Monday, November 20, 2017

Maintain Don’t Gain
Thanksgiving Survival Plan

  • Eat a normal breakfast and a light lunch. Avoid skipping meals because it slows down your metabolism and increases hunger causing you to overeat later on.

  • Wake up early and exercise to burn off extra calories you will be eating and to alleviate some holiday stress.

  • Stick to water or sparkling water instead of sweetened beverages. Limit alcohol intake and pick light beer or wine instead of mixed drinks, eggnog, or punch which can be over 500 calories each.

  • Limit appetizers to lower calorie options like fresh vegetables and shrimp cocktail. Make a point not to stand near food to reduce nibbling temptation. 

  • If you know you will not find any healthy choices bring a healthy side dish or salad to share.

  • Survey the entire table before placing food on your plate. Decide which foods are worth eating and which you should ignore. Stick to your decision, don’t waste calories on foods you don’t love. 

  • Put a small portion on your plate. You can go back for more if you love it and are still hungry. 

  • Pace yourself and be aware of what you are eating. Eat slowly to savor the taste and texture of your food. Talk more to eat less. 

  • Eat until you are satisfied but not full. Leave some food behind on your plate, especially if you did not love eating it. Drop out of the “clean plate” club mindset. 

  • 400 calories for a slice of pie can be a big problem. Don’t feel obligated to have dessert if you don’t want any. Avoid “extras” such as ice cream. Try 1-2 cookies or a slice of cake instead of pie, or eat less of the pie crust. 

  • Don’t feel guilty! Holiday’s should be celebrated with family and friends. Treat yourself in moderation and understand one meal has a minor impact when you are good all week.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Splenda and Diabetes Risk

Splenda (also known as sucralose) is a zero calorie sweetener that satisfies a sweet tooth without the guilt...although research shows it may be doing more harm than good.

One study from Washington University School of Medicine found obese people without diabetes experienced 20% higher insulin levels after consuming Splenda compared to consuming water before a glucose-tolerance test. How could this be when Splenda is zero calories? Some findings show receptors in the mouth and in the GI track detect sweetness which stimulate the release of insulin. Over time, excessive insulin secretion could lead to insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Another study from Adelaide Medical School in Australia found healthy normal weight people who consumes sucralose for two weeks had a change in glucose absorption, insulin and gut peptides, and blood glucose levels which increased their risk for type 2 diabetes.

According to a study published in the Diabetes Care Journal daily consumption of diet soda (which includes artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc.) was associated with a 67% greater risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-consumers. Daily consumption also increased risk of metabolic syndrome by 36%. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol, and a large waistline) that increase risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies have highlighted the negative impact of diet soda and weight. A 10-year study from University of Texas found people who drank two or more diet sodas daily had six-times the waistline compared to those who never drank diet soda. Researchers speculate diet soda may actually stimulate appetite and cause a person to eat more later in the day.

Researches from Boston University School of  Medicine followed over 4,000 people over the course of a decade and found people who drank at least one diet soda daily were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia. Consumption of regular soda had no increase in stroke or dementia risk, although researchers are quick to state water is the best fluid to drink instead of sugar or alternatively sweetened beverages.

Splenda carries consequences and is not a good substitute for people trying to live a healthier lifestyle. In fact the research is showing real sugar might be better than artificial sweeteners despite having calories. The best beverages to drink regularly are water, seltzer, and unsweetened tea. When it comes to added sugar men should limit their intake to 3 tablespoons (37 grams) daily and women should limit their intake to 2 tablespoons (25 grams) daily.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Romanesco or Space Broccoli?

Spiral-shaped florets, florescent lime-green hue, Romanesco looks more like a vegetable from Star Wars than something people eat on planet earth.

What might look like a new vegetable surfacing at your farmer’s market, Romanesco has been grown in Italy since the 16th century. It was likely crossbred by farmers to create a striking vegetable with crunch and delicate flavor.

Similar to broccoli and cauliflower, the Romanesco is easier to digest. It is rich in zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and carotenoids. It provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found Romanesco to be high in kaempferol, a flavonoid that inhibits cancer cell growth and induces cancer cell death. Kaempferol has also been shown to prevent arteriosclerosis by inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol.

When shopping for Romanesco look for dense and heavy heads with bright green color. The stem should be firm; avoid any signs of wilting. It should keep about a week in the refrigerator.

Romanesco can be eaten just like cauliflower. Try serving it raw along with hummus or tossed into a salad, sautéing or roasting it with olive oil and garlic, or steaming it for an easy side dish. It cooks fairly fast so be sure not to overcook it; you want to keep its shape.

Spicy Romanesco with Lemon and Capers
Serves: 4
130 calories per serving

1 head Romanesco, cut into florets
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs capers, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss the Romanesco with 2 tbs olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10 minutes until browned and tender. Meanwhile in a medium sized bowl whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove Romanesco from the oven and toss in dressing before serving.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Metabolic Adaptation: How eating too little can damage metabolism

Metabolic Adaptation describes how the body fights to maintain equilibrium and prevent starvation. It was very helpful back in our caveman days but a real problem today for people who need to lose weight.

As you lose weight your body adapts to conserve energy and be more efficient. With less body weight, resting metabolic rate decreases and you do not burn as many calories when exercising. With less food intake thermogenesis lowers. Hormones increase to stimulate appetite and stress from eating too little can cause higher levels of cortisol in the body.

As metabolic adaptation occurs weight loss reaches a plateau. At this point weight loss can continue only if you add more exercise or reduce calories even more. If calorie intake is already very low and exercise volume is very high you reach a limit where it is not safe, realistic, or advisable to continue such extremes. If you stop your routine weight gain is common. 

A good example of metabolic adaptation comes from research on The Biggest Loser. Researchers measured 14 participants metabolic rate at the start and end of the show. On average metabolic rate decreased by 610±483 calories. Following up 6 years later 13 of the 14 participants gained weight, although most kept at least 10% of their weight off. Metabolic rate remained low and did not go back to normal as their weight increased. Overall metabolic rate was 500 calories lower than what would be expected in people of similar height, weight, and age.

To minimize metabolic adaptation it is recommended to decrease calories gradually to support 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week rather than crash dieting for rapid weight loss. Eat protein rich foods at each meal and snack since protein has the highest thermic effect, provides satiety, and helps retain more lean muscle mass. In addition to cardio, make sure you strength train at least twice per week since lean muscle increases metabolism. Get enough sleep for the body to recover and work on stress management.

As weight loss starts to plateau make additional modest adjustments to continue losing. The ultimate goal is to develop healthy routines that are sustainable long term and help you feel energized and healthy. Understand that weight loss is not easy. We generally overestimate the amount of calories we burn and underestimate the amount of calories we consume. Work on  accuracy before assuming your metabolism is damaged.

Interested in Nutrition Counseling? We can calculate your calorie target and create a customized nutrition plan to help you reach your goals. Contact me to schedule your appointment.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are We Getting Healthier? Update on U.S. Obesity Rates

Back in 2000 no states had obesity rates over 25%. Today 47 states are over 25% causing a big need for concern. Fortunately, obesity rates are stabilizing in adults and kids. Progress is being made in the fight against obesity and hopes of furthering nutrition education and public health funding can continue efforts into the future.

Last year was the first time the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report showed a decline in obesity rates. Encouraging reports for this year again show a decline in one state (Kansas), an increase in four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia), with all other states staying stable.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control, the highest obesity rates are in the South, Midwest, and in adults without a college education and income below $15,000 per year.

The most obese states are:
1. West Virginia 37.5%
2. Mississippi 37.3%
3. Alabama and Arkansas 35.7%
4. Louisiana 35.5%

The least obese states are:
1. Colorado 22.3%
2. The District of Colombia 22.6%
3. Massachusetts 23.6%
4. Hawaii 23.8%
5. California 25%

Pennsylvania ranks 25th most obese at 30.3% and New Jersey ranks 36th most obese at 27.4%.

The fight against obesity is far from over but small changes every day can lead us to a healthier future.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is Occasionally Drinking During Pregnancy Safe?

Experts agree binge drinking is very dangerous to a pregnancy. But are a few sips of wine or champagne at a special occasion really harmful? Many pregnant women ask this question and with limited research in the area the true answer is hard to find.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, and Centers for Disease Control have strong positions that women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or who think they might be pregnant should not drink   alcohol. Their position is that no level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

One of the main concerns is that alcohol quickly passes through the placenta and umbilical cord to the baby and can lead to fetal alcohol   spectrum disorders that impact head size, height, weight, speech, vision, hearing, and other thinking and developmental skills.

Unfortunately the harmful impact of alcohol can be subtle and difficult to detect. It is not clear whether there is a safe threshold, or if even small amounts of alcohol can harm some infants.

One British team reviewed over 26 studies on women who had low alcohol consumption during their pregnancy (less than 1-2 glasses of light white wine or beer per week). Due to lack of data a safe level of consumption could not be identified. Researchers found evidence of an 8% greater chance of a low birth weight baby and a 10% greater chance of a      premature baby in women who drank lightly compared to those who completely avoided alcohol just before and during pregnancy. 

Despite health organizations strong advise, some controversial studies have offered different evidence. One study published in 2010 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found no increased risk of behavioral or cognitive problems by age 5 in children who’s mothers consumed 1-2 alcoholic beverages per week during pregnancy.

The bottom line, until more research is conducted we do not know the risks. Many experts encourage women not to take chances; given so many other factors one can worry about, take alcohol out of the equation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Most Disgusting Smelling Fruit In the World

If you travel to Southeast Asia, or to your local Asian market, you might find a very large and very smelly durian fruit. Banned from many hotels, airports, and the Singapore Mass Transit-if you’ve smelled it once you won’t forget.

The durian is regarded as the “king of fruits” due to its large size. It can weigh between 2-7 pounds and grow up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. A thorny greenish-brownish colored skin covers its yellow flesh.

The smell has been described as a combination of rotten onions, raw sewage, and turpentine which can linger for several days. Despite the dreadful smell the flesh has a pleasant sweet taste of almonds and custard. People either love it or hate it.

While not native to Thailand, the country is a major producer and hosts the World Durian Festival annually. Southern Thai people often eat the fruit young when the flesh is still crisp and mild in flavor. Northern Thia people often wait for the fruit to fully ripen and become soft and aromatic making the flesh very rich and slightly alcoholic.

Strong demand for high quality durian can drive prices high, costing about $8-15 USD per fruit. Some markets will sell the flesh only, and people in Singapore have spent as much as $50 USD for six pieces of the flesh.

The flesh can be eaten raw or cooked to flavor traditional Asian dishes, added to sweet sticky rice, made into ice cream, served in cappuccino, and turned into candy. In traditional medicine it has been used to reduce fevers and as an aphrodisiac. The skin is not edible, and while raw seeds are toxic they can be boiled or roasted making them safe for consumption.

Half a cup of durian flesh has 179 calories. The fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and B6.

Durian contains compounds that may prevent alcohol from being broken down in the body, resulting in increased blood alcohol levels, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. It is advised not to consume durian and alcohol together.

This exotic fruit isn’t for everyone but the next time you find yourself in Southern Asia or an Asian market give it a try; if they are nearby you can’t miss the smell.