How to Properly Sanitize Produce and Groceries

I know everyone is concerned with making sure they don’t get the Coronavirus.  And some people are worried about getting it from their food at the grocery store (or take-out).  I’m here to teach how to properly clean your groceries to reduce your risk of getting any kind of germ from the store.  (All of this is backed by the latest research, by the way.)

  • To wash your fruits and vegetables, rub them under running water in the sink.  The action of rubbing is what removes dirt, bacteria, and viruses from the skin.  Do the same for fruits and vegetables that you don’t eat the skin (watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, etc.).  For small fruits, like berries, wash them under running water in a colander or you can submerge in water and swish them around.  This is also a good technique for leafy greens.  After submerging in water and shaking, rinse them off.   
  • Do not use soap to wash your fruits and vegetables.  Using soap is not necessary to clean your produce and the residue may even upset your stomach.
  • You will not get sick from eating fruits and vegetables and so they do not need to be “sanitized.”  The COVID-19 virus is not transferred from food.  Let’s just say that somehow some virus got on your fruit from someone else in the grocery store (which probably won’t happen).  There will not be enough of the virus on your fruit to make you sick.  The virus is spread by close contact with infected people.
  • Bottom-line: The absolute best prevention is to wash your fruits and vegetables with running water while rubbing them with your hands to wipe off any dirt and germs.
  • As for your other groceries, there is no need to wipe down these foods, even if you are immune-comprised.  Again, the virus does not live on these items and even if it did, there is not enough to infect you.  If you insist on being 100% sure, then leave them in the garage or outside (if they are non-perishable) for 24 hrs.  Research has found that heat and humidity kill the virus.
  • Bottom-line, please don’t stress about your food and waste your time on sanitizing with bleach solutions.  The best thing you can do is wash your hands.  There is no better way to keep you healthy than to wash your hands after coming home from the grocery store, after putting your groceries away, before preparing food, and before eating. 

I hope you are all enduring this pandemic well.  I want to remind you that I and my other dietitians are here for you.  To schedule your telehealth session from the comfort of your own home or office, please click here.  We are here to help you navigate your new normal and how to adapt your eating and exercise routines.

How to Avoid the Quarantine-15 (aka How to NOT gain weight while stuck at home)

I know you’ve seen them: the memes about how much weight we are going to gain while stuck at home, the pictures of food all over social media, comfort-eating, and baking galore. How else can we release some energy while stuck at home?  Cleaning out our closets is no fun.  And you can only take so much news.  My clients are starting to ask, “How can I stop gaining weight?”  

Step 1: Have a plan.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  If you just plan to eat whatever you have around, it might not the best thing for your body.  But if you have a loose plan, then you will most likely go for the planned meal.  I try to have a list of about 7 dinners that we have all the ingredients to make.  That way when dinner comes we are not tempted to order take-out.  Having a plan also keeps you from making more frequent runs to the grocery store.

Step 2: Designate only one area in your house for eating.  If eating locations become a free-for-all, you might start finding crumbs in your laptop, on your couch, and in your bed.  Limit eating to just the kitchen or dining room table and you will eliminate a lot of mindless eating.

Step 3: Make a list of positive things to do when you want to reach for food and are not hungry.  Now that you are working from home, do you find yourself drawn to the kitchen when you need a break or are bored?  You’re not alone.  Everyone does it!  Instead, keep a list on your fridge or pantry door with other enjoyable tasks.  Here are some examples: go outside for fresh air, stretch, call a friend, write in your journal, put on your favorite music, work on a hobby, write a letter or card, play a game, pray, meditate, do something creative, clean out a drawer, organize your files, etc. 

Step 4: Set regular meal and snack times.  Make a realistic eating schedule for everyone in the family.  After each meal or snack, clean up, turn the lights off, and “close” the kitchen until the next meal or snack.  With children of various ages, this is a work in progress for me.  But I’m trying.

Step 5: Embrace it.  You know what, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you gain some weight over the next few months? We are all going through an experience we’ve never been in.  It’s OK if you eat more than usual, stress-eat, or boredom-eat.  This is a learning experience.  Be patient and compassionate with yourself.  Take it one day at a time (one bite at a time) and you’ll get through this.  Give yourself a hug and keep this in perspective.  There are a million things worse than gaining weight.

We are OPEN and happily seeing clients virtually!  All insurance companies have temporarily allowed telehealth and we are so pleased to be able to still meet with our clients and help you through this difficult time.  Go here to become a new client.  Or, if you are a returning client, go here to schedule an appointment.  I look forward to “seeing” you from the comfort of your home or office.  We are here for you. 

Easy, Healthy Weeknight Dinner: Sheet Pan Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables

Easy, Healthy Weeknight Dinner: Sheet Pan Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables

Here is one my family’s new favorite dinners: Potatoes, Sausage, and Vegetables roasted on a sheet pan. 

Why I love it:

  • Versatile
  • One dish meal
  • Can use leftovers
  • Inexpensive
  • Super tasty!
  • Everyone loves it (one of the few meals we all love)

Here’s how to do it:

Wash and cut into bite-size pieces your favorite potatoes and vegetables (white potatoes, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, green peppers, red peppers, broccoli, asparagus, onions, etc.). Toss the potatoes and vegetables with olive oil in a large bowl.  Spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray.  Spread vegetables and potatoes evenly on the pan.  Sprinkle your favorite seasonings on top: kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. Dice your favorite sausage (deer sausage, chicken sausage, pork sausage, etc.) into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over the vegetables.  Roast in the oven at 425 degrees until the potatoes are soft.  Serve with fruit and a glass of milk on the side.   Yum!

Please share: What’s your favorite easy dinner?

You can eat what you love and still be healthy!

You can eat what you love and still be healthy!

“This is my mom and she loves chocolate”

A few months ago I was outside with my 2 youngest daughters and we started talking to someone walking by.  My little ones were probably enthralled with the person’s dog.  But anyway, out of the blue, my 3-year-old said, “This is my mom and she loves chocolate.”  I started laughing at the randomness of this comment and have thought a lot about it since. Yes, both statements are true.  I am her mom and I do love chocolate. 

Why do I bring this up?  Because I think many people have the misconception that my being a dietitian means that I don’t eat sweets and only eat healthy foods.  Some people think my kids never eat junk food and we must not have any candy or chips in my house.  This is not true!  I want to write about this today so you can see that I am just like you…I love chocolate and my husband loves chips.  I have kids that love junk food and candy (and they like some vegetables and nutritious foods too). I crave desserts just like you and want chocolate when I’m stressed out.  At various times in my life I have worried about my weight and health and been on both sides of the dieting spectrum.  I know what it’s like to hate your body and I know what it’s like to love your body.  And not only have I been through it, I’ve seen hundreds of my clients go through it as well.

I am here to share with you today, that you can break through whatever bad eating habits you have, poor body image, dieting scars, etc.  You can find the middle ground between health and “eating whatever you want.”  I’ve done it, my clients are doing it, and you can too.  It feels so amazing to feel comfortable in your own skin, to eat nutritious foods most of the time, and include the sweets/treats/junk foods a little of the time.  It’s so rewarding to go to the doctor and get a good report on blood work, realizing that you can do it!  You don’t have to be in the gym for 2 hours every day (but it’s OK if you like that) and eat only chicken breast and broccoli (it’s OK if you like that too).  There is way more to life than just that!  We can love chocolate (or French fries, or chips, or anything else) and still feel good in our bodies, be healthy, and live well.  

Will you give me a chance to show you that eating what you love AND meeting your health goals is possible for you too?  Simply comment on this post and I will put you on my waiting list for new clients. 

Websites for healthy, nutritious and easy recipes

I don’t know about you, but I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of recipes on the internet.  Really, I have a love-hate relationship with recipe searches.  I LOVE being able to find any recipe I can think of and many that I never thought of.  I HATE that there are so many options and I have no idea which version of the recipe is going to taste the best.  That’s why I have stopped doing general recipe searches and now just go straight to my go-to sources.  It frees up my time by not scrolling through 20 versions of Asian Chicken, for example, and makes me feel so much more confident when I have a website or two that I can trust.  I wanted to share one of those sources with you today:

www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov

These are the reasons I love this website:

  • You can search by ingredient
  • You can search by food group or type of dish
  • You can save recipes into your “cookbook”
  • You can view recipe books
  • You can print your recipe book
  • You can view recipe demos
  • You can refine your search by cost, cuisine, diet, and cooking method

With all of these options, what’s not to love about USDA’s What’s Cooking? Best of all, is it saves me time by going to only one place when I’m making my weekly menu.

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Please share: what is your favorite website for recipes?

Is citric acid bad for you?

Is citric acid bad for you?

The other day someone asked me about Citric Acid and if it is harmful.  She is trying to eliminate harmful foods from her and her family’s diet.  In just a few short paragraphs, I will answer that for her and you.

Citric acid is weak tricarboxylic acid found in citrus fruits.  The highest food sources are lemons and limes.  Although you won’t find citric acid listed in any database or calorie counting app, citrus fruits have been tested in labs to determine amounts. 

You can find citric acid added to foods as a preservative.  It has a sour and acidic taste.  It is commonly used when canning tomatoes and in products that you add to fresh fruit to prevent it from turning brown.  I have some in my cupboard for science experiments and home-made bath bombs!

Citric acid is perfectly safe.  Your body breaks it down and excretes it through your urine.  In fact, it may even be helpful in preventing calcium oxalate kidney stones.  Studies show that citric acid can prevent the stones from forming.  Studies are mixed on whether drinking lemon or lime juice can treat current kidney stones.  But if stones are a concern for you, it certainly won’t hurt.

Bottom-line, there is no need to worry about citric acid in your food.  There are more important things to think about…like what’s for dinner?

Please share: are there any food additives that you are concerned about and you want me write a blog post about?

How to Get Motivated to Lose Weight

How to Get Motivated to Lose Weight

One of the quotes I love to share with my clients is:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

No matter what kind of goal you have: financial, health, dream vacation, etc., it begins with a single step.  A baby step, as I like to call it.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we look at the big picture: pay off the car, lose 100 lbs, or go on a cruise.  I’ve noticed for some people it seems so daunting that they don’t even try.  That’s when it’s time to break it down into manageable steps.

First, take out a big sheet of clean, white paper (or your favorite color) and jot down all the steps you need to take to reach your goal.  Second, choose the very first step that must be done.  Third, do it!  The first step doesn’t have to be big.  The best part of taking a step is that you are moving towards your goal, which helps build your confidence. Then the next day, take another step, and the next day another one, and another one until you’ve done it!

You’ll find as you take baby steps day after day, your confidence will improve, your overwhelm will decrease, and you will feel better.

Please share: what baby step are you going to take today?  Comment below or on my Facebook page.

How many times a day should I eat?

One of my frequently asked questions is, “How many times a day should I eat?”  I’ve got the answer for you!  Research shows it’s ideal to eat at least 3 times per day and then the rest is up for you to decide.  Eating at least 3 meals a day is ideal for managing appetite hormones, metabolism, and hunger.  There is no research to support whether snacks are necessary for weight control.  For some people, eating snacks causes them to overeat because they snack on cookies, chips, and soda.  For others, snacking is necessary because they don’t like to eat big meals.  That’s where personalization comes in.

How many times a day should you eat? It’s up to you!

My suggestion is to keep a food journal and track your mood and energy level based on your meals and snacks.  See if you do better with 3 snacks and 3 meals or just 3 meals (or anywhere in between). 

To take it a step further, pay attention to how the snacks and meals make you feel. Do some snacks weigh you down and others energize you?  Does eating big meals make you feel sleepy or satisfied?  Pay attention to trends and use that to guide you in how many snacks and meals are ideal for you.

And if you need help with your meal plan after that, check out my services to see which is the best fit for you.

Please share: do you prefer to snack or not to snack?

The Most Nutritious Food

The Most Nutritious Food

A client asked me the other day, “what is the healthiest food to eat?”  What do YOU think the answer is?  I said, “Beans.”  Beans are one of the most nutritious foods for a few reasons:

  1. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates.  That means they are digested slowly and will give you a nice steady stream of energy. 
  2. They are a good source of protein.  Protein is essential for strong muscles, a healthy immune system, and hormone balance.  It also keeps you fuller longer.
  3. They are a good source of fiber.  Fiber also keeps you fuller longer and keeps your bowel movements regular.

Beans are inexpensive and versatile.  They can be added to salads and soups, main dishes, side dishes, and even desserts!

Please share: what are your favorite ways to eat beans?  What would you say is the most nutritious food?

Are you burned out? There’s an App for that.

I know you’ve felt it before…you dread getting up in the morning and dragging through one more day.  Burn out is real.  And it can take a toll on your health: it is associated with heart disease, insomnia, obesity, and anxiety.  Can you relate?  If so, check out this infographic from Happify. 

Click here to see the infographic from Happify: Experiencing burnout? Here’s how to recover

If you recognize any of the symptoms of burnout listed on the graphic, I encourage you to download the Happify app. It’s a great tool to improving your mental health—which then trickles down to physical health.   And then, talk to me.  Let’s figure out how we can change your diet and exercise routine to alleviate any symptoms you are experiencing.

Please share, what are the signals and signs when you are feeling burnout?