Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Nutrition Fact or Fiction? Emory Bariatric Center Dietician Sheds Light on the Most Important Meal of the Day

Nutrition Fact or FictionWhen it comes to losing weight, exercising and eating healthy, myths and misconceptions abound. And, with an overabundance of conflicting diet and weight loss information available, it’s hard to know if your breakfast routine is keeping you on target for your weight loss goals or if you’re  unknowingly derailing your path to healthy living.  Is it best to work out in the morning or at night? Can a doughnut really be better for breakfast than a muffin? Fortunately, Meagan Moyer, a registered dietician with the Emory Bariatric Center, can help distinguish diet and exercise myths from the truth to help you get your day off to a great start.

Check out Meagan playing a friendly game of nutrition fact or fiction with 11Alive’s morning news team.

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Renew Your Weight Loss Goals for 2013

Exercise Fitness Weight LossThe new year is an exciting time. As 2012 comes to the end, it is the perfect time to renew your commitment to the goals you want to achieve.  Set yourself up for success by following these tips for setting achievable goals.

Tip 1: Set SMART goals

SMART goals are:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time-bound

Tip 2: Set a Lifetime Goal

The best goal you can set would be a lifetime goal. Why? Because it is a goal that you can always improve on, and it shapes the way all your other goals are attained. Set a goal that you want to achieve, not what others feel you should accomplish.

Tip 3: Set small goals

Setting smaller, achievable goals will help you reach your main goal by achieving  smaller milestones along the way. By setting smaller goals, you allow yourself to specialize and focus in one area at a time. It is easier to stay motivated when you are accomplishing many small goals rather than falling short on one large, unrealistic goal. Stay positive, smaller goals add up over time.

Tip 4: Reward Yourself

Once you complete a goal, take time to enjoy your accomplishments!  A reward should be something for yourself that you enjoy and deserve. It can be tangible or intangible such a buying a new shirt or going for a walk to clear your mind. These rewards will give you motivation to continue setting new attainable goals since you know there is something at the finish line.  Never reward yourself with food.

6 Healthy Eating Tips To Stave Off Holiday Weight Gain

Tips to Keep Holiday Weight Gain Off

As the year comes to an end, so often do the thoughts of healthy eating habits.   the thought of keeping the pounds off during the holidays.  With multiple holiday parties throughout December, it may seem hard to keep the weight off, but preparation is the key to success.

1) Have a Plan
Plan to succeed or plan to fail. Plan accordingly if you know you are going to be limited on the foods you can eat at holiday parties. Bring some healthy snacks to eat at the party or eat a light meal before going to curb your appetite. Sample the foods at the party, rather than eat a plateful of each dish. If it is a party where you bring a dish, bring something that you know you can eat and enjoy. Vegetables and low fat dip are always a good option to add color to the table.

2) Everything in Moderation
There is no need to avoid your favorite holiday foods if you eat them in moderation. Portion sizes are important in weight management and weight loss. Controlling portions allows you to eat the foods you like without depriving yourself. Take one serving of the food you want to eat and walk away from the table. It is more satisfying to eat smaller portions of a variety of foods than a big portion of one food.

3) Exercise
Keep moving to stay warm as well as burn off those holiday calories. Walking 30 minutes a day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing some light weight resistance training can help keep you on track with your weight loss goals.

4) Drink Right, Feel Right
Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Drinking water can make you feel fuller and help prevent overeating. Avoid alcoholic beverages since they add extra calories and sugar. If you do chose to drink alcoholic beverages, drink wine, light beer or spirits with no-calories mixers.

5) When in Doubt, Fruit and Veggie It Out
Include fruits and vegetables at every meal. Snack on vegetables or fruits throughout the day instead of the holidays goodies at work. Not only are fruits/veggies low in calories, they are high in antioxidants, giving you extra immunity during the cold winter months.

6) Forgive Yourself and Move On
Don’t let the thought of overindulging at Thanksgiving keep you from moving forward in your weight loss goals during the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. Take every day as a new day and a fresh opportunity to get closer to your goal.

Healthy Tips to Help You Survive Those Halloween Parties

Tips for Healthy Halloween PartiesWith Halloween only a few weeks away, we are likely to start seeing chocolate-coated candies and other sugary treats flood the shelves of our supermarkets.  Similar to other holidays, Halloween tempts us with high calorie goodies.  However, this number-one candy holiday doesn’t have to be a nutritional nightmare.  Below are tips for having a fun and healthy Halloween.

When at Halloween parties or celebrations:

  • Prior to arriving at the party eat a healthy snack or dinner.  This will cause you to be less hungry and therefore not as tempted to eat sugary sweets and candy offered at the party.
  • Be the last in line for buffet foods or appetizers.  Foods generally appear less appetizing once many people have picked through them.
  • Be mindful of what you are eating.  The average individual eats about 44% more calories than normal in a group setting.   Keep a mental checklist of what you have had while at the party.  If possible choose fruits and vegetables over high fat foods such as chips, cheeses, and fried items.
  • Drink water or a low-calorie beverage throughout the party.  This will cause you to feel fuller throughout the evening.
  • Focus on socializing rather than eating.  By drawing your focus away from food you will be less likely to mindlessly eat throughout the party.

What else? Do you have other tips to help you overcome the temptation to splurge on too much candy or party food? Let us know in the comments below!

Smart & Simple Snacks

Simple SnacksDid you know that consuming small snacks in between meals instead of simply eating three big meals per day can increase your metabolism and your curb hunger? Over the years, many Americans have adapted this eating style, but unfortunately, many of these snacks are often high in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium. Between 1977-78, the average daily caloric intake of Americans was 1,803 kcals. This figure rose to 2,374 kcals between 2003-06 due to several factors, one being poor snack choices. So what are some healthy snacks that taste great and will keep me satisfied? Glad you asked. The following are 3 smart and simple snack ideas that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Ah Nuts!
Nuts are a part of a group of foods often referred to as “healthy fats” due to their high monounsaturated fat content, which includes heart healthy omege-3. Nuts are also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, and plant sterols. The dietary recommendation for nuts is equal to one ounce or one handful per day. Nuts make a great snack choice when on the go.

Carrots & Celery
Carrots and celery make great snacks that are not only healthy, but also easy to prepare. These family friendly vegetables are not only good sources of fiber but are also packed with several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C. Next time you are in the mood for a yummy and filling snack, try dipping a celery or carrot stick in your favorite all natural nut butter and enjoy.

Cheerios & Raisins
Did you know that Cheerios may help lower your cholesterol? Did you know that 1 cup of Cheerios is also an excellent source of fiber, which helps to increase satiety? Not only is Cheerios a healthy and delicious breakfast cereal, but it can also be eaten as a yummy snack too. For some added anti-oxidants, combine Cheerios with one small box of raisins or a small handful of dried cranberries.

Snacks should not only be nutritious and delicious, but also should be easy and on the go available. One suggestion is to make your snacks at the beginning of the day or the night before. Then you will be already when it is time for your smart and simple snack.

Energy Density: How to Eat More with Fewer Calories

Eat More with Fewer CaloriesEating out is typically an opportunity for people to overeat and go overboard with portions. If you are trying to lose weight, sometimes eating out can be a setback. Not only are the portions larger, but the food is typically higher in fat, salt, and sugar. Research has shown that when we have the choice between eating more or eating less, we typically choose to eat more, especially when we have something tasty in front of us!

One approach to combat overeating fatty and highly caloric foods when you are out, is to start a meal with a large salad filled with non-starchy vegetables (with little or no dressing), or a broth-based low calorie soup. Focusing on eating foods high in nutrients and water, but relatively low in calories, also known as “low energy dense” foods, help to satisfy you due to their water content. Low energy dense foods include non-starchy vegetables, some fruits, broth based soups, and non-fat dairy. They may also keep you from eating large quantities of “high energy dense” foods, which will be higher in calories and fat. High energy dense foods include cookies, chips, pasta with cream sauce, and fried foods to name a few. You can eat a lot more raw leafy greens than you can eat French fries, for a lot fewer calories.

Eating a diet higher in low energy dense foods may help with portion control of the higher energy dense foods. For example if you are at a restaurant and you start a meal with a large house salad filled with vegetables and the dressing on the side, and you order chicken parmesan as your entrée, you are likely to eat less of the entrée compared to if you had not eaten the salad. You may even leave the restaurant feeling pleasantly satisfied, without feeling overstuffed. When you are cooking at home, you can also increase the bulk of pasta dishes and soups by adding vegetables.

The bottom line with many eating plans is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Not only are they packed with nutrients, but they also have more water and fiber that can help satisfy you and displace your intake of the more “unhealthy” foods available to us.

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8 Ways to Save Money and Eat Healthy!

spendingEvery regular grocery shopper knows that food prices are rising.  This can put a lot of financial strain on people and families who are trying to eat healthier.  It is a common misconception that you have to spend more money if you want to eat better.  This is not always true.  For example, a 5 pound bag of potatoes can cost about the same as a bag of potato chips!  But you will be spending more if you are buying the chips than the potatoes.

  1. Make a Shopping List- Avoid one item trips to the store that waste time and gas.  Fewer trips also mean less impulse buys which are usually more expensive and you probably don’t need them anyway!
  2. Proper Portions- Serve smaller portions of more expensive items like meats and cheeses.   Not only will this help you control your weight, but it will help stretch your food dollar.
  3. Plan Your Menus Around Sales- Don’t throw away those store ads you get in the mail or in your newspaper.  They can be very helpful for saving money and pre-planning.
  4. Stock Up- Buy canned and frozen foods, cereals, and even meats when they are on sale.  Wrap meats in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. Don’t Get Coupon Crazy- Only use coupons for the items that you normally buy or are on your shopping list.  It may seem like a good deal, but it’s a total waste if it just sits on your pantry shelf.
  6. High Nutrition / Low Food Costs - Use low cost protein sources like beans, lentils, peanut butter, eggs, canned salmon or tuna instead of pricier meats.  Starches like potatoes, oats, brown rice and barley offer big nutrition with a small price tag.
  7. Grow Your Own- It is surprisingly easy (and cheap) to grow your own food!  Many garden centers have lots of food plants and offer sage advice.  If your thumb is less than green, start off with easy plants like herbs and tomatoes.
  8. Convenience Equals Paying More- The more “processed” a food is, the more you will pay for it. For example, a whole cut-up chicken will cost more than a whole chicken that is not cut-up.  The same goes for cut-up fruits, bagged lettuce, pre-sliced cheese, etc.

Do you have more tips for how to save money while eating healthy? If so, please leave them for us and our readers in the comments below. Happy (healthy) shopping!

Pump Up the Variety of Your Protein

Protein Sources“Get Your Plate in Shape” by filling it with a variety of foods from each food group in the appropriate portions.  An essential part of your plate is protein-rich foods.  Protein allows our muscles to move, maintains fluid balance, transports nutrients in our blood and regulates our immune systems. Most Americans eat plenty of protein each day, but we may not be consuming it from the right sources or in enough variety. Most adults and older children need 5-7 ounces of protein each day.  Read on for more information about protein-rich foods.

Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs:   Animal products are excellent sources of complete proteins and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and B vitamins.  When eating these foods, make sure they are lower in fat because they can be high in bad saturated fat.  Lower-fat sources of meat and poultry include chicken with no skin, ground beef ≥90% lean, and lean cuts of beef (sirloin side, top sirloin, top round, eye of round, and bottom round steaks all have ≤2 g saturated fat per 3.5 oz).  Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and halibut not only have protein but also heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.  Try to include these fish on your plate at least 2 times per week.

Beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and grains:  Beans and peas are an excellent substitute for animal products and are a good source of fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and zinc.  Aim to buy dry or frozen beans and peas instead of canned to reduce the sodium in your diet.  Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein and essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, and phosphorus.  Try to include a variety of unsalted nuts and seeds each day.  With all the research linking the nutrients found in nuts/seeds and good overall health, you could say “a small handful of nuts and seeds a day might keep the doctor away!”  And finally, many grains are an excellent source of protein.  Be adventurous and try a different healthy grain each week to increase your total intake.  Examples of protein packed grains are quinoa, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, oats, millet, rye, durum wheat, teff, and spelt.

Mindless versus Mindful Eating

Mindfull vs. Mindless Eating HabitsOvereating often occurs because we are not aware of how the environment around us affected our eating and what the quantities of food we consume are. Brian Wansink, PhD, a nutritional scientist at Cornell University, has written a book called Mindless Eating, in which he describes research studies that reveal how little awareness we often have about our eating and what influences it. Amazingly, even his students, who were PhD candidates in nutritional science, were unaware of how their environment influenced their eating. These are some of his findings:

  • The average overweight person underestimated his or her calorie intake by 30-40% (versus 20% for normal-weight people). The more they ate the greater percentage they were off in their estimates.
  • People ate 53% more popcorn if given a large container versus a small one, even though it was stale and they had just eaten.
  • Even PhD students in nutritional science ate 31% more ice cream at a party if their bowls were big rather than small.
  • When a candy dish at their desk at work was transparent, people ate 71% more candy versus if the dish was opaque, even with the same amount of candy in the dish.
  • If Hershey’s kisses were within reach at a secretary’s desk, he/she ate nine per day on the average, versus four if the candy was six feet away.
  • The more people are around us, the more we tend to eat; if we have 7 or more friends around us, we eat double the food than when alone.

Living in the United States, which has the highest obesity rate of any large country; it is easy to become overweight just following what others in our culture do. Our biggest weapon in being “counter-culture” is awareness: knowing what is in the food that we eat and how much of it we are eating. Wansink’s findings have some clear implications for people who want to lose weight:

  • Think of times when you tend to be least aware. Often these times occur when people are in social situations, when they are served food by another person, and/or when they are tired, bored or stressed. Come up with a plan for controlling eating in these situations.
  • Consider filling out a food diary during difficult times to make you aware of your eating habits and the number of calories you consume.
  • Think of how you can make a 100-calorie change in your eating or exercise per day. Examples would be: to cut out one can of a sugared beverage per day; skip one dessert per day, walk for 15 minutes daily; regularly take stairs rather than elevators, park further away from stores or other destinations, and/or walk while talking on a cell or portable phone.
  • Preplan how much you will eat during parties and social occasions and how you will control your food intake. An example would be to fill up one plate during a buffet, consume a preset number of chips at a Mexican restaurant, or decide to eat half a portion at a restaurant and to ask for a box before you start eating. Consider alternative activities with friends besides those associated with overeating.
  • Control your environment so as to make problem foods less available. Shop from a list and when not hungry so that problem foods are not in the house. Put any such foods in the back of the panty or refrigerator and store them in small containers.  (Many people find it helpful to put pre-measured meals or snacks aside.) Resolve never to take a big box or container in front of you and eat from it. Keep seconds away from reach and serving containers off the table.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses. For many people, their use saves many pounds each year.

Reference: Brian Wansink, Ph.D. Mindless Eating. Bantam Dell Publishers, New York, 2006.

Smart Strategies for Dining Out

smart-strategiesIt’s well known that we eat more calories when we dine out at restaurants than we would eating at home.  But, you don’t have to completely avoid restaurants when trying to manage your weight.  Here are some smart strategies to help control your calories.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Have your server put high-fat condiments like salad dressing and mayonnaise on the side so you can control how much gets put on your meal.  Ask to substitute high-calorie side items like French fries for salad or steamed vegetables.
  2. Take half your meal home. Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal comes to the table.  Put half of it away before you are finished eating.  Now you have two (or three) meals in one!
  3. Pass the bread. Save your calories for your main course!  Put the bread/chip basket on the other side of the table to resist temptation.   Better yet, ask your server to not bring it to your table at all.
  4. Fill up on low-calorie foods. Order a side salad (with light dressing) or a broth-based soup to help fill up your stomach when you are really hungry.  This will help you eat slower and eat less when your main course arrives.
  5. Go for an after dinner stroll. If you feel like you have eaten too much, it’s tempting to lie down.  This may actually make you feel more uncomfortable.  Instead, try going for a light 10-15 minute walk.  This will aid in digestion and help push food out of your stomach.

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric Center

What else? Any other tips you have to add to this list? If so, please share them with us and our readers using the comments below!