Category Archives: health

That One Time I Food-Logged

This is a story of the teacher becoming the student,  the coach becoming the athlete, the dietitian standing underneath the  magnifying glass and being all like, “Whoa. Do I REALLY eat that much peanut butter?!?”

Answer: Yes. Yes, I do. Own it; keep buying that extra jar at TJ’s so it never truly runs out. Crisis management is my forte here.

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As part of {marathon} training, the Coach requested a food log**. I suppose in some sense it was voluntary, and it was totally up to us (as the “athlete”) to do something or absolutely nothing with it. I could record, submit blindly (i.e. I don’t have a hard copy), and forget about it entirely. Or, I could say, “Hmm, whatcha think about all of that?. I haven’t done the latter yet, but I’m certainly not opposed to it. I hope that I am never so arrogant as to assume my diet is perfect, there is no room for improvement, and I hit every micro- and macro-nutrient need-nail on the head.

Confession: Rather, I know that the latter is absolutely not true. I’d applaud anyone who can honestly say that they accomplish this on a daily basis. And then I’d say “Dude, relax. Life’s too short, ya know.”

salsa

Replace “hate myself” with “stomach disagrees, entirely.”

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What did I learn?

Maybe it’s a good idea to pack a serving of pb for my oatmeal at work, and leave the jar at home! I’d certainly save a few dollars by not having to restock so often.

I don’t eat as much fruit in the winter. I probably already knew this, but as with anything, it becomes really clear when you write it down. I enjoy winter citrus fruits (mainly grapefruit), but try to veer from things I know aren’t in season yet (i.e. “on sale” strawberries that probably taste like nothing), so the options are limited! No doubt I make up for this in the spring and summer, so, we’ll just leave it at that for now.

I could revamp my work-snacks. I love me some Trader Joe’s one-serving trail mix bags, but that’s been a habit for a long time and there’s always room for more variety.

My system gets a LOT of veggies, and kale chips. Pats-on-the-back. It’s okay to brag, sometimes.

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I rarely ask clients to log their food; it’s a useful tool, yes, but it comes with a LOT of footnotes.

The con: No matter how many times you say it’s not for any judgment, and should reflect normal eating patterns, and should NOT change any decisions (that’s for us to work on later), it will never be a true representation of one’s diet. It’s just nearly impossible to log your intake without that nagging voice saying “…really? You want to write another handful of tortilla chips?” and/or your conscience responding, “You’re so right, annoying-voice! I’ll put them back in the bag.” It screws with you, and I understand every reason why (even more so, now).

The PRO: if you’re looking for some ways you can tone up this meal or that snack, making it stronger for fueling you and your health goals, this is one of the best ways to do it.

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If you’re ever tasked* with keeping a food log, keep that PRO in mind. If you’re concerned with some of your current behaviors or habits, and choose to do this on your own accord, add a few extra footnotes – hunger levels, stress, sleep, energy, mood, etc. Remember that eating is only one ingredient in the recipe for overall health.

*And remember that the health professional asking you to log (if applicable) isn’t perfect and (likely) doesn’t expect you to be either.

**I have only ever “logged” my food before as an assignment for classes in college. It was only ever for my eyes and my assessing; submitting it to someone else was a first for me.

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Filed under advice, health, learning, Nutrition

Eating in Moderation: Timely holiday thoughts from Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell

One brownie makes you happy, a second brownie, maybe a little more. The third brownie doesn’t make us happy at all, and the fourth brownie makes us sick.”

Seth Godin, “The Moderation Glitch

Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his new book, David & Goliath, as the “inverted U”. “For a while, more input gets you more results, but then, inevitably, things level off, and then, perversely, get worse.” – SG

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The holiday seasons now sound like a broken-record in my head; every year I’m writing and reading list after list of “how to” survive, prevent weight gain, stick with the workout routine, etc. Healthy holiday eating tips can easily be found EVERYWHERE – magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio and TV shows, social media, etc. They’re rarely novel, yet consumers bookmark, dog-ear and save them for calling upon when motivation is low and dessert consumption is far past the point of content.

healthyholidays-890x612

Image source.

“Moderation is a marketing problem.”  -SG

What I’ve learned:
No one wants to hear “everything in moderation”.

They may want you to authorize the “eat whatever you want just exercise a LOT!” plan, or a strict list of what NOT to eat, or maybe an exact meal plan, calorie count, shopping list, and perhaps while we’re at it, a personal at-home chef to make sure that healthy cooking gets done. I certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting any or all of the above – remove the guesswork of nutrition, the time spent deciphering all of the research and tips, and voila! We dine happy. Right?

Well, no, it’s never that easy.

But it IS simple: Eat in moderation*.
Enjoy food while you’re eating it. Move on, and go move.**

*Turn off the mental debates of this nutrient over that one; stop calculating how many calories in each bite, and put away the scale. Use a plate isn’t the size of a medium pizza, fill it with a variety of foods (and colors), and dine slowly so that your stomach can do its job and let you know when its full.

**Use your muscles to do something that motivates you, challenges you, or just gets you out the door for some fresh air! It doesn’t matter what that activity is; it’s important that you enjoy doing it, and you both want and make it part of your routine.

awesome …there is this exception. #truth

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“If the data shows us that in so many things, moderation is a better approach than endless linearity, why does our culture keep pushing us to ignore this?

…This is the wine drinker who goes from the health benefits of a daily glass of wine to the health detriments of a daily bottle or two. This is the runner who goes from the benefits of five miles a day to knees that no longer work because he overdid it.

Habits are the other half of the glitch. We learn a habit when it pays off for us, but we’re hardwired to keep doing the habit, even after it doesn’t.”  – SG

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What You Do Every Day

I use this quote over and over for a reason – if you take this into account EVERY DAY, it will matter.  (And clearly because I love it. So well put, Gretchen!) The way we eat, drink and/or workout (or don’t) for one holiday matters much less than how we do all of the above every day before and after the celebrations. The approach we take towards our health on a daily basis matters more than the approach we take towards the holiday dinner buffet.

Habits, and goals, matter. They drive decisions, mental chatter, and eventually, outcomes.  Think about yours, and keep them in mind.

Make yourself proud

Because honestly, that’s what will matter at the end of the day: how you feel.

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HAPPY Holiday season!

I hope you’re enjoying the time with family, friends, seasonal tunes and your  traditional favorites!

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Filed under doin things My way, food, health, motivation, Nutrition

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

We’re in full-on screening season here at WCS! It’s a whirlwind of biometric data, health education and health fairs. These are the busiest months of our year by far, and we’re soaking in up.

Wednesday morning took me onsite to one of the local Discovery offices to promote healthy snacking (among many other things), and called for a little bit of creativity. Sure, people know fruits & veggies are healthy. We could chop a few things up and the samples would be gone quickly. But let’s branch out. Let’s make-your-own something!

Trail mix is easily portable, and almost a treat in disguise. A random Trader Joe’s-inspired mix pleased all palates, and shocked a few new-comers. Yep, healthy (fats, lean protein and fruit) tastes great:

HC Trail Mix_1HC trail mix cups

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

Dried Blueberies
Almonds (unsalted)
Walnuts (unsalted)
Pepitas, roasted & salted
Dried Banana Chips
Roasted Coconut Chips

Proportions are up to you – just dump & mix!

The biggest surprise here, with most taste-testers, was the blueberries. Since most people expect dried cranberries or raisins, they commented on the tartness of the blueberries in contrast with the salty pepitas, nutty crunch and sweet bananas. Blueberries are also higher in antioxidants (even when dried)!

The coconut chips add a lighter crunch and mild flavor, along with their plant-based saturated fat.

Almonds and walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 (unsaturated) fats and manganese (an antioxidant , helpful for bone health, inflammation and blood sugar control) – among many other things.

Pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) are a good source of protein! I add this powerhouse (usually unsalted) to salads and soups all the time, but their unique soft crunch and flavor are also trail-mix friendly.

I added in the banana chips for sweetness, fiber, potassium (much less than the fresh version, though) and bulk. (Yes, these guys are high in sugar, so shake them in lightly.)

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If you’re a dark-chocolate lover like myself, you could certainly add in a few shavings/pieces of uber-dark chocolate for a bitter balance and another dose of antioxidants and yum.

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What’s your favorite nut-fruit-seed combination?

Any other DIY-mixers out there?

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Filed under food, health, Nutrition, on the job, recipes

“Do I look like the type of person who has a heart attack?”

February is national Heart Health month, dedicated to spreading awareness and educating both men and women on the risk factors for heart disease.

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It’s in my genes, and the routine cholesterol checks have begun – so far, my numbers are “amazing”. Whew. At a recent routine physical, the NP called me a “poster-child for exercise” and realized her 2-minute nutrition talk probably wasn’t necessary to give to a dietitian. For now, I breathe easy and happily keep on doin’ what I’m doin’.

But I know full well what notes could eventually fill up my medical chart if I weren’t active, didn’t passionately eat healthy foods and ignored the importance of stress relief. When I provide a family medical history, there is one recurring theme – heart disease.

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I will never ever forget an April evening in 2011 when I realized I had missed calls from my mom and sister, voicemails and texts. Something’s wrong…

I still vividly remember the words, the shock and the (horribly anxious) waiting on the couch for hours for more news; the reel of thoughts, what-ifs, memories and pure panic that ensued before I finally got another call. He’ll be okay. Tomorrow will just be another day.  Our family is still complete.

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It can happen to anyone, at any age on any day of the week. I was recently introduced to this video by Elizabeth Banks & the American Heart Association, “Just a Little Heart Attack”.

It perfectly represents the situation that none of us deem possible…until it is, and it’s real and it happens to someone you love:

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Do you know your numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure)?

If you could ask one question related to heart-health and how to improve any one thing, what would it be? (Follow-up post to come.)

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Filed under Dietitians, family, health

My Sick Week Rx(s)

I can’t even remember the last time I took a sick day from work; it’s rare that anything knocks me down low enough to result in self-prescribed apartment-arrest and no movement. It hit quickly and without much warning on Tuesday afternoon – suddenly I could barely swallow and it hurt to talk – and settled in comfortably by that night.

The “good” thing is that this intruder’s route was easy to track – stress from traveling, a three-day sugar intake that could’ve been that of one month (thanks, holiday!) and a roommate that’s been plagued with a cold/cough for over a week (poor guy).

I’ve never been one to reach for the meds, no matter how much I know they might “help”. For a long time it was simply because I hated swallowing pills, but it’s grown into the feeling that sure, you can mask the symptoms but that doesn’t cure them (aside from antibiotics, obviously). I hate the taste of Nyquil and don’t mix well with acetominophen, so if it’s anything I might cave for ibuprofen to reduce swelling, fever, headache, etc. (Which I did on Tuesday night.)

Teapottea and juice

All of that said, my go-to cold-curing* techniques are these:

-Chamomile tea
Known mostly as a sleep-aid, this flower is a member of the sunflower family that has shown to have a few other healing properties: stomach & cramp soother, cold fighter and relaxer.

-Orange Juice
There may be plenty of ways to get large doses of Vitamin C in your system, but orange juice just sounds so delicious when I’m sick. It helps to get that extra dose of sugar when it’s hard to swallow any “real” food and also keeps all systems hydrated.

-Hot water with Lemon & honey
   Sore throats were always cured with hot water and honey when we were younger, so why not stick with what works? Honey is thought to be more effective than the common cold medicine’s active ingredient – healing the cough  and congestion along with the throat. Lemon provides another dose of vitamin C as well as acting as an alkaline agent.

-Multivitamins
These are pills I don’t mind swallowing; I know the body doesn’t absorb every last milligram or IU in the mix, but it’s worth adding some extra nutrients to your daily intake to combat what you can.

Last but not least, rest & relax! I spent the better part of the last 2 days on the couch with my laptop or a book, taking in a lot of fluid and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Voila! Friday morning and while my voice is basically gone, my cough is getting out the last remnants of congestion and everything else feels back to normal.

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What are your go-to cold remedies?
*There’s no real “cure” for a cold, but these do the trick just fine.

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Filed under about me, health, learning, Nutrition