g,poly 3.2g); PROTEIN 12.2g; CHOLESTEROL 90mg; CALCIUM 204mg; SODIUM 432mg; FIBER 1.2g; IRON 2.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 49.4g
Courtesy of Cooking Light

Peanutty Noodles

2 carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 pound snow peas, trimmed
8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Shave the carrots lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable peeler, and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and minced garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt); stir until well-blended. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and keep warm.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and snow peas; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine carrot, peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mixture, and linguine in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

calories: 296 carbohydrates: 43.1 g cholesterol: 1 mg fat: 8.8 g sodium: 400 mg protein: 11.7 g calcium: 44 mg iron: 3.6 mg fiber: 3.4 g

10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Courtesy of Cooking Light

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August 5, 2005

In Style: Smoothies

Smoothies are everywhere from breakfast menus to ice cream shops to smoothie-only shops. With all that fruit they gotta be healthy, right? It depends on a few things. First, take a look at the size. Just as super size anything is unnecessary, so are the large and extra large smoothies. You really don’t need 28 or 32 oz of smoothie…even if it is just fruit and yogurt. Secondly, since the ingredients are mainly fruit, fruit juice and yogurt – that can add up to quite a lot of carbohydrate. If offered a free boost or add in – go for the protein to balance it out a little bit. You’ll be getting vitamins and minerals in the smoothie already – no need to add any more. Thirdly, if you’re having a smoothie for a snack, consider the light versions, if available. Some smoothies are made with a reduced –calorie base that can cut the calories by about ½. If you’re using the smoothie as a meal replacement – go with the regular smoothie. Some of the chocolate or peanut butter (although, my favorite) based smoothies can be more like ice cream shakes with a lot of extra calories and fat. If chosen wisely, smoothies can be an easy way to get fruit, calcium, vitamin C, fiber and other vitamins and minerals into your day. Most times, you can find nutritional information online or available at the store. Here are a few links: Jamba Juice, Robeks, TCBY.

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August 2, 2005

Finally, bread is back!

No more burgers without the bun? Good-bye low-carb wraps? Atkins Nutritionals Inc. recently filed for bankruptcy protection. With so many other food companies following suit, Atkins NUtritionals Inc. just couldn't compete. The previous leader in the low-carb diet craze is now limiting it's sales to nutritional bars and shakes. Is this just the beginning of the low-carb diets losing strength? We can only hope!

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July 28, 2005

Being Healthy is a Piece of Cake.

The most terrifying thing is
to accept oneself completely.
Carl Jung

Ever have someone come back from lunch and tell you they were soooo bad today? You may think they robbed a bank or stole a car, right? Turns out they had dessert after lunch. A cookie, a brownie, maybe a piece of cheesecake. Does that make them a bad person? Absolutely not! What you eat does not make you good or bad. Nor does one food item ruin your healthy eating mission. Some people will throw in the towel after an episode like this. They think they’re hopeless because they gave in. Consider what you eat for an entire week. Yes, it’s recommended you eat 5-9 fruits and vegetables each day. If you miss a day of vegetables it’s no big deal, just as if you eat a cookie it’s no big deal. Stop feeling guilty and get back on track. Hopefully you enjoyed the dessert and didn’t scarf it down before anyone could see you. Get over it, you ate a cookie, you didn’t walk out on your lunch bill, right?

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July 27, 2005

A Dietitian’s View on Diets.

As a dietitian, I do not diet. I eat whatever I want. I do practice what I preach – but most of all I actually enjoy eating the foods I recommend to others. Eating healthy for me, isn’t a struggle, in any way. I get the weirdest comments about what I eat. Interning 5 years ago at a hospital, I was asked by a nurse if I was on a diet as I ate my pbj sandwich, yogurt and orange for lunch. I was confused. She said yogurt and fruit were diet foods. So, only people on diets need calcium, fiber, vitamin C and potassium? I eat a piece of cake at a birthday party and everyone is flabbergasted that the dietitian is eating cake! I get the feeling some people think dietitians eat lettuce all day. Yes, I eat pizza once or twice a month. Yes, I eat dessert every so often. And yes, I do eat meat – dietitian and vegetarian are not synonyms.
As a dietitian, I do not write up diets for people. I offer guidelines. How realistic is it for me to write down what you should eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of your life? That’s essentially what people want when they ask me to write them up a diet. Ok, eat oatmeal made with milk and a banana for breakfast. Turns out you are lactose intolerant, hate oatmeal and bananas! My goal is for you to be able to wake up in the morning and decide what would be the best thing to eat – nutrition-wise. I recommend things like whole grains, 1% or skim milk, fruit – so a cereal you like or bread, your favorite fruit and milk, yogurt or lactaid – if that’s the case. Ultimately, you should be able to make a healthy meal without someone else telling you what to eat. Some of you are lucky enough to be related to a dietitian or around a dietitian for a majority of your meals. You may or may not want their advice. But please don’t think I’m analyzing your plate of food in front of you. I know not everyone shares my health-nut-like nature.
As a dietitian, I do not recommend a particular diet to follow. I encourage balance and moderation based on the food pyramid. The word diet to me means everything you eat on any given day. A diet to most people, I think, means a food plan to follow for 3 days, 3 weeks or maybe 3 months. It usually includes avoiding a particular food group, limiting a nutrient like carbohydrate or fat or some crazy idea like eating only cabbage soup. To me, it’s more about healthy choices turning into healthy habits. These habits are lifelong and not short-lived like most “diets��?. What you eat should be based on the food pyramid including the most nutrient dense foods in each food group. It also includes “treats��? like cookies and ice cream and fast food. This isn’t cheating, it’s treating. And most often, you can still make healthy choices when eating these foods. Look at what you eat for an entire week. One food item is not going to make or break your health.
If only we could take the word diet out of the word dietitian. That would make me happy.

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July 10, 2005

Healthy habits in small doses are easier to swallow

Julie Deardorff

Perhaps you've noticed them: the neighbor who uses walking lunges to get to the mailbox; the co-worker who sits on an exercise ball instead of a chair; or the family member who sprinkles ground flax seed on salads, cereal and ice cream.

They're all part of the burgeoning Stealth Health movement, a subtle but simple new wellness trend designed to sneak healthy behavior into the lives of time-pressed Americans.

Stealth Health involves taking non-threatening baby steps to incorporate permanent, positive lifestyle change. It's blending silken tofu into cheesecake. It's pressing your forehead into your palms while sitting for an isometric neck stretcher and strengthener. It's deciphering labels and avoiding foods that contain trans-fatty acids or high-fructose corn syrup.

"We've long talked about the value of ounces of prevention, but with patients, that doesn't sound so light and easy. It sounds like a lot of work," said Dr. David Katz, a preventive-medicine specialist and director of Yale's Prevention Research Center. "We thought, `What if we carved [good health habits] into tiny pieces and let people slip them into their lives one bit at a time?'"

That germ of an idea sprouted into a comprehensive 415-page preventive-medicine bible by Katz and health writer Debra Gordon. The guide, called "Stealth Health: How to Sneak Age-Defying, Disease-Fighting Habits Into Your Life Without Really Trying" (Reader's Digest, $14.95 paper), contains more than 2,400 easy lifestyle tweaks designed to "work health into the nooks and crannies of your life."

At a time when the government's new dietary guidelines call for us to eat more vegetables than in the past--2 1/2 cups a day--and exercise up to 90 minutes a day to lose weight, we need all the inspiration and time-saving tips we can get.

The idea behind Stealth Health is to pick three new strategies and try them for four days in a row. Once a new behavior has become a regular part of the day, even if it's something as small as drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, add another.

Though covert health strategies are nothing new, registered dietitian Evelyn Tribole first popularized the concept in her 1998 book "Stealth Health: How to Sneak Nutrition Painlessly Into Your Diet" (Viking, $24.95).

Tribole not only gives tips on how to slip more fiber, beans, soy, calcium, fruits and vegetables into a diet, but she also includes more than 100 recipes that address what she calls the major stumbling blocks to good nutrition: flavor, convenience and prejudice.

To sneak vegetables into meals, for example, she suggests pureeing cauliflower and adding it to twice-baked potatoes. Drop bits of a grated carrot into cheddar chowder or spaghetti sauce. Or divert the taste buds by spicing food up with chilies, garlic and ginger.

"People want to eat healthy, but there's a preconceived bias that healthy food tastes bad," she said. The mere mention of tofu often evokes a disdainful look. "Yet if I make a delicious chocolate marble cheesecake [with tofu] and have a person taste it [without mentioning the ingredients], I get raves," she wrote.

Gordon and Katz devote an entire section to Stealth Healthy Cooking, which includes tips on how to cut back on "bad" carbs, sugar, bad fats and salt. But they also weave nutritional nuggets throughout the chapters. They tell you how to survive dining out at full-service and fast-food restaurants, what to eat for healthy skin (soy isoflavones found in soy milk and tofu) and the numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Some ideas are so good they're often repeated; these make up the Stealth Health Top 10 list for guaranteed health benefits:

- Drink a cup of tea in the morning.

- Walk for 30 minutes a day.

- Quit smoking.

- Have a glass of wine every evening.

- Take five minutes a day, close your eyes in a quiet room and practice deep breathing.

- Talk to a friend (whether in person on the phone or via e-mail) every day.

- Eat fish twice a week.

- Take a multivitamin with minerals.

- Eat whole, natural foods rather than boxed or processed foods.

- Get a good night's sleep.

It may not be easy or possible to live by the Top 10, but Stealth Health preaches that small changes add up to a large difference. In the current environment, where junk food is encouraged and regular movement is discouraged, it's impossible to stay healthy by maintaining the status quo. Good health requires proactive measures every day.

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June 29, 2005

A Way of Life

It's what you do all day that makes you healthy!

Unhealthy people do this:

Skip breakfast.
Sit at a desk all day.
Snack on junk food all day.
Always take the elevator or escalator.
Walk around with drink and food.
Feel physically tired at the end of the day and head for the sofa and the TV to relax.
Eat a large dinner late in the evening.
Overexert during infrequent exercise sessions.
Eat midnight snacks.
Stand impatiently at traffic lights and bus stops.
Drink soft drinks when thirsty.
Stand impatiently in store lines.
Not feel hungry until lunchtime.
Sit in one position for hours.
Eat fast food three or four times per week.

Healthy people do this:

Eat a healthy breakfast.
Get up every thirty minutes for two to three minutes of moderate activity.
Schedule midmorning and midafternoon healthy snacks each day.
Always take the stairs.
Eat at the dinner table only.
Feel mentally tired and go for a walk to unwind.
Eat a moderate dinner in the evening.
Exercise moderately most days of the wee.
Sleep soundly because regular exercise reduces stress.
Shift weight from side to side at traffic lights and bus stops.
Drink water when thirsty.
Perform toe raises or shuffle heels forward while waiting in store lines.
Feel hungry when they wake up.
Stretch at their desk often.
Eat fast food once every two weeks.

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May 6, 2005

Nutrition Facts Label

Reading the Nutrition Facts Label is one the first steps you can make towards eating healthier. Besides, how can you eat something without knowing what you’re eating? Almost everything on the food label is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before they took over, food companies could put whatever they wanted on the label. Now, the serving sizes are regulated using household measurements and certain nutrients have to be listed.

Grams of total fat and saturated fat must be on the label, but monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fat are all optional. However in 2006 companies will be required to list grams of trans fat on the food label. Some companies already do, but others will probably wait until the last minute. For now, if you see the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list, you’ll know there is trans fat in the product. A quick way to tell if a food is low fat is by looking at the calories and the calories from fat. If the calories from fat is 30% or less than the calories, then the food is low fat. When you’re in the grocery store and pick up a food, flip it over and quick eyeball these two numbers and decide if it’s a good choice.

Sometimes the carbohydrates are split up into grams of fiber and grams of sugar. The total grams of carbohydrate is most important, especially if you are diabetic. Low-carbohydrate food companies try to trick you with listings like net carbs, which I also recommend you disregard. There is not a legal definition for this term and is not regulated by the FDA. Fiber is also an important number because high fiber diets are beneficial.

The percentages on the food label can be confusing. These are based on a 2000 calorie diet and not everyone eats this amount of calories. It’s best to ignore these percentages and just look at the numbers.

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April 28, 2005

'Enriched' means it isn't a true whole grain bread.

Cheryl Ann Macellaro wrote:
One of the new dietary guidelines this year recommends adding three or more whole-grain products to your daily diet. Whole grains are important for reducing the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. They help control blood sugar and have been shown to help prevent cancer and bowel disorders.

Whole grain foods include breads, pastas, cereals and rice. Grain is made up of three parts: the bran, endosperm and the germ. Whole grains come from all three parts. Milled or refined flours come from the endosperm only, leaving out the nutrient-dense portions.

Reading the labels is the best way to ensure you are buying whole-grain foods. The first ingredient should read "made with whole wheat flour, whole oats or brown rice." If the label contains words such as "enriched wheat flour," that's the best way to tell it's not a whole grain product.

The best sources of whole grain foods are:

100 percent whole wheat bread;


Whole grain pastas;

Cheerios, Kashi and Total cereals

and brown rice.
Because they come from plants, they are low in fat and are a good fiber source.

Brown rice takes longer to cook but is more nutrient dense than the milled white rice. Trying whole wheat pastas, substituting whole wheat flour in place of white flour and making brown rice side dishes are just a few ways to add whole grains to the diet.

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April 27, 2005

Few in U.S. Living Healthy Lifestyles

Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter, HealthDay wrote:

Even though everybody seems to know what a healthy lifestyle is, very few actually live it, a new study contends.

Those who don't smoke, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, exercise regularly and maintain a normal weight account for only 3 percent of the adult population in the United States, according to the report in the April 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"We looked at national representative data for 2000," said study co-author Mathew J. Reeves, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University. "We wanted to see the proportion of adults that met the definition for a healthy lifestyle."

In their study, Reeves and his colleague Ann P. Rafferty, from the Michigan Department of Community Health, collected data on 153,805 adults from all over the country. The data came from the 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is an annual survey of the nation's health.

Reeves and Rafferty found that 76 percent of the people surveyed were nonsmokers, 40.1 percent maintained a healthy weight, 23.3 percent said they ate at least five fruits and vegetables daily, and only 22.2 percent said they exercised at least five times a week.

"When we look at the combination of all four factors, we found that only 3 percent of adults meet our criteria of a healthy lifestyle," Reeves said. "This data shows the extraordinarily low level of adults living a healthy lifestyle."

Reeves pointed out that there is substantial data showing the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. "Those who live a healthy lifestyle live longer and have reduced disease risks, including risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They have reduced medical expenditures and a better quality of life," he said.

The message is not new. "If you want to say, 'How can I best maximize my quality of life, my longevity, reduce my disease risk and reduce medical expenses?'-- you would lead this sort of healthy lifestyle," Reeves said. "Don't smoke, don't be overweight, exercise regularly and eat right -- it's exactly what your grandmother has been telling you for 50 years."

Not leading a healthy lifestyle has taken its toll, Reeves said. "We've got millions of adults in this country leading less than optimal lifestyles, and that's translated into the obesity epidemic, higher risks of chronic diseases," he said.

Reeve's main concern is for the future. "Because of the ability of the medical system to keep people alive longer, we are going to have more and more elderly people who have a lot more co-morbidities that are going to be consuming a lot of health-care dollars. We can't afford the health-care system we have now. What's it going to be like in 30 years?"

One expert thinks it's the job of health professionals to get the message out to people that living a healthy lifestyle is important. "We need to educate people about what is healthy, and how to incorporate it into their daily lives," said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

The problem, according to Heller, is that there is not enough money being spent to get that message out. "The government allots its funds to other places -- not a whole lot into public education and health," she said.

Another point Heller made is that today's culture promotes a sedentary lifestyle. "Our current lifestyle in this country supports sitting around," she said. "Within that lifestyle, you are bombarded by advertisements telling you to eat all this junk food. We have to figure out how to encourage people to buck the lifestyle we have created for ourselves."

Another expert believes that by not living healthy lifestyles, people are denying themselves a better life. "What we in preventive medicine know is that we are squandering disease-fighting opportunities," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

"The result is disease and premature death that simply need not occur," Katz said. "Reeves and Rafferty are pointing out how much of the power of preventive medicine is already in our hands. But for the majority of us, [it is] apparently slipping through our fingers."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians can tell you more about staying healthy.

Copyright © 2004 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
URL: http://articles.health.msn.com/id/100104087?GT1=6428

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January 14, 2005

Fill Up on Fiber.

Aim for 20-30 grams of total fiber each day.
Insoluble fiber aids in digestion and helps keep your gastrointestinal track working properly. Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances and then together they get excreted. This can help lower your cholesterol.

Insoluble Fiber
1. Bread. Buy 100% whole wheat bread. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Not wheat flour. Seven-grain, 9-grain, multigrain, and health nut breads all sound healthy, but most often they are not high in fiber. One slice of bread should have 3 grams of fiber per slice.
2. Cereal. A high fiber cereal will have 5 grams of fiber or more per serving. Some examples are Bran Flakes, Raisin Bran and Grape Nuts.
3. Fruits and Vegetables. Especially cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables! This is where the fiber lives.

Soluble Fiber
1. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber. A 3/4 cup serving of cooked oatmeal has 3 grams of fiber.
2. Fruits and Vegetables. They have soluble fiber too. Some of the best choices are apples, oranges and carrots.
3. Beans. Kidney, lima, navy, garbanzo and pinto beans. Along with peas, these are all great sources of fiber. They have 3-4 grams of fiber per ½ cup cooked.
4. Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are an excellent snack. A ¼ cup serving of peanuts or pistachios have 3 grams of fiber each and ¼ cup of sunflower seeds has 2 grams of fiber.

**If you increase your fiber intake, be sure to drink an extra glass or two of water. This will help prevent gas, cramps and bloating.

High Fiber Hot Breakfast Cereal

1/3 cup uncooked oatmeal
¼ cup Grape Nuts cereal
1 TB brown sugar
½ cup skim milk
¼ cup water

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk and water. Microwave for 2 minutes.
Nutrition Information: 295 calories, 60g carbohydrate, 2.5g fat, 11g protein, 5.5g fiber

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