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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!


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.


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.


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,



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.



Only Treats Here!

October 30, 2017

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,


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.



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!



Nutrition Research

High Quality H2O

June 20, 2017
Hydrating foods!

Water.  Totes important.  Majority of our bodies are water.  Needless to say, hydration is very important.  “They” say 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day.  But, actually, fluid needs are quite individualized.  Fluid needs vary greatly from person to person due to age, height, weight, gender, sweat rates, climate, and activity levels.   The best way to check your hydration status is to take a look at your pee (yep, I went there).  If your urine is dark and concentrated, it’s time to step it up and push fluids.  Signs of dehydration include thirst, fatigued, headaches and muscle cramps.   Dehydration can be dangerous as it raises your body temperature and increases your heart rate.  Electrolytes help keep water in the right balance both inside and outside your cells.  Sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, all electrolytes, play a role in regulating your fluid stats.  Great news!  Certain foods contain both water and electrolytes!  In fact, the average person takes in 20% of their fluid needs from food.

As a dietitian, when I discuss high water content foods, celery, which is 96% water, usually is top of mind.  But there are so many more options!  Besides good, old H2O, try incorporating some of these foods throughout your day:

Cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papaya
These fruits are high in potassium.  Perfect to nibble on during a hot summer afternoon!

Watermelon, citrus, kiwis and bell peppers
They are also a great source of vitamin C! 

Yogurt and Kefir
These foods (or drinks!) are good for your probiotics, which helps keep your gut bacteria happy and you healthy. 

Heirloom Tomatoes
95% water and phytochemicals like lycopene!  Lycopene has been shown to lower your risk of chronic diseases and some form of cancers. 

Did you know broccoli is 90% water? True story. One cup has a day’s worth of vitamin C.

Water + antioxidant resveratrol, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.

At 8 grams of fiber per cup, these berries can help hydrate you and help get things moving.

It’s hot y’all.  Stay hydrated out there.



Nutrition Research

Alcohol and the Big C

April 3, 2017

Let’s talk booze.  Anytime I am presenting, the topic of alcohol ALWAYS comes up.  I am a quarter Italian (a strong quarter) so I get it.  I enjoy a glass of wine on days that end in “Y”.

Wine brings people together!  Sunday night family dinner = wine.  Celebrating good news = wine.  Drama with a friend = wine.  Issues with your significant other = wine.  Rose` all day.  Red wine and red soles.  Wine is officially part of our culture.  Heck!  The Fat Jewish even has his own line of rose`!  Has anyone tried that yet?  Super curious.

We love to know about wine – where it’s from, what characteristics it possesses, how many cases were produced, etc.  We also love to tout the study that indicates it is good for our heart!  Oh and let us not forget our favorite diet of all….the Mediterranean diet, which embraces wine with meals.  (Can I get an amen for resveratrol?  And now, is anyone else having a RHOC moment?!)  Well, I am here today to get real about booze.  WAIT, don’t stop reading.  I promise I am drinking wine as I am writing this.  But, it is important to know what the literature says about alcohol.

First, let me begin by being Debbie Downer.  Let’s chat serving sizes.

Wine = 5 ounces

Beer = 12 ounces

Liquor = 1.5 ounces

These are comical and depressing all at the same time.

Alcohol itself has been identified as a carcinogen. Moreover, as alcohol is broken down in the body, it forms a compound called acetaldehyde, another human carcinogen.  According to the American Institute on Cancer Research, alcohol increases the risk of at least 6 cancers.  Booze causes about 27% of esophageal cancers, 11% breast cancers and it’s associated with colorectal and liver cancers.  In the British Million Women Study, one drink a day increased women’s risk of breast cancer by 12 %, with even three to six drinks weekly posing some risk. Emerging evidence suggests that alcohol may pose a risk for other cancers, too.

Now before you go emptying your bottles, it’s important to know that there are some other key players.  Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, low fiber diet and high intake of processed meat all increase your risk.  Yes, it’s also true that more is not better.  The more you drink the more you are increasing your risk for the big C.  For people who drink 4+ drinks daily, risk of various cancers increases from 50 to 500 percent compared to nondrinkers.  Keeping alcohol to less than one or two drinks a day poses much less risk, but does not remove it.

Are you still here?  Ok, good.  Whew!  Let’s turn this train around, what do you say?  Red wine contains resveratrol and other polyphenol plant compounds, which studies can reduce cancer development. Yassss!  However, human studies have mixed results. Some studies link lower cancer risk with a Mediterranean-style diet, which traditionally includes low to moderate amounts of wine with meals. But this diet is super high in some important cancer fighting compound like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fiber just to name a few.

For the lowest cancer risk, it might be a good idea to eliminate booze.  Womp womp.  Look, you get one chance to enjoy life!  Quality of life is SO important and red wine definitely increases my quality of life.  Take home message:  try to be cognizant of your portions and weekly intake.

A Mindful Cheers,