Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Dieting? I say NO! Read on.......

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Well, if you happen to Google "Nutrition Tips for Thanksgiving" you will get over 17 million results from nutrition experts (and many non-experts) telling you to "eat this, don't eat that", "avoid dessert, have fruit instead", and it goes on and on.

What's the reality? Well, my reality is that this is one day of the entire year that I get to enjoy Nana's pumpkin pie, Auntie Becki's deviled eggs, Papa's mashed potatoes, and Mom's turkey stuffing. Am I going to avoid all of those things in order to stay on my nutritional plan? NO! So I'm certainly not going to advise anyone else to avoid their favorite Thanksgiving foods that they get to enjoy once a year.

What is the best nutrition advice for THANKSGIVING festivities?  PORTION CONTROL!
Portion control is the key to all sound nutrition plans, and it also allows you to occasionally enjoy your favorite foods, including those Thanksgiving favorites that you look forward to once a year.

Here are a few suggestions to help with Portion Control:
  1. Please eat breakfast (or something healthy) before the big dinner. Many people think that if they starve themselves the entire day until the big dinner that they may be controlling their calories. The exact opposite happens! When you avoid eating until the big dinner, your brain does not have the energy to think rationally. Plus, your morning "starvation" gives you a false sense of accomplishment and a license to overeat - as soon as you see food, you may immediately take larger portions, overeat everything, and feel completely and uncomfortably stuffed after the meal. This in fact results in higher calorie intake for the day.
  2. Avoid "over-snacking" on the chips, dips, and fatty snacks that may be out and about during the early festivities and football games. These extra calories will add up. If it is the Thanksgiving meal that you want to enjoy, then snack lightly. 
  3. Eat slowly and wait at least 20 minutes before you go back for "seconds".  It takes our brain at least 15-20 minutes to realize that our stomach is full, so if you eat slowly and wait that amount of time, you may realize that you are already full, avoid getting "seconds", avoid overeating, and avoid excess calories.
  4. Use your plate as a Potion Control tool. Enjoy a smaller portion of each of the Thanksgiving foods. If you can't fit it on your plate, then you probably should take smaller portions of your favorites. 
Also, take a nice after-dinner walk with the family, play some football, shoot some hoops, or play soccer to help burn some of those Thanksgiving calories.

I would like to wish everyone a safe, fun, and Happy Thanksgiving.
May we all be blessed with family, food, and health.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Halloween Nutrition Tips- Tricks to Avoid Over-Eating the Treats!

This is a re-post of one of my very popular seasonal blogs.  

Halloween is the official beginning of the holiday season. For those who are watching their weight or trying to follow a diet plan, this can be a VERY difficult time of year.

Here are a few "tricks" to help you avoid overeating those Halloween "treats".
  1. Start at the store. Avoid buying the Halloween candy you love. For me, it is Kit Kat or Reese's PB cups, so I buy other types of candy to hand out at the door. After the big night is over, I won't have a bunch of leftover candy that I know I will eat.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid setting the big bowl of Halloween loot on the kitchen counter where you can easily walk by and eat several pieces without even realizing it. Put the candy in the pantry or cupboard, and instead put sliced fruit or veggies on the counter.
  3. Help friends and coworkers too. Avoid bringing all your extra candy to your workplace. I am a big advocate of workplace wellness. They too are probably watching their weight or trying to be healthy, so no need to sabotage their efforts. If you really want to get rid of the candy, just throw it out. Yes, it may be wasteful, but it's better than you and your coworkers being "Waist-FULL". 
  4. Be real. Allow yourself some treats, but do so in moderation! Make a deal with yourself about how many treats you will allow yourself each day and account for those calories in your daily calorie plan or workout schedule. 
  5. If you do go overboard on Halloween treats, DO NOT beat yourself up about it! Avoid the negative thoughts about yourself. It doesn't mean that you are "weak" or "worthless".  Avoid the all-or-nothing talk, like "I should just start my diet over again after the New Year."  Try to stay on track. Just own it, move on, and stay focused one day at a time. The holidays can be a challenging 3-month period for weight loss, so weight maintenance may be a more realistic goal.
  6. Use physical activity to help you through the Halloween munchies. Below are samples of some common Halloween candies and their calorie contents. As a guideline:  To "burn off" an additional 200 calories of Halloween treats you need to: walk 40 minutes, run 20 minutes, bicycle 25 minutes, or swim 25 minutes (based on a 150 lb. person). Walking the kids around the neighborhood on Halloween night is a great start!
Candy Corn, 20 pieces = 130 calories
Little Fun Size Bars of Nestle’s Crunch, Snicker's, Milky Way, Kit Kat, Hershey's chocolate, Reese's PB Cup, Butterfinger, Twix, Almond Joy, or similar = 70-100 calories each
Peanut M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 180 calories
M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 140 calories
York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie = 70 calories
Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
SweetTarts – 1 treat size pack = 50 calories
1 Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
1 Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories
Twizzlers – 1 treat size pack= 45 calories

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Athletes and Alcohol - A Bad Mix

Athletes train hard and compete in order to achieve their dreams. These dreams may be impossible to achieve if athletes choose to drink alcohol. Consuming alcoholic beverages, even days before or after an important practice or competition, can erase the beneficial effects of training and ruin their chances of achieving optimum performance.

Alcohol use is of particular concern with collegiate athletes. Shockingly, a national study of college student drinking found that student-athletes have significantly higher rates of heavy drinking than non-athletes.  "Heavy drinking" is defined as 5 or more drinks consecutively for men, 4 or more for women.

In addition to the health and safety concerns of excessive alcohol consumption,
here are the Top 10 reasons why athletes should avoid alcohol consumption:

  1. Drinking alcohol after a training session or practice can negate the benefits of your hard work, because it can decrease muscle protein synthesis, impairing muscle growth and canceling out the gains from your workout.
  2. Alcohol causes dehydration, many hours to days after its use. Dehydration leads to headaches, fatigue, impaired balance, and a host of other problems that significantly impair performance and recovery.
  3. Alcohol use can inhibit the secretion of Human Growth Hormone, a hormone naturally produced in our body which is important in muscle growth and recovery.
  4. Alcohol is a toxin, and it can disrupt normal cell function and impair the ability of muscles cells to produce ATP, the main energy molecule in our cells. This can deplete your energy significantly, resulting in loss of endurance.
  5. Alcohol is high in calories, low in nutrients, and the body treats it like fat. This can lead to unwanted weight gain in the form of fat storage, which can hamper athletic performance.
  6. Alcohol consumption may inhibit the absorption of some important vitamins and minerals like thiamin, zinc, folic acid, and Vitamin B12. These nutrients are extremely important for energy metabolism and new cell growth, such as muscle cells and red blood cells.  
  7. Alcohol use affects and disrupts your sleep-cycle, reducing your ability to learn and retain new information, such as learning new plays, studying films, and applying strategy during games. 
  8. Alcohol consumption provides only "empty calories" and may displace valuable nutrient-dense beverages important to athletes, such as milk or 100% fruit juices.
  9. Heavy drinking can negatively affect brain and body activities for up to 3 full days.
  10. Two consecutive nights of heavy drinking can negatively impact an athlete's body and brain for up to 5 days!!!
Is a night of drinking worth all of these negative effects on your sports performance?
For the serious athlete in training, with serious goals, a resounding "NO" should be the answer.  Enjoy the party and time with your friends, but volunteer to be the designated driver instead.  

Fuel wisely to reach your dreams. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Healthy Half-time Fuel for the Performance Athlete

Do you compete in a high-intensity, endurance sport with minimal breaks during games? 

Do you find yourself without any opportunities to hydrate or fuel during competition? 

Do you have a hard time eating a pregame meal because of a nervous stomach or "butterflies"? 

Competing at a high-intensity for long periods of time without a break can leave you dehydrated and fatigued from low energy, especially if you do not hydrate and fuel properly before competition.

Consider this:
Three main causes of exercise fatigue and impaired sports performance are:
  1. dehydration
  2. reduced energy stores in muscles ("glycogen")
  3. low blood sugar levels
For some sports (like soccer), the only opportunity for a break is half-time.

Rehydrating and refueling during competition (at half-time) can help keep sports performance at optimal levels and help get you through the second half of the game, especially those crucial final minutes when physical and mental fatigue can really take a toll. This is even more important if you consider those unexpected overtime periods that sometimes occur.

Halftime is a great opportunity to refuel and rehydrate. Fluids provide the much needed hydration for your body to cool itself and maintain its optimal temperature. Carbohydrate foods provide the much needed glucose (sugar) your brain and muscles use during competition.

Here are some half-time snack suggestions that provide your body with the much needed fluids and fuel (glucose) to stay strong, delay fatigue, and keep your performance high. These foods are high in water content, high in carbohydrates, and low in fat so they digest quickly.
  • Sports Drinks (Gatorade) or Water
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Cut-up melon
  • Sliced oranges
  • Apple wedges
Remember one of the most important rules of sports nutrition:
Never try anything new for the first time on GAME DAY!!!  
Try different carbohydrate foods during practice first to see if they settle well in your stomach.
Everyone is different. What works for a teammate, may not work for you.

Fuel Excellence!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Water Polo Nutrition

Water polo is one of the toughest sports. It requires many skills such as speed, endurance, strength, and power.  Proper nutrition is the key to achieving your optimum performance, both individually and as a team. Eating the right foods at the right times can:
  • Allow you to train longer & with more intensity 
  • Reduce fatigue 
  • Reduce risk of injury 
  • Help you recover more quickly from practices and games
  • Improve your overall performance

Fueling Water Polo

Carbohydrates (Carbs): whole grain breads, cereals, pastas, rice, fruits, veggies, crackers, low-fat milk & yogurt.
  • Carbs are the main fuel for sports, so most of your calories should come from carbs. 
  • Your muscles use carbs for energy during practice and games, and carbs are also the main fuel for your brain. 
  • Eating carbs before practice will help keep your energy high throughout practice and allow you to train harder. This will help improve your overall performance. 
  • Carbs also “refuel” your muscles after practice and games. Refueling as soon as possible after practice increases your muscles’ energy storage (glycogen) for your next practice. Overtime, this can help you recover more quickly and make practices seem easier, allowing you to train even harder. 
Protein: fish, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, beans, soy foods, milk, cheese, yogurt.
  • Protein is necessary for muscle recovery and repair after practices and games. 
  • Protein is also very important for growth and development during the teen years. 
  • Getting the right amounts of protein will help you stay healthy, increase muscle mass, and improve your game. 
Fluids → water, sports drinks (Gatorade), milk, 100% juice

  • Fluids are very important before, during, and after training and games. Yes, even though you are in the water, you can still become very dehydrated if you don't drink fluids. 
  • Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. This can really hurt your performance. 
  • It is important to start drinking fluids at least 1 to 2 hours before practice, take quick fluid breaks every 20 minutes during practice, and continue drinking fluids after practice so you can “rehydrate” your body. 
  • Water is fine during games as they are less than one hour long. 
  • However, it is recommended to drink sports drinks with added carbs and electrolytes (like Gatorade) during practice, because practices are long and strenuous. This added fuel will give you energy during the last minutes of practice when your energy is running low. Water with fruit during practice can also work great, but liquid calories like Gatorade tend to digest more easily while swimming.
Tips for Fueling High School Water Polo Practice
on School Days.

ALWAYS EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST AND LUNCH!  How else will you survive the school day?  Student athletes who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom than those who skip breakfast.

Some healthy examples include (but not limited to):
  • breakfastcereal with fruit and milk; large fruit/yogurt smoothie; breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, and ham; pancakes or waffles with fruit and turkey sausage; large bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit and milk; large bagel topped with PB and glass of milk.
  • lunch: brown bag it! Make a healthy lunch at home and bring it to school- PB & jelly sandwiches, deli meat sandwiches, fruits, cheese and crackers, sports bars, water or GatoradeAvoid fatty, greasy fast foods and junk foods because they can cause stomach aches and make you feel tired and sleepy before afternoon practices.

HAVE A QUICK AFTER-SCHOOL SNACK.  It should be small, high-carb food and low in fat so it digests quickly enough before your practice.**
  • Pre-practice snack ideas (have both food & fluids) 
    • Foods: Fruit, granola bar, crackers, or pretzels. 
    • Fluids: Water, Gatorade, small low-fat, skim, or soy milk.
**You now have "Healthy Vending" machines at school, but bringing healthy fuel from home is much cheaper.   

EAT DURING STUDY HALL BEFORE THE LATER PRACTICE SESSIONS:  When study hall and later practice sessions begin, there will be a very long time between lunch and practice, so be sure to bring a "2nd lunch" to eat during study hall.                                                  

REFUEL AND REHYDRATE IMMEDIATELY AFTER PRACTICEEating a snack with carbs and protein as soon as possible after practice (within 30 minutes) helps your muscles recover more quickly. The snack should be readily available in your water polo bag or backpack so you can eat it as soon as possible. Chocolate milk, sports bars, and fruit are a great post-workout recovery snacks.

    EAT A HEALTHY, HEARTY DINNER WITHIN 2 HOURS AFTER PRACTICE; DON'T FORGET FLUIDS TOO!  Your dinner meal will help you refuel and recover for the next day's practice.

    Tips for Fueling on Tournament Days:
    The best food to eat between games will be high in carbs, include a good source of protein, and be low in fat.  And, of course, don't forget fluids! 
    Fatty, greasy foods should be avoided, because they take a long time to digest and may cause stomachaches and fatigue.
    (i.e. NO donuts, fatty pastries, greasy fast foods, etc). 

    Tournament day food ideas that parents can bring and athletes can eat between games:
    -chocolate milk (low fat or soy), fruit, yogurt cups, cheese sticks, bagels and cream cheese, PB&J sandwiches, deli sandwiches like turkey or ham, sports/granola bars, trail mix, pretzels, pita chips, beef jerky, and of course water and Gatorade.

    Remember, the best energy booster and muscle builder for athletes is 
    a healthy sports diet. 

    Go Warriors!

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Who, What, When, Where, and Why? A to Z Weight-Loss Tips for Long-Term Success - Tip W

    Snacking is very important for supporting a healthy lifestyle. It can keep you energized at work, in class, and give you a good boost of energy before exercise.
    However, if snacking becomes out of control and unhealthy, it can do more harm than good. Excessive calorie intake from poor snack choices or snacking when not really hungry can put a huge dent in your weight loss plan.

    Check your snacking habits by asking yourself the five W’s below before reaching for that snack:

    Who is your snack buddy? Who is influencing your snack attacks?  Friends who want to procrastinate at work and grab a Frappucino? Are you listening to your own inner hunger cues?


    What types of snacks are you choosing? Vending machine? Convenience items? Processed items? Items loaded with sugar, salt and/or fat? Whole fruits and vegetables are super-energizing snacks and should be your "go to" choices. 

    When do you snack? When you are not very hungry but someone brings donuts to the break room at work? At night when you are bored and watching TV? When you walk in the door from a long day at work and raid the fridge because you are starving from trying to "fad diet" all day? Healthy afternoon snacks such as fruit and cheese, yogurt with nuts, or trail mix can keep you properly fueled for the rest of the work day, avoiding that "refrigeRAIDER" hunger before dinner. 
    Some places trigger unhealthy snack attacks. The break room at work? Studying or working at the local coffee shop that has display cases full of baked goods? Try avoiding your trigger places whenever possible to help you stay on track. 
    Stressed? Procrastinating? Distracted? Bored?  Are your kids grabbing a snack so you think you should have one too? Make sure you are actually hungry before you reach for that snack. Use The Hunger Scale to determine if you are hungry. 

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Volume - Eat More, Lose Weight! A to Z Weight-Loss Tips for Long-Term Success - Tip V

    The stomach containing different types and volumes of food
     with the same amount of calories
    Eat more VOLUME,
    not more CALORIES!

    As seen in the illustration, different volumes of food can provide the same number of calories. In this example, 400 calories of oil has a small volume and does not take up much space in the stomach; a similar idea is seen with the chicken. However, 400 calories of vegetables has a much larger volume, filling the stomach. When our stomach is full, a chemical signal is sent to our brain saying: "Hey, you are full and content now, stop eating!".
    Getting that signal with a belly full of low calorie, high volume foods will help you eat fewer calories and help you lose weight.

    3 Ways to Increase the Volume of Your Meals and Snacks:

    1. Add water- it takes up space with zero calories.
    2. Add fiber- it is non-digestible, slowing the digestion of other food, helping you feel fuller longer.
    3. Add fruits and vegetables - they both contain high amounts of water and fiber.
    Here are some examples you can try today: 
    • Choose whole fruits (fresh or frozen) instead of candy or junk food as a snack. 
    • Begin your meal with a fruit or vegetable salad as an appetizer
    • Add fruit to your favorite yogurt 
    • Keep frozen fruit in your freezer; blend with nonfat Greek yogurt for a great smoothie 
    • Add fruit to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal as a way to sweeten it 
    • Add fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to casseroles or mixed meat dishes (add spinach, diced carrots, and extra onions to chili; add broccoli to baked ziti; add veggies to pasta sauce) 
    • Snack on raw veggies such as carrots, celery sticks, or broccoli crowns with low-fat or non-fat dip
    • Add whole, cooked veggies to grain-based meals like pasta, rice, couscous, etc 
    • Soup - research shows adding soup to a meal helps people eat fewer calories overall: 
      • Choose soups with low-fat broth or stock (instead of cream-based); 
      • Add lots of veggies
      • Add lean proteins such as beans, lentils, barley, or tofu
    • Use only whole grain products to increase fiber intake. Review my blog for more tips on fiber:  Fill up on Fiber!
    Stop starving yourself on fad diets.
    Eat and enjoy some real food, high in volume, low in calories!  

    Friday, February 7, 2014

    Buyer Beware! Weight-loss supplement companies ordered to refund millions of dollars due to their deceptive advertising!

    Like I have written, time and time again, weight-loss pills, powders, drinks, creams, etc.

    The only thing that results in weight-loss is eating fewer calories in combination with exercise to burn more calories. For sustained weight management for life, your lifestyle needs to change in order to maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan....FOREVER!

    The Federal Trade Commission has gone after only 4 weight-loss supplement companies (see news link below), but you can be sure there are more crackdowns to come. Many more of these products are also ineffective and make promises that are simply not true!

    Save your money and protect yourself from the potential unwanted side-effects of these supplements.  Get active by doing something you enjoy and make small, simple changes in your diet to control potions and choose healthier options.
    How can you get started? Read my other blogs!

    Check out the video below for the video news story:
    NBC news story - crackdown on deceptive ads for weight loss supplements

    Or written story here:
    Deceptive weight-loss ad news story

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    USE a Pedometer & UP Your Steps: A to Z Weight-Loss Tips for Long-Term Success - Tip U

    Up your steps and lose weight!

    In our culture, we sit a lot: at our desk at work, in meetings, in school, in traffic, while watching our kids play sports, watching TV, surfing the web, reading books or magazines, and the list goes on and on.

    We are a very sedentary society.
    To lose weight, we need to MOVE MORE.

    According to a review of scientific literature published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
    "...the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in BMI and blood pressure."

    Pedometers are one of the best fitness investments you can make. They are cheap ($10-20 for a decent one) and they are easy to use. Just place on your waistband near your hip and walk! In addition to number of steps, many also measure distance walked and calories burned. There are also pedometer apps for your smart phone that you can download.

    What's the Goal?
    10,000 steps per day is a great goal. More is better. Remember, in order to lose weight, not only do we need to eat fewer calories, but we also need to MOVE MORE!

    Here are some ways you can up your steps.

    1. Take an after-dinner walk.
    2. Walk during your breaks and at lunch.
    3. If possible, schedule a "walking" work meeting.
    4. Park in the farthest spot from the grocery store or mall (it is easier parking as well).
    5. Avoid valet parking (saves money too).
    6. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
    7. Walk while your kids practice or warm-up at their sporting events instead of sitting in your comfy chair (this one I know from experience).
    8. Walk to drop off/pickup kids from school.
    9. Take public transportation; walk around the terminal when waiting for the train/bus/light rail.
    10. Walk the dog. Have you heard our pets are getting fatter too? 
    11. Avoid the drive-thru.  If you must eat at a fast-food establishment, park at the farthest spot and walk in. And, of course, choose a healthier food option!
    12. Walk to visit friends or neighbors.
    13. Like to golf? Walk instead of renting the cart.
    14. Read/watch TV on a treadmill (or stationary bike).
    Any other ideas you can think of?

    Check out these YouTube videos, and then get up and walk to the store to buy your pedometer!
    Video link: Use a Pedometer