Understanding Food Labels and Ingredients

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:


“Understanding Food Labels and Ingredients”

A calorie is not a calorie in the way you think. Food interacts with your unique biology and affects hormones, hunger and satiety in different ways for different people (Think Insulin, Ghrelin, leptin and thermic effect of foods). Protein foods tend to suppress appetite more than, say, a bag of chips. The latter provides instant gratification, while the former provides nutrition and a feeling of fullness. Instead of thinking in terms of a “good” food or “bad” food, think instead of foods in terms of a nutrition scale. In case you were wondering, Krispy Kreme would be very low on that scale but that doesn’t mean it’s “bad.” Much depends on the person and behavior.

The Nutrition Facts Label is intended to guide consumers by providing very basic information. You cannot make sense of the label without reading and understanding the ingredients label. Calories, macronutrients and nutrients all must be understood within the context of the food as a whole. Pay attention to calories, serving size, added sugars, artificial ingredients and high sodium in particular. There are approximately 60 different names for added sugar and if you see these high in the ingredient list, then that means that a large amount of that food is added sugars. If, for example, you’re choosing bread and you see the word “enriched flour” just know that it means it’s refined and not a whole grain. Look for “whole” wheat or 100% whole grain. That means the fiber and nutrients are intact.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans to pay close attention to added sugar, ACTUAL serving size, calories and type of fat (heart-healthy vs heart-unhealthy fats). More on the DGA here:http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/

Understanding nutrition facts labels and ingredients CAN be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Make it a point to attend one of our grocery shopping tours so you can get more practice. Food companies package their products in a way to sell. Look past the shiny design, the special font and green packaging to see what’s really in the food. If you’re going to eat processed foods, then you HAVE to read and understand the back of the package. The nutrition facts and ingredients is the place to go.

Weight Loss Strategies for Dining Out

Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Strategies for Health: Eating Out & Keeping It Together”

Eating out certainly complicates weight management. There are many reasons for this. From incorrect calorie and nutrition information, to environmental factors such as sights, smells and moods, we’re all more likely to overeat meals at restaurants. Calorie and nutrition info from the restaurant and the internet are notoriously inaccurate (under reporting calories) so that means even if you are doing your homework ahead of time, you’re still likely eating more calories than you think. The only true way to know the amount and quality of the food you eat is to prepare it yourself. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for cooking and preparing meals at home, but I understand that’s a hard sell for most people. Here’s some tips to help you stay on track with your nutrition when you eat out:

Always have a plan. What will you eat… Who will you be with… What is the restaurant environment? What are your unique challenges? All of these factors influence your eating and food choices. Do some strategizing ahead of time so you’ll stick with choices that you will ultimately feel good about.
– Just say no! Being confident and assertive is an invaluable tool to carry. You will often find yourself in situations where it’s important to convey your wishes. There’s a lot of food pushers out there–some forms are subtle and others are obvious. It’s your body and your nutrition. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your needs or wants.

Practice effective communication. Ask questions about how your food is prepared and don’t hesitate to communicate how you wish your food to be cooked or prepared. Restaurants are in the business of serving you so it’s important you get food prepared the way you wish. Never feel guilty about this. Also, you may wish to communicate with friends and family about your nutrition needs. You’ll notice that many of those around you don’t share your newfound consciousness of health. They won’t understand why you’re not ordering that second glass of wine, or partaking in the nacho cheese fries. That’s ok. Just remember that “No” is a complete sentence. If you want to sweeten it up (being southern this is a must), you say, “No, thank you darlin’.”

Ask the wait staff to bring a to-go box when they bring your meal. Box up half and take it home with you, or share an entree. Most serving sizes will feed 2 people.

-Think “lean and clean” proteins and vegetables. Stay away from sauces, gravies and the like. Choose lean proteins that are baked, broiled, grilled, etc and double up on steamed vegetables.

Have an awareness of appropriate portion sizes. Most restaurants serve 2-3 times more than an appropriate serving size. Pull out grandma’s antique dishes and glasses and you’ll notice that serving dishes, plates and cups were much, much smaller. Don’t fall for the “more is better” trick. Most restaurants serve large portions of low quality food because customers want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth. In the end, it’s better to get quality over quantity.

– Always, ALWAYS choose unsweetened beverages. No sweet tea or soda’s.

Eat Mindfully. Pay attention to internal cues for hunger and satiety. Enjoy the company of friends and family. Make the occasion about the conversation and less about the act of eating. Put your fork down between bites and eat more slowly.

Ultimately, it’s good to be aware that we live in an obesogenic environment. Once you have that revelation, you become aware of the hidden factors that influence our eating behaviors. I know most of you read these posts on the go, but if you have tips that work for you, please share with the group. Many just aren’t able to make the Monday classes and we don’t want them to miss out!

Too busy to prepare quality meals? Order Chef-prepared meals here

 

 

Power Up With Plants

What is a plant-based diet and why should you care?  I enjoy throwing around words like tofu, edamame and lentils.  It’s sure to evoke a response from people in the group, usually in the form of a scowled face.  Negative reactions to topics like vegetarianism and plant-based foods are understandable.  There’s a stereotype, often incorrect, that adopting a plant-based diet means giving up all meat and instead eating a diet consisting of lettuce with a side of seeds, and perhaps more lettuce.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A plant-based diet is one that focuses on plants.  It’s exciting, colorful, tasty and with lots of texture.  It does not necessarily mean that someone adopting a more plant-based diet abstains from meat all together.  As one woman protested, “I’m not giving up my red meat!” HA! Fair enough and thank you for proving the point.  You can adopt a more plant-based diet and still have red meat.  The difference is that your diet is plant-centric, seasoned with meat.  There are different types of plant-based diets ranging from Vegan (no animal products), to a more flexible approach such as the Flexitarian diet.  For our purposes, we discussed the Flexitarian diet approach which seeks to incorporate more plant-based foods into your existing diet.  So instead of subtracting or cutting out, we focused on foods to add—a concept known as crowding out.

Benefits associated with plant-based diets are too many to mention, but here are the most notable:

  • Lower body weight, weight loss
  • Eat more, weigh less (plant-based diets are typically lower in calories)
  • Decrease risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases
  • Reversal of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Healthy gut microbiome
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Better brain health
  • Increased intake of important nutrients and fiber
  • Cost-saving

If you would like to learn more about the benefits associated with plant-based eating, visit http://www.nutritionfacts.org which is a website dedicated to providing evidence-based nutrition advice. Adopting a more plant-based diet is exciting and fun, but can undoubtedly be intimidating to some. Below are some practical and simple suggestions.  I’d encourage you to start gradually and build your culinary skills as you go.

 

 

 

Breakfast

  • Vegetable omelet with black beans and salsa
  • Plain or Greek yogurt with berries and almond slivers
  • Steel Cut Oats with ground Flaxseed and walnuts
  • Tofu scramble with black beans, onion, spices and red peppers
  • Breakfast smoothie with almond butter, frozen fruit and soymilk

Lunch

  • Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on a salad of mixed greens with cashews
  • Black Bean, vegetable and cheese burrito
  • Chickpea, spinach and feta salad
  • Beef & Lentil Taco’s

Dinner

  • 3 Bean Chili
  • Tofu Curry
  • Tempeh Stir Fry
  • Edamame Pasta with meatless crumbles and marinara sauce

If you’re looking for an even lower commitment, start with a “Meatless Monday,” or pick one meal and replace the meat with a plant-based protein such as beans, seasoned tofu or marinated tempeh.  Gradually adopting a more plant-centric diet will produce dramatic health improvements.  Try it for yourself and see if you don’t feel better!

Trouble Losing Weight? Maybe It’s Stress


Our bodies stress response is actually a wonderful invention.  When our body perceives a threat, our endocrine and nervous system work together at a lighting fast speed to alert us to the danger.  We get a surge of hormones and chemicals that enable us to take immediate action.  Our pupils dilate, our heart beats fast and blood gets diverted to the large muscles of the body and this just might save your life.  This is called the acute stress response, otherwise known as “Fight-or-flight.”  Once the perceived threat is over, the body returns to a more balanced state.  Chronic stress, on the other hand, is what happens when the body stays in that stress response state.

Chronic Stress & Your Weight
The stress response affects your health habits both directly and indirectly.  Stress increases hunger hormones, which leads to increased appetite and cravings.  It also decreases your satiety hormones so that you don’t feel satisfied when you do eat.  Increased cortisol has been correlated with increased visceral adiposity— “belly fat”—which is particularly risky in terms of inflammation and disease.  Too often people assume that they have a lack of willpower or discipline when the truth is that chronic stress is highjacking their biology.

Stress causes us to reach for comfort foods as a way to medicate the brain.  We crave high sugar, high fat, and salty foods because that provides the instant gratification that we both crave and have been accustomed to enjoy.  From a very early age, our brains learned to associate sweet and savory foods with rewards.  If we had good behavior, we were rewarded with a cookie.  If we were sad, depressed, happy or mad, we were given food to cope.  You may not remember all of the ways that food was used to medicate, but the brain does.  When we are stressed, we don’t reach for grilled fish and broccoli.  No, we reach for the foods that will provide us with that quick boost in mood and energy.  We fail to remember that the junk food never really solves our problems, but actually creates more problems in the long-term.

Chronic stress also means we don’t have time to arrange our world for success.  When we’re stressed, we are thinking about the here and now and we’re not taking time to nurture ourselves through proper diet and exercise.  We’re also not likely getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, which further feeds this vicious cycle of stress.

Avoiding Stress Eating
Changing eating habits is hard. It’s especially hard when those habits have been engrained for years.  There’s no denying that eating junk food when we’re stressed or tired provides an instant, albeit momentary break from our suffering. That awareness is the difference between setting up strategies that work versus beating yourself after each failure. First, recognize the stress emotions. Then work to replace unhelpful habits with habits that provide lasting reward. Some tips:

  • Plan ahead. Always make sure you pantries are stocked with healthy stuff. Make it easy to do right, and hard to do wrong.
  • Make sure meals and snacks have plenty of fiber and protein. This helps promote satiety
  • Aim for whole foods. Get rid of enriched grain products, added sugars, and ultra-processed foods. These foods create a viscious cycle of cravings and hormonal imbalances in the body
  • Include anti-inflammatory fats such as those found in walnuts, fish, chia and flax seeds
  • Pre-portion high calorie snacks such as nuts, cheeses, and dark chocolate, for example
  • Include plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds that helps promote relaxation in the body

Get the right support and the right tools! Visit our website or call us 864 522-2183

Diets and Weight Loss

No doubt, you’ve tried countless diets over the years in an effort to shed a few pounds or to improve your health.  Fad diets are easy to spot once you know what to look for.  They speak to our need for control when everything is out of control.  Fad diets are an attractive option because they seem to make logical sense, that is, until you do some actual research from an unbiased source.  Here’s what you need to know:  THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH.  There’s no magical formula that will get you the results you want.  You can’t follow your trainer’s diet and expect to get the same results.   The magic happens when accept that you are unique and will require a unique approach, but don’t think you should approach it alone.  It can be highly worth your time and money to seek professional support from a health coach or a registered dietitian.

A sound nutritional plan will always include lots of vegetables, lean proteins and whole foods, while being low in sugar, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods.  If you seek better health through better nutrition, you should know that the answer isn’t “out there.”  Instead, the answers you need lie within you—specifically, in the mass between your two ears.  The question often is not what should I eat, but rather how can I make it happen.  Diets fail for lack of proper planning.

If that overly simplistic explanation doesn’t quite motivate you, there is another tool that can help.  Nutritional genetic testing looks at your individual genetic makeup which determines how you may respond to diet and exercise.  It’s called nutrigenomics and it reinforces the idea that no one person responds equally to the same diet.  Instead of bouncing from one fad diet to the next, you can be tested and the results will be reviewed with you by a trained professional.  Likely this person will be a dietitian and they will counsel you on the appropriate nutrition and exercise strategies for you.  If you are interested in learning more about this testing, schedule an appointment or simply give us a call

Nutrition Solutions

Eat More, Weigh Less

As I often say, losing weight and keeping it off are not necessarily the same thing. Most weight loss programs focus on weight loss without much, or any consideration for maintenance. Keeping the weight off requires a person to sustain health habits for life. Losing weight can be exciting, whereas keeping the weight off can be rather mundane.

Weight maintenance may not be so easy, but it’s also not complex. It requires total commitment to diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. The correct diet for maintenance of a healthy weight (which, by the way is not just a number on a scale) is one that is that is personalized to you. But in general, your diet will be abundant in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, while also low in processed foods and sugar. Essentially, your diet should consist of a lot of plant foods, sprinkled with lean meats, proteins and seafood, with some good quality fats. Rather than getting hung up on details, for most people it’s better to focus on dietary patterns rather than specific nutrients and diets.

Cutting calories does not need to be boring, and it certainly does not mean depriving yourself of nourishing and delicious foods. By focusing on nutrient-density in meals, it’s possible to eat MORE, but get LESS CALORIES. Many people mistakenly assume that cutting calories equates to eating diet foods and salads, but this is far from the truth. Your diet should be sustainable, nourishing, and pleasing to the palate. Nutrient-dense foods meet all of these criteria.

My criteria for nutrient-dense foods are whole foods that are full of nutrients, while also being low in calories for what they provide. Essentially, nutrient-dense foods give you a better bang for your buck. They contain numerous important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and often times phytochemicals or important anti-oxidant compounds. Dietary patterns that meat this criteria are Volumetrics Eating Plan, Mediterranean, and DASH. You can glean from these diets, but experiment with what works for you and have fun.

 

Metabolic Testing: Key For Weight Loss?

by Christy Strouse, RDN, CPT  

How Metabolic Testing Can Help You To Lose Weight

Metabolic testing is an important first step when deciding to lose weight.  It can also help with overcoming the dreaded weight loss plateau.  Instead of estimating calorie needs (guessing), metabolic testing allows the practitioner to measure the RMR, also known as Resting Metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy (calories) the body consumes at rest.  This is accomplished by having the client rest comfortably while having them breath through a tube connected to the metabolic analyzer.  The machine measures the amount of oxygen the person is burning at rest and this is directly related to the amount of calories they are burning.  From there, it determines calorie ranges for weight loss, weight maintenance and weight gain.

More Than A Tool

Having the right calorie prescription for weight loss is the critical first step in providing individualized nutrition programming.  If your goal is weight loss, ideally you will be using this information while working with a registered dietitian in a comprehensive program designed for YOU.  We can’t stress enough the importance of having the right support as you embark on these new changes.  Simply having your metabolic numbers won’t automatically translate into actionable steps.  It’s not for a lack of information that people struggle to lose weight and keep it off.  Weight loss that is sustainable requires the right info (calorie and individualized program), with the right support and the right strategies.  Combine all of that with the person’s intrinsic motivation for change and that is the recipe for a transformed life.

We at Nutrition Solutions love what we do and we partner with people ready for lifestyle change.  If that’s you and you are interested in finding out who we are and what we do, click here and we’ll have someone reach out to you.

 

Design Your World for Weight Loss Success

The pressure to overeat junk food in our culture is enormous. Take a moment and inventory your surroundings. Start with your home.  Do you have ice cream, cookies, candy, chips or other ultra-processed foods hanging around in your pantries and kitchen? What about your work environment? Is the break room filled with goodies, donuts and other delectable treats? If so, you’re not alone as this is normal in our culture. The bad news is, this is a environmental recipe for disaster when it comes to your food choices.

For years, the onus to be healthy has been placed solely on individuals. When the top leading causes of death in America are largely preventable, many scientists and health professionals are starting to look at the environmental causes of disease.  We refer to this as an obesogenic environment in which the environment actually encourages poor food choices and sedentary behavior.

What can you do about it? As it turns out, plenty!  The first step is to take an inventory of your surroundings. The second step is to recognize that willpower is limited. Sometimes there’s a tendency to look at people who are healthy and assume they have great willpower, but research would show that this is not the case. Willpower is available in limited amounts for all, but some do a better job of managing this limited resource. Along with limited amounts of willpower we all posess, it’s also helpful to understand that the brain is wired for pleasure. That means that junk foods like chips and candy will always be more instantly gratifying than whole foods that are minimally processed. The body is adapted for feast or famine; previous generations experienced famines and harsh winters. Humans were able to adapt by storing calories when food was abundant, and burning those calories when food energy was low.  The problem is we live in a culture where high-calorie foods are present everywhere. It is feast, feast, feast! Throw in some chronic stress and sleep deprivation and this causes the body to crave pleasure even more.  The brain must find ways to self-medicate and it just so happens that junk food will do the trick. It’s legal, cheap, and socially accepted. We pay for it though. We pay for it with insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, weight gain and chronic diseases. Poor diet is even linked with psychiatric conditions.

This all brings us back to this point: You want to design your home and work environments for success. As it’s been famously said, you want to make it easy to do right and hard to do wrong. This means keeping junk food out of sight and out of mind. Take it a step further and bring in your favorite health foods.  Prepare those roasted vegetables on the weekend and have them look you in the eye every time you open your refrigerator. This means planning your meals and snacks and always being prepared.

Manage those food cues. Redesign your world. Set yourself up for success. Praise yourself for tiny victories. Learn from your mistakes and let go of shame. YOU can be successful only when you engineer your success. With that being said, make sure to surround yourself with positive people who are also health-conscious. Weight loss is a team sport and not to be tackled on your own.

Seek out the support of qualified experts who can enhance your results and reduce stress. Call or visit our website at Nutrition Solutions

Mindfulness in Eating

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Mindfulness in Eating”
Are you a mindful eater? Probably not. Would you lose weight, have more energy and feel more empowered if you practiced mindful eating? Would you have a more peaceful relationship with food? Definitely, yes.

Mindfulness is not a new concept, but it’s certainly not well practiced by most Americans. Being mindful simply means to be consciously aware or curious about your experiences. The principles are profoundly simple, and yet very hard to instill in our daily lives. Never is the lack more apparent than with our eating habits, but if you can develop (practice) eating in a more mindful way, the benefits are completely worth it.

How do you know if you’re a mindful eater (vs mindless eater)? Do you:
– consciously take the time to take a breath or two between bites when eating?
– take time to check in during mealtimes to assess fullness level?
– check awareness of feelings and emotions before you order, prepare or eat food?
– Eat 90% of food/meals/snacks while sitting down with no distractions?

I’m guessing that most of you are mindless eaters (I am too ???? ). If so, you may suffer from digestive upset such as reflux, bloating, IBS, weight gain, low energy, and feelings of guilt. You may find yourself constantly on a diet, but never achieving long-term success. There is no guilt in mindful eating. In fact, mindful eating is all about suspending judgments. Food is neither good, nor bad, but the eating experience provides you with the opportunity to increase awareness of HOW and WHY you eat the way you do. MINDFUL EATING IS NON-JUDGMENTAL AND IS ABOUT RELYING ON INTERNAL CUES FOR HUNGER, APPETITE AND SATIETY TO GUIDE YOUR EATING. MINDFUL EATING IS EATING CONSCIOUSLY IN A WAY TO MAKE YOUR BODY FEEL WELL. Most of us have to get reacquainted with our internal monitors for hunger and satiety.

The benefits of mindful eating are numerous:
– helps to reduce overeating/binge episodes
– helps with weight loss
– helps remove unwanted, automatic food habits (emotional eating)
– promotes a peaceful relationship with food
– helps with satisfaction of meals and enjoyment of nourishing foods

Practical ways to get started with Mindful Eating
– Practice being more mindful in all aspects of your life
– Practice understanding the difference between hunger and craving
– Notice your emotions when you eat–How you feel, thoughts, feelings?
– Begin to eat using all of your senses
– Start small—try one mindful meal this week
– Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes and take that time to eat a meal
– Try eating with non-dominant hand
– Use chopsticks
– Eat silently for 5 minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun’s rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook
– Take small bites and chew well
Ask yourself “Am I Hungry?” If not physiologically hungry, take a walk
– Eat Until 80% full

For more on Mindful Eating, visit Dr. Michelle May’s website:

What is Mindful Eating?

It’s Not About The Diet. 

When it comes down to it, there’s not one special diet that will produce lasting weight loss for every person.  Many different nutritional approaches can work, assuming the person can stick with it.  A person should consider things like stress, cooking abilities, reasons for changing, and methods of sustaining the changes. Why have you been unsuccessful at changing in the past? Ultimately, your success will come from changing habits and that happens when you have a clear understanding of the problems, and you strive for creative solutions to those problems. Creativity is a highly under-appreciated skill when it comes to weight loss. Challenges will always be there and simple cookie-cutter approaches won’t work. You can “glean” strategies from popular diets, but you have to make it your own. Take what works and leave the rest.

Be a good scientist 
When it comes to weight loss, what no one will tell you is that there’s a lot of experimentation with finding the right formula for success. We all would like to believe that A + B = C.  Eat less, exercise more and you will lose weight. Well, yes.  But no. Yes, you must maintain an energy deficit to lose weight, but HOW exactly you accomplish this is where the experimentation comes into play.  Experiment with calories, macros, meal timing and exercise.  Don’t leave out strategies for sleep and stress reduction which play a major role in weight management.

Is it worth it?
Ultimately, the effort you put into changing existing habits must be worth it, which is to say, it must be rewarding. Make sure you carefully and continuously evaluate the pros and cons of adopting the desired change.  If you commit to daily exercise, for example, you must connect with the rewards in order for you to stick with it. Does this new behavior produce more energy? Better sleep? Improved mood? You may say you want to eat “right” and exercise, but the brain sees through your vain attempts. In order for the new behavior to stick, your brain must be rewarded for it.  If there is a powerful reward to your new behavior, your brain will commit that to memory so you can quickly remember it for next time. The caveat: your brain loves instant gratification. Make sure your rewards are thought out.

The next time you’re tempted to try the next popular diet, ask yourself if a new diet is really what you need.  More likely, you need to go deeper and recall what strategies did or did not work in the past.  You don’t need another diet to follow. You need to find your own diet to follow.

Support yourself with the best!  We would love the opportunity to partner with you on your journey.  Schedule a time to speak with one of our coaches today!

Nutrition Solutions

864 676-1248