Blog: News Bites and Feeds
 
November 19th, 2014 | No Comments

10 Holiday Eating Tips

1. Enjoy! The holidays are a great time to gather with family and friends and eat incredible foods. Don’t miss out!

2. Balance. Most people do eat more calories during the holiday stretch. Think about ways to increase your activity to balance out the excess calories. Walk more during your workday. Extend your walk or run by 5-10 minutes. Take the train or bus and get off a stop earlier.Take the stairs during your workday. Small increases in activity can make a big difference.

3. Think Mediterranean. Go for savory vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, yogurt and olive oil whenever possible and use spices to help enhance flavor rather than an extra pat of butter or salt.

4. Focus on colorful vegetables. Most holiday meals are rich in vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, spinach, turnips and Brussels sprouts. These foods are an excellent way to include a good dose of protective antioxidants. Make your vegetable portions bigger than you normally do at holiday time. Fill your plate with color.

5. Drink sensibly. For those including alcohol, be sure to include a glass of water between drinks to avoid overdoing alcohol calories (and a horrible hangover).

6. Keep the ‘heavy hitters’ small in portion. Some foods are packed with calories (and taste).  Keep the portions of such foods small. Cheese, bread, nuts, olives, dried fruit, appetizers, rolls, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, alcohol and desserts.

7. Try healthier versions of a few of your favorite foods. Use olive oil instead of butter. Try fresh and dried spices instead of relying on salt and cheese.

8. Eat! Don’t skip eating the day of a holiday. Skipping meals to ‘save your calories’ will backfire and you’ll eat at least twice as much when you come to meal time. Eat as you normally would during the day (or slightly less) to avoid feeling overly hungry.

9. Exercise. You’ll feel better. Plain and simple. Get out and move. Sign up to walk or run a holiday road race.

10. Same as number 1. Enjoy. Be mindful of your eating but don’t obsess or worry about it. Food is one of the best gifts. Savor it.

CATEGORIES: Healthy Weight
 
October 6th, 2014 |

Butter Me Up?

I keep getting asked about saturated fat after several flashy media reports about sat fat not being the cause of heart disease. The answer isn’t so simple. To me, it begs for a heavy dose of simple common sense.

Here’s an email response to a friend about this topic over the summer. It summarizes my thoughts without getting into the nitty gritty of nutrition epidemiology. I thought it would be worth sharing. Here it is:

Hey, I’m in the Adirondacks with spotty cell service. I’m in Lake Placid right now doing a few errands & just peeking at this so I wanted to write back my quick thoughts.

I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that cutting out carbohydrates and replacing with sat fat will work for everyone. The data on Mediterranean Diet seems much more useful to me when we look beyond just body weight. How can people best protect themselves from chronic disease as they get to a healthier weight? How can they stay at a healthy weight for good? How can they decrease inflammation? How can learn to eat minimally processed foods? How the heck can they get in the kitchen and cook more? How can they feel better? To me, that’s what matters.

Refined carbohydrates are problematic. No denying that. Replacing refined carbs with small amounts of whole grains or gluten-free carbs for active people makes sense to me. The fiber in good carbs should help justify smaller carb portions. It’s also an opportunity to add some disease preventing nutrients.

Saturated fat should still be taken in smaller amounts than healthier monounsaturated and omega 3 fats. People unfortunately interpret ‘sat fat is good’ and the bacon, beef jerky and hamburgers (no bun) start becoming the norm. We KNOW that’s problematic for inflammation and cancer.

So, if we’re going to say that ‘sat fats not so bad’, I really think we need to highlight that people choose saturated fat sources in moderation from grass-fed beef or coconut oil whenever possible and NOT from nitrate-laden super processed forms. Also, we NEED to highlight that they need far more fruits and vegetables and plant-based foods too.

In short, most people need to eat less, move move, eat far more plants and fewer animals, sleep better, stress less, etc. And, they need to enjoy the outdoors more (best medicine).

I’m stealing wireless so my time is short. Back to Boston on Tuesday unless I just stay here forever. The Adirondacks are too beautiful for words (best medicine).

Best,

Tara

Thoughts? For more on this debate, read this piece in the fall 2014 Harvard School of Public Health magazine.
 
July 29th, 2014 |

Introducing Walking Wednesdays at Lown Cardiovascular Center

I’m always encouraging (ok, begging) my clients and patients to “keep it moving.” It’s no surprise that a commitment to regular exercise has many benefits, for both body and mind. What’s more, it’s fun with the support of others.

I’m now offering my follow-up office nutrition visits as outside walking visits. I also just started an evening walking wellness group at the Lown Cardiovascular Center in Brookline.

The “Walking Wednesdays” group meets from 5 – 6 pm every Wednesday. The walks will start and finish at Lown, 21 Longwood Avenue, Brookline MA. The walks are rain or shine.

The group is FREE. Participation is open to anyone wanting to exercise with the motivation of others. All levels of fitness are welcome. The walks can be adapted to your fitness level. Parking is available on a first come, first serve basis from 5-6 pm at Lown. Public transportation is only a block away with the MBTA Green Line C Train, Coolidge Corner stop. There is also a Hubway bike share stop in the Coolidge Corner area.

Wear your sneakers, bring a walking buddy and get ready to make new friends as you take steps to a healthier life!

Please plan to be at Lown and ready to go for a 5 pm start. Check in at the front desk once you arrive (must be before 5 pm). We’ll be back at 6 pm on the dot.

Call Lown 617.732.1318 if you have any questions about Walking Wednesdays. Please refer to the Lown website for directions.

Let’s build Walking Wednesdays together! All you have to do is show up and tell others.

 
May 18th, 2014 |

Fed Up: A Few Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a special preview screening of Fed Up, the new food documentary at the Harvard School of Public Health. The screening was followed by a short panel Q&A with film producer Laurie David, ChopChop Magazine  founder Sally Sampson and Dr. Eric Rimm, nutrition epidemiologist at HSPH.

The film intends to piss people off about the state of food marketing and the inability of the government to make changes to protect our collective health, especially that of American children.

I came across my hand-scribbled notes I took while watching Fed Up and listening to the panel afterwards. I’ll share them here. In some cases, I wrote the author of the quote. If not, it is likely a quote or phrase from the movie’s narrator, Katie Couric. 

  • Plenty of people are non-obese but sick on the inside. This is everybody’s problem. It touches all of us.
  • A bowl of corn flakes, no added sugar. A bowl of sugar, no added cornflakes. It’s the same thing once it passes your palate.
  • Sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine. Dr. Mark Hyman, founder and Medical Director of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA
  • Junk is still junk, even if it’s less junky. Dr. Mark Hyman
  • Schools have become 7-11s with books. Dr. Kelly Brownell, Dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy
  • 600,000 food products in grocery stores. 80% have added sugar.
  • If we have Meatless Mondays, we should have Sodaless Sundays.
  • Tomato paste is a good source of fiber. WHAT? Ketchup and tomato sauce count as vegetables. WHAT? (movie audience response)
  • Would LeBron James or Beyonce sell cigarettes? Laurie David on celebrity food endorsements (soda, Gatorade, etc.).
  • You can’t actually be on your cell phone and chop a carrot at the same time. Cooking helps us disconnect and connect with what’s important. Laurie David on the importance of cooking.
  • Eating junk isn’t effortless. Sally Sampson of ChopChop magazine on the argument that eating healthy foods costs more and takes more effort.
  • Start small, make a sandwich. It takes 3 minutes. Sally Sampson on ‘cooking’ at home.
  • Spend all the money on healthcare on teaching people how to cook. Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard School of Public Health on shifting our priorities.
  • We have to have better spin than they do. Eric Rimm on how public health needs a public relations makeover to compete with food marketing campaigns.
  • The discussion needs to be about food. Not about weight. Sally Sampson on reframing the issue.

Go see this film and form your own opinions. Start a discussion with friends and colleagues. Rip the film apart. Compliment the parts you agree with. Get political.

As a nutrition professional, I completely agree with my fellow sports dietitian and diabetes educator Sally Hara on her recent post. Nutrition isn’t as  simple as pointing fingers. Helping change a massive system where the deck is really stacked against the good guys (public health & qualified nutrition professionals), isn’t easy. Placing blame, that’s easy.

Here’s my take away message: Don’t wait for the system to be fixed. It won’t be. Just try to make yourself better. Make a small but lasting change to your lifestyle. Motivate and engage those that you care for to do the same. That’s how you help yourself and your community.

 

 

 
March 27th, 2014 |

Who are you getting your nutrition information from?

Load Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any web site. Search for the nutrition topic of your choice. What will you find? Pages upon pages of information, meaning your simple nutrition question just became a million times more confusing.

So, how do you know what information to trust? One way is to look at the credentials of the writer.

Here is what some of the credentials of nutrition writers mean:

Registered Dietitian (also referred to as RD)

  • Registered Dietitians go through extensive schooling in nutrition and dietetics. They complete an internship (in the hospital, outpatient, and community setting) focusing on ways to counsel a wide variety of people on their diets.
  • Registered Dietitians must continue their education yearly. That helps them stay up-to-date on the current nutrition information and research.

Nutritionist

  • No education or training is required to list this credential. Some nutritionists receive extensive schooling in nutrition. Other nutritionists are simply passionate about healthy eating. Check out a nutritionist’s resume and training to determine if she or he has received an education in nutrition.

Health Coach

  • Health coaches train to council clients on healthy behaviors. They take broad courses on nutrition, fitness, and health.

Yoga Instructor

  • Yoga instructors get credentialed to teach yoga. The technique focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. This training does not include nutrition education.

Fitness Enthusiast

  • You see them at the gym or posting about it every day. They clearly enjoy staying active. But they have zero nutrition education.

Barista

  • Baristas remember your “nonfat latte with sugar free vanilla syrup” order each morning. They make all milk and milk alternatives (nonfat, 1%, 2%, whole, or soy) available for you. As part of their job, they do not need to know anything about nutrition.

If you are seeking nutrition advice online, search for the credentials of your source. Be wary of information posted by those without an education in nutrition.

By Stephanie Snell, Guest Blogger, Master’s Candidate at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

 
February 27th, 2014 |

Coconut Water: Are you drinking the “right beverage” for your workout?

Many articles have been published on the importance of staying hydrated during physical activity. Markets have a wide array of beverages that promote “rehydration” benefits. But, how do you choose the best beverage for your workout?  Do you need Gatorade? Coconut water? Or plain water?

For the everyday exerciser, water is still the only recommended beverage within the scientific literature.

Researchers* have tested active adults’ and athletes’ hydration response to a generic sports drink, coconut water, and water after their exercise routine. All participants performed intense exercises that would dehydrate them. Following that exercise, participants consumed one of the three beverages. Their body weights were recorded prior to exercise, following exercise, and then in hourly intervals following the “rehydration beverage.” For a regular exercise regimen—less intense than an athlete—all beverages had the same effect on hydration.

Sports Drinks

Coconut Water

Pros*

  • Sports drinks are better than water during intense exercise that an elite athlete would take part in.
  • Sports drinks contain enough sodium to activate the body’s response to drink more fluids.
  • Coconut water comes from the juice of the coconut: it is all natural and contains no artificial ingredients.
  • Coconut water taste different from water and sports drinks.

Cons*

  • Sports drinks have only been proven beneficial in the elite athlete population, not for the average person going to the gym a few times a week. No evidence suggests sports drinks should be consumed for regular exercise.
  • Sport drinks have more calories than water. Watch the serving size because the calories add up quickly.
  • Coconut water can cause abdominal discomfort when it is used for rehydration.
  • Coconut water has no scientific evidence supporting it as a better rehydration beverage—the main claim of advertisements.

Whether or not you believe the hype about sports drinks and coconut water, the research states that the best beverage for your workout is still plain water. Drink water, stay hydrated.

*Research has been published in the Nutrition Journal, Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, and other peer-reviewed journals

 

By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate in Nutrition at Tufts University

 
January 27th, 2014 |

Stay on Trend in 2014: Five Foods to Add to Your Grocery List

Check out the 5 popular foods of 2014 that will add something extra to your food repertoire while keeping it healthful and delicious.

Tea

Move over coffee, tea (in a hot or cold preparation) is front and center this year. In 2014, tea bars are opening that exclusively serve tea. But don’t limit yourself to just a tea beverage. Tea can be added to many dishes—try it on proteins—for an herbaceous flavoring similar to traditional seasonings. Along with its great taste and many varieties, tea is an excellent source of polyphenols: a type of antioxidant associated with lowering your risk for multiple chronic diseases. So toast the New Year with a delectable, hot cup of tea.

Asparagus

Roasted asparagus is a thing of the past; this year asparagus ribbons are in. Asparagus ribbons are the new base to the traditional leafy green salad. With a knife or mandolin, asparagus can be thinly sliced lengthwise to make ribbons. If high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems are a concern, the potassium in asparagus should help to reduce your risk. Try asparagus in its new or old form—it will always be delicious.

Carrots

Turns out the old wives tale of carrots improving eyesight wasn’t entirely false: carrots contain beta-carotene, which is a major contributor to vision. Along with providing beta-carotene (the plant-based form of vitamin A), carrots provide an extra flavor to dishes this year. You may think of carrots as your favorite midday snack—excellent choice by the way—but now they are being included into the savory main dish. A roasted root vegetable dish is incomplete without the slight sweetness of carrots. It is no longer your basic peas and carrots as a side, try carrots in a new dish this year.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit is much more than just a sweet addition to your breakfast. Expect to see grapefruit and other citrus fruits in entrees, desserts, and preserves—just about everywhere—this year. It is a particularly nice addition to greens based salads, too. In fact, the acidity of the grapefruit helps to take away the harshness of bitter greens, such as kale. Besides being delicious, grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C: a well-known treatment for reducing the length of your cold. In 2014, enjoy the sweet vitamin C filled treat of grapefruit.

Buckwheat

For those with gluten allergies and intolerances, (have no fear) buckwheat is the grain of the year. Along with being tolerable for those who can’t eat wheat, buckwheat is an excellent source of D-fagomine. D-fagomine lowers blood sugar spikes after eating: a beneficial effect for anyone struggling with blood sugar maintenance. If you are missing out on your favorite wheat products, swap the ingredient of all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour. For appetizers, try buckwheat blinis with the healthy topping of your choice.

 

By Stephanie Snell, Guest Blogger, Master’s Candidate at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

 

 
December 27th, 2013 |

New Year, New Resolution, New You

At this time every year, we make resolutions for the future. Often times those resolutions are about getting healthy, losing weight, eating better, and other healthful adjustments to daily living. Unfortunately, shortly after these resolutions are made they are discontinued or placed “on hold”. This year it is possible to make the change and stick to it. All it takes is following the 5 steps of the “stages of change” within the “transtheoretical”, or behavior change, model. These steps include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

  1. Pre-contemplation- Unprepared to make a change in your behavior.
  2. Contemplation- Determine the change you want to make in your life.
  3. Preparation- Collect all of the things you need to make your resolution.
  4. Action- Make your change and keep it.
  5. Maintenance- Keep your resolution for 6 months. You have finally reached maintenance.

These are all necessary things to consider. When you make a mistake or misstep with your resolution, it is not over. The stages of change account for moving backward. If you are not maintaining your resolution and return to the contemplation stage, you can work back up to the action stage. It takes 6 months—I know that is a long time—from  the start of your behavior change to reach maintenance. However, it does takes 6 months for things to become a habit.

As you are probably in the contemplation stage right now, you should consider a few things when deciding on this year’s resolution.

  1. Make it simple.
    • A resolution with 10 changes is much harder to keep than a resolution with 1 or 2 changes.
  2. Make it specific.
    • A clear resolution is easier to keep. Instead of resolving to be healthy, resolve to include more vegetables in your diet daily, drink more water, etc.
  3. Make it feasible.
    •  A resolution should be a change that you can make. If your gym commitment is maxed out, resolve to take the stairs more often instead of the elevator at work.

I hope you will consider this food for thought when forming your New Year’s resolution. Happy 2014!

By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate in Nutrition at Tufts University

 

 
December 26th, 2013 |

Jumpstarting Microresolutions

My young nephews, Trent (9) and Bryce (6) received tablets for Christmas. They’ve been nestled on the couch the very second the devices were fully charged. I’m hopeful  the novelty will eventually wear off, at least a little, right?

These two boys are very active. They play basketball and soccer. They play ‘tickle tackle’ outside in the yard for hours and look like they’re NFL-ready. Bryce will take your legs out from under you without fear. Trent will out run you and has cat-like agility. They burn calories at that enviable young boy rate.

They also eat very healthfully. Thanks to my sister’s insistence, fruits and vegetables are part of their vocabulary. They know what quinoa is and prefer kale chips to Lays. They love ChopChop magazine and ChopChop cookbook. Trent knows more about food labels than any dietitian I know. Bryce wants his plate to be colorful. Eating the right stuff fits seamlessly into their day.

In the name of balance, tablet-time has a place in their world, that’s for sure. I decided to chat with them about doing things a little bit differently, just for the heck of it. Motivated by Caroline Arnold’s recent book on sustainable self improvement, we discussed ‘little goals’ or microresolutions (small, specific goals that will be achieved). Here’s what they decided about tablet-time:

–They’re very excited that they have their own devices. They no longer have to barter for mom’s IPad.

–Playing the tablets can make them feel ‘kinda lazy’ like a big couch potato.

–Like candy, they get a taste of some game-time and they want more game-time.

–They like playing outside more than playing on the couch because ‘fresh air is really cool’.

So, the boys created a microresolution together: For every hour they spend on the tablet, they resolve to eat 1 serving of fruit/vegetable or jump rope for 5 minutes in the driveway. Bryce tells me he’ll eat carrots every single time because, well, they taste just like candy.

Have some fun setting your microresolutions this year. It’s never too late (or too early) for behavior change.

For more on Caroline Arnold’s book, Small Move, Big Change, go here: http://www.carolinelarnold.com/books/small-move-big-change/

For ChopChop magazine and book, go here: http://www.chopchopmag.org

CATEGORIES: Prevention
 
November 27th, 2013 |

Try some Yummly new dishes for the holidays

Still unsure of what you are cooking for Thanksgiving tomorrow? Do you want to add a twist to a dish that you have been making for years? Then check out Yummly.

Yummly is a recipe app and website (www.yummly.com) that has a variety of recipes from different web sources.  When using Yummly, you can easily access the cook time, ingredients, and direct link to the directions for any recipe. For the Yummly recipes that you enjoy, or want to try, you just click “yum” and they are saved for later. Think of this app as your portable recipe book.

Pros

  • It has a lot of recipes searchable by ingredient, dish name, or holiday.
  •  It allows you to refine food searches by…
    • Nutrition breakdown (amount of Calories, carbohydrates, fat, and cholesterol)
    • Food allergies and diet preferences
    • Specific ingredients to include or exclude
  • It recommends dishes based on seasonality and recent “yums”.
  • It has a photo for most dishes.
  • It includes a shopping list, which allows you to add foods manually or scan a products barcode.
  • It is free!

Cons

  • It freezes.
  • It does not link to all recipes online, which can limit the number of recipes for certain ingredients.
  • It does not regularly update your recent “yums” on the app.
  • It is difficult to search by nutrition breakdown because many recipes do not include it.

By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy