I know it may be a little late to weigh in on the diet debate since we’ve already made it half-way through the “Diet Month” of January! However, US News and World Report once again tabbed the DASH Diet as the Best Overall Diet in their 2015 Review. Keep in mind, the DASH Plan was originally designed to help lower blood pressure. DASH actually stands for Dietary Approaches for Stopping Hypertension. The main emphasis with the DASH Plan is to increase intakes of fruits and vegetables while choosing lean protein sources, such as fish, chicken breast or the leanest cuts of beef or pork. Although it was not developed for weight loss, it has shown that weight loss is a side effect of following this plan. What is reassuring is that this Meal Plan is a healthy alternative that does not require any exotic foods or recipes. It is a safe way to eat that will help you meet your daily nutritional needs and help you achieve better health. We believe in the DASH Plan and often work with our clients to adopt this meal plan as part of their daily intake. Many of the foods included in this plan can also be beneficial in helping to reduce chronic inflammation associated with eating higher sodium and higher fat meals. Chronic inflammation has been identified as a risk factor in developing heart disease and diabetes. You can find out more about the DASH Plan and start making the changes that can help you get healthier and feel better! Remember, you hold the keys to better health in your hands!
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!
1 chopped onion
1 red pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1-16 oz. bag frozen corn
2 cans beans, drained & rinsed (one can black, one can red)
12 oz fresh or jarred salsa- mild, medium, spicy- your choice!
1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1-12oz. can or bottle of light beer (non-alcoholic works as well!)
1 cup wheat germ
Combine all ingredients & cook on stove top on simmer for 20 minutes or in crock pot for at least 2 hours on high. (Top with reduced fat cheese and/or reduced fat sour cream if desired). Further reduce the sodium in the recipe by rinsing the beans or choosing reduced sodium canned beans or cooked dried beans. Makes 8 servings.
Serving Size: 3/4 Cup
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Trans Fats: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 562 mg
Carbohydrates: 53 g
Dietary Fiber: 15 g
Sugars: 8 g
Protein: 14 g
Is nutrition a complex science? Some would answer with a resounding , “Yes!”. How would I answer that question? I’m not sure. Nutrition can be very complex. When we start talking about metabolism, nutrient breakdown, energy production, the Krebs cycle, the thermogenic effect of food, nutrient needs, and so forth, things get complex quickly. But what we’re talking about there is different from what most people think about when it comes to nutrition. Most of the time, the thought of nutrition focuses on fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. We can even throw sodium and fiber into the mix. Normally, we don’t think about what makes up our foods or how food plays a role in our health. We simply eat. We eat foods that taste good, that we are familiar with, that are accessible. When we are hungry, we eat. (We also frequently eat when we’re not hungry but that’s a different story!).
What I don’t like is how nutrition has been turned into this complex monster. Some of this was done intentionally, some not. As we continue to learn more about the relationship of food and how it interacts with our bodies, complexity will continue to be a part of the subject matter. We cannot let the complexity in the science of nutrition impact us in a negative way when it comes to our food choices.
Take the exotic fruit, the Acai Berry. You remember that one, right? It popped onto the scene and people were paying more than $1.50 an ounce for the juice from this berry. Some people are still paying close to that amount now. We can’t get enough of the supplements and so called “super” foods. From TV personalities like, Dr. Oz to Oprah to the Doctors to everyday people like beauticians, personal trainers to friends and family, it seems each one is trying to out do the other by touting the latest and greatest health-promoting item.
This is where the complexity issue really starts to hit. There is no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation, misunderstanding and confusion associated with nutrition. Marketers of supplement products prey on that confusion. Pseudo-scientific wording with claims of weight loss, improved health, increased energy and metabolism with fat loss and muscle building properties makes it hard to turn away. We will eagerly pay money to try a pill claiming to cure our ills even though it has not gone through any type of rigorous testing. But, we don’t have to jump on the latest “super” food out there. We have easy access to “super” foods everyday, easily found in our local stores or gardens, that will help with weight loss, improve health, increase energy and all those other things advertisers claim their supplements promote.
I have been an advocate for eating more fruits and vegetables for a long time. The fruits and vegetables that grow in our own yards and fields provide us with the nutrients we need to help us get and stay healthy. The difference between those foods and the highly touted “super” foods is that the produce grown in our fields is not exotic sounding or newly discovered. Plus, the food grown in our yards or community is going to be richer in nutrients because it requires less processing and reaches our plates much quicker. The cost of growing foods in your yard is much less than that of the “exotic super food”!
There is no easy button to better health. But, better health does not have to be complex. It does take some planning and commitment. With many of our clients, our first goal is to get them to start adding just one piece of fruit to each meal. If they are dining out, we encourage them to take that fruit with them and eat it as a dessert. Change does not have to be difficult but we must have a plan to make sure we do what we need to do to get healthier. Take time to think about your health. For meal planning ideas, seek help from a Registered Dietitian. Be open to change and allow yourself to try new foods or new cooking techniques. Remember……
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!
We love March. The days are getting noticeably longer, the temperatures seem to lose their icy grip, flowers are showing signs of bloom with Spring right around the corner, and, of course, college basketball and March Madness take center stage! In March, we also celebrate National Nutrition Month and on March 13th we celebrate Registered Dietitian Day.
Started 40 years ago, National Nutrition Month is designed to educate people on the basics of nutrition. At Nutrition Pair, we believe that National Nutrition Month should be celebrated every month of the year! This year’s theme promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is, “Eat Right, Your Way, Everyday!” According to the AND, the theme is supposed to help people remember that healthy eating does not mean depriving yourself of some of you favorite foods. The key is moderating your intake of poor food choices while incorporating healthier options. Nutrition Pair works on the notion that any food can fit into a healthy diet if you follow the rules of proper portion size and you maintain a regular exercise or activity program. A great review of this concept was written in October 2010 by fellow RD, Jeff Novick. Check it out here!
So, you must have the right understanding of the word and meaning of “moderation”. That is where the problems usually start. The definition of moderation can be different to each person you ask. Normally, our first approach to working with clients is to educate them on the different foods available and the different nutrients these foods provide. Naturally, we like to start with Fruits and Vegetables as these foods are loaded with many protective nutrients. It is easy to change your diet by simply adding a piece of fresh fruit to your typical meal plan. Next, try adding a new vegetable. As you start to discover new fruits and vegetables you didn’t know you liked, you can keep expanding your tastes. Shortly, you’ll find yourself craving fatty, sugary and salty snacks less often! Sure, it’ll take some time and involve overcoming challenges but your health is worth it!
Let’s start this March and this Nutrition Month by truly striving to change our approach to foods. Try going a week without any fried foods or go a week without visiting a fast food restaurant. Or, plan a family meal and turn off all technology while you sit together, add that piece of fresh fruit or new vegetable to your meal. You could try drinking water at meals and during the day instead of sweet tea, sodas or alcohol. Whatever you start, you must have a plan. Dining out less, preparing more meals at home, eating more fruits and vegetables means that you will need to be doing some grocery shopping. Plan your menu, start a grocery list, stick to it when you shop and have some fun! We can turn this into a science experiment and discover new talents and knowledge! As my mother used to always tell my siblings and me, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”, I pass that on to you. Let’s start new, today! Celebrate March and Spring into better Health….
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!
Two recent studies have just come out detailing findings on the use of vitamins and supplements and their impact on health. There has long been a controversy regarding the impact supplements. It has been difficult to find any definitive outcomes on the subject. The new studies released this week do not offer a clear answer either. But, they do provide a reason to stop and think about what we are doing. In the first study, researchers looked at the use of Vitamin E by men. The study found that those taking high doses (400 units/day) had an increased risk of prostate cancer by about 17%. Vitamin E joins the list of other supplements that have an inconclusive status. In 2005, studies surfaced that looked at the risk/benefit of using Vitamin E to help against heart disease. There was no significant benefit noted. In fact, those in the cohort taking a higher dose actually increased their risk of death.
The other recent study looked at the use of multivitamins, folic acid, iron and copper by older women. The report of findings from those researchers found that women taking the vitamins and supplements had a higher risk of death as compared to those not taking them. Before jumping to any conclusions, however, there are some things to question in this study. The average age of admission to the study in 1986 was over 61 years old. It is reported that by 2008, over 40% of the participants had died. That is a long 22 year span to follow participants. The strength of the study may be questioned, as it should. The headlines, “Dietary Supplements Linked to Higher Death Risk”, can be seen as alarmist.
My point is not to analyze the studies. Instead, I want to encourage you once again to look at what you are eating. Dietary supplement use in the United States is a huge business with reported sales of over $9 million dollars a year. Combine that with the heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals and you can see what a pill happy society we’ve become. The challenge is to make changes to your lifestyle to prevent having to use pills. Diet and exercise play a huge role in our health. A very interesting report just recently came out on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. The report looks at the genetic expression of the 9p21 chromosome. The 9p21 variant has been implicated in heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that those with a genetic predisposition of developing cardiovascular disease could alter gene expression by increasing intake of fruits and vegetables. While there are still many questions to answer concerning this study, it is interesting when we start discussing how our genetic code can be influenced by our diet. (Original Source)
If you are looking for better health, start with your lifestyle. Increasing fruits and vegetables has long been seen as a deterrent to poor health. Make a true commitment to change. If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve been told by clients, “I know what I should be doing, I just can’t/don’t want to do it!”, I could retire. We’ve let our health get away from us and we put too large a reliance on medications to help us instead of helping ourselves. Become responsible for your own health. I know lifestyle changes are difficult but the road to better health is not an easy one. If it were, we would not have as much sickness in our country. You have the power to change. You hold the key to better health! As we always say here at Nutrition Pair:
“It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!”