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Nutrition

Addition, not restriction, is the theme for 2020!

January 1, 2020
2020 Wellness Tips


10 tips for eating healthy in the new year:

Load up on H20! Hydration is so important, especially as we age as water contributes to almost every function in our bodies.  Research shows having a glass of water before each meal can result in consuming fewer calories at the meal.  Note: personal fluid needs depend on age, height, weight, activity level, climate and more. Tips to increase your water consumption: use a water tracker, get a cool water bottle, make water available in every room you are in, and vary your water flavors by making “spa water” by adding citrus or cucumbers.  
Focus on adding foods, not eliminating. When you eliminate a specific food or food group from your diet, you can’t help but think about it 24/7.  I call this, “the chic-fil-a effect”.  What is the one day of the week you always want chic-fil-a?  SUNDAY.  So instead of restricting yourself, focus on adding foods into your diet.  This positive mindset will help you in turn to make healthier choices and feel good about it!  Choose a new veggie this week, try a different fruit, branch out on your recipes, the possibilities are endless when all foods fit.  
Don’t fear carbs! Hi.  I’m Caroline, a Carb Crusader!  Carbohydrates have such a terrible reputation and it makes this dietitian very sad.  Yes, it’s true, not all carbs are created equal, but to simply demonize the entire food category is not fair.  We have decades of research associating complex carbs with decreased risk of developing heart disease, stroke and chronic conditions.  Additionally we know that folks who consume a high fiber diet (fiber found in whole grains which is fantastic for bowel movements) have a more diverse gut microbiome (good for your bacteria in your gut).  Some great choices of complex carbs: whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, beans, pasta made from beans, brown rice, fresh fruit, starchy veggies, oats, peas, lentils and legumes.  
Naturally occurring sugar is just fine. Remember back in the 90s when we were so terrified of fat?  Well sugar is the new fat.  But here is the secret, sugar is not the bad guy.  In fact, naturally occurring sugar occurs in two forms: fruit (fructose) & milk (lactose).  In addition to natural energy, fruit and milk provide a host of other nutrition benefits like vitamin A, C, D and calcium.  Have diabetes or prediabetes?  Watch your portion sizes and always pair your fresh fruit with a lean protein.
Choose lean. Lean protein is not only an essential nutrient imperative to many bodily processes but research shows consuming lean protein contributes to satiety (that feeling of staying fuller, longer).  Protein can be found in both animal and plant sources.  Remember to choose lean.  Reach for fish, lean beef, Greek yogurt, beans/peas/lentils, chicken, pork, cottage cheese, eggs, peanut butter, tofu and shrimp. 
The perfect pair. (I want to write pear as a food pun so bad!  Ah, dietitian jokes!) I tell all my clients to always pair complex carbohydrates with lean protein at every meal and snack.  The complex carbs provide energy while protein provides that feeling of satiety.  Pair both together to balance out blood sugar levels.  This will prevent you from being “hangry” later. (Hungry and angry is no fun for anyone.)
Seafood twice a week. Most Americans do not consume enough seafood meaning we are missing out on some serious health benefits.  Consuming seafood like salmon, mackerel, trout, mahi-mahi, tuna, herring, pollock, is associated with prevention of cognitive decline, prevention of heart disease and stroke and is also associated with improving moods / easing symptoms of depression symptoms.  Add seafood to tacos, salads and pasta.  
Stock up. Your freezer is your best friend.  Stock up on healthy finds like frozen veggies, fruits, grilled chicken, fish, and more.  These can save you when you are in a time pinch!  Also there are a ton of low sodium meal options out there.  Don’t fear frozen!
Veggies: not just for dinner. Sneak veggies in everywhere!  Add veggies to your eggs, top your sandwich with spinach and a slice of tomato, puree veggies into your marinara sauce, incorporate a small salad with lunch and dinner, or try adding more veggies into soups and chilis.  Not keen on salad?  Try the crudite approach.  Finger friendly veggies with a low fat dip like mini peppers, celery, carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers are another fun way to increase your vegetable intake.  Serving them in a fun or funky way (think muffin tray) may entice your kids to eat more!  Take any opportunity you can to veggie up!
Make exercise habit: Every step counts!  Even if you only have 10 minutes, get moving.  Your exercise goal is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (yes, brisk walking counts and yes, you can break this up into 10 minute segments).  Schedule exercise into your day, take a walk after dinner, invest in a wearable device like a Fitbit for motivation, find a group of friends who can hold you accountable.  Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.  

The best tip I can give, don’t take nutrition advice from Dr. Google or an influencer on social media.  Work with a registered, licensed dietitian.  Dietitians have their bachelors and or masters degrees in nutrition, have completed a 1200 hour supervised internship, passed national boards and complete ongoing continuing education.  Look for RD or RDN in title or when in doubt, ask!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Caroline

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In the Media Nutrition Research

What to eat to lower your risk of breast cancer:

October 26, 2019
Dietary approaches to lower breast cancer risk

Two of the scariest words, “breast cancer”. To those who have been in this position, I’m sorry. CANCER SUCKS.

There are so many contributing factors to this diagnosis! It’s super important to note that no single food or diet can prevent breast cancer. Sorry, but want to keep it real!  But research shows there are some foods you can incorporate into your diet to lower you risk. 

Breast cancer is super complex!  Some things that contribute to this diagnosis, you can’t control….I’m looking at you genetics, age, and family history. But some things you can control (or at least attempt to control), like weight, physical activity level, and smoking status.  Did you know, research shows that lifestyle choices/dietary factors are responsible for 30% of ALL cancer?!  Today we are going to walk through foods to include in your diet and foods to avoid.

So first and foremost, association is not causation. The below foods are recommended because there is an association of their consumption with a lower risk of cancer development. With that being said, research supports an increased consumption of:
Fresh fruits (especially berries)
Fresh veggies (dark veggies like kale, spinach, broccoli)
High fiber foods like whole grains, beans, legumes and pulses
Low fat diary
Eggs
(and other foods high in Vitamin D)
Fish (salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, sardines)
Soy (foods only, not supplements) – soy beans, tofu, soy milk

Outside of specific foods, there are certain dietary patterns associated with lower cancer diagnosis. Research shows the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of developing breast cancer. Short story, this diet is plant based (so eat a ton of fruits and veggies), use plant based oils (yes, olive oil), have seafood twice a week, cheese and yogurt (but be mindful of portions), and enjoy nuts!

Ok, so we’ve talked about foods to incorporate, but what about foods to avoid? Remember, no one food causes cancer. But, again, there is some research and recommendations around which foods to avoid.
Alcohol (I know. Look, I’m sad too, but you need to know the science.)
Added sugar (please note, not naturally occurring sugars like those found in dairy and fruit, but added sugar. Think desserts, flavored yogurts, and more)
Trans fat
Processed meat and highly processed foods

Anything else you need to know? Yes! Other items to include/ tips that are associated with lowering your risk:
Green tea (1-4 cups a day)
Turmeric 
4 hours per week of exercise or longer (brisk walking is just fine!)
Maintain your body weight (even a 10% weight gain increases your risk)
Breast feeding

Remember, no one knows your body better than yourself! Do those monthly checks, stay on top of your wellness visits and don’t forget to get your mammo!!

Nutrition

Want Energy? Let’s talk SLEEP!

July 9, 2019
Sleep for energy

If we are talking about energy, we must start by talking about sleep.  Why you should care:  Lack of sleep is associated with chronic conditions, weight gain and weaker immune system.  Yikes. Goal 7-8 hours per night yet most of us get less than 6 hours.  

Good sleep hygiene habits 101:

  • no pets in bed
  • keep you room cold, dark, and quiet 
  • go to bed and wake up at the same time 
  • exercise
  • avoid screens 1 hour before bed

Ok, ok, yes, sleep is important, but what else can you do?

Fiber up!  Fiber is associated with deeper sleep high fiber.  Goal 25-35 grams per day is associated with deeper sleep.  

“My mommy’s favorite drink is Starbucks”.  Is this you?  Let’s talk caffeine – no more than 400 mg per day for adults.  This can really vary from product to product.  Check the label!   This can be 4-5 cups of coffee or 10 cokes or 2 energy shots.  Also, check with doctor if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding. Watch the example that you set for your kiddos.  The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages consumption of caffeine by children/adolescents.  Typically, it can take 4-6 hours for your body to metabolize half of what you consumed. This is why it is not recommended late in the day.

Too much caffeine can be dangerous.  Over consumption can lead to insomnia, jitters, anxiousness, increase heart rate, upset stomach, nausea and headache.   In fact, 1200mg associated with seizures.   Having a panic moment?  It’s ok!  To cut back: check your food label to assess your current consumption.  Remember to cut back gradually to avoid side effects. Also try going ½ regular and ½ decaf or consider herbal teas.

Don’t forget about serotonin!    Serotonin can contribute to better sleep.  Boost serotonin naturallyby consuming foods that contain the essential amino acid tryptophan.  Tryptophan can be found in salmon (twice per week), poultry (chicken, turkey) eggs, spinach, seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds), milk, tofu/soy.  One note: tryptophan is most effective if eaten alongside carbs!

One last thought:  perfect your evening routine! Evening recommendation:

  • Limit fluids before bedtime
  • avoid heavy meal before bedtime (high fat meals prolong digestion time and can cause heart burn)
  • avoid alcohol (fall asleep but disrupted sleep)

Cheers to waking up energized!

Caroline

Nutrition Research

Looking to lose weight? Ditch the trends and follow the science

August 9, 2018
weight loss tips

It is shocking where folks go for their nutrition/ weight loss advice.  Facebook.  Instagram.  Hair dresser.  Google.  B list celebrities.  And in last place, the registered, licensed dietitian.  Y tho?!  You wouldn’t go to your mechanic for heart surgery, would you?  I’ve been in the biz 14 years and today, I want to chat about what has worked in regards to weigh loss.  Long story short if you are looking to manage your weight, follow science.  Not trends.

I’ve talked about weight loss before, but today, I want to focus on a few small changes.  Here are 5 super easy tips to help tip the scale in your favor:

  1. Slow and steady wins the race.  If you inhale your meal, you are more likely to be overweight.  So, pump the breaks and be present!  Mindful eating is legit.  Want more information?  Search the #mindfuleating and #dietitian on instagram for more inspo.
  2. Fiber.  Your new favorite “F” word.  You guys….we suck at fiber consumption.  On average we get maybe 13 grams a day….well short of the 25-38 grams that are recommended.  Fiber keeps you fuller longer and guess what else, it makes the good for you gut bacteria super happy.  Those who consume more fiber consume less calories and have lower BMIs.
  3. Portion distortion.  Easy way to cut calories is to watch your portion.  I tell my clients to eat off of salad plates instead of dinner plates (this still give the illusion of full plate so you don’t feel cheated).
  4. Watch the liquids.  So it’s not what you think!  Of course you should limit liquid calories like booze and juice but recent research shows consuming low calorie liquids before your meal like water and broth based soups cause you to eat less!  Additionally drinking more water throughout the day helps prevent dehydration which can sometimes mask itself as hunger.
  5. Hello protein.  Research shows that if we consume protein evenly throughout our days, we tend to be more satisfied (staying fuller, longer) preventing us from overeating.  Unfortunately this is not how we normally eat.  We usually go full on carbs at breakfast saving our protein for dinner.  It’s time to rethink our program strategy.  Spread your lean protein evenly throughout your day to slow down digestion, positively affect hunger hormones and help those muscles repair faster!  Shoutout to eggs, peanut butter, yogurt and beans!

Have questions?  Reach out to a registered dietitian.  There are tons of us who take insurance and offer telehealth services.

Nutrition

Fast Food Done Healthy

January 9, 2018
Taco Bell

Yes.  You can make healthy food choices at fast food restaurants.  I promise.  Now, as far as will power goes, that is another story!  Well everyone else is meal prepping to eat the same baked chicken and veggies all week long, I thought I share with you another solution for when you are short on time.

I want to give a shout out to Taco Bell.  Did you know the Bell employs not one but two dietitians?  Don’t get me wrong, T Bell is NEVER going to be a health restaurant.  But, those two dietitians are working their tails off to have healthy and delicious options on the menu.

Few bell facts:

  • by 2025, reduce sodium content in foods by an additional 10% (25% reduction since ’08)
  • they do not offer XL cups
  • vegetarian and vegan friendly options
  • have multiple options under 500 calories
  • have 7 signature items under 350 calories & 10 grams fat.

I MEAN YOU GO T BELL DIETITIANS!

You might ask, “wow, you love the bell.  How much are they paying you to write this?”  Nothing dear friend.  No sponsorship here.  Just education on how to order healthy when taco cravings strike!

Here are a few of my go tos:

  • Fresco crunch beef taco
  • Fresco soft beef taco
  • Fresco soft taco shredded chicken
  • Fresco soft steak taco
  • Fresco bean burrito (This is super high in sodium so watch you intake if you choose this guy)
  • Veggie Power bowl (this guy is under 500 calories and has 9 grams of fiber!)

Is fast food ideal?  No.  But it’s the world we live in!  Don’t feel guilty going through that drive through.  Just choose wisely!

Keeping it real,

Caroline

Nutrition

Foods that Fight the Flu

November 14, 2017
foods that fight the flu

It’s that time of year!!  Ah, November.  The time of year when it’s above 70 degrees and there are Christmas advertisements EVERYWHERE.  Can we just give Thanksgiving a chance?!  Sigh.  Look, it’s about to be GO time.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  Holidays.  New Years.  I mean, your calendar is booked!  There is absolutely not time to be getting the sniffles.

Besides the obvious of hand washing and getting your flu shot, what else can one do?  Pony up on your nutrition.  That’s what.

Here is the latest on what foods can keep you healthy this season:

  • Salmon.  Yes, I know.  This fish can do no wrong!  The omega 3s in salmon help our white blood cells fight foreign bacteria.  Any omega 3 will do here: tuna, herring, trout, or halibut even.  On a budget?  Grab a can of tuna for old school tuna salad sandwich or a pouch of salmon for salmon cakes.
  • Vitamin A.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and fortified foods like cereal and milk are all good sources of this super vitamin.  A helps regulate your immune systems and can help in preventing infections.
  • Vitamin C.  Shocker!  C normally steals the spotlight here but in it’s defense, it’s earned.  Vitamin C is seriously about fighting off foreign invaders.  Citrus is king but don’t forget other C players like bell peppers, strawberries or kiwis.
  • Probiotics.  Grab your yogurt and kefir!  Your GI tract is your body’s first line of defense.  Beef it up but increasing the good for you bacteria.  Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi are all great sources of natural probiotics.  If none of these tickle you fancy, talk to your doc about a supplement.
  • Zinc.  Zinc not only helps your immune system function properly but it also aids with wound healing.  Zinc is found in eggs, beef, poultry, seafood (oysters), milk and beans.

Ideally, you want to start consuming these foods now, so that your immune system is on it’s A game.  Don’t skip that exercise either.  Being active boosts your immune system too!

Cheers to a happy and HEALTHY holiday season.

Caroline

Nutrition

Only Treats Here!

October 30, 2017
candy

Happy Halloween!  Cue up the Mandy Moore, because I am talking CANDY!  We all remember that one house when we were little.  No, not the one that passed out the king size candy bars (bless you…by the way).  The other house, the house who, on Halloween, passed out the most tragic of “treats”.  RAISINS.  TOOTHBRUSHES.  OR, EVEN WORSE, TERRIBLE GAMES.  I mean, what the hell healthy neighbor?!  As a dietitian, people assume I am “that guy” on Halloween too.  Um.  No.  No raisins or toothbrushes here!

How do we expect our children to have a healthy relationship with food if we never give them treats?  How do we teach them how to incorporate treats into their diet?  By not giving them “bad” treats, we have planted an unhealthy seed that could grow into an unhealthy relationship with food.  We have to teach kids how to eat healthy and how to have treats.  And that is exactly what they are!  TREATS.  They are not meal replacement bars or snack bars.  They are TREATS to be enjoyed on special occasions.

I was lucky to have a mom who provided REAL treats (her introduction to Reese’s pumpkin treats changed my life).  My mom was always in the kitchen and always had a healthy meal on the table.  (Albeit sometimes the sides were less than stellar.  I’m looking at you frozen Brussel sprouts.  Gosh, that took me years to get over.)  I was also thankful to have a dad who invited me to join him on runs and workouts.  I’m thankful I had the most amazing, consistent mentor throughout my entire childhood, Kitty Carter (please tell me you are watching CMT’s Making the Team), who taught me confidence and body awareness/respect.  I was one of the lucky ones.

Shout out to the National Confectioners Association.  These guys are leading the way for smaller package sizes.  Additionally, by 2022, half of all individually wrapped chocolate and candy will be 200 calories or less.  HUGE.  For real, nothing is wrong with an occasional treat.  Honestly, I am more worried about daily sugar intake from commonly consumed kids foods like pop tarts and cereals with marshmallows.  #justsaying #AlwaysATreat

So this Halloween, talk to your kids about candy and how it can be enjoyed as a part of a healthy lifestyle.  Be informed, be active, and enjoy life!

Now excuse me, there is  Reese’s pumpkin with my name on it,

Caroline

Nutrition Research

Beef: It’s what should be for dinner

September 20, 2017
Lean beef stuffed bell peppers

Before I begin, this is not a plug for beef.  Nor is this an attack on vegans or vegetarians.  This here lil post is in beef’s defense.  I am not associated with the beef council; I am just a dietitian from Texas who wants you to stop feeling guilty when you serve lean beef to your family.

I believe that beef is “guilty by association”.   “Oh I never serve my family beef.”  “We only eat fish and chicken.”  “I always substitute ground turkey for ground beef.”  Honestly, if you don’t want to eat beef, that is ok.  (This is a loving and respecting blog).  However, I don’t want you to be avoiding lean beef because you think it’s bad for you.  Spoiler alert:  lean beef is good for you.

Here the 411 on the research.  There are numerous studies associating red & processed meat with an increased risk of cancer.  First and foremost, association and is not causation.  And second, you cannot pinpoint nor demonize one particular food in these observational studies.  It’s a combination y’all!  Being overweight, not exercising, boozing too much, skimping on your fruit and veggie intake, smoking, oh and let us not forget about genetics (thanks Mom and Dad) all play apart in your cancer and heart disease risk.  Lastly, “red meat” is way more than beef.  Red meat is meat from deer, boars, quail, pheasant, cattle, duck, and goose.  Processed meat is meat that is preserved by smoking, curing or salting (bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs, and processed deli meat).

Now, now, don’t get me wrong!  I do not recommend over consuming any particular food.  I am a big advocate for variety.  But, did you know, recent research shows that consuming lean beef as a part of a heart healthy diet is an effective way to decrease your LDL?  I shit you not.  Not only does lean beef taste SO DAMN GOOD, it can IMPROVE those cholesterol levels.  The research had participants consume 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily.  So here in Texas, that is like a kiddie portion, but a portion nonetheless!  Look for the word ROUND or LOIN in the name.  Lean = 10 gram total fat, 4.5 gram saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol.  A 3 ounce serving of lean beef is about 150 calories and contains 10 essential nutrients.

Protein like lean beef has been shown to assist weight management.  Protein helps keeps you full and satisfied!  Current research shows that spreading your protein throughout your day helps decrease cravings, preserve muscle mass and balance your blood sugar.

So, take home message.  Look for “round” or “loin”, mind your portion (about the size your iPhone) and DO NOT feel guilty enjoying lean beef.

Now excuse me, I’m off to grill my steak.

Caroline

 

Nutrition Research

Pulse Check on Pulses

July 25, 2017
Pulse Check on Pulses

For my non dietitian friends, you might be asking yourself, “What the f are pulses?!”  So glad you asked dear friends!  Pulses are beans, lentils and peas….and they are AWESOME.  Banished by the fools that follow paleo (if you know me at all, you know I am not a fan of paleo nor the pseudoscience it promotes), these nutrition power houses have numerous health benefits.  Pulses are a huge part of the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet, both which have been shown to prevent cognitive decline.

Why you should be getting your PULSE on:

Fiber, folate, manganese, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and copper are all found in pulses.  Oh and if thats not enough, these guys are also packed with phytochemicals like flavonoids.  Research shows that daily consumption can yield improved glycemic control (better blood sugar ranges), improvement in blood lipids (LDL, I’m looking at you), blood pressure and weight.  So with a lower body weight, better blood pressure and improved lipid panel, consuming pulses might prevent you from having a heart attack.  Even better news, you don’t have to eat a ton of pulses to reap the benefits!  You can cash in on the health benefits of pulses by simply consuming just 1/2 cup a day.

How you incorporate pulses into your world:

There are tons of way to cook these guys.  Overnight soaking, quick soaking, pressure cooking or just screw it and buy canned!  Look for the canned products that are just the pulse and water.  I like to add chickpeas to salads or add beans to soups and stews.  I also love adding black beans to my Tex Mex dishes.  How about peas with dinner?  Hummus anyone?  How about black bean dip?  See how easy this is?!

Concerned about incorporating this musical fruit?  One way to prevent gas (and gastric distress) is to increase your consumption of pulses slowly while also increasing your water intake.  Ease on down the pulse road!

Check your pulse on pulses!

 

 

Nutrition Research

Fat is back!

July 11, 2017
Fat is back!

Guess who’s back?  Back again?  Fat is back!  Tell a friend!!  Ok, sorry…that just never gets old!

Let’s chat fat.  Anyone that dieted in the 90s is reluctant to bring this macronutrient back into their world.  Remember those green Snackwell boxes?  That company took out all of the fat in their products and then filled them with sugar.  (Although I am not going to lie, the vanilla sandwiches were actually delicious.)  Fat has been demonized and celebrated all at the same time.  Saturated fat will clog your arteries, but wait, trans fats are worse!  And apparently to those who LOVE pseudoscience, coconut oil will fix everything in your life.  (BTW, it won’t.)

Here’s the 411 on fat:

Naughty fats:  Saturated and trans fats.  Saturated fats are found in animal fats, coconut & palm oils, and good old butter.  Trans fats are unsaturated fats found in partially hydrogenated veggie oils and foods containing these oils (such as any glorious pastry or other baked goods).  *Trans fats are structurally different from other unsaturated fats (found in plant foods).

Celebrated fats:  Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  Poly: corn & soybean oils, nuts (walnuts), and seeds (pumpkin & flax).  Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) are both PUFAs and are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout.  Mono: peanut butter, avocados, olive & canola oil.

Ok, but what about fat and weight loss?  So glad you asked!  Actually, low fat diets do not yield long lasting results in regard to weight management.  In fact the smarties over at Harvard recently reviewed a ton of studies and didn’t find low fat diets to be any more effective than higher fat diets for weight loss.

So what do you do?  Focus on the type of fat instead of the amount.  I tell my friends and family to focus on foods!  Be sure you incorporate healthy high fat foods into your day.  Have avocados, peanut butter, nuts and seeds daily.  Don’t be scared!  The fat will help keep you fuller, longer.  When you aren’t hungry, you are way more pleasant to be around!

Questions about fat?  Let me know!