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Nutrition

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Nutrition Mission: Possible

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Step one to eating healthier: Define your nutrition goal. Is it to lose weight? Gain muscle mass? Decrease your risk of certain diseases? A free session with our registered dietitian can help you home in on your personal nutrition mission. From there, it’s easier to figure out what to do next.

Once your goal is defined, it can seem overwhelming, so keep it simple and start with a plan.   Create your week’s menu, by picking out your meals and snacks for each day. The fewer decisions you have to make on the fly the easier it is to stick to your plan.

Helpful tips:

  • Get organized! Keep yourself organized by having a place to write down your week’s menu, for example on a new kitchen chalkboard.
  • If a dish works then add it to consolidated list of other successful meals, so you have more known options in the future.
  • Remake your family favorites by adding healthier ingredients. Whenever possible try to swap out problem foods for more nutritious substitutes. For example, take the classic spaghetti and meatballs – to make this dish healthier use high fiber pasta, add more vegetables in the sauce, and make the meatballs with lean meat.
  • Try theme nights! Wednesdays you can try a fish dish and Sundays are a great night for tacos. With established themes you can try different variations and add in extra nutritious ingredients.
  • Switch up your menu by looking at weekly sales. A quick glance at the sales flyer can help you save $ while planning ahead.

If you are looking for new recipe ideas try these websites:

American Diabetes Association & American Heart Association The recipes include nutrition information and are already designed for a healthy lifestyle.

Cooking Light, Food Network, healthy recipes, & Eating Well All three are great for inspiration and commonly include a variety of seasonal dishes that require varying levels of cooking expertise.

Keep in mind our eating habits are sculpted by repetitive behaviors but those habits can be changed! If you are looking to improve your nutrition start simple, create a plan, and go from there. The more you incorporate weekly planning the easier it will get.

Let us help you! Meet with our nutrition expert for a free nutrition session to get started.

 

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Healthier guts, feeding our germy allies

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Our intestines have always contained bacteria, but only within the last decade have we been able to start decoding their true importance. This is a huge contrast from the recommendation to use antibacterial soap and antibiotics for everything. Turns out we really shouldn’t be trying to wipe out all of these germs because quite a few strains are likely to be powerful influencers to our health.

Beneficial gut bacteria can help your digestion to perform at top shape, so we feel more regular and can aide in halting uncomfortable GI issues. Our gut microbiota may also affect other aspects of our body, like blood pressure, cholesterol, immune system, and even our weight.

Certainly not all gut bacteria are beneficial, which is makes this topic all the more fascinating because people suffering from certain conditions tend to have a very different gut microbiome compared to healthy counterparts.   The great news is our lifestyle choices, like the foods we eat, can assistance the good bacteria and keep the negative ones at bay.

How can you increase your good gut bacteria?

No, please don’t go running to eat handfuls of dirt; there are much better and tastier ways. And yes, still wash your hands.

Instead try to increase your intake of both probiotics and prebiotics. These two buzzwords are being used a lot throughout food and beverage industry, but if you select wisely with certain foods/drinks can help support a healthy and happy gut.

Probiotics:

Probiotics actually contain the healthy bacteria, so when we consume these items we are actually ingesting the “good guys”. Probiotics are sensitive to stomach acid and heat. This means pasteurization kills a lot of the good bacteria, so look for raw probiotics.

You can find great probiotic sources in fermented foods and drinks. The process of fermentation helps kill pathogenic or harmful bacteria, while allowing the good guys to thrive.

Probiotic sources include:

Yogurt- Aim for an unsweetened options, and top your yogurt with added prebiotics like granola, cereal, or fruit.

Kefir-A fermented beverage, compared to as more liquidly yogurt. Can have alone, poured over cereal, or other dishes.

Pickles- Unpasteurized brined pickles can be wonderful probiotic source.

Kimchi-This is a mixture of fermented Korean vegetables, cabbage is a traditional staple. Look for unpasteurized versions.

Sauerkraut- Home fermented sauerkraut can pack a powerful punch of probiotics, even more than probiotic supplements. Store bought varieties are traditionally pasteurized. You might be able to find something refrigerated section, but it will likely be much more expensive.

However, it’s so simple to make your own sauerkraut and all you need are two ingredients, cabbage and salt.

  • Shred two full heads of cabbage into ~1/8th thickness with a knife, processor, or slicer and put into a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle the shreds with 2 tablespoons of pickling salt or non-iodized salt (iodine would prevent bacterial fermentation).
  • Mix well, wait 5-10 minutes allowing the cabbage to start wilting.
  • Pour the mixture into a nonmetal container (the acid from the fermentation could cause metal to leach into cabbage), like a plastic container with a good lid.
  • Pack the salted cabbage down as much as you can, to allow its juices to rise above and cover everything.
  • Fill a food grade closeable plastic bag with water. Place the water bag on top of the cabbage. This will block air exposure and prevent spoilage.
  • Keep at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.
  • Check the container daily to skim off any film; this is unlikely if the mixture remains covered by the water bag. However if you see anything just skim off the layer.
  • Taste it! If it tastes like sauerkraut then it’s done! Wait another week if the taste isn’t right yet. Store in the fridge (or it will spoil) or freeze any unused amounts.

Other great probiotic finds include micro beers (if unpasteurized), unpasteurized miso, buttermilk, kombucha, pickled ginger, and tempeh.

What about prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a form of fiber. When eaten these intact plant fibers reside in the large intestine, helping to feed healthy bacteria. The great news is prebiotics are in a lot of foods, and you’re likely already eating quite a few. If not, it’s easy to add them into your daily diet. 

Below are a few examples of prebiotic packed foods:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Wheat
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Chicory root
  • Cabbage
  • Legumes (examples; lentils, chickpeas, edamame) 

And what about supplements?

There are many supplements on the market claiming to contain a certain amount of probiotics. The bottom line is they are not all created equal, so if you are interested in trying out a new probiotic or prebiotic supplement ask your doctor or a health professional. Remember foods can be a naturally powerful source on their own.

Our final point: Nutrition fads come and go. However, this health food topic seems to be backed by some serious merit. Have fun and experiment with different probiotics and prebiotics to find what works the best for you.

 

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It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Time

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There are actually two holiday’s during the first week of April. The first, of course, is April Fools day. However, the second is literally on the 2nd, and it’s national Peanut Butter and Jelly day!

PB & J is a classic American flavor combination; to some it’s still a weekly staple, while to others it blast from childhood.

Of course this holiday highlights the simple go-to, but there’s another reason why you might want to devote an extra night to good ol PB&J…

Eating a PB&J could help decrease your carbon footprint. It may seem like a bit of the stretch but this campaign promotes adding more plant-based meals, like a PB&J, to decrease our intake of animal foods. Plus, peanut butter and other plant-based foods can give us a nutritious boost!

The simple slogan is “a healthier planet, one meal at a time.”   These little choices can help, as well as other environment friendly actions like recycling or taking public transportation.

Here are some new takes on an old favorite:

Savory PB&J:

  • Bread of choice
  • Pepper jelly
  • Spicy peanut butter:
    • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce of choice
    • 1/4 teaspoon honey
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

High Fiber PB&J:

  • High fiber bread
  • Choice of jelly
  • Peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed OR chia seeds OR hemps seeds
    • *Helps add in extra fiber and omega-3’s

Power Veggie Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • ½ cup of beans (black beans, chickpeas, lentils, or another type of beans or legumes)
  • ¾ cup of quinoa (or brown rice, or wheat berries, or another complex grain)
  • 1 cup of steamed non-starchy vegetables, examples: broccoli, green beans, or peppers (frozen bags are an easy way to add in the veggies)
  • Peanut sauce: mix and stir all ingredients together, heat in the microwave for ~30 seconds at a time, until warm enough for personal preference
    • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
    • ½ tablespoon water
    • ½ tablespoon hoisin sauce
    • ½ teaspoon lime juice
    • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
    • ½ teaspoon of apricot jam

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The not so secret way to improve your health…

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You usually feel better, work out harder, and see better results when you are hydrated.  This is because more than half the body is composed of water, and that water is vital for important functions like temperature regulation, waste disposal, and transport of oxygen to cells.  By getting enough water throughout the day, especially after a rigorous workout, you are helping your body function at its optimum level.

The most common recommendation is to drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This is a great general goal, however your target should be based on your body and lifestyle.

For example, if you are active then you need to drink more to replenish what you lost through sweat.

Quick hydration tips:

  1. Create a personal hydration base or goal; meaning a minimum amount of water you gulp each day.
  2. Drink at least one glass of water before exercising.
  3. Sip on ¾ – 1 ½ cups (or more) of water every 15-20 minutes of exercise or during breaks.
  4. Try to drink 2-3 cups (16-24 ounces) for every pound you lose after working out.  That rapid weight loss is likely due to sweat, not fat loss, and you want to make sure you get the lost water back into your body.

Finding water too bland?

You can mix it up with different combinations of water fusions. You can add fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices to add extra flavor without a lot of extra calories or sugar.  A classic water combination is cucumber and lemon, but there are so many ways you can zest up your water.  It’s absolutely okay to reach for frozen fruit during the off-season. Actually frozen fruits has an added benefits since they can act as a flavor additive and ice cubes. To make these fusions just place your desired mix right into your water, let it sit for a bit, and enjoy!

Here are some great flavor combinations:

  • Berries-mint
  • Orange-kiwi
  • Strawberry-basil
  • Blueberry-lime
  • Orange-cinnamon (with a cinnamon stick)
  • Cranberry-ginger (with fresh ginger)
  • Cucumber-citrus (mix up this classic with other citrus fruits like oranges and limes)
  • Watermelon-rosemary

While a glass of water is a quick way to stay hydrated, you have other options.   In fact, foods with high water content can also help add to your body’s water bank.  You can think of these foods as extra water sources for yourself, and it’s even better when they are eaten with a water-based drink.

Great ways “to eat” your water include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Soups
  • Smoothies
  • Fruits
    • Watermelon
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes
    • Grapefruit
    • Cantaloupe
  • Vegetables
    • Cucumbers
    • Lettuce
    • Celery
    • Broccoli
    • Radishes

Can water help you lose weight?

Water will NOT burn fat, but it does seem to help with weight loss and weight maintenance.   People tend to feel fuller when they are hydrated, and are actually more prone to overeating or indulging in cravings when dehydrated.  This is because it’s common to confuse the feeling of thirst for being hungry.   Drinking water helps you feel fuller faster, which saves you calories, especially if you are actually hydrating with water versus a caloric beverage.

Whenever a weight loss client of mine feels stuck, we work together to increase their water intake for the week. This could mean setting a reasonable water target, as well as cues to help them remember to drink. With more water they get back on track, feel more energized, and see new weight lows.

If you are concerned about not drinking enough water or are looking to ramp up your intake, try to set specific goals for yourself.

Small goals could include:

  • Carrying a travel bottle, and trying to drink a certain number of refills each day.
  • Drink a glass of water with each meal and snack.
  • Set alarms throughout the day to remember to drink.
  • Make rules on when to drink, like have a glass of water after every bathroom visit.

By making hydrating a part of your regular routine you are helping establish a healthy foundation for yourself.

It’s just too simple not to do!