food

Is It Over Yet? Spring Diet Overhaul: 2015

Winter is finally coming to a close. As I write this post St. Patrick’s day is slipping away, meaning one thing, Spring. Even as a dietitian, I can honestly tell you I am sick and tired of eating heavy food. If I consume one more meal with a meat and potato base, I might just turn vegan and say to hell with it.

Much like we turnover our closets come warmer weather, we should also do the same to our diets. Out with the sweaters, in the kale! No more elastic waist sweatpants, football jerseys or perpetual yoga pant wearing. Same can be said for what we consume. It is time to ‘retire’ all the dense, warm foods and bring in the dietary version of jorts. For those of you unaware of the jort fanomon, they are jean shorts. Jean + shorts = jorts. Consider yourself youthanized. See what I did there?

So here I am. To provide you with ideas for ways to get out of eating canned food and back into the produce section!

Spring Diet Overhaul: 2015

From Google Images

From Google Images

1. Fruit

Stop eating apples and oranges. I feel as though my fruit consumption this winter was a math problem your third grade teacher asked you to solve. ‘If you have 4 apples and Brad eats two of them, but then Andrea gives you 3 oranges, how many pieces of fruit do you now have?’ For the love Chiquita Banana, please give me more options! Spring will now provide you with seasonal fruits such as apricots, honeydew, mango, pineapple and strawberries. Dig in!

2. Vegetables

Potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts and parsnips has been the bounty of the winter doldrums. I feel I have reinvented ways to make sweet potatoes 20 times over the past few months. Roasted, mashed, grated, steamed – you name it. My winter vegetable series looked something like Red Robin’s hamburger menu. Sure, you can add different toppings and condiments, but it all starts to taste the same after a while. Good news! Spring vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, snow peas and spinach. These next few months are basically the equivalent of a movie I hope to produce one day, ‘Spring’s Green Latern’. You are welcome Ryan Reynolds for the quasi plug.

From Google Images

From Google Images

Check out local vendors and grocery stores for seasonal proteins in your area. And do not forget to reincorporate whole grains. I know you’ve been living on nothing but sticky white rice, Cocoa Puffs and sourdough bread for the past few months. So get to gettin’! The bounty is here and you needs some vitamins. I mean seriously, your skin could use some help. Believe me, I know. I am pretty sure I look translucent these days and skin flakes the size of quarters are falling off my face.

August’s Nutrition Hot Topic: Vitamin D-ficient

You would think in today’s world, a dietitian would never be subject to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Well, I hate to break it to you but in 2014, it happened. This very principle was proven wrong during my last physical a few short weeks ago. The appointment was filled with highlights: a breast exam, peeing into a Dixie cup and my doctor curb siding me on an irritable bowel syndrome diet. Perhaps the greatest (and by that I mean worst) was when she read my vitamin D levels to me. As I redressed on the other side of a curtain, she informed me my lab work came back great, except for one thing. I beat her to the punch with, ‘Let me guess, I’m vitamin D deficient’. Her response, ‘good guess’. I ain’t no dummy. Damn my New England exposed skin.

You see, even the best of us with grand diets, can fall short when it comes to certain vitamins. I’ll tell you something, a vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common. Image from Google.com

Image from Google.com

Not getting enough sunshine? Below are a few foods high in vitamin D

Wild salmon
Mackerel
Mushrooms (exposed to sunlight, such as shiitake)
Cod liver oil
Canned tuna
Egg yolks
Cheese (such as ricotta)
Beef liver
*Fortified sources include milk, yogurt, orange juice and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

If you’re looking to supplement 1,000-2,000 International Units should do it. Check with your doctor before supplementing.

Looking for sunlight exposure as a solution? The time spent out in the sun really depends on where you are in relation to the equator. Generally speaking, you need un-SPF-protected skin exposed for 10-15 minutes per day; face and arms should do it. Be sure to check your body or face lotion though, they often come with built in SPF – great for sun protection, not so great for vitamin D production.

They Found A New Way For You to Eat Your Veggies

Savory vegetable yogurts – they do exist! I have to be honest, I prefer salt over sugar any day of the week. It’s this reason I do not enjoy eating yogurt for breakfast. It’s just too sweet, even if it is plain. For myself, yogurt falls into the snack category. So you can imagine my confused delight when I saw these Blue Hill Yogurts at Whole Foods.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Made from the whole milk of grass-fed cows, the flavors offered include Tomato, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Beet, Parsnip, and Butternut Squash. Naturally I picked up the only 3 varieties Whole Foods had on the shelf and headed home to timidly taste test. The review is as follows:

BEET
The Beet yogurt was by far the most tart, probably due to the raspberry vinegar found in the ingredient list. Clearly the honey wasn’t enough to carry the team. It was pretty good, but I cannot imagine consuming a whole 6 ounce container of it in one sitting. Popping it into the freezer for a few minutes and eating it as frozen yogurt seems more likely.

CARROT:
The Carrot yogurt was a little sweeter than the Beet. Unquestionably less tart, and therefore, a little richer. Of the three flavors it was the most boring with just milk, carrots, water, carrot juice concentrate, sea salt, and live cultures.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH:
Thanksgiving in my mouth, period. The sweetest of the three, which I attribute to the cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. I could eat a whole container of this flavor, no questions asked.

Nutritionally, these yogurts run around 100-120 calories with 4.5 grams of fat, 4-5 grams of protein and 10-15 grams of carbohydrate (depending on the flavor). They may not be Greek or Icelandic yogurt, but with all natural ingredients, there’s no harm in changing up your yogurt every once in a while. Just keep in mind these are neither low fat or fat free dairy products.

You don’t have to eat the yogurts in a solitary fashion either. Incorporate them into smoothies, baked goods (morning glory muffins with carrot yogurt anyone?), dips or soup bases. Check out bluehillyogurt.com for a few recipes ideas!

May’s Nutrition Hot Topic: Coo Coo for Coconut Water

If I had to define coconut water in two words it would undoubtedly be ‘sexy beverage’. Literally, Vita Coco just came out with a lemonade coconut water. It’s slogan: ‘Lemonade was a one piece…we made it a bikini’. For reals. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but professional athletes and supermodels around the world are promoting coconut water as if it were liquid gold. So why is it so popular?

Truth is, I am constantly asked about the health benefits of coconut water. ‘Will it help me lose weight?’ ‘Why aren’t you (a dietitian) guzzling this stuff?’ ‘If I want to increase muscle definition, I should only be drinking coconut water, right?’ Sweet baby Jesus, the list goes on and on.

Image from Google Images

Image from Google Images

I suppose coconut water isn’t all that ‘new’, but I still get questioned on it every few weeks at work and that’s why it is May’s Nutrition Hot Topic. I thought it would be good to hone my standard answer with a bit more research and provide some insight for you people. Psh, you’re welcome – no big deal. 

The health-conscious and celebratah are downing coconut water like the world’s last coconuts are falling from palm trees and dehydrating as fast as my skin in December. You see, at baseline, coconut water is made from -oh my God, you guessed it – water! Ahhh. So yeah, it’s hydrating…most water based fluids are. That last statement could send us down a dark, weird path so I’ll move on quickly. Coconut water should not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut water and grated coconut. Coconut water is the fluid found inside the coconut (also not to be confused with coconut flavoring added to water). Make sense? To make it even simpler, technically coconut water is a type of juice. I’ll wait while the blowing of your mind subsides…

Now then, coconut water’s big claim to fame is its electrolyte content. Think of it as Mother Earth’s

Image from Google Images

Image from Google Images

Gatorade. It is a good source of potassium, magnesium and sodium. Potassium is the big spotlight mineral of coconut water. According to The American Heart Association, potassium helps keep our fluid

balance regular, stimulate nerves and contract muscles. Basically our cells need potassium to function properly. Sounds pretty essential, right? But coconut water isn’t the only source of potassium. You know where else it’s found? Fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

So if you have a balanced diet and aren’t working out like Michael Phelps, do you need to be drinking coconut water for its electrolyte content? Only you can answer that question. The answer lies in the calorie content of this sweet, sweet nectar. An average 8-ounce serving carries between 45-60 calories. The real question is, do you need those calories or can you accommodate them in order to prevent weight gain? As most of us know, weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis. I agree dear reader, 45-60 calories does not sound like much. However, if you consumed 8 ounces of coconut water daily for one year and did not account for it in other places of your diet or exercised a tid bit more, it would result in roughly a 5 pound weight gain annually. Food for thought! Don’t believe me on the math? Post your dispute in the comment section below.

Look, I’m all for finding natural hydrating products. Ones that aren’t loaded with artificial sweeteners sound great! I love the initial slogan of Vita Coco. ‘Hydrate Naturally’. Hey fools, you know what else can do the same thing?! A banana and a large glass of water. Just saying. And by all means, omit the banana if you’re not massively hungover or having just finished an aggressive workout.

Finally, to put it simply, the calories in coconut water are coming from it’s carbohydrate content = sugar. I don’t mean to be a dietitian downer, but you should know all the facts. Coconut water is no devil beverage, but consume responsibly with an informed mind.

Happy Hydrating 🙂

Resources:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Potassium_UCM_306021_Article.jsp
http://www.mayoclinic.org

Revisited: Sage Advice For Holiday Eating From Someone Who Knows Nothing

It’s that time of year again. When we head over to Aunt Sheryl’s, load up those red plastic plates with horse ovaries (more commonly known as hors d’oeuvres), hunker down on a fireplace hearth and wait for the self-loathing and regret to kick in. Trust me. We’ve all been there. Why did I eat that ninth macaroon?  Who poured me this fourth glass of eggnog?  How did I get pieces of gingerbread down my bra?  Sooner or later though, the holiday feasts reap what they sow and sweatpants suddenly seem like appropriate work options. Enter in New Year’s resolutions.

Well this year, that will not happen. This year will be different. This year I will control myself – I will eat only half the ham, seven turtle cookies and limit myself to three hot toddies. Take that Saint Nick! I am not perfect, nor do I pretend to be. I believe the holidays are a time to enjoy the wonderful foods we, and the people we love, churn out. However, enjoyment doesn’t have to equate to perpetual gluttony. And so, to save you from yourself, I present to you…
Kimberly’s Strategies for Surviving the Smörgåsbords
1. Don’t Go To The Party Hungry
This is the kiss of death.  You’ve been running around all day trying to find that Pokémon bean bag chair your eight-year old god son wants, you perform your Mariah-Carey-5-minute-costume-change at the house, grabbed your keys, your significant other and are out the door. Sure enough, as the car pulls out of your driveway you realize that snack bag of Bugles you ate for breakfast and lunch may not have been enough to power you through the day. Suddenly your stomach starts talking like Kimmy Gibler from Full House, you’re light-headed and in need sustenance…fast. Cut to you licking the crumbs off your fourth (stupidly small) appetizer plate as you walk it to the trash can.  The presence of others is all that stops you from reaching into the garbage and polishing off that half-eaten piece of fruitcake sitting right there on the top.
I’ve been there. I am a firm believer of never getting overly hungry.  Whenever I hit that point of blinding hunger, I end up reaching for foods I will a) regret and b) over-eat.  It’s for those reasons I never leave home without snacks.  At any given time, my purse/book bag/satchel looks like a go-go-gadget of munchies.
Holiday parties are wonderful.  You get to see half-drunk people you sort of like in dim lighting while you all stuff your faces with the hostess’ provisions. This suggested ‘rule’ hardly implies showing up to a party puffer fish full.  Just don’t arrive to the front door seeing spots and drooling unconsciously. I find I make wiser food choices when I arrive any place where free food is in abundance free of that malnourished feeling. I will actually select the foods I really want to try and not simply reach for anything containing cheese whiz. Not only that, I won’t suffer the all-too-common conundrum of overzealous food selection. This doesn’t mean you can’t go up for seconds, but arriving semi-full will allow you to be selective and therefore, more aware of how much you’re eating.
2. Be The Change You Wish To See In The World 
By this I mean, bring a more healthful dish.  If I had a dime for every time I went to a party where the only vegetable served qualified as great Aunt Rebecca’s bloomin’ onion or the olive in my martini, I’d be a less poor woman.  This does not mean you have to bring a vegetable tray.  I curse those things. I am a dietitian and even I hate eating raw broccoli flowerets. Surely there must be some middle ground. Off the top my head – tomato bruschetta, edamame humus, roasted potato wedges with sun-dried tomato pesto, Caprese on a stick (tomato, basil, mozzarella), kale chips, maple glazed Brussels sprouts. BAM! Vegetables don’t have to be gross. And don’t worry, just because you’re bringing a ‘healthy’ dish doesn’t mean everyone else is going to do the same.  You will still get your true holiday fix in at the party, mark my words. You’re dish will just lighten up the spread.
3. Mind What You’re Swilling

God, to talk about calories here is just too boring. It’s also been done a million times. What I can’t stand is when some health nut writer tells me to avoid booze at holiday parties. Has he/she never been to one before? Sometimes a social lubricant is required for survival at these kinds of functions.  Your ex-boyfriend is avoiding you like the bubonic plague, your girl friend is crying the bathroom because ‘if one more person asks her when she plans to start having babies, she’s going to adopt a Himalayan whistle kid by March’, and your mom commented that your eye makeup made you look like an extra in an off-Broadway production of the Grinch as you walked out the door.

All I will say is this: booze has calories; it’s not a ‘free food’.  As we all learned in D.A.R.E., alcohol also impairs our judgment. Those repulsive deep-fried Oreos you first saw when you walked into the party might suddenly look downright appetizing after four glasses of mulled wine. So easy does it.  Plus, the person who has raced to the end of the night by 8pm never goes home or wakes up a winner.  I can sadly say this from experience.  Lastly, if you plan to drive home, do not drink. It’s a no brainer, but it would feel irresponsible to endorse moderate drinking at holiday parties to those who may go on to be designated drivers.  But Kimberly, you told me it was okay! I have only you to blame for my poor decision-making. No! Not on my watch.
4. Back Away From The Food Table
Okay, I’ll admit this one is easier said than done.  The act of walking away from mountains of appetizers can at times, require the Jaws of Life. Unless you have the will power of a much stronger man, standing near plates of copious amounts of food is like going to Mexico and never wearing sunscreen. You will burn yourself time and time again. After you’ve had your fill, thrown away your plate and utensils, comes Act II of the night. It opens with the scene titled “Grazing” and concludes with you unbuttoning your pants on the car ride home. Don’t act like you’re better than it because you’re not.
From personal experience, I’ve found that removing myself from the vicinity of all the foods that taunt me to have the greatest effect. After I’ve eaten and I am feeling full, I try to migrate to a different room.  However, I do realize the kitchen is often a congregation location. So instead of wandering into the host’s personal office or sitting alone with the cat watching reruns of the Match Game, put those Crescent dogs out of arms reach. At the heart of it, we’re all lazy.  Maybe all it takes is the required extra four steps to snatch the last smoked salmon quesadilla to deter you from overindulging.
5. Return to Normalcy 
 Hypothetically, let’s say you decided to ignore strategies one through four and ate until it hurt. The next day you arise thinking, “Today I will eat less to make up for last night.”  Please, please, please don’t do this.  Food isn’t about atonement and the holidays shouldn’t be filled with self-induced regret. So what? Last night didn’t go so well. You came home, popped the Pepto and woke up every two hours mumbling “never again”…that’s probably a little dramatic, but you get the idea. Nobody is perfect. So instead of skimping on calories following an epic holiday bender, just get back to normal. Wake up, eat some breakfast and go about your day as normal – eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.  Besides, if you decide you’re going to start a ‘diet’ on December 17th you, my friend, may just be more dumb than a first grader. Don’t even get me started on diets.  That’s for another day.  There’s nothing quite like intentional self-denial while all those around you indulge in the very thing you’ve sworn off.  Say hello to crying in the shower and aggressive journal entries.
Bottom line here: when we decide we’re going to enter into Calorie Deficit Land in an effort to amend for last night’s destruction, nine times our of ten we wind up hitting 3pm in a ravenous state…and the cycle repeats.  The biggest favor you can do yourself is to wake up and kick your metabolism in the pants with some breakfast.

Let’s Talk About Salt Baby

We have all heard the hazards of a high sodium diet, but few us can actually put a number on what  ‘high sodium’ means. While some foods have naturally occurring sodium, we need to be more wary of the salt we add at the table and that which we buy in a package from the food store.  This post isn’t just for those with high blood pressure. It’s for all of us. Sure, sodium is an important, essential mineral for proper human functioning. The trouble lies in the fact that most of us over-consume sodium and we barely have to lift a salt shaker to do so.

The slippery slope of high blood pressure is a scary one. In a 2009 article from the Journal of Human Hypertension, authors He, J. and MacGregor, G. report elevated blood pressure accounts for 62% of strokes and 49% of coronary heart disease. Hypertension isn’t just reserved for those bear-guzzeling, burger-eating, cigarette-smoking 70-plusers. Even if you eat a relatively healthy diet, genetics, gender, stress, cholesterol levels, physical activity and weight status also have a lot to do your risk for developing heart disease (and let’s not forget smoking status). According to The American Heart Association, the start of plaque development  can start during childhood and adolescence . Don’t kid yourself, it’s never too early to start protecting that beautiful, blood-pumping muscle found inside your chest.

Decoding Labels: Just because a label can read ‘Low Sodium’, does not mean it’s actually low in sodium. Confused? Don’t be. Below are the FDA’s definitions for sodium label claims.

“Sodium-Free” or “Salt-Free” = Less than 5 mg of sodium per labeled serving

“Very Low Sodium”/”Very Low Salt” = 35 mg or less of sodium per serving

“Low Sodium” or “Low Salt” = 140 mg or less of sodium per serving

“Reduced Sodium” or “Reduced Salt” = At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than a similar product

“Lightly Salted” or “Light in Sodium” = At least 50 percent less sodium per serving than a similar product

“No Salt Added” or “Unsalted” = This means the food doesn’t have any extra salt, not that it is totally salt-free

The American Heart Association recommends eating less than 1500mg of sodium per day. 

Milligram Rule: My general rule of thumb to patients when it comes to deciphering a low sodium food from a high sodium food is this: if it contains over 300mg of sodium per serving, don’t buy it. And just because it has less than 300mg per serving, doesn’t mean you get to consume two servings in one sitting. #RDRULES. I really don’t have rules, they’re just good, strong guidelines.  Need help reading a food label?

heart.org

You’re welcome.  Label reading is a whole other blog post…

Smart Shopping: Sticking to the perimeter of the food store is my last piece of advice for the sodium reducer. The inside aisles of the food store are where we get into the most trouble – it’s the land of canned goods and junk food.  Think about it, the perimeter is always filled with naturally, low-sodium foods: fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy. Sure, you can still find your way into trouble, but you’ll already be ahead of the others.

PS – stop using salt at the table, 1 tsp of table salt = 2300mg of sodium. Chew on that, just not with added salt.

Source

He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. J Hum Hypertens, 2009. 23(6): p. 363-84.

A Repost: Resolution Ideas For the Eater In All of Us

I thought I would be lazy as I ease back into blogging. So I found solid post for this time of year, adjusted the caption and revised the intro.  Life is all about time management these days, right? What’s the saying…work smarter not harder. Done.  As we head into January, let the New Year’s resolution game begin!

New Year’s resolutions are a bit of a joke these days.  At least I think so. What makes January 1st so special? Do you really need a whole new year to turn over a leaf in your life? Nine times out of ten, most resolutions revolve around health.  Shouldn’t you want to lead a healthier life each day?  Ugh, enough.  I am so above you, I cannot even write on this topic any longer. Instead, I thought I would give you a new way to look at these so-called resolutions. I don’t personally do them, but if I did, I would do something along the ‘more-is-less’ line.

I find most people resolve to choose some form of restriction when it comes to so-called ‘healthy living’. I will lose weight, I will eat less, I won’t eat dessert anymore, I will stop biting my nails, I will give up fried foods, etc. To me this sounds so exhausting, not to mention it’s ultimately a set up for eventual failure. I am here to save you. You can use my name to bail you out of the tired commitment to deprivation. Replace that limited mindset with something you actually long for: surplus.  No, I don’t mean eat more sugar or drink more beer. Read on sweet child.

If I were to make a New Year’s resolution I would want to pick up a healthy ‘habit’, not focus on eliminating an unhealthy one. Just some suggestions:
  1. I will eat more fiber – shoot for the recommended 20-35 grams each day
  2. I will eat more fruits – eating at least 3 servings a day
  3. I will eat more vegetables – have one snack consisting of baby carrots, bell pepper strips or cucumber slices
  4. I will increase dairy intake – drinking a glass of low fat milk with one meal a day or eating low fat cheese or yogurt
  5. I will drink more water – shoot for five, 8 ounce glasses a day if the idea of downing 8 glasses makes your bladder hurt

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I’m doing here.  If you load up your day with more fruits, vegetables, and fiber you’re going to wind up feeling full more often. Where will you fit in your 3pm Doritos snack time? Adopting for one of these five suggestions may make it more difficult to indulge in some less-than-favorable behaviors. Maybe not. Is this little trick a cure-all? Heck no.  But it is a start and we all must learn to walk before we run.  Some poor souls attempt dietary overhaul when January arrives. Personally, I think that is too much to handle for most sane individuals.  It might last for a day, a week, a month, but it will come to a screeching halt the moment you get a) bored, b) tired, c) anxious, d) upset, e) constipated…you get the idea.

If it’s weight loss you seek, this surplus approach may seem counter productive.  It’s not. Weight loss doesn’t have to equal starvation. Your best ally is going to be capitalizing on satiety and always keeping your hunger in check. If I am driving home from work, riding the subway home from school or making dinner in my kitchen and find I am ravenous, I’m never above reaching for a piece of fruit or some vegetables. Eat a little low-calorie, high volume nosh and take the edge off.  It might be the difference between a third piece of pizza or a second scoop of chili.  The goal is to fill you up without filling you out.

Lifestyle changes have their merits and if you are bold enough to try one then I support you one hundred percent, no matter how much I trash talk New Year’s resolutions. God bless and good luck.