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This blog has moved!
Please go to www.eatright.org/rdsweighin
Test Your Holiday Calorie IQ
Answers: 1. a 2. b 3. b 4. a 5. a 6. b
a) 342 calories 18 g fat c) 230 calories 10 g fat
a) 350 calories 23 g fat b) 680 calories 56 g fat
a) 190 calories b) 275 calories
a) 190 calories 16g fat b) 120 calories 8 g fat
a) 160 calories b) 130 calories
a) 175 calories b) 275 calories
Answers: 1. a 2. b 3. b 4. a 5. a 6. b
10 Tips for Healthy Holiday Survival
With Halloween candy still lingering around the house or office, the recent Thanksgiving feast and multiple social occasions to celebrate the entire holiday season, this can be a very challenging time of year to stay on track with health goals. Contrary to popular belief, the average holiday weight gain is about 1-2 lbs, but we tend to keep it on and accumulate more with each passing year. It’s really not that hard to do when you consider that it only takes an extra 250 calories/day to lead to a ½ pound gain by the end of the week. You’ve worked so hard this year to get healthy and lose or maintain your weight so let’s keep it up this holiday season- here’s how:
1: ravenous 2: somewhat hungry 3: comfortable 4: comfortably full 5: stuffed
Try not to let yourself get to a 1 or a 5
Portions are right in the palm of your hand:
1 cup= 2 rounded palms
½ c= 1 rounded palm
1 oz= 1 handful
3 oz= palm of hand
1 tbsp= size of thumb
1 tsp= tip of thumb
1 oz of cheese= size of thumb
10. Offer to bring an appetizer or a dessert: guarantee a healthy choice for yourself by bringing something ie veggie trays, a low fat spinach dip or a lighter dessert
For many people Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. It’s a time to give thanks and appreciate all the good things that have happened over the year. Thanksgiving is great time to eat favorite foods and get together with family and friends. Coming down with a food borne illness is never part of the plan.
If you are new to cooking or a seasoned veteran, it’s always important to keep in mind food safety. Don’t make an unwanted and expensive trip to the Emergency Room this holiday season. Keep the kitchen clean by washing cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water. Bacteria can spread quickly. Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables. Keep raw turkey juice away from ready-to-eat foods. Use a food thermometer. No one should eat turkey sushi. Make sure the minimum internal temperature is 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. And above all, don’t let the turkey sit out, while everyone is sitting around after the meal. Refrigerate the leftovers within two hours, so that bacteria won’t have a chance to grow.
Don’t forget the leftovers. Nothing stays fresh forever. If you get tired of turkey sandwiches, turkey pie and turkey soup, throw away the leftover turkey after four days. If you had enough turkey for awhile, cooked turkey will keep in the freezer for 3-4 months.
For more helpful food safety information hints on handling, preparation, food storage, recipes and shopping lists, go to the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s (PFSE) website, www.HolidayFoodSafety.org. To find a variety of tips for navigating the holidays, check out www.eatright.org. The American Dietetic Association is an excellent source of nutrition information. Registered Dietitians (RD) are nutrition experts that you can trust.
Practice safe food handling this Thanksgiving. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy!
If you suffer from chronic low energy, consider this before you reach for your next caffeine fix - you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from something called sleep apnea.
It has been estimated that sleep apnea is as common as asthma or diabetes in the United States. Worse, it has also been estimated that 85-90% of people suffering from sleep apnea are either undiagnosed or untreated! That's a lot of sleepy people walking around, and even scarier - driving around.
In sleep apnea, a person literally stops breathing during sleep - the body then reacts by arousing the person just enough to gasp for breath. Most people do not wake up fully, and do not remember struggling for breath during their sleep. The result, however, is that they never get enough of the restorative deep sleep that is so essential for health and energy. They wake up feeling tired, and frequently have to struggle to stay awake during parts of their day. In children, sleep apnea has been mistakenly diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder in some cases, because the effects of exhaustion can mimic symptoms of ADD or ADHD in children.
One of the major risk factors for developing sleep apnea is being overweight. In fact, some people are able to reverse their sleep apnea through weight loss. Other risk factors include cigarette smoking, being older, having chronic nasal congestion, using alcohol and sleeping pills, and having diabetes.
Untreated sleep apnea is worrisome for many reasons - it does direct damage to the body by raising blood pressure and straining the heart. Additionally, the constant fatigue that is endured by someone with sleep apnea makes it very difficult to participate fully in life events, and to have the proper energy to do physical activity or prepare healthy meals.
If you suspect sleep apnea, your doctor may order a sleep study; if sleep apnea is diagnosed, there are treatments available to you that will significantly improve your quality of sleep, and your overall energy. Here's to your good night's sleep!
So I’m accepting the fact that fall is really here. I know. It seems like I’m behind the times but it takes a while for the weather to change in Atlanta…we still get 70+ degree days through October. It was only a couple weeks ago when I first donned a jacket to counter the cool morning air.
The truth is… I actually love the fall but I really miss the summer’s bounty of fruits and veggies. Nevertheless, I’m ready to trade in my cantaloupe, berries, okra, and summer squash for apples, cabbage, collard greens and sweet potatoes.
Here in the South there are so many fun fall events that center around food and even a bit of physical activity like visiting a pumpkin patch, getting lost and found in a corn maze and picking apples in the North Georgia Mountains. My mission this weekend will be to find the perfect pumpkin. I'll carve a not so scary jack-o-lantern, roast the seeds to make pepitas and use the pumpkin pulp to make something delicious to eat like pumpkin pie or a velvety, smooth pumpkin soup. I like to enjoy the seeds with a little spice. Here’s a recipe that might work for you… Spicy Pepitas! Enjoy!
As odd as it may seem, households in the U.S. with food insecurity are also households with childhood obesity. Some have proposed theories that low income households are consuming high fat, high calorie foods to make up for the lack of quantity of foods, thus contributing to overweight. Another theory is that when money is available and food is abundant in the household, high amounts of food and calories are consumed in a short time leading to a feast-famine cycle. This somehow effects the physiology of the body, leading to excess weight gain. But really no one completely agrees or is quite sure why this paradox occurs. What we do know is that 11% of households in the U.S. were considered food insecure in 2004. Given the current economy and job loss, this number is likely higher today.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that food insecure households with hunger was associated with higher obesity rates in girls ages 2 - 5 years old. An association was not found in food insecure households without hunger. Food insecurity is defined as an uncertain or limited ability to obtain adequate amounts of food and nutrients in socially acceptable ways. In other words not knowing when or where your next meal will come from. Food insecurity with hunger takes this definition further to the point at which meals are regularly missed or one meal may need to be spread through out the day. Food is insufficient to sustain normal physical function and activities.
Given the public health concern of childhood obesity, many community outreach programs exist within schools and after school programs to teach kids to make healthy food choices and exercise more. There are legislated mandates to teach nutrition in schools. It seems everyone wants in on the action to prevent childhood obesity. But how does all this education help if the families of these children can't afford and don't have access to healthy foods in the first place?
You can help fight childhood obesity by helping to make healthy food available. Donate to your local food bank or help tend a community garden. It doesn't matter how much one knows about nutrition, if nutritious foods are not available or affordable, people will not eat them.
The other day I was teaching a class on what to eat to lower blood cholesterol to a group of 52 very motivated people who had some form of heart disease. A recurring theme during the question and answer session was organic foods. People wanted to know how important are organic foods for management of their heart disease. Particularly interesting was the fact that eating organic foods was not a part of my talk. However, a number of the participants had been to see a ‘Certified Holistic Health Counselor and Food Expert’ and they were told to throw away all foods in their kitchen that were not organic. Most disturbing was they were told that the non-organic foods they were consuming were contributing to their condition.
The primary concern among participants was that they could not afford to eat an exclusively organic diet. They were feeling overwhelmed, confused, and angry. Ironically, some would suggest brewing stress of this caliber is not healthy for heart disease management.
If the motivation is to limit exposure to pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones then there are some foods you may want to select organic. If it is to help prevent or manage a chronic disease such as heart disease then limited food dollars may be better spent on improving the overall quality of the diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
There are two lists, the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, that can help guide consumers when selecting fruits and vegetables. Dirty Dozen lists fruits and vegetables with the highest chemical residues and includes: Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes (imported), carrots, and pears. The Clean 15 lists produce with some of the lowest chemical exposures and includes: Onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
As to be expected much discussion in the class centered on meats and dairy. Organic milk, beef and poultry contain no hormones and antibiotics, but often cost 100% more than conventional products. When talking about heart disease the bottom line is to choose nonfat, lean animal products in order to limit total and saturated fat. More important than eating organic is first, making the switch to nonfat dairy and lean meats and second, making sure the meat portion size is appropriate.
Most often organic beef is also grass-fed. It is true that pasture-raised, grass-fed beef contains less total fat than meat from grain-fed animals. In addition, meat and milk from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals contains greater levels of heart beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid and conjugated linoleic acid.
As for processed foods choosing those made with whole grains, the least amount of added sugars, and the lowest in saturated fat and trans-fat free, trumps organic. I think it’s wiser to spend limited food dollars on the organic versions of the Dirty Dozen than it is on organic processed foods.
Consumers facing the daunting challenges of living with a chronic disease should not be stressing themselves about the organic factor, especially given all there may be to learn about management of their medical condition. A practical solution that can fall into most food budgets is to focus on foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives, and hormones. Buy organic for the Dirty Dozen, conventionally grown for the Clean 15, and if the budget allows feel good about eating grass-fed beef once in a while, but watch the portion size.
Just last weekend, I took my sons to see the clever and enjoyable animated movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. In the movie, a young boy-turned-man with a penchant for invention creates a machine that converts water into food. He does this to provide the townspeople of Swallow Falls (who fell on hard economic times) with alternatives to sardines, their usual fare. Suddenly, everything from meatballs and spaghetti to hot dogs, steak, and ice cream begin to fall from the sky. As more and more food floods the town, and as the food gets bigger and bigger in size, the town’s Mayor greedily (and disturbingly!) bites off more than he can chew, eats everything in sight, and subsequently gains a significant amount of weight until the machine is destroyed and the town returns to some relative normalcy.
In a funny coincidence, a cartoon and accompanying article in today’s New York Times Dining section depicts my own New York City mayor Mr. Mike Bloomberg’s eating adventures and his work as an advocate for healthier eating habits in the Big Apple. Described in the article as the city’s “nutrition nag,” the Mayor successfully paved the way for the ban on trans fats in restaurants, and the mandatory posting of calorie information at fast food chains. Despite his supposed love affair with salt (the cartoon shows Mr. Bloomberg gleefully adding salt to a saltine!), the mayor has also encouraged people to resist the salt shaker when eating out, and to steer clear of sugary beverages because of their potential role in weight gain and diet-related diseases.
Although Mr. Bloomberg is not at all overweight like the mayor in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the article suggests that he enjoys many of the same foods that fell from the sky in the movie (namely cheeseburgers, hot dogs, steak, pizza, and bagels). For many, especially critics of Mr. Bloomberg’s nutritional policies, the Mayor’s supposed eating habits may beg the following question: shouldn’t someone like the Mayor, who is adamant in his efforts to improve the health of consumers, practice what he preaches? Is it ok if he cracks down on “junk food” but eats it himself?
As a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, I take my role as an educator and motivator for healthy lifestyle habits (which include moderate, nutritious eating habits and regular physical activity) very seriously. I read up on the latest scientific research on food, nutrients, and fitness and do my best, as others in my profession do, to translate findings into practical, real-world tips to help consumers understand the facts and adopt more healthful food and fitness habits. But just like the Mayor, I do not claim to, nor do I eat a perfect diet. I, too, enjoy (and consume) some of the foods and beverages-- namely, hot dogs, steak, movie popcorn, pasta, pizza, chocolate, bread & butter, and Diet Coke®-- that can definitey raise a few eyebrows. Sometimes, I even hear “I can’t believe you eat that—and you’re a dietitian!” But like the mayor, I am at a healthy body weight (incidentally, I have maintained a weight loss of more than 30 pounds since my high weight in high school for more 10 years). I have no shame about my eating habits, and know that while I like certain foods that many may consider taboo or less than healthful, I balance out my indulgences by making sure to consume lots of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and low fat dairy foods. I keep my portions small, and I exercise or do some sort of physical activity (even just walking) every day. And perhaps like the Mayor, when I go overboard or eat something that I know is not particularly healthful, I balance that out by cutting out other treats that day so that my weight stays within a healthy range.
While I can’t speak for the Mayor, I can say that I have learned to truly enjoy food, eat without guilt, and after an indulgence can successfully resume healthful eating habits because I know doing so gives me energy, makes me feel good, and keeps my weight and overall health in check.
It is ultimately up to consumers to decide if the Mayor or other political figures (not to mention registered dietitians and other health professionals) who push for healthier habits in practice or policies are “allowed” to be imperfect, and be real people who eat real food. Being honest about our own eating habits, even when we’re trying to educate and empower consumers when they make food decisions, can hopefully show that we’re human too, and are equally challenged by a 24/7 food environment that encourages excessive consumption. The bottom line is that while not all nutrition policies will be popular with consumers or health advocates, we experts have a right to push for what we think will help the nation eat in a more healthful way. Ultimately, it’s up to consumers to decide what, how much, and where they will eat, and how they’ll use nutrition information (such as calorie counts) to make those decisions.
Confused about omega-3 fatty acids? Wondering about omega-6 fatty acids? Did you also know we also eat omega-9 fatty acids?
The “omega” actually refers to the scientific system of naming unsaturated fats and each fatty acid plays a different role in our health.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids because they are essential to human health but cannot be made by our bodies. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce risk factors for heart disease, cancer and arthritis, reduce inflammation and newer research is looking at the role it plays in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids come from three different sources, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapantaeonic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While techically your body can make EPA and DHA from ALA, it generally doesn't. So eating all three sources is important for good health.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends three grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily from food sources. If you take a supplement, do not take more than two grams per day, and be sure to talk to your doctor first since omega-3s act as a blood thinner and may interfere with anticoagulant medication such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or clopidogrel (Plaxil®).
Omega-6 fatty acids are also considered essential fatty acids. However, the typical American diet provides 10 times the needed amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid (LA). It’s this unhealthy ratio of too much omega-6 fatty acids compared to our current intake of omega-3 fatty acids that may be contributing to many chronic diseases. A healthy diet should have a ratio of 4-to-1 omega-6s to omega-3s. The typical American diet has a ratio from 14- to 25-to-1 omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-6 fatty acids come from two sources, LA and arachidonic acid (AA).
So even though omega-6 fatty acids are essential, because Americans already eat too much it’s helpful to look for ways to reduce your omega-6 fatty acids intake. One way is to replace your corn or safflower oil with canola or olive oil. Olive oil is rich in a third fatty acid, omega-9.
Omega-9s are important but technically not essential fatty acids because our bodies can make them from other unsaturated fats. You can find omega-9 fatty acids in olive oil, avocados, almonds, peanuts, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews and hazelnuts. There is no current FDA recommended amount for omega-9s in our diet.
You don’t have to be a writer to write. What I mean is – many dietitians counsel patients in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and private settings, but their passion is to write. They might just be waiting for “the day” or “the right time” when they will be able to sit down and create a story for a newspaper, a magazine, or perhaps even write a book.
If the above scenario pushes any of your buttons, I have a question to ask you: What are you waiting for? Today is the perfect day to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let those thoughts flow. Don’t worry about grammar or perfect sentences…just write. If you love to cook, jot down a favorite recipe and think of a story you can connect to the last time you created that dish. If you counsel patients, write about one of your greatest challenges or your biggest success story. If you’re a mom, you must have lots of tales to tell about trying to get your kids to eat their veggies or not eat too many sweets. Even if you have a pet, there’s a story lurking there. (You can check my blog on USA Today called, “Counting Canine Calories” at https://tinyurl.com/5ogx9w for one of those pieces.)
I never realized how much I loved to write until I started writing. My first major job as a columnist was for Newsday, paid very little but meant a great deal. Ideally, you should get paid thousands for your work…but you may not start out that way! Send a letter to the Editor of a local newspaper, send a pitch letter to a magazine, or write a column for your church or synagogue. You’d be surprised whose eyes will read your words and you could be a by-line away from getting nationally published.
Here’s a rule of thumb you can follow in the meantime: never leave home without a pen and something to write on. I have written some of my best stories on the back of an envelope, a blank space on a magazine advertisement, and a paper placemat from a diner. Don’t let anything stand in the way of you and inspiration!