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?

Help! What Food is Trying to Tell YOU

Help! What Food is Trying to Tell YOU

Do you have a go-to food or activity that numbs you out after a long day or an emotional event?  C’mon, be honest: is it scrolling through Facebook, playing a game on your phone, or grabbing a bag of chips?  If you’re an emotional eater, then you can relate.  What are those foods you gravitate towards when you want to feel better?  Chocolate? Ice cream?  Bread?  If you know what I’m talking about, chances are you also feel guilty about eating these foods. Well, I want to take that guilt away and instead teach you what these foods are telling you. 

Your body has an amazing and insightful secret to share with you:

When you reach for food and you are not physically hungry, it’s telling you “Something’s wrong!”  It’s shouting at you to stop and listen. 

It’s so common to plow through your day without ever stopping to listen to your body and see what it needs.  So, when you are craving food, think of it as a red flag.  Your body is saying, “Did you forget about me?   Something is wrong and I want you to fix it.”

Next time you find yourself reaching for your go-to food, notice is for what it is (a cry for help) and take these steps:

  1. Do a head to toe scan to find any areas of pain or discomfort.  Do you have a headache?  Are your feet hurting?  If so, do what you can to alleviate the pain or discomfort.
  2. If you find no obvious pain or discomfort, examine your feelings.  What are you feeling?  What triggered those feelings?  Did you have an upsetting interaction with a co-worker?  Are your kids stressing you out?  Are you mad at your best friend? Once you find the source, do what you can to fix it (that doesn’t involve food).

This is a learning process. It’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you learn to work through difficult emotions and events.  But you can do it!  I’ve seen others learn how and I know you can too.

If you need help applying these steps, check out my programs to see which one might be a good fit for you.

In the meantime, please share: what are your go-to foods and why?

Stop the Food Fight

Stop the Food Fight

I know this is a personal question, but how do you feel about your body?  What do you think when you look in the mirror?  Are your thoughts positive or negative?  What do you think when you see models and celebrities?  Do you envy their slender bodies or do you think that you would not want to work as hard as they do to maintain that shape?   How do you feel about your relationship with food? Is food the enemy?  Take a few minutes to think about these questions, or better yet, discuss with a friend or write them in your journal.

Thinking about these questions can be eye-opening for some or painful for others.  I bring this up because my goal for all my patients is to accept their bodies where they are.  Next time you are in a crowd of people, notice the vast difference in our bodies.  No one person is the same and that’s what makes us unique. Life would be boring if we were all the same height, weight, and shape. 

Do you think that everything you see in magazines and TV is real?  You would be surprised how some of what we see is not real.  Illusions are created by the power of technology in the hands of the beauty industry who wants us to believe that we are not good enough as we are (so we will spend money on their beauty products).  This illusion of beauty and “perfect” bodies are all around us. So much that we don’t know what reality is anymore. Want to know what reality is?  Go to the mall or other public place and people-watch.  Reality is every day people in all shapes, sizes, and colors; real people with real struggles and real lives.  In my Stop the Food Fight class I’ll be showing you a few pictures of air brushed celebrities that will surprise you.  I know we can’t change the media and beauty industry, but we can change ourselves.  We can remind ourselves and teach our daughters and sons that what we see in the media is not always real.  Beauty has nothing to do with your weight or body fat percent.  It’s all about what kind of person you are.

My hope is that you can get to the point where food is not the enemy and your body is not the enemy.  You can do that by what I call, “Stopping the Food Fight.”  That means you learn to accept the diversity of our body shapes, just as you accept the diversity of nature.  And second you learn to nourish your bodies by honoring your hunger and fullness. How do you do that, you may wonder? 

1. Keep a food log of when you eat and WHY you eat.  Notice how the foods make you feel. 

2. Consciously observe the people around you and say positive things about their bodies (not out loud!) and your body (you can say them out loud!).  This is a gradual process that I love to take my clients through. 

If you need more help with this and want to discuss this with like-minded individuals, join me for my June Master’s Group where we are learning to “Stop the Food Fight.” 

In the meantime, please share: how do you feel about your body?

What is your Dream?

What is your Dream?

I love to dream big.  How about you?  It’s fun to day dream about all the wonderful things to accomplish or places to go.  Most of us don’t have any problem dreaming big.  It’s the execution that gets us!  Life gets busy, we plug along another day without getting closer to our dreams.

What are your dreams?  If you are like most of the people I meet with, your dreams include feeling great and living a long, full life; being around to see your grandchildren grow up; traveling; and enjoying life.  So I want to know, what are you doing today to make that happen?  If we don’t take at least one step towards our dreams every day, life might pass us by. 

I love helping my clients get closer to their dreams!  But it doesn’t happen without having a “plan and a deadline.”  It’s so fun to take those dreams and turn them into realistic and personalized plans.  I’m a big planner and have been since as long as I can remember.  I started at a young age with goal setting and planning.  At first they were far-fetched goals like “don’t fight with my sister” or “practice the piano every day.”  But as I learned about effective realistic goal setting and making specific plans, I started achieving my goals.  For example, when I learned to plan exercise into my day, make a weekly menu, and have strategies for overcoming emotional eating, I became successful in managing my health.    And that’s what I want for you too.

How do you start, you may wonder?

Step 1: First write down one dream you have in relation to your health. 

Step 2: Brainstorm the steps that you need to get there. 

Step 3: Choose one step to start with.

Step 4: Set a deadline and a plan for that step.

If you need help with making your plan, watch this video and then contact me so we can talk about how my programs might help you.

Until then, please share: what are your dreams?

Website Review: www.DoleNutrition.com

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The Dole Nutrition Institute’s (DNI) mission is to “cultivate the seeds of knowledge and provide the public with definitive, easily accessible, scientifically-validated information on nutrition and health.”  They are accomplishing that through their website.  The DNI website is full of information about fruits and vegetables.  After reading the articles on the benefits of specific fruits and vegetables, browsing the recipes, and watching the videos, your mouth will be watering for some fruit and you’ll be craving vegetables.  We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  This website proves why and helps us to accomplish the goal.

They have a free newsletter you can receive via e-mail.  It is one of my favorites.  And, they feature the “Dole Spa” that teaches us fruits and vegetables aren’t just for the inside, they are for the outside too.

Bottom-line: If you’re looking for some produce inspiration, check out their website.

 

Please share: What’s your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Top 10 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

Raising a healthy eater can be a tricky process.  It’s a balancing act of many aspects:  providing nutritious foods, encouraging new foods, allowing independence, teaching regulation of “junk” foods, allowing for a child’s individual food preferences, allowing for a child’s natural growth pattern and daily appetite changes, peer pressure, and teaching a child how to cook and prepare food.  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  I’d like to break down the complication into manageable steps.

  1. First and most importantly, remember that your child was born with the natural ability to monitor her intake. Just like a newborn baby knows when she is hungry and when she is satisfied, your child knows how to do the same.  However, if food is used as comfort, reward, or punishment, then it interferes with the child’s natural ability to regulate intake.  So, by encouraging her to clean her plate or eat “just one more bite”, you may be encouraging her to eat more than she needs.  Trust that she knows when she has had enough.  This leads into tip 2.
  1. Establish regular eating times throughout the day and stick to them. For example, offer breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner.  If your child is not hungry at lunch, then let him know that he doesn’t have to eat, but he will not be allowed to eat until snack time.  Letting a child feel hunger is good.  It’s good for him to feel hunger, satiety, and occasional fullness.  But, it’s not a good idea to let him graze all day.    Predictability is very important, especially for young children.
  1. Keep a variety of foods stocked in your kitchen and limit the junk foods. Some ideas are whole wheat/grain bread, crackers, pasta, rice, muffins, cereal, oatmeal, and tortillas; skim or 1% milk, lower-sugar yogurt, and cheese; canned tuna, peanut butter, leftover meats (chicken, pork, beef), low-fat deli meats, and beans (if she won’t eat beans from the can, try pureeing them with some spices and serve with crackers or vegetables as a dip); fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruit; and 100% fruit juice and water.  Although it’s best to save the junk foods for special occasions, I do believe it’s important to keep a small selection at home to teach the child how to regulate her intake.
  1. Avoid trans fats, added sugars, processed foods, fast foods, and fried foods. You already know that these foods should be limited in your diet, so the same goes for your children.
  1. Don’t give up when your child doesn’t like new foods. It may take up to 20 exposures of a new food before the child tries it!  Pair an unfamiliar food with a familiar food when you are serving it and try not to pressure the child to eat it.
  1. To ensure variety in your child’s diet, offer 2 different foods groups at each snack and 3 different food groups at each meal. Don’t worry if some days your child eats no fruit and all dairy and grains because the next day he might want only fruit and meat.  The average intake over a week is the most important number to monitor.
  1. Allow your child to help choose, prepare, and clean up the meals as much as possible. Not only is it quality family time, research shows children who are involved in meal preparation tend to be healthier eaters.
  1. For a personalized recommendation for your child, visit mypyramid.gov, where you can enter the age, height, weight, and sex of the child and receive an estimation of how much of each food group she should aim for on a daily basis.
  1. If you have any specific concerns about your child’s diet, please contact your pediatrician or dietitian.
  1. Remember all children are different and these “tips” are just that; they are not hard and fast rules. Most importantly, offer a variety of foods at predictable times and allow your child to decide how much to eat.  Raising a healthy eater takes a lot of patience and practice!  If you would like more information on child nutrition, please check out Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming by Ellyn Satter, Just Two More Bites! by Linda Piette, and Baby Bites by Bridget Swinney.  These are invaluable references.

 

Please share: What’s your biggest challenge with raising a healthy eater?

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Think About Your Drink

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t think much about your beverage choices and how they may positively or negatively affect your health.  That might be a big mistake!  Two research articles from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association emphasize why “think about your drink” is good advice to follow.

The first article describes a study where the participants fasted overnight and then either drank a liquid meal replacement or ate a solid meal replacement bar.  Both the drink and the bar had equal calories, protein, and fat.  Two hours later everyone was served a bowl of oatmeal.  The researchers weighed the oatmeal before and after to measure the amount consumed.  Their appetites were also measured at various intervals.  The results showed that the subjects who drank the liquid meal replacement ate more oatmeal and reported higher levels of hunger.  Even though all participants were eating or drinking the same amount of calories, the ones who drank their calories ended up eating more!

The second article addresses drinking water before meals.  The subjects were asked to fast and then half were given 2 cups of water and the other half were not.  Thirty-minutes later all of the participants were given breakfast.  The ones who drank the water ate significantly less (13%) than the ones who did not.

As these studies emphasize, by choosing your beverages carefully you can help achieve your health goals. Are you trying to gain weight? Then choose healthy drinks (juice, skim milk, or meal replacement beverages) with your meals and snacks. They will provide you with calories and nutrients, but not curb your appetite.

Are you trying to lose weight?  Then stay hydrated and try to drink a few cups of water 30 minutes before you eat your meals.  Also, choose meal replacement bars instead of beverages to keep yourself from eating too much at your next meal.

Don’t forget, your beverage choices can negatively or positively affect your overall health!

 

Please share: What’s your favorite beverage?

RD’s Must-haves for the Pantry

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If you were to take a peek into my pantry, these are some of the foods you would find.  I consider these foods not only staples of a nutritious diet, but also good for easy snacks and meals.  (Most of these foods are store-brand, unless otherwise specified.)

  • Whole wheat pasta: Use in any of your favorite pasta dishes.
  • Brown rice: Brown rice is a hearty side-dish to your favorite meat.  When you’re short on time, use Minute brown rice, which cooks in about 5 minutes.
  • Whole wheat bread: Make sure the first ingredient is “whole wheat flour.”
  • Mission Carb Balance whole wheat tortillas: These tortillas are a staple in my diet. At only 80 calories per tortilla, I like to use them for any meal: scrambled egg wrap, quesadilla, meat and cheese wrap, spread with peanut butter for a pre-workout snack, or with tacos.
  • Couscous: If you haven’t tried this grain, then you should. It cooks in just a few minutes and offers a break from the usual rice or pasta.  My favorite brand is Hodgson Mill.
  • Triscuits or Wheat Thins: Both of these crackers are whole-grain, which makes them a great choice. I like to eat mine with cheese as a snack.
  • Vanilla wafers or gingersnaps: These are two of my favorite cookies. They are both two of the better choices when you are looking for cookies because they are low in fat, saturated fat, and trans fat.
  • Dried beans: Beans are full of fiber, protein and carbs. They are a very inexpensive food that offers so much nutrition. I try to cook with beans once a week.
  • Canned beans: When you don’t have time to cook dried beans, canned beans are an excellent choice. To make a delicious and quick dip for vegetables, bread, or crackers: drain and rinse a can of beans, place in blender, add a little water, add seasonings to taste, and puree until smooth.  Now you have a tasty bean dip.
  • Canned Hormel turkey chili with beans: This makes for a quick meal when you are pressed for time. Serve with homemade cornbread, rice, or over a baked potato.
  • Canned fruit packed in juice or lite syrup: Canned fruit is good with any meal and is just as healthy as the fresh version.
  • Canned vegetables: I prefer fresh or frozen vegetables generally, but canned ones are good to have on hand as well. Try adding canned diced tomatoes to your spaghetti sauce, drained canned mushrooms to your homemade pizza, or canned corn to your cornbread batter.
  • Baking ingredients: white flour, whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder, spices and herbs, salt, vinegars, sugars, etc. I like to cook from scratch as much as possible.  Make sure to always have the basic baking and cooking ingredients on hand so you can make your own muffins, cakes, cookies, biscuits, marinades, casseroles, etc.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Not only for baking, but also to satisfy chocolate cravings!
  • Non-fat dry milk powder: Dry milk powder in the large boxes is usually cheaper than milk. If you are looking to trim your grocery bill, make up a quart of dry milk to use in cooking and recipes throughout the week.
  • Whole oats: Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. I like to add a variety of fruit, sugar substitutes, cinnamon, nuts or peanut butter, and milled flax seed.
  • Milled flax seed: An excellent source of fatty acids. Try adding to your cereal, yogurt, baked goods, or even use as an egg substitute in your baking!
  • Dry cereal: My favorites are Cheerios and Wheaties. But I like pretty much any kind.  A small bowl of cereal and milk makes a great bedtime snack.  When choosing your cereal, make sure the first ingredient has “whole” in it, to make sure it is a whole-grain cereal. Try to stay away from cereal with a lot of added sugar or fat.
  • Popcorn kernels: Air-popped popcorn makes a healthy snack. I like mine sprayed with olive oil and salt.
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate mix: I found a recipe for hot chocolate on the Splenda website. It is easy to make and delicious, especially during the winter.
  • Raw, plain almonds, peanuts, and walnuts: Nuts are another great source of protein, carbs, and fiber. One of my favorite snacks when I’m on the go is an ounce of nuts mixed with 2 tablespoons of dried fruit.  It’s satisfying and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Canned chicken and tuna packed in water: These are both lean sources of protein and make for super-quick meals and snacks.
  • Granola bars: Although granola bars are often considered a “health food”, I tend to disagree. I think most are more like a cookie disguised in a wrapper.  But, I do keep them on hand for times when I need a really quick snack-on-the-go or when I would like something sweet. (They are better than cakes and pastries.)  My favorite brands are Nature Valley, Kashi, Fiber One, Lara, and Kind.  But usually you will find the cheapest ones in my pantry since I don’t eat them very often.

What’s your pantry must-have?

Gingerbread Muffins

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I always have muffins in my freezer for a quick breakfast or snack.  I enjoy trying new muffin recipes and tweaking them to increase the nutrition.  The original recipe I got from a magazine a long time ago;  I made some changes to make it my own.

Ingredients:

  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. molasses
  • 4 eggs or 1 cup egg-substitute
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 c. white-whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. plus 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1 t. allspice
  • ½ t. nutmeg

 

Directions:

  1. Beat oil, applesauce, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in molasses and eggs, beating well.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk.
  4. Combine flour and spices.
  5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the sugar/oil mixture, beating well after each addition.
  6. Spoon into greased muffin tins or paper liners. Fill about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

Yield: 36 muffins

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 muffin):

Calories: 137, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: 0.7g, Cholesterol 24mg, Sodium 88mg, Total carbohydrate: 24g, Dietary fiber: 1g, Sugars 11g, Protein 3g

 

RD’s Must-haves for the Refrigerator

If you were to take a peek into my refrigerator, these are some of the foods you would find.  I consider these foods not only staples of a nutritious diet, but also good for easy snacks and meals.  (Most of these foods are store-brand, unless otherwise specified.)

 

  • Skim milk: It’s my favorite beverage at breakfast and I also use it throughout the week in cooking.
  • 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, lite feta cheese, and parmesan cheese. I use it in some of our favorite meals: homemade pizza, pasta salad, tacos, and grilled cheese sandwiches for a super-quick meal.
  • No-sugar-added, fat-free yogurt: An excellent source of calcium, carbs, and protein, which makes for a great snack. Yogurt is also good for smoothies (blend yogurt and frozen fruit together until smooth).
  • Eggs: Eggs are good for any meal! I like scrambled eggs for breakfast with whole wheat toast and fruit or for dinner when I need a quick meal.  Don’t forget about hard-boiled eggs which make great snacks.
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt: My children love plain yogurt and with the healthy probiotics it contains, it makes an A+ choice for snacks. As a plus, it is less-expensive than the other yogurts that are marketed to kids.  If you don’t like plain yogurt, try adding honey, jelly, or a little sugar.  Plain yogurt can be substituted for sour cream in recipes.
  • Greek cream cheese: This cheese is a naturally lower-fat version of cream cheese. I use it in recipes in place of regular cream cheese.
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, spicy mustard, light Ranch, low-fat mayonnaise, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, balsamic vinaigrette (my favorite marinade for chicken), barbecue sauce, A1 sauce, jam, lemon juice, and lime juice. Most of these are store-brands to save money.  The exception is the light Ranch.
  • Hershey’s lite chocolate syrup for mixing with skim milk for a sweet snack.
  • Maple Grove Farms sugar-free maple syrup as a low-calorie topping for pancakes and waffles.
  • 100% fruit juice: If you are taking a multivitamin or iron supplement, consider taking it with juice—the vitamin C will help maximize the absorption of iron.
  • Hormel natural choice deli meat: This lunch meat is nitrate/nitrite free and is a good choice for sandwiches or wraps. I like it wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with mustard and a slice of cheese.
  • No-sugar-added applesauce: Always a quick side for lunch or use as a substitute for oil/butter in baking.
  • Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables: It varies by the season, but during the winter, I always have clementines.
  • Lite butter (stick): For baking and cooking.
  • Butter (stick): There are times when pure butter is the only way to go!

 

What’s your “must-have” in your refrigerator?