Rethinking Resolutions

Each year, on January 1, millions of Americans make resolutions, including:  “to lose weight,” “to work out,” “to watch less TV” etcetera.

While these are all “wonderful” resolutions, they very quickly.

During the first few days of the New Year, I frequently observe Gym overload.  The gym is packed, almost every machine.  Yet, by the middle- to end- of January, I usually see the gym thinning out to its normal crowd.

Same with food!  The first few days of the year, I see people going on juice fasts, or extreme diets, and within a week or two, people are back to eating what they were, or worse.

This year, I encourage you to Rethink your Resolutions.  Revise your resolutions into specific, actionable, and doable goals.  Goals that will stay with you for the whole year, goals that are Lifestyles.  I give a few suggestions below.

 

Resolve to “Walk More!”

When I say this, I mean, get out of your car, get off the elevator, and move your body a little bit more!  Instead of driving a few blocks to pick up a few groceries, walk!  Instead of taking the elevator up two floors, walk up the stairs!

These little changes can add up big!

Most Americans take fewer than 10,000 steps a day, and that is the minimum we should be taking on a daily basis.

By walking three blocks each way, or walking up and down a couple floors, we not only burn more calories and stoke our metabolism, but we also oxygenate our blood, improve our mood, and enhance our well being.  It’s easy to do, and will even probably save you time!

Moreover, we do the planet some GOOD!!  When we walk, we are saving the planet from a few pounds of carbon output.  When we walk instead of drive, we save on gas, we save on wear-and-tear on our car.  When we walk instead of take the elevator, we save some coal.

(Yes, I know it’s hard to think that way, but…it is true!).

Instead of looking for that parking spot or sitting in traffic, you will already be shopping in the store for your whole foods!  Instead of waiting for that elevator, you will already be at your destination.

Even if you walk for an additional 5 minutes a day, you may burn enough calories to lose 3 pounds a year!

And…while that does not sound like much, most people only put on 2-5 pounds in a year, so, if you slowly lose weight, like you slowly put it on, you’ll be that much more successful at keeping it off!

However…if you’re really pressed for time!  Run!!

 

Resolve to “Eat Whole Foods!”

I don’t mean AT Whole Foods, though you certainly can.  I mean, cook and serve foods that are made from single ingredients!  This does not mean you only eat single-foods at a time, but rather, if you make or eat pasta sauce, or you want the ingredients to be food-names you recognize.  ie.  Tomatoes, oregano, thyme, vinegar, etc.  None of this, hydrogenated oils, starches, xanthan gums, or dextrans…who needs it!

Make it your mission to eat clean.

Make it your mission to eat only words you recognize.

Make it your mission to put only the best into your body.

The cleaner you eat, the easier it is to remain healthy, or get on a healthier path, lose weight if you want or need to, and/or feel better.

Now, i’m not saying 100% of your diet has to be perfect and whole-foods based, but the vast majority of it should be!

 

Resolve to eat more “Plants!”

Yes, I know I tout this a lot…but it’s so good for you and the planet.  So many anti-cancer nutrients, so many ways to prevent heart disease, so many ways to decrease the risk of overweight and obesity!  so many ways to help the planet!  Just by eating more plants!  Especially LOCALLY GROWN plants.

The livestock industry creates as much carbon as the entire transportation industry!  We can reduce our footprint by eating more LOCALLY GROWN AND SUSTAINABLY GROWN plants.

Even reducing your intake of animal products by 1-2 meals per week will dramatically reduce the world’s pollution.

We speak with our wallets folks!

 

Resolve to “Cook More.”

Cooking at home is good for your wallet and for your waistline.  You control the ingredients, you control the fat and sodium.

You also control the portion size and the number of leftovers you get out of it!  Nothing like leftovers to help your family during the week to save money and calories.

You would be hard pressed to spend near as much money on home-cooked meals as you do on restaurant meals.  So, pad your bank account and do some home-cooking!

 

Resolve to “Try Mindful Eating!”

What is mindful eating?  It is being aware, being present, and observing the tastes, textures, feel, smells, and flavors of your food.

Imagine (or do it) placing a dried cranberry on your tongue.

Now, take a small bite.  Taste the tartness, feel the saliva in your mouth turn sweet and increase in amount, feel the chewiness of the cranberry.  Smell its sweetness.

Now take another bite, does it feel different this time?  Does it taste different this time?  Do you feel sweetness at the back of your throat as you swallow?

So…don’t eat a whole meal this way, as it will take you hours.  But, do try it every now and then!  You will discover that you don’t need as much food as you thought, and that the food you do eat has way more flavors and textures than you ever imagined.

 

Resolve to “Be…”

Stop beating yourself up all the time for eating that candy bar, or not exercising today!  It does not do you any good!

You would tell your friend, “Hey!, it’s OK, just resolve to eat cleaner tomorrow and walk more!”

Be your best friend, and do the same.  If you do not work out today, work out tomorrow!  Get back on that wagon!  If you ate too many chocolates, eat cleaner tomorrow.  Just Be!  Do not judge yourself.

This is another premise of mindfulness.

I am no expert at mindfulness, but, I do know that just letting life unfold as it will and to not judge what happens are basic tenets.

Thus, do the same with your resolutions.  Resolve to be, do not judge, and resume your healthy habits as soon as possible.

 

Resolve to “Ask for Help!”

I’m a dietitian, and, I love to help people with their nutrition and diet questions…this is my bread and butter, so to speak.

That’s why I wrote my ebook!  I wanted to help new moms (and dads) with their breastfeeding questions, infant and toddler nutrition.

I do the same with adults, every day.  I work with heart transplant patients, cardiac patients, head and neck surgical patients, and others.

I can help you too!  Ask, and you shall receive!

I can assist you with recipe selection, diet and lifestyle tweaks, and other nutrition/infant/toddler, pregnancy questions…

 

Finally:

The first 10 individuals who request a consultation will receive a 50% discount!  The next 10 will receive a 25% discount!

Also feel free to refer to my ebook!

Happy New Year, Healthy Eating, and Healthy Living!
Pefect Baby Diet

Tips for helping to get your family to eat healthier

As a full-time working dietitian and mother to a toddler, I have some simple tips that can make it a little easier to help your family eat more healthfully.  The tips I give are tried and true from my family to yours since we prepare most of our meals at home and I pack my son’s lunches for him at day care.

  • Food lists: We plan out our meals for the week.  This is a must if you want to use your resources (time and money) in the most efficient way possible.  We will make out a list such as:
    • Saturday – Pasta sauce,
    • Sunday – homemade whole-wheat pizza,
    • Monday – wild fish,
    • Tuesday – Pasta sauce,
    • Wednesday – pizza again,
    • Thursday – fish again,
    • Friday – whatever leftovers we have or out.

 

  • Shopping lists: We use an excel spreadsheet to lay out a grocery list-a few columns wide, in the basic layout of the store itself.  Once we know what we are cooking/eating, we enter it onto our grocery list and/or cross of what we don’t need.
    • This is helpful as it guides your purchases so that each week you do not need to reinvent the list.
      • Start with a list of your basic weekly staples.
    • Shopping with your child/children is a good idea to get them interested in produce (fruits/vegetables).
      • When shopping with my son, (he is not quite 2 yet) I find that he enjoys picking up different fruits and vegetables, touching them, looking at them, smelling them, and trying to say them.
      • Frequently when we do this, it makes him want to taste that food item. This is something you can do with your children.  Take them to a farmers market, or the grocery store and let them explore the different fruits and vegetables.  Then take a new one home each week and have them help you to prepare something with it.

 

  • My son loves to help cook in the kitchen. We will frequently pull a chair into the kitchen that he can stand on, so that he can see what we are doing and assist (such as stirring the pasta sauce).  His desire to be helpful along with the sensations of touching, feeling, smelling, and tasting the healthy food item helps encourage him to want to eat it; plus, it is a good way to get the parents in the kitchen, cooking, and eating healthy foods with their children.

 

  • Use your weekends: I cannot stress this enough.  Making meals on the weekend that you can eat more than once during the week is so important (see 1 above).  By planning and creating healthy meals on the weekend, it makes healthy family meals doable during the week when time is so short.
    • I also use the weekend to make all of my son’s lunches for the week. I will package anywhere between 3 and 5 days worth of food in glass jars that are easily microwavable.  I typically give him leftovers from what we ate for dinner that night.  So, on Monday he will eat Saturday-night’s leftovers, Tuesday – Sunday-night’s leftovers, etc.
    • I also mix his 5 jars of yogurt (because I like to put his vitamin D and probiotic in the yogurt), and cut up and prepare his French toast or whole-wheat pancakes.

 

  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are your friend.
    • There are times where the fresh produce just does not look oh so great, or that I want to supplement our meal with another vegetable. In instances such as that, I use frozen vegetables.
    • There are some really lovely ones available in grocery stores now.  The nice thing about these frozen vegetables is that they are picked at the peak of their freshness and then flash frozen, retaining their vitamins and nutrients. By microwaving or boiling them, they can be ready to eat in minutes.
      • Some of my favorites are: frozen organic green beans, frozen organic edamame, frozen organic corn or peas, and others.
  • For the newly minted eater (ie. Your 6-8 month old), you can take these frozen vegetables (or fresh), and puree them in a blender. That way you give your child a 1-ingredient food, which is strongly recommended when first trying out new foods for your baby.

 

  • Eating a healthy meal together and reconnecting is one of the best things we can do for our body.  To ease away stress and tension from the day.
  • Make the dinner table a no-tech zone. We eat with our senses first.  We smell the food, we see the food, we feel the food with our tongues and teeth.  When we pay attention to what and how much we are eating we become satisfied more easily.  We enjoy the textures and the flavors of the healthy food.  We tune into each other.
  • Stress and tension tend to make us want to eat less-healthy food, and to eat too quickly, and to store the unnecessary calories as fat. So, by tuning out of tech, and into family and conscious eating, we make better choices, and only eat as much as we need.

 

  • Trust your child’s appetite. If your child tells you that he is no longer hungry, even if he only ate ½ his plate, believe him.  Children, young-children in particular, have an amazing ability to self-regulate their appetites.  So, it may very well be true that when your toddler pushes his plate away, he is done.
    • The best way to test this is to offer a different food item, one that you already have prepared (I do not believe in short-order cooking. Your child eats what you are eating, or food that has already been prepared).  If your child still declines, he is done!
      • For those of you worried you will be sending your child to bed hungry, it’s ok. (my pediatrician says that your child will not go hungry if he does not eat one meal).  It’s true.  Your child will eat again when he or she is hungry.  There is no need to offer “junk” or “juice” or your child’s “favorite gummy” just to get your child to eat something, because that can teach your child unhealthy food associations and unhealthy food behaviors (eating when not hungry).
      • So, my advice, if your child indicates she is not hungry or does not want what you are offering, let it be.

 

Other advice available at:

Pefect Baby Diet

 

 

Question of the week: Milk alternatives

As a dietitian, I’m frequently asked what the best “milk alternative” is.

I myself do not drink milk, and I have not had milk in over 12 years.  I prefer to mix-it-up with soy milk and almond milk.

Due to the preponderance of lactose intolerance, milk-allergy, and/or the general desire to stay away from dairy products for ethical, religious, or social reasons, I feel it is necessary to review a number of different products.

Soy milk:   If you are going to drink Soy milk, my recommendation would be that you drink organic soy milk.  Soy is one of the most heavily genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) around.  The VAST majority of soy products are GMO.  Now, GMO may be perfectly safe; but frankly, I think GMOs are still too new to really know for sure what they will do inside our bodies.

So, with regards to Soy milk.  If you drink it, I would stick to 1-2 cups per day of the “pure soy milk” and no more.  I use this limit because so many food products are fortified with soy isolates, soy derivatives, and soy-lecithin.  So, unless you are like me and eating mostly whole-foods, unpackaged, and unadulterated, I would stick with 1-2 cups per day.

With regards to soy milk, I would also look for brands that are fortified with Calcium and vitamin D.  Most are, but not all.

Best to go with the unsweetened varieties so that you limit your sugar intake.

For the record, soy is a great source of plant-based protein and other nutrients, so drink up!

 

Almond milk:  Almond milk is another good alternative to dairy milk if you want to avoid both the possible allergies to cow’s milk and soy milk.  (However, if you have tree-nut allergies, I would stay away from this as well).

Almond milk is very low in protein, so, if you are drinking it with the hopes of getting protein; sorry, I would recommend a different beverage.

Almond milk tends to be creamier than other “nut milks” like cashew milk.  Especially if you make your own.  By soaking, pureeing, and draining whole blanched almonds (though they do not have to be blanched), you can make your own delicious drink.

Almond milk is good for cereal if you want a low-calorie product.  Again, go for the no-sugar added variety, otherwise, you’re mostly drinking sugar.

Look for brands that fortify their “milk” with calcium and vitamin D.  Most do.

 

Rice milk:  In general, I’m not much of a fan of rice milk because I don’t think it really adds much to the diet.  It tends to be watery and sweet without any substantial protein content.

Granted, we do not need NEARLY  as much protein in our diets as people think, but, I do not think it is a good idea to drink a beverage that literally turns into “sugar” in your bloodstream as you are drinking it.

 

Cashew milk:  So far, I am not a fan of cashew milk.  It only has 25 calories per cup, and it tastes very watery.

 

Hemp/Quinoa milk:   These milks tend to be pretty creamy as well.  They are a fairly good source of protein as well.  I find that they can at times be gritty or have a residue however.

As mentioned earlier, it is best to buy ones that have Calcium and vitamin D added.  However, these are not prerequisites as long as you are taking in enough of those nutrients from other sources, including vegetarian sources.

Vitamin D2, while it is the inactive form of vitamin D, it is the appropriate form for vegetarians/vegans to consume as it is derived from mushroom/plant-based sources.

 

Breastmilk:  For infants and young children only.  Best source of nutrition during the first 2 years of life (as recommended by the World Health Organization, et al).

For this age group, Vitamin D3 is the recommended source of vitamin D, particularly if breastfeeding as breastmilk has negligible amounts of vitamin D in it.

For additional questions on this matter, send me a message.  I also cover this information in my e-book, available on amazon, from the link below.

Pefect Baby Diet

So…How was your Thanksgiving?

Each year we come together with family, friends, etc to enjoy a bounty of food.  We give thanks for the food we are eating, give gratitude for the things we have, and spend time with those we love most.

And…

We should!?

Did you know that each year, billions of pounds of food are wasted?

Blemished fruit/vegetables right at the time of picking are often discarded.  Produce that gets tarnished in transport, has bruises, or dents, is tossed in the stores.  Individuals may buy fruits and vegetables only to return them a few days later after no longer needing them.

Did you know that once you return perishable food, it is thrown out?  It is never re-sold?

We waste so much food in this country, it is amazing.  We could feed so many people with the food that is trashed.

So, it is at Thanksgiving, that we need to remember ALL that we HAVE; our privilege.

What was on your menu?  Was it filled with Turkey, stuffing, casseroles, pies, and pastries?  Or was it filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, served in their more natural setting?

It is interesting that we adulterate our food as much as we do.  We no longer eat a baked yam, or steamed green beans.  Instead, and this is of course regional, we eat sweet-potato pie, or green-bean casserole.  We eat food with many more ingredients than nature put into them.

I’m not saying this is wrong, I just find it interesting how different cultures have different traditions and ideas about food.

I prefer my Thanksgiving feast to be as close to nature as possible.  I like flavorful, natural food.  Yes, many would consider my Thanksgiving to be “bland” by their standards.  But, I can name all the ingredients in my food…

For that, I am Thankful.

Did you also know that between Halloween/Thanksgiving and New Years, many people gain 2-5 pounds?

Adding 2-5 pounds each year (and then if lucky, losing part of that), over a lifetime will slowly lead to weight-creep. By eating the fewest-ingredient foods, you are much less likely to put on that weight, and much more likely to maintain or lose weight.

So, I urge you to eat mindfully, think about what you put on your plate, how you prepare your food, and to consider that “outside of the box” eating may actually be preparing your food in a healthier way.  I also urge you to have gratitude for what you have, everyday; for the food you eat, for the roof over your head, and for the friends and family in your lives.

Peace. Love. Gratitude. Giving-Thanks.