Sleep your Way to Weight Loss

Did you know that lack of sleep may be the missing key to your weight loss results?  Let me explain why the right amount of sleep is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Why is sleep important?

It refreshes us physically, emotionally, and mentally.  It gives our bodies time to repair and grow and our minds time to relax and renew. 

What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

When we are sleep deprived on a short-time basis, it negatively affects our mood, concentration, performance, and metabolism.  On a long-term basis, it can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, comprimised immunity, and decreased quality of life. 

What does a good night’s rest look like?

Our bodies cycle through different types of sleep, called REM and non-REM sleep.  About 25% of our sleeping hours are spent in REM sleep, which is an active sleep.  Our eyes dart back and forth and we dream.  The remaining 75% of the time we are in non-REM sleep, which is restorative, relaxing, and restful.  In addition, our body naturally follows a rhythm of energy and sleepiness throughout the day.  From around midnight to 7 AM and 1-4 PM our body becomes sleepy.  (This can vary person to person depending on your schedule and genes.)  But in general, we follow a rhythm throughout the day.  Knowing yours can help with maximizing your energy levels throughout the day.

How does sleep affect my weight?

  • Sleep deprivation may cause the obesity gene to “turn on.”
  • Being overweight may lead to sleep problems which then promotes additional obesity.
  • Not getting enough sleep may increase appetite and cravings, especially for carbohydrates.
  • Some studies show people ate up to 500 extra calories a day when they didn’t get enough sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation can impair glucose tolerance and increase secretions of cortisol, thus increasing our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What may interfere with my sleep?

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Depression
  • Nighttime exercise
  • Large meals
  • Chronic pain
  • Certain medications
  • Poor sleep environment

What can I do to get enough sleep?

The first thing is to rearrange your schedule so you allow for 7-9 hours of sleep.  Next, turn off the tv and computer 1 hour before bed.  Ensure your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature.  Try to go to bed at the same time each night to develop a good routine that is predictable for your body.  Do something relaxing before bed, such as stretching, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.  Last, see your doctor if things interfere with your sleep such as insomnia, medications, shift-work, or snoring.

So tell me, what do you do to ensure a good night’s rest?  Do you get enough sleep?  Why or why not?

For help improving your health, click here to become a new client.

Note: I used the following article in preparing this blog post: “The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk,” By Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 6 P. 48.  It can be accessed here: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p48.shtml

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. 

How to Boost your Immunity (the REAL Way)

Of course, everyone is anxious about getting sick right now, thanks to the coronavirus.  My clients have started asking me what they can do to keep their immune system in top shape.   Your immune system is an amazing and complex microorganism-fighting machine.  It defends your body from harmful virus and bacteria that enter your body through mouth or nose.  Because it is so complex and involves other systems in your body, there is no guaranteed way to ensure that some microorganisms won’t get past your defenses and cause a cold, virus, or infection.  However, you certainly can do some basic things every day to give it the best shot possible.  There is no magic bullet on this list (sorry).  There is no strange concoction of herbs and fruits mixed together in a drink (thank goodness).  Or no pill you can take (save your money for more exciting things). It’s the basic (sometimes boring) things that will give us the best chances:

  • Get enough sleep.  Your body cannot fight off sickness if it is tired and weak.  Make sleep a top priority.  The recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  (To learn more about sleep, attend my Masters Group class on May 12th or May 14th: The Healing Power of Sleep).
  • Take a multivitamin as “insurance” if you eat very few fruits and vegetables.  Don’t waste your money on super- or mega-vitamins.  The extra vitamins and minerals don’t provide extra benefits.  A simple, multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is all you need.  Make sure it is certified by an independent lab or you might be wasting your money.  (If you need a good one, I offer Opurity vitamins in my office.)
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating and preparing food.
  • Eat yogurt with live and active cultures daily.  The probiotics in yogurt feed your immune system.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Make sure to get a variety of colors to ensure you are eating a wide range of immune-boosting nutrients.
  • Reduce stress by taking on less projects and tasks, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or prayer.  (I’ll be teaching about this at Masters Group on July 12th and July 14th: Implementing Mindfulness into your Busy Life.)
  • Eat protein with each meal to meet your minimum recommendation of 0.35 grams x your body weight.  Protein is found in dairy foods, meat, seafood, nuts, beans, and tofu.
  • Don’t age.  (I had to throw this one in there.)  The older you get, the weaker your immune system becomes.  There is nothing we can do about that, though.

By following these steps as best as you can, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your immune system performing at its best. 

If you’ve got nutrition concerns or questions, apply to become a client with one of our highly knowledgeable dietitians here.

Pros and Cons of Grocery Pick-up

If you haven’t tried grocery pick up yet, you may be wondering if it’s worth it.  I tried it for my first time a few years ago, right after I had my 5th daughter.  I’ve been hooked since.  (Despite the “cons.”)  I love the convenience and time-saving.  But don’t let me my experience influence you.  If you’ve known me for a while, you know that there is no one right way to be healthy.  I’ll give you the pros and cons of both so you can decide for yourself.

First, if you’ve never tried it, I want to explain how it works. 

  1. Sign up on the app or the website.
  2. Search for the items you need and add them to your virtual grocery cart.
  3. When you’re all done, “check out” and pay with your credit card.
  4. The next day (or later that day), you will get a text when your order is ready.
  5. If any item was not available, via the app or an email you will be notified if is was left off or substituted.
  6. Head to the grocery store and follow the signs to grocery pick up. 
  7. Call the number on the sign and let them know you have arrived.  (Some apps allow you to check-in instead of call.)
  8. Wait for the friendly staff to bring you your groceries and load them up.
  9. Voila! You are done!

Pros:

  • Helps you stick to a budget.  I find that I don’t make impulse buys because I have my list and just order what is on my list.
  • You can look through your fridge, pantry, and freezer as you’re making the list so you can see exactly what you need.
  • The apps or websites save your favorite items and prompt you to buy them.  It helps you to not forget your essentials.
  • It saves time waiting in line or wading through crowds. 
  • You can add to your online cart all throughout the week.
  • Other family members can get on the app or website and add to the list as needed.
  • You can do it anytime of the day: in bed, while waiting in line somewhere, at the doctor’s office, etc.
  • If you don’t like grocery shopping with your kids (or spouse!), you don’t have to.

Cons:

  • You may forget certain items that you would have remembered if you had walked the aisles of the grocery store.  (I inevitably already have a new list started before I even go to pick up my items because I forgot something!)
  • You are less likely to try new foods and see new items in the store.
  • You may get stuck in a rut of ordering the same things.  (Last summer I realized I had forgotten all about the summer produce because I was so used to my winter list.)
  • You won’t see any special deals or sales the store is offering.
  • Some stores charge extra money for the groceries or a pick up fee when ordering online.
  • Some moms/dads/grandparents like shopping with kids/teens as a learning experience.  You miss out on that when doing online shopping. 

As you can see, there is about an equal amount of pros/cons.  If you’re wondering what I do, as a mom and dietitian, I do grocery pick up about every 6 days.  And about once per month I try to go in person to see what foods I may have forgotten about and give my kids a chance to come and learn about shopping.

Now, you may be wondering about grocery delivery…. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m sure it’s great.  If you have tried delivery, please share your experience.

PLUS, if you need help deciding what to put into your cart, please join me for my next monthly Masters Support Group where we are doing part 2 of my Virtual Grocery Store. We meet on March 10th @ noon or March 12th @ 5:30 PM. Reserve your spot by emailing kelli.worley@intentionaleating.net.

AND, if you’ve got shopping down, but need help deciding what to cook and prepare, check out my EatLove meal plans where you will get menus, grocery lists, and recipes in your inbox every week made just 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. 

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.

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?