Happy New Year!  Many of us have started making our New Year’s resolutions or at least thinking about some changes we want to make in 2018.  One popular goal this time of year is to start eating healthy. This is a great goal, however what does eating “healthy” mean?   Depending on preferences, culture, traditions and budget, we all have our own eating style.  So everyone’s definition of healthy varies greatly, even among dietitians.  For one person, eating healthy means eating home cooked meals instead of eating out every day.  Another person may think eating healthy means eating vegetarian.  I think a better goal is to starting eating “healthier“.  There is room for improvement in everyone’s diet, and making  a few small changes to your current eating style can make a big difference in your overall health.

Trying to overhaul your diet typically doesn’t work and often causes stress and anxiety.  Instead, embrace who you are and how you eat. Then consider these tips to making healthier, long term changes that won’t be overwhelming.

  1. Don’t give up favorite foods. If you are too strict and tell yourself you can never have a cookie, you will obsess about the cookie.  This usually leads to overeating at some point because you are not satisfied.  Instead, eat your favorite foods in smaller quantities and less often.
  2.  Have a plan. Whether you are eating at home or eating out, try to balance your meals.  Eat lots of vegetables, always have some protein and watch the amount of carbs you eat at each meal. Instead of fries or a loaded baked potato at a restaurant, ask for a salad or apple slices.  Here are some more ideas from the USDA’s MyPlate MyWins! website: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/make-small-changes
  3. Don’t eat boring food.  A common complaint I hear from my patients is they are sick of eating the same “diet” foods every day.  My response is always, “then don’t!”  Healthy food doesn’t mean tasteless, dried out chicken breast and steamed plain vegetables every day.  Vary up your protein sources – pork tenderloin, lean ground beef, beans and eggs are examples of nutritious sources of protein.  Roast, saute or use a crockpot to vary how your meats are cooked.  Steamed vegetables, especially microwavable bags are quick and easy, but that’s not the only way to cook vegetables.  Try roasting them in a hot oven drizzled with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, this is my favorite way to eat my veggies!
  4. Win 5 out of 7 days.  It is ok to splurge once in a while, just not daily.  Try to eat healthy during the week and maybe indulge a little on the weekends.  Planning for it also helps with spiraling out of control or feeling you “blew your diet” and give up.

Try this delicious one-pan recipe that is easy, healthy and  full of flavor:

Delicious One-Pan Pork and Vegetables

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 small new red potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped ( or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (4 oz each)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425o F.  Spray cookie sheet pan with cooking spray.  In small bowl, mix Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (and garlic powder, if using).
  2. In a large bowl, mix potatoes, carrots, broccoli, onion and garlic (if using).  Sprinkle with oil and half of herb mixture; toss to coat evenly.  Place in center of pan.
  3. Bake 25 minutes; stir vegetables.  Sprinkle remaining herb mixture over pork chops.  Place pork chops around vegetables. Bake 10-15 minutes or until pork reads 145o F, and vegetables are tender.

Nutrition Information per Serving

310 Calories        23g Carbohydrates

4g Fiber      28g Protein

The biggest take-away from all of this is to set realistic goals for yourself.  Remember, there is not one right way to get healthy.  Small changes to your diet can bring big changes to your health.

Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2018 for all!

One week eggs are bad, the next week eggs are good.  Coffee is good!  No, it’s bad! There is a lot of contradiction out there when it comes to nutrition advice, often resulting in confusion and mistrust.  I will attempt to explain why there is so much mixed-messages and how we can sift through it all to find the truth.

The Media

Most of us get our information from one or more media sources.  Whether you watch the news or Dr. Oz or read articles posted on Facebook, remember, their goal is to get more views and clicks.  Sensationalizing the headlines sells, but is not always accurate.  The media will take one small study and hype it up as if it is absolute fact.  It is best to find the research article and read it yourself, the authors are usually more reserved in their analysis than the media.

The Research

Nutrition research is actually fairly new, it started at the end of the 19th century.  Many foods, such as trans fats and artificial sweeteners, have only been studied for a few decades.  Good evidenced-based advice takes time and numerous studies.  No one study is the end-all, be-all, so be wary of “new evidence”.

Here are some red flags to look for with health claims in the media or even on products: “fast” results, eliminating whole food groups, or claims one nutrient is the answer to your health problems. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The Truth

Americans spend billions on health and diet products every year.  We are attracted to the promise of big results with little effort.  Often we are tricked by marketing and half-truth statements.

Recognize that nutritional science is constantly evolving.  Evidence over time will sometimes mean information will need to be clarified, modified or changed.  However, this will not happen over night, and certainly not from one study.

Although the media makes it seem like there is a huge debate among experts there is significant agreement on diet and health.  There are tried and true nutritional advice that has been unchanged for decades, the basic principles of healthful eating – eat lots of fruits and vegetables, limit sugar as much as possible, prioritize whole foods over packaged and processed foods, and cook your own food.

Conclusion

It is our responsibility to be informed consumers.  Here is a summary of tips on how to make healthy food and nutrition choices:

  • Remain curious and open-minded to new ideas, but use common sense and read the study when possible.
  • Realize there is no “quick fix” to health – this is just a marketing ploy to sell you something.
  • Focus on whole foods rather than individual nutrients.
  • Don’t rely on supplements to “save you” from a bad diet.
  • Every body is different, our needs vary, so what might be good or “work” for one person, does not necessarily mean it is for everyone.

As we approach the new year and start thinking about what changes or improvements we want to make, try to keep it simple – simple diet with simple ingredients – don’t overthink it – it’s just food!

Here’s a simple and healthy recipe that shouldn’t create any controversy:

Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup diced red potato
  • 1/4 cup diced peeled sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Spread quinoa in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until browned, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add oil.  Add onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper.  Cover and cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and stir in garlic, rosemary and cumin, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in stock, potatoes and toasted quinoa.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium; cook 12 minutes.  Stir in zucchini and cabbage; cook until vegetables and quinoa are tender, about 2 minutes.  Stir in parsley and salt.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

144 Calories      7g Protein     5g Fat

19g Carbohydrates      3g Fiber

For more great health tips, visit our website at https://figureweightloss.com/category/weight-loss

 

Start on January 1

Changing habits are hard!  No matter what your New Year’s resolutions may be, statistically speaking, you probably won’t achieve it.  I don’t mean to be downer, but only 8% of people are successful with their New Year’s Resolutions.  Since losing weight is  the top pick every year, let’s figure out a way to beat the odds!

  1. Break down your goal into simple, monthly steps.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight” as your goal,  make your first goal to change something in your diet for the better.  Maybe that’s decreasing the amount of soda you drink from 5 a day to 1 a day or if you eat out a lot , your goal is to cook at home 4 days a week.
  2.  Make your goals realistic.  You want to make changes you can stick with for a lifetime.  Cutting out something that you love, like dessert, probably won’t last forever.  Instead of cutting it out completely, just modify it to be healthier, such as only having dessert 1-2 times a week. change ahead
  3.  Just start!  Often getting started is the hardest part.  We can make excuses as to it not being a good time, but life usually doesn’t slow down, so just start.  Once you take action toward your goal, the momentum starts and you are more likely to continue toward your goal.
  4. Accountability.  Find someone or something to help keep you accountable.  If there is a family member or co-worker that has similar goals, try working together to reach your goals.   They could be your work out buddy or lunch buddy, or maybe you just touch base on the phone weekly to see how each other is doing and keep each other motivated. If you don’t have someone, use an app, website or journal that you can input your goals and it will help you see your progress.

The USDA is launching a new program on 12/28/16, called My   Plate, My Wins!  You can go to their website  at  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins for tips and tools to help make small, practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Wishing you health and happiness in 2017!

healthy-new-year1

 

 

 

holiday-pic‘Tis the season to overindulge!  Let’s break the cycle this year.  Enjoying the holidays doesn’t mean all rules go out the window for the month of December.  One day of indulgence is fine, just not a whole month.  Here are some tips to help you avoid the common holiday weight gain:

  1. Keep holiday candy and cookies in a cupboard or pantry.  Out of site, out of mind (hopefully).  Leaving goodies on the counter makes it tempting to eat a little every time you walk by, before you know it the bowl is empty.
  2. Focus on protein foods.  Protein will help you feel full and satisfied longer.
  3. Don’t save up your calories by skipping meals.  This never works.  Eat a high protein, lower carb breakfast and lunch before the holiday party.  This will help you from overindulging.
  4. Share.  Give away or share holiday treats given to you.  Also, give away leftovers to family and friends or freeze them for a  later time.
  5. Bring a high protein, healthy appetizer to the party.  This way you know you have at least one healthy alternative to all the high calorie, high carb foods.  Here are some appetizer ideas to bring to the party:
    • Deviled Eggsdeviled-eggs
    • Shrimp Cocktail
    • Mini Meatballs with Marinara
    • Hummus with vegetables
    • Prosciutto wrapped asparagus or cantaloupe
    • Dips made with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise
    • Crispy Chickpeas (recipe below)

crispy-chickpeasCrispy Chickpeas

Rinse and drain 2 cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Spread on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Dry well, remove towels and let sit out for about an hour to thoroughly dry.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat evenly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and seasonings of choice (ex: garlic powder, cayenne pepper,  paprika, curry powder, rosemary). Bake for 30 minutes, stirring  occasionally.  Turn oven off and leave chickpeas in oven for an hour to get crispy.  Store in airtight container for 3-4 days.  4 servings.      236 calories, 9g protein, 20g carbs, 8g fiber.

Wishing a happy and healthy holiday season to all!

 

fall-trees

Every year when October comes around, I get excited because I love the colors of fall. Growing up in Arizona, brown is about all the color I use to see this time of year.  I love that I now live in a state that has trees that change color, it is a beautiful time of year!  I also get excited because I love pumpkin!  Pumpkin is delicious and healthy. I know the most popular uses for pumpkin is in pumpkin pie or carved into interesting faces, but this delicious and nutritious fall food can be used for so much more.

If you are trying to watch your waistline pumpkinsor just get a little healthier foods in your diet, pumpkin should be at the top of the list.  Pumpkin is full of vitamins, like vitamin A, C and E, it is loaded with antioxidants, as well as a good source of fiber.  Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds either!  Clean and bake them for a healthy snack that gives you protein, fiber, iron, zinc and mono-unsaturated fats (the healthy fats).

Try this hearty soup recipe adapted from ibreathimhungry.com. It’s low carb, gluten and dairy-free. It’s a healthy-kind of comfort food!

Happy Fall!

Turkey Sausage, Kale and Pumpkin Soup

sausage-kale-and-pumkin-soupIngredients:

  • 1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups chopped pumpkin or butternut squash (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 cups chopped kale (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water

Instructions:

  1.  Cook sausage in a medium sized saucepan.  Add onions and saute until translucent.  Pour the broth and water into the saucepan and bring to a boil – reduce heat.
  2. Add the kale and pumpkin and simmer until the pumpkin is soft, about 20 minutes
  3. Serve hot, garnished with grated parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 118    Carbohydrates: 7g     Protein: 11g  Fiber: 1g  Sodium: 558mg

 

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