Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warming those Winter Blues

Warming those Winter Blues

This has not been the tamest winter we've experienced in the midwest, and, though the days are getting longer, many of us find ourselves in a bit of a winter funk. Here are a few tips to get that spring in your step back, before spring arrives:
  1. Stay hydrated
Sometimes, with all the water around us, in the form of snow and ice, the last thing we think about is drinking more of it. During the winter, staying hydrated will help you regulate your body temperature, fight cravings, thin out mucus, and keep all of the body processes running smoothly. Consider aiming for ½ your body weight in ounces of water in addition to eating more foods with high-water content (fruits and veggies to name a few).
  1. Move your body
We often slow down, curl up, or cover ourselves and...sit. Getting some exercise in will help boost your mood, give you more energy, and whittle the waistline so that when it's time to unearth your summer clothes and swimsuits, you'll actually be able to fit in them. The first step may be the hardest one you take. Get off the couch. The second step is much easier – bundle up and take a short walk, find a dance or fun aerobic video on Youtube, do some yoga/stretching, or join a gym to create some support and accountability for working out.
  1. Stay social
We often retreat into our own 'caves' and watch television while we wait for winter to be over. Visiting with friends and making an effort to stay connected will be a good boost for your mood and get you out of the house. Plan a short trip somewhere warm to help plant the thought-seed that spring really is just around the corner.
  1. Get Enough Vitamin D
Our limited exposure to sunlight causes our vitamin D levels to drop and affects our mood and energy levels. Get outside for 5-10 minutes to let the sun on your skin, include more vitamin D food sources (cold water fish or fortified milk) or consider taking a supplement.
  1. Eat well Limit sugar and refined grains, sources of 'empty carbohydrates' while increasing the bounty of vegetables available in the season. Winter squash, dark green vegetables, butternut squash cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts are great winter veggies. Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beets have tons of nutrients as well. Winter is a good time to incorporate animal protein, if that's part of your diet. Try the Spicy Beef Chili for a delicious, warming dinner!
Staying active and making healthy choices will help keep you warm and well. Take heart - spring is on its way!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Nutritionist's List for Santa

Dear Santa,

Before you look over my very big list, let's establish my inherent goodness and behavior this past year. I have been faithfully eating my greens, avoiding processed foods, helping others achieve a higher level of health, yoga-ing myself into a variety of contortionist postures meant to facilitate my spiritual growth, and I've been giving out a lot of free hugs this year. Please keep this all in mind as you read through my wish list for Christmas 2014

1. The complete disappearance of foods made with trans-fat, HFCS, and GMO corn syrup from the shelves of the grocery store. I'd love to see whole, unprocessed foods in their place.

2. Convince companies to not use lead in making lipsticks. I'd like to use Burt's Bees colors again.

3. Corn and soy should not be GMO or subsidized

4. Wine should be pure, no sulfites

5. I'd like a nice co-operative housing situation on the west coast, with an organic farm in the backyard, chickens & bunnies, and an herb garden; it may double as a yoga retreat

6. Monsanto should 'disappear' or become bankrupt because people & the government have stopped buying their poison seeds and chemicals

7. Dietitians should be covered by insurance (if they want to); for those of us who want to tell the truth without playing their game and having to share sensitive client information with the insurance company, we will continue in this matter

8. Change government subsidies. I'd like you to have a nice long chat with the USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tommy Vilsack, to ensure that wheat, corn, soy, and sugar will no longer be subsidized; instead kale, cauliflower, lentils, walnuts, and organic meats will be :)

9. Cooking classes should be required coursework in the educational system. If people are going to feed themselves (and others) in a healthy manner 3x a day, this needs to start early. It's truly a shame that most elementary school kids cannot identify fruits and vegetables.

10. I would love to have non-dairy, magical no-calorie :D Jeni's ice cream on occasion

And also, please help the delicious dinner and desserts I plan to eat on Christmas not go directly to my mid-section. Thank you!

Your faithful dietitian,



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mindful Eating for You AND Your Children

Let's face it - most of us finish our 'meals' (sometimes loosely defined as fast-food or snack packs) in the span of 5-15 minutes...whether we are in the car, at the computer, or in front of the television. Meal-time is seen as a cause for whining or suffering, both with meal preparation and with actually taking the time to do it the slower, more mindful way. "Ain't nobody got time for that," you might say. And so it continues, 3 meals a day (or more), down the hatch and often in such quantities as to cause discomfort about 20 minutes later when we realize we ate too much. Rarely do we realize we are often also eating out of stress and emotions we don't want to deal with.

Then guess what? Your children, who are always observing and learning from you, start picking up the same habits.

Mindfulness starts now. Here's how to get started:

1. Eat your meals together - not only will this help create and maintain and cohesive family life but it gets you and the children away from the phones, computer, and television while you eat. Mindfulness means bringing attention to the sight, textures, and taste of food as well as thinking of how you feel while you are eating.

2. Check in with yourself & your child before you serve a meal. Ask about his/her hunger level on a scale of 0 (not hungry at all) to 5 (might eat everything that's not nailed down). Let your child serve him/herself how much food needed to balance out. This will teach children to connect with their bodies and associate serving sizes with satiety levels.

3. Little actions can reduce temptation to over-eat. Serving meals in the kitchen, rather than keeping bowls and platters of food on the table, can help prevent over-eating. Try not to keep many leftovers as that can be a temptation for distracted eating later on in the day. Mindfulness techniques, over time, will help you and your children establish emotional hunger and true hunger. Children may also discover food intolerances and allergies by becoming more aware of how food makes them feel. You can do the same.

4. Bust the food police. Children have to learn, for themselves, how much food makes him/her full. It can be difficult not to try to control, especially when trying to 'help' the child stay thin or healthy. Often, when mealtimes and amounts are controlled, the child may resort to sneaking food. Establish some food-free time with your child to see how he/she feels and what is needed.

5. Ask yourself some important questions. Do you only eat healthy when trying to lose weight? Do you make comments about your body that your children hear? Do you feel ashamed when you choose certain foods or eat too much? Tackle these problems honestly by yourself or with a support person so you can prevent passing on these issues to your children.

We all just want to be comfortable in our own skin. Be compassionate towards yourself with the quality and quantity of foods you eat, as well as the motivation behind eating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stay fit and trim for baby

Image: rodalenews.com

 Here's extra incentive to shed those few pounds the first pregnancy put on - you can reduce the risk of complications in the second pregnancy.

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that mothers who gained weight between pregnancies face a much greater risk of complications the second time around. The study of 150,000 Swedish women found that those who gained 3 or more units of body mass index (BMI) - compared to those who gained 1 or less - had a 78% greater chance of pre-eclampsia, 76% greater chance of gestational hypertension, and a bit more than twice the chance of gestational diabetes. Odds for Caesarean delivery and stillbirth were significantly greater.

Let's break it down a bit - to increase her BMI by 3 units, a 5-foot-5-inch woman weighing 125 lbs (BMI = 20.8) would need to gain 18 pounds. She would still fall within normal range, but would have much higher risk of complications with the second pregnancy.

Even modest increases in BMI before pregnancy could result in complications, even without the woman becoming overweight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

4 Ways to Build Healthy Bones

Women should be getting the nutrients they need from their diet, but many do not, due to a variety of reasons. A study from the University of Michigan School of Nursing found that reduced estrogen levels preceding menopause can impair vitamin K's ability to bind calcium to bone. Women can lose bone mass and density due to the acidity of the standard American diet.

Image: medimanage.com

1. Consider supplements. Research from Switzerland showed that potassium citrate improved the bones in post-menopausal women with low bone mass.
2. Choose a more alkaline diet rich in plant-foods.
3. Stop drinking soda - all of them. Regular, diet, or decaffeinated. Women 60 and older who drink soda had lower bone mass than those who didn't and loss increased with each drink, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Chronic inflammation can weaken bones by forcing the osteoclasts (which break down bone) into over-drive...and can cause the minerals stored in the bones to be broken down. A study on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) at the University of Texas showed that the compound slowed down the work of the osteoclasts and the loss of bone and muscle mass.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cinnamon - the Spice of Life

Even if most of us aren't curators of spices and herbs, there's generally one in everyone's spice shelf - cinnamon! Used in everything from Cinnabun to my old favorite - Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea by Harney & Sons - we rarely think of how this wonderful spice's scent and taste are impacting our health.

According to a a study presented at the American College of Nutrition's annual meeting, cinnamon could be a key player on the battlefield of metabolic syndrome (think obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin-resistance). An estimated 25-32% of Americans have this condition.

The study found that cinnamon increases antioxidant levels in the blood and decreases oxidative stress. Other research shows the spice reduces blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
Image: jcrowsmarketplace.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October is not about pink ribbons. It's a time to remember how diet has an impact.

1. Broccoli for Healthy Breasts 
Research from the University of Leicester suggests that a specific compound in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) may assist in inhibiting breast cancer development. Earlier studies have shown that foods rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) may destroy cancer cells be reducing the expression of the 'epidermal growth factor receptor', which protects cancer cells. This study found that indole-3-carbinol helped reduce these receptors in 3 of 4 different types of breast cancer cells. Consider consuming more cruciferous vegetables for breast health.  

Reference: Carcinogenesis, February 2007
Image: livelovefruit.com

2. Pay Attention to Protein
A study found that elevated insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels were positively correlated with the consumption of protein - mainly from animal proteins - including milk. Inverse associations were found between IGF-1 levels and the intake of vegetables and beta-carotene (think orange-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy greens). Previous studies have shown elevated IGF-1 levels are associated with various cancers including prostate, colorectal, and pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2007

Image: poorexcuses.com

3. Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
A U.K. Women's Cohort Study involving over 35,000 women found that pre-menopausal women who consumed 30 grams of fiber a day had HALF the risk of breast cancer compared to those who ate less than 20 grams per day. Researchers suggest that, because estrogen levels are higher in pre-menopausal women, dietary fiber intake earlier in life may be important in regulating hormones and lowering the risk for breast cancer. Fiber's role in the body includes removing excess hormones, carcinogens, and cholesterol. Foods with higher fiber include whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.

 Image: hsph.harvard.edu

Bonus: Additional study findings showed that high protein consumption and low vitamin C intake were associated with increased risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Reference: Epidemiology, January 2007

Learn more at The Cancer Project.org