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Nutrition

What does “clean eating” even mean?!

September 12, 2016

Type “Clean Eating” into Google and a million sites pop up  with most being weight loss related. What is “clean eating”?  Well, it depends who you ask! According to some folks, clean eating is going vegan or vegetarian. Others say it means avoiding all processed foods. Some say it’s eating only organic and GMO free. Of all the definitions, I think I like Michelle Dudash, RDN’s the best, “”The foundation of clean eating is choosing foods in their whole-food state or as close as possible to how they’re found in nature.” Michelle gets it.  Shout out to you, girl!

With that being said, I also kind of feel like “clean eating” is totes misleading and frankly, kind of BS. In fact, it just makes me think of the 20 somethings posting pics of themselves in their trendy work out gear, abs on full display, sipping or promoting some drink (usually green juice or an unnecessary protein shake). Girl, enjoy your 20s.  You’re still in the  “I can eat whatever I want” chapter of life. Just wait….

But in reality, eating clean doesn’t mean a thing. Now, before you get all fired up, hear me out. I am all for avoiding foods that are crazy high in sugar, sodium and or fat. And if you read any of my posts before, you know I hate juicing (particularly juice cleanses). I think you should definitely eat whole fruits and vegetables opposed to juicing them or blending them all up in a drink. We have TONS of science that shows chewing a food versus drinking it offers WAY more health benefits.  But, moving on, let’s talk about processed foods.

I was recently sipping wine at my friend’s house as she was making dinner for her kiddos. “Caroline, we only eat clean in this house. None of that processed stuff”. She said this as she sliced a few apples then, boiled some whole wheat pasta and heated up some sauce. I took a deep breath, topped off my glass of cab (priorities) and dropped some knowledge. Did you know slicing a fruit is processing it? By boiling pasta, you are technically processing the pasta. So avoided all “processed” foods is not only crazy, it’s very difficult to do.  Look, I am all for staying on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoiding extra junk. However, I have a strong passion to stopping those fear mongers (I’m looking at you Food Babe) and setting the record straight with all those trends in pop science.  Don’t even get me started on the “fewer ingredients means it’s healthier stupidity”.  The number of ingredients has NOTHING to do with a product’s nutritional value.  Marie, says it best.  (Marie, I adore you.)

Remember, nutrition is a SCIENCE, not an opinion. I have a dear friend who is also a RDN. She is gluten free due to her health issues. But, she educates her clients about whole grains and their benefits all day long. As a RDN, it is our job to educate and share science….not our opinions. So here is the science: the term clean eating isn’t defined. Eat your fruits and veggies. Drink your water and go workout.

 

 

 

Nutrition

Nuts for Nuts

September 7, 2016

“But they are so high in calories!!” this coming from my friend on her 3rd glass of chardonnay. Didn’t you hear? Fat is back! Nuts are totes the jam. High in protein, fiber and vitamins, nuts are lil nutrition powerhouses that are totally having a moment.

And, there is proof in the pudding too. The MIND Diet from the folks at Rush University in Chicago found that an ounce of nuts daily is associated with preventing early onset of dementia. In another study, researchers found that nut consumers can live 2-3 years more than non-nut consumers.

Ok, but back to this calorie situation. Yes, they are “nutrient dense” which is a nice way of saying you get a big bang for your buck.  Nuts are high in calories for their small serving size, in fact, nuts are 80% fat. But they contain good for you unsaturated fat. These fatty acids have heart protective benefits.   We know nut consumers have lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in addition to reducing risk for blood clots. Heart healthy features:

  • Unsaturated fat
  • Omega 3s (heart protective fatty acid found in fish and IN NUTS!)
  • Fiber (this helps keep you full, keeps your GI tract moving and lowers your cholesterol levels)
  • Vitamin E (stops the build up of plaque)
  • Plant sterols (plant compound that lowers cholesterol levels)

But, before you go crazy on the salted mixed nuts at the bar, here are few things to remember.

  • Portion size matters! The serving size is ¼ cup. That is not a typo.
  • Avoid salted nuts.  This means additional sodium.
  • Avoid sugar coated nuts or candy coated nuts. This can lead to too many calories.
  • Stick to raw.

Almonds and walnuts, right? While almonds and walnuts are in center stage most of the time, any nut will do! Hazelnut, brazil nuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts are all fabulous choices.

The take home message for nuts: plant based protein that is full of good fat and will fill you up! Go nuts!

Nutrition

Detox Teas: add to cart or no?

August 25, 2016

So after my juice post, I got a message from a friend about detox teas.  (I also received messages about my language.  I promise to work on that.)  “Caroline, do detox teas work?” I didn’t know whether this was a joke or not.  I feel it’s noteworthy to say that this friend is super educated (lots of letters behind her name). It was not a joke.  This fool spent almost $100 on various detox teas that were undoubtedly promoted by idiot celebs (I’m look at you Kardashian clan) or fitness models who faces and hot bods are just on the ad.  (Sorry….having a flashback moment from when she asked about waist trainers.)

Are you sitting down? Ok, good. Detox teas, like juice cleanses, are bs.

Detox teas will not:

  • make you lose weight
  • increase your metabolism
  • decrease food cravings
  • cleanse your body

Detox teas will:

  • make you go to the bathroom more (lovely)
  • increase in cramps, gas, and nausea
  • empty your wallet
  • question your integrity for following diet advice from someone who became famous from a sex tape and her derrière

There is ZERO evidence to back up any claims with these teas.  And as mentioned before, your kidneys and liver already remove toxins from your body.  So, you are actually kind of set in that department.

What is in that tea?  An herbal laxative.  Have fun with that.

Want to “detox” and “clean up” your diet?  Try eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean protein.  Put down the wine bottle and pick up water.  You are smarter than this you guys!  If you like tea, try black, green, oolong, something with proven health benefits.  The only way to lose weight is watch what foods you are consuming and be active.  Plain and simple.

 

 

Nutrition

Why Juicing is SUCH bullshit

August 22, 2016

Juicing. The word makes me cringe. I can’t even. Like literally, can’t even. I see skinny, pretty bloggers posting pics of them sipping on their juice in their sports bra and yoga pants with a “link in profile” use discount code “Samantha”.

Y’all, unless your blogger friend Sammy is a registered dietitian nutritionist, pump the breaks. No, I am not tooting my own horn. But, seriously, would you ask your plumber for advice cardiac surgery? Hell no! You’d ask your cardiologist! Why on earth are you taking nutrition advice from someone is not properly educated on the subject?

Dietitians have their bachelors degree in clinical dietetics for accredited universities (none of this online mumbo jumbo). They complete a 1000-hour internship and pass national boards. Look for the credentialing to know you are working with THE nutrition expert. Not some “nutritionist’ who took an online course. Come on. You know better.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox. Back to juicing. Here’s why it is such crap:

  1. You have 2 organs whose primary job is to filter waste out: liver and kidneys. Literally, they remove toxins/waste 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no literature that supports you need an outside source to assist in waste removal.
  2. Juice cleanses are full of sugar. They are low in protein and other essential nutrients. Think about it: would you ever in one sitting eat pineapple, spinach, oranges, kale and celery? It’s too much food. Why would you drink it all at once? Research shows drinking you calories leads to less fullness.
  3. 1 green juice can have more calories and sugar than a candy bar. Why even?
  4. You are way better off actually consuming the fruit and or veggie whole. You get all the benefits of the fiber and there is more bioavailability of the vitamins and minerals.
  5. There is NO data that a “juice cleanse” can boost your metabolism. Not one peer reviewed, respected study is out there.

Is 1 green juice going to hurt you? No. What would be better? Eating the actual fruit and vegetable the way they come naturally. Don’t follow trends. Follow science. Trust the nutrition expert, a registered dietitian.

Nutrition Research

Don’t feel the burn! Here’s the 411 with acid reflux:

August 15, 2016
Don’t feel the burn! Here’s the 411 with acid reflux:

We’ve all been there…that burning sensation in your chest after a big meal.  If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you might have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  20% of Americans currently struggle with GERD and as obesity rates rise, unfortunately so will this disease.

Heartburn is a sign of acid reflux.  But it doesn’t always have to be heartburn.  Some people experience cough, hoarseness, clearing of throat and even difficulty swallowing.  Chronic acid reflux can not only be uncomfortable but it can be unhealthy.  Some symptoms of GERD can be predictors of esophageal cancer.  There are tons of OTC medications that can be taken for two wish then stopped to see if the symptoms come back.  (If they do, call your PCP).

Besides meds, what else can you do?  For folks with reflux, certain foods should be limited.  The “problem foods” include foods that are acidic or foods that  relax (or loosen) the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Acidic foods include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato products
  • Vinegar
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Bottled iced tea
  • Canned or bottled foods (citric acid and or ascorbic acid)

Foods that relax the LES:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

So what can you do?

1)       Watch your waistline!  Lose weight if you are overweight.  Excess weight can put pressure on your stomach and relax the LES.

2)      Avoid your “SPANX” (tight fitting clothing).  Loose fitting clothing is best.

3)      Stop those HUGE meals.  Smaller meals will definitely help you out.

4)      Try a sleep number bed?  Or place something under the head of your bed to elevate your head while sleeping (no more than 30 degrees).

5)      And don’t smoke!

Photo via Unsplash

Nutrition

Butternut Squash….you’re so fabulous

August 12, 2016
How to make butternut squash

So I work full time and am a super social dietitian.  I say this because who has the time to buy a whole butternut squash, peal it, seed it and then cut it.  That takes about 15-20 minutes.

That is 15-20 minutes I could be working out, or sipping wine at happy hour, or reading, or even stalking someone on social media (don’t judge, you know you do it too), you get the picture.  For about a $1.50-$2, butternut squash comes pre cut!  No brainer for me.  Save time (and possibly my fingers).

Most places sell bags in 20 oz (about 5 cups) or 16 oz (about 3 cups).  I usually opt for the 20 oz so I have leftovers (can you tell I love saving time?).

What you will need:

  • Preheated oven at 400
  • 20 oz bag of butternut squash
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary (more if you like the flavor) (less if you are using dried rosemary)
  • salt and pepper

How to cook butternut squash:

  1. Place butternut squash in a ziplock bag or large mixing bowl.
  2.  To the butternut squash, add EVOO, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary , pinch of salt and pinch of pepper.
  3. Toss to coat evenly.
  4. On a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with a non stick spray like PAM, arrange squash in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, stir and bake for another 20 minutes.  In a rush?  Bump it up to 425, bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for another 15 until tender.

This is a easy, peasy not fancy but looks fancy and sounds fancy side dish.  #imsofancy #kindof

Why I like butternut squash:  it’s taste good and it’s good for you.  Hello fiber, potassium, Vitamin A and vitamin C.  It is also holds the “Most Popular” title for winter squash and what can I say?  I love titles.

In the Media Nutrition Research

What’s in Your Coffee? Guest Contributor: Andrea Hardy

August 11, 2016

Andrea is the most amazing dietitian.  She’s real.  She gets it.  Do you have a “bucks” addiction?  Check this out:  The Obesity Epidemic – What’s in your coffee, and is it contributing to obesity? A look at coffee and weight gain. Guest Contributor, Registered Dietitian Andrea Hardy 

I’ll admit it. I drink coffee. A LOT. Don’t tell my husband, but rather than trading my visa reward points for travel, I use them to get Starbucks gift cards.

While I have what one might term a ‘coffee addiction’ – I take special measures to make sure that I’m making a smart choice when I set off for my morning hit of caffeine. I order coffee, and I drink it black. So if you see me touting a Starbucks cup around town, I can guarantee it’s a grande americano, no room.

While I drink my coffee strong and black, that often isn’t the ‘popular choice’. What people call their ‘morning coffee’ is actually equivalent to a small meal, and a fistful of sugar.

While I hate to rat on my favourite place to get my coffee and work on this blog from – I have to share with you how YOUR coffee habit might be contributing to your weight. I’m just hoping to make you all informed, health conscious consumers. And not to pick on Starbucks alone – any joe-brew coffee shop pulling shots to make these fancy coffees are VERY SIMILAR in nutrition content – so listen up!

First off – and I say this time and time again – you should rarely, if ever DRINK your calories. Liquids have this tricky little effect on satiety (the feeling of fullness). While you may be consuming 300+ calories in that vanilla latte with extra whip, your body just doesn’t compute. You won’t get that same hormonal response that solids trigger, making you feel like you’ve just had something calorie-containing. Despite consuming a mini-meal in the form of a latte, you won’t feel full and might even still be hungry!

Secondly – you can’t really count a ‘venti vanilla latte, extra pump caramel with whip’ as coffee. Yes, coffee is touted to have health benefits – but add on the syrup, whipping  cream, and artificial colours and flavours? Completely negates the effect – and then some! If you are consuming coffee for health benefits, you should be having it straight up – (a bit of milk and sugar is ok).

Coffee’s Health Benefits:

  1. Coffee is Antioxidant-Rich. Coffee is a rich source of a variety of antioxidants. These powerful little molecules can help protect your cells from damage and scavenge free-radicals in the body. Of course, fruit and veg should be your ‘go-to’ for your anti-oxidant fix, but a little extra help from your daily cuppa joe is a perk! These antioxidants may be the mechanism as to why those who drink coffee regularly are protected against inflammatory diseases such as cognitive disorders, and liver disease.
  2. Coffee can make you happy. In so many words – coffee acts on your neurotransmitters to leave you feeling alert, focused, and happy. 
  3. Coffee can enhance an athletes performance. Because caffeine is a stimulant, research has shown that athletic performance can benefit from caffeine intake in moderate amounts. Caffeine tricks your body into releasing extra epinephrine – your ‘fight or flight’ hormone – thusly getting you ‘pumped up’ for whatever action lies ahead. Beneficial for athletes – but this effect is also what causes you to feel anxious, paranoid, and clammy after drinking one too many doppio espressos.

Who is coffee not so good for?

Those who are caffeine sensitive – Consuming caffeine at any level in these individuals can increase blood pressure, cause heart palpitations, and severe jitteriness. Coffee should be avoided by those people.

Those with psychiatric disorders – Because caffeine futzes around with your neurotransmitters, those with mental health issues can be especially sensitive to caffeine, and its negative effects. It’s recommended you discuss this in detail with your family doctor to determine if coffee is safe for you to drink.

So, whats the skinny on Starbucks drinks?

Back when I did a bit of work with school nutrition, there was a game called ‘Sugar Shocker’. Have you heard of it?

Here is the Starbucks version of what I used to teach kids about the amount of sugar in their favourite sugary drinks. Consider it adultified.

-Grande caramel macchiato 240 kcal and 32g sugar (13 sugar cubes)

-Grande chai latte 240 kcal and 42 g sugar (17 sugar cubes)

-whipped cream 70 kcal 2g sugar (~1 sugar cube)

-white chocolate mocha 400 kcal and 58 g sugar (plus whip!) (23 sugar cubes)

-Java chip frappuccino 340 kcal and 62 g sugar (25 sugar cubes)

Let’s just, for interests sake, look at adding a snack onto that. Your morning coffee break of a caramel macchiato, plus a birthday cake pop is setting you back 410 calories! You decide to go for the oh-so virtuous banana loaf instead? 670 calories! Thats more than a THIRD of what you likely need in a day – and I don’t see anyone skipping any meals because their counting their morning coffee as one. (Ahem – nor do I encourage that…)

Ways to Have Your Coffee (and drink it too!) 

  • limit your specialty coffees to less than once a week, and order a tall
  • order drink half sweet
  • choose skim milk
  • add milk instead of cream to your coffee
  • enjoy a lower calorie, portion controlled drink:
    • a tall, skinny vanilla latte has 100 calories
    • a tall cappuccino has just 60 calories
    • Drink coffee like Andrea: I love my americanos. Paying the small amount more for an americano compared to drip coffee allows me to enjoy the luxury of espresso without having it in a latte or cappuccino. If your not a black coffee kind of person, add a splash of milk and top with some cinnamon to help cut the bitterness.
    • If you’re really hungry, and need a Starbucks snack, they sell yogurt, bananas, and nuts. The protein boxes are a fantastic go-to meal for those in a rush too!

So. Where does my vanilla bean frappuccino with caramel drizzle and extra whip fit?

Moderation. It is dessert. A special treat, really. A once and a while, splurge-worthy occasion. On the weekend, I will occasionally treat myself with a flat white or caramel macchiato. I suggest you save your elaborate drink orders for a weekend treat, and choose low-cal, coffee based drinks during the week to get all the coffee benefits, without the sugar crash afterward!

– Andrea

References

  1. Winston, A. Hardwick, E. Jaberi, N. (2005). Neruopsyciatric effects of caffeine. BJ Psych. Vol 11 (6). DOI: 10.1192/APT.11.6.432
  2. Burke, L., Desbrow, B., Spriet, L. Caffeine for Sports Performance.. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/
Nutrition Research

Salmon…it’s what should be for dinner

August 3, 2016

Y’all, salmon is totes having a moment.  Not that it ever left the spotlight, but ANOTHER study came out today reminding us all why we should be coming this fatty fish.

You know salmon is good for your ticker, but did you ever think about your brain…or your bum?  Yep, omega 3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel has been shown to be heart protective and prevent cognitive decline (see the study out of Rush University in Chicago).  But according to a new study, your favorite pinkish fatty fish is good for your colon.

In addition to lowering your risk for colon cancer, fatty fish consumption has been shown to lower your risk for breast cancer and liver cancer.  While more research is still needed, all eyes are on DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid).  These babies cut down on inflammation which is associated with cancer.

But, Caroline!  What about mercury??  Dr. Oz needs to shut it.  The benefits of consuming fatty fish outweigh any risk.  Oh, and remember, all of these studies have been done on actual fish consumption; not supplements.  Remember, the best rule of thumb is FOOD FIRST.

Nutrition Research

Think you’re safe from prediabetes? Think again.

August 1, 2016

You watch your weight.  You have a class pass to hit up all the hot studios.  You limit you tex-mex intake and eat lots of fruits and veggies.  You’d never be at risk for prediabetes, right?

Wrong.  Womp, womp!  According to a new study published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, nearly one in five healthy-weight Americans have prediabetes.  One in five!

How is this possible?!  Researchers pulled info from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1988-1994 (please feel free to sing some Mariah Carey as you read on).  Researchers also pulled data from 1999-2012 and compared the two.

What did they find?  1988-1994 survey: 10.2% of folks in a healthy weight range (BMI between 18.5-24.9) had prediabetes while in the 1999-2012 survey, 18.5% of folks had prediabetes.  The other scary find, as you age, the likelihood of prediabetes rose.  EEK!

A size 2 or a healthy BMI does not necessarily mean you are healthy.  Just as diabetes or prediabetes does not mean you are overweight or obese.

What can you do?  I recommend that everyone follows a diabetic diet, regardless if you have diabetes, prediabetes or not.  It addresses serving sizes and educates folks on macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat).  The best thing you can do for your blood sugar is pair a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein at every meal and snack.  Here are some ideas (complex carbs listed first followed by lean protein):

  • whole wheat toast with 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • whole wheat crackers with 1 ounce cheese (like string cheese)
  • brown rice with 3 ounces of salmon
  • baked potato with 3 ounces grilled chicken
  • fresh fruit with 1 ounce of nut butter or cheese
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta with 3 ounces of lean meat
  • whole wheat bread with tuna or chicken salad

The possibilities are endless!  You want to avoid the obviously pitfalls like just pizza or just pasta or just a salad.

Move more, watch what goes in your mouth, and don’t forget you annual wellness visit with your primary care physician!

Nutrition

Trying to drop some lbs? Don’t cut these foods!

July 13, 2016
Fat is back!

Working on your waistline this month? Here are the top 5 foods NOT to eliminate!

1. Eggs
I understand the confusion here. They are good for you… then they are bad for you. Do you go organic, cage free or free roaming?!

Long story short, eggs are fantastic! Eggs are complete protein meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids. Essential meaning our bodies cannot produce them, we must consume them!

It makes me cringe when I see folks toss the yolk. That is where all the good stuff is! Eggs contain vitamins A, D, and E which are all fat soluble (code for you must have fat present for them to be absorbed. No fat, no absorption). The yolk also contains folate, iron, zinc and choline! Important nutrients for bones, eyes and skin!

2. Avocados
“But they are full of fat!” Yes, but they are the good fat! Avocados are full of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which promote heart health. In fact, over 75% of the fat in avocados is unsaturated!

In addition to monounsaturated fats, avocados contain vitamin c (I mean they are fruit after all!), folate, vitamin K, vitamin E and are high in fiber! So find a buddy, and split an avocado immediately!

3. 2% or low-fat milk
I know. A dietitian not recommending skim milk? What is happening?! But it’s the truth. Milk contains 9 essential nutrients. Fine here is all 9 – calcium, protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus and vitamins D, A and B12.

Some of these nutrients require fat for absorption. No fat, no absorption! Please the fat will help with satiety and keep you fuller longer! Yay!

4. Nut Butters
Pick your nut! Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter – it’s all good! Nut butters are full of fiber and protein, but which will keep hunger at bay.

Nut butters are sweet too, so they might help with that sweet tooth. Top on fruit like bananas or apples! Want salty and sweet? Spread on whole grain waffles or whole grain crackers.

5. Nuts
Almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts and walnuts are your friends! Don’t neglect these ‘lil nutrition powerhouses! There are countless studies that support nut nutrition.

Studies suggest those that consume nuts live longer and have less heart disease. Studies even show that women who consume nuts while pregnant are less likely to give birth to children with nut allergies.

Nuts keep you full and satisfied while providing healthy fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats. And, hello fiber!! Nuts are full of fiber, which can prevent constipation.

Photo via