Technology has a dual role in healthcare. On the one side, it can be detrimental – the constant connection can contribute to stress, and excessive television and computer screen time contributes to overweight and obesity. On the other hand, though, technology enables us to more actively take control of our health through the information available on the web and the various applications that are now on the market. Take a look at a few of these nutrition, fitness, and health apps which can empower you to make good choices!
Fooducate – This is a free app available for iPhone and Android that allows you to scan food product bar codes and see a nutrition score. The scores are based on an A to D scale, and come from a scientific algorithm that takes into account nutrients, ingredients, product category, processing and fortification. If you’re confused about food claims on a product and wondering whether it’s healthy or not, fooducate is great because you can scan the barcode at the store. It’s instant feedback before you make the purchase. That being said, no scientific algorithm is perfect so the “score” may not accurately reflect the nutritional value of all foods – but from my personal experience, it does a pretty decent job. Strava
– Track your fitness activities with this app available for iPhone and Android. Strava is able to track your running and cycling activities – just turn on the app before you go out for your run or ride, and it’ll record your progress. You’ll see your distance and pace, which then can be uploaded to Strava’s website where you can store all your acitivites. Strava’s website is a type of social networking platform for fitness, so you can create groups, follow your friends, and compete in “segments” against others. Segments are marked distances on certain roads that are uploaded into Strava by users. Whenever you complete a segment (whether you know you did or not), you’ll see your results compared to others who have done that segment. I-Triage
– This app is also available for both iPhone and Android, and gives you the ability to check any health symptoms on the go. Taking a lunchtime walk and you start to experience knee pain? Click on the prompts in I-triage to learn the most common causes. You can also find doctors closest to your current location or any location you choose. GymPact
– If you need more motivation to workout, consider using GymPact. You make a pact to work out so many days per week, and identify how much money you’re willing to lose if you don’t keep your pact. If you don’t workout, you lose the dough. But if you meet your goal, you’ll make money – funded by those people who didn’t keep their pact! GymPact uses GPS to verify your time in the gym. Since last year, they’ve also added integration with RunKeeper for outdoor runs and an accelerometer feature so that you can use it with at-home workouts. Unfortunately, the GPS signals and RunKeeper integration aren’t always seamless, leading to workouts that potentially don’t get counted (meaning you risk losing money). Definitely worth a try though! Available for iPhone and Android. The Carrot
– This app for iPhone or website based program allows you to track multiple health goals all in one place. Maybe you’re working on quitting smoking, exercising more, and eating more veggies – you can track all these goals in one place and see your progress on the Carrot. My Fitness Pal
– This online food database goes mobile with apps for iPhone and Android. People who have successfully lost weight and keep it off report that food logging was a primary strategy used. The app isn’t perfect – some food entries are user generated and may not have the correct nutritional data, and the app tends to give you too low of a calorie estimate. However, it is great for accountability and an estimate of your daily intake. My advice? Ignore the calorie recommendations on the app, and instead use it for a few days to track your baseline intake. Once you have an idea of about how many calories you normally eat, you can stick with that number to maintain your weight or reduce by about 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week. You can also use the log to easily see areas where you may be struggling – perhaps you notice you need more veggies each day, or you need to switch from refined grains to whole grains – and then you can work to improve on these!Share with us - What's your favorite health app?
Do you ever rationalize decisions that you’re making even when you know it’s the wrong decision? I’m guilty of this sometimes. The last instance was when I was trying to stick to a strict budget, and came across a pair of shoes on clearance that I wanted. My rationalization? “I know I said I wouldn’t buy any more shoes, but I don’t have a flat in the color gold so I’m just going to buy this pair so I have more options at home.”
Now, even though they were on clearance for $5.24, I certainly didn’t “need” them – but I convinced myself I did.
This issue is not limited to me and my shoe-purchasing behaviors. Among many people trying to change their health behaviors but not succeeding, I often see a big stumbling block: they often make rationalizations or excuses for behaviors that are moving them away from their goal! They cheat themselves when it comes to their nutrition or fitness choices.
Do you ever cheat yourself? You might decide to make a not-so-healthy choice rather than what you know deep down will help you achieve your goals – and then try to justify it to yourself! Or you convince yourself that some form of immediate gratification is better than the long-term success of reaching your wellness goal.
Here are some common examples and some solutions that you can put into place! Behavior:
Grabbing fast food for dinner rather than making a homemade meal Rationalization/Excuse:
“It takes too much time to cook a healthy meal, and I don’t get fast food that often anyway…” Solution: Don't cheat yourself and your body. There are plenty of healthy meals that you can put together in under 15-30 minutes at home. Here are a few ideas:
- Stir fry – Cook chicken, lean beef, or tofu in a skillet or wok with a small amount of olive oil. Remove from pan and add lots of vegetables (mushrooms, snap peas, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini/summer squash, onion, broccoli, eggplant…). When vegetables are tender, add protein (chicken/beef/tofu) back in. Add some low sodium soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. You can serve as-is or over instant brown rice.
- Eat breakfast for dinner! – Try scrambled eggs in a whole wheat wrap topped with some salsa.
- Rice & beans – Cook instant brown rice. While rice is cooking, combine a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Add cooked brown rice and mix together. Portion into bowls and topped with some sliced avocado. Start to finish time? 15 minutes.
- Salad – If you keep fresh salad greens in the fridge, you’ll always have a base for a meal. Combine the greens with other veggies of your choice. Add a source of protein – you could grill a chicken breast if you have the time (or pre-cook some on the weekends), or top with some canned beans, tuna, or frozen cooked shrimp that you’ve defrosted in running cool water. You can also add fresh or dried fruit and/or a healthy fat (like nuts or chia seeds) and you’ve got your dinner!
Coasting through your cardio session. Rationalization/Excuse:
“I can’t push myself harder than this…I won’t be able to do it…” Solution:
This is an especially big struggle for new exercises, but can often affect regular gym-goers as well. Don’t let your mind tell you that your body can’t do something (unless of course you have an injury or true physical limitation that affects your body’s abilities). Your body is actually pretty incredible. Do you ever notice how most people can push themselves harder when working one-on-one with a personal trainer? It’s because we know what your body is capable of, even when you don’t.
This is a big hurdle to get over, but start by challenging yourself to some intervals or a faster speed in your next session. Do you always walk on the treadmill at 3.3 mph, every other day? In your next session, try to keep a 3.5 mph pace. Do you try jogging but give up after a minute? Challenge yourself to 1 minute jogging, 4 minutes walking – and see if you can maintain those intervals for your session.
You need to challenge your body in order for it to adapt and get better. Give it a try! Behavior:
Reaching in the candy jar, going to get a “treat”, or ordering that dessert (even when you’re already full)… Rationalization/Excuse:
“It’s only a few extra bites – and I deserve it!” Solution:
A few extra bites add up quickly over the course of a day, week, month...etc. Just 100 extra calories a day (about 2 regular oreos or a few bites of pizza) translates to over 10 pounds of weight gain in a year!
Not to mention, we often rationalize unhealthy choices by coming up with some way that we deserve it. Now, occasionally perhaps this is truly applicable – maybe you just ran a half marathon or it’s your birthday, and you want to have a piece of cake to celebrate. By all means, dig in and enjoy one slice.
But most of the time, this rationalization comes from other areas of our life.
- “I studied hard, so I deserve it.”
- “I’m dealing with a lot…I deserve a treat for myself.”
- “I had a stressful day, so I deserve it.”
Food is fuel for our bodies – and while unhealthy treats are certainly fun to eat and taste delicious, they don’t fuel our bodies and maintain our health in the best way. We shouldn’t associate hard work, stress, sadness or other emotions with deserving some type of food.
If you find yourself rationalizing these extra bites, take a step back. Ask yourself if you’re truly hungry and if this is a healthy choice to fuel your body. If it is, then go ahead and eat. If it’s not a good choice but you are hungry, perhaps you need to be sure that you have healthy snack options on hand at all times to avoid the temptations of other treats.
And if you’re not hungry, ask yourself why you’re getting ready to eat something. If there’s some type of emotional connection there and you’re using the “I deserve it” rationalization, try to figure out other non-food ways that you can use for this purpose. Ladies, maybe you want a mani/pedi once a month. Guys, maybe you want to enjoy a Sunday playing golf or football with friends. Or it could be something as simple as an hour to relax with a book or a magazine! Think about strategies that would work for you, and use them.Share with us: Do you struggle with any of these common rationalizations?
Nothing tastes better (and makes the house smell better!) than a delicious batch of homemade cookies, muffins, or brownies. But these homemade treats can wreak havoc on a healthy meal plan. Often made from refined flour, lots of butter, and tons of sugar, baked goods can pack in a lot of calories with not much nutritional value. It doesn't have to be this way, though! While baked goods shouldn’t make up large portions of our meal plan, they can certainly fit in occasionally to a healthy lifestyle. Try the baking substitutions below for a trimmer treat that's friendlier to your health and waistline...
Bake from scratch. When you bake from scratch, you have more control over the ingredients and end up with tastier goods that have few preservatives. A batch of homemade cookies typically contains about 8 basic ingredients. Take a look at cookies from the grocery store and you might see a much longer list. Try replacing half of the fat in a recipe (typically butter or oil) with mashed banana, prune puree, or applesauce.
The creamy consistency and moisture of the fruit helps to maintain a great texture and prevent products from drying out while cutting the fat in half. Or use beans or pumpkin!
This tip usually surprises people. These make great substitutions for the oil and eggs in brownie mixes and recipes. You can substitute a 15.5 ounce can of beans, pureed in the blender or food processor, for the typical 1/3 cup oil and egg. Or you can do the same with a can of pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix). The beans contain much less fat and calories, and add fiber and antioxidants to the recipe! If you go with the pumpkin, you’re also cutting calories and fat and adding a hefty dose of vision boosting Vitamin A. Use whole wheat flour rather than white flour.
Whole wheat flour contains more minerals and fiber compared to its refined counterpart. Fiber can help you feel full quicker, so you may be more content indulging in a smaller serving. Whole wheat pastry flour is lighter and works better for dishes like cakes, while regular whole wheat flour can be a great choice for hearty breads. Consider adding oats.
They add fiber and texture, and can be incorporated easily into most cookie recipes. You can also use oats to make a modified pie crust! There are several recipes out there for pie crust made from oats – try this recipe
which uses both oats and flour. Use greek yogurt or low fat sour cream in place of regular sour cream or oils
to cut down on fat in dips, toppings, and baked goods. For example, in my strawberry orange yogurt bread recipe
I use greek yogurt to create a moist and delicious quick bread without any oil or butter. The greek yogurt also boosts the protein in your dish! Replace cream or whole milk with fat free half and half, low fat milk, almond milk, or buttermilk.
The best replacement will depend on the recipe. A half cup of heavy cream contains about 400 calories, while the same amount of 1% milk contains just 65 calories! Add fruit to baked goods for added vitamins and minerals
. Consider hearty breakfast breads made with banana, chopped apples, and cranberries, or cookies with dried cherries and dried blueberries.
Losing weight. It’s a goal that so many women have, but so many struggle with how to actually meet this goal. You know that I’m always up for sharing great tips and resources, so I thought this new book – “Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight” – would be a great tool for you to know about!
I’m part of a great nutrition entrepreneurs group, and the author, Jen Brewer, is another member. She mentioned that her book had recently been released and I offered to review it. The title of the book resonated with me from the start, because you all know that I am not a proponent of fad diets or crazy restrictive plans. They just don’t set you up for long term success!
And the content of the book lived up to its title. It’s a great easy read that:
- Explains why fad diets don’t work
- Breaks down the science of nutrition into understandable concepts
- Provides feasible “small change” type strategies. And these strategies in the book are many things that I use with my clients here – for example, planning ahead for your meals and scheduling exercise into your week!
- Contains real life examples of how these strategies can be put into place
- Provides an appendix of resources like a sample food diary page
One of the parts I liked most about the book was this line: “Take a moment and really ask yourself – what is driving you to become healthier?...Whatever the reason, your motivation to achieve lifelong, sustainable change must be stronger than your desire for overeating here and now.”
I love that line. It clicks with me and the way that I work with my clients. You have to identify the WHY
in order to set yourself up for success. Just saying “I want to lose weight” doesn’t motivate most people to take action. And it makes it easy to give up when temptations for the not-so-healthy stuff come up (the office candy jar, your friend's birthday cake, that wedding you're going to - I'm sure the list of these situations can go on and on). But when you identify the WHY
, you help motivate yourself. Saying “I want to lose weight because I’m afraid I won’t be around to see my children grow up” might provide a little more of an emotionally-connecting reason for you to change – and to stick with those changes.
If you’re someone who is trying to lose weight on your own and you feel motivated to change, this book could be a great resource for you as it has many practical strategies you can implement right away. And if you’re one of our clients, this could be a great companion resource in addition to all the work we do together! Giveaway:
We are excited to giveaway a copy of "Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight" to one lucky blog reader. Simply enter by commenting on this blog post and letting us know why you want to win this book! We will draw a winner on Friday, March 1st! Terms:
You must be 18 years or older and live in the US to win this giveaway. Upon winning, we will contact you to verify your age, as well as name and address for shipping. You must provide us with this information within 5 days of our email or we will choose another winner. Good luck! Disclosure:
I received 2 copies of this book from the author. As always, all opinions are my own and I only blog about products/services I truly believe in.
Yep, that’s right, it’s National Nut Day - a day devoted to eating nuts! Some weight conscious individuals shy away from nuts because they’re calorically dense. But a 2011 study
found that nut consumers had a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference, and lower systolic blood pressure compared to non-consumers. Tree nut consumers in particular had additional reduced risk factors for metabolic syndrome and a lower weight.
So a portion controlled serving of nuts can most certainly be part of a healthy meal plan! You can factor nuts into your typical daily eating plan or calorie levels, perhaps replacing another calorie-dense less nutritious choice with an ounce of your favorite nut. Take a look at some of these highlights for nut nutrition facts:
- 1 ounce of nuts contains about 160 to 200 calories and 13 to 20 grams of fat, depending on the type. These are heart healthy unsaturated fats, though, which can improve cardiovascular risk factors. These healthy fats can also help you feel full longer.
- Nuts contain protein, which is important for maintaining muscle mass and helping your immune system. Protein also helps you feel full and satiated, so nuts or nut butters are a perfect addition to a piece of fruit for a healthy, satisfying snack that will hold you over until your next meal.
- Many different nuts provide Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps your body fight free radicals.
- Nuts also contain several B-vitamins, which are important for different reactions in your body including those that break down food into energy.
- Magnesium is found in many nuts, which is used in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Some individuals believe magnesium may play a role in muscle cramps and migraines.
Here are some easy ways to include nuts in your diet for National Nut Day:
- Combine fruit with nuts or nut butters for a snack. Remember to watch your portions – try ½ ounce of nuts or 1 tbsp of nut butter.
- Blend nuts or nut butters into a healthy smoothie recipe.
- Mix nuts with dried fruits and a healthy cereal (one low in sugar and high in fiber) for a great trail mix.
- Need a quick breakfast? Mix nuts and fruit with plain lowfat greek yogurt.
- Add nuts to a salad. Some of my favorites include baby spinach with strawberries and pecans, or mixed greens with chicken, slices of green apple, and walnuts.
- Sprinkle nuts on top of whole wheat pancakes or whole wheat waffles.
- Add nuts like slivered almonds to vegetables like asparagus and green beans.
And one last tip - If you have problems with portion control, measure out ½ to 1 ounce servings of nuts into individual snack size bags. That way, you’ve got the perfect amount ready to grab-and-go for a snack! What’s your favorite nut? Or your favorite way to include them in your diet? Share with us in the comments!
Think back to the last time you were getting ready to check out at the supermarket. Close your eyes and remember what foods were near the cash register. If it’s like most grocery stores, you were probably surrounded by sodas, candy bars, and bubble gum.
An interesting perspective article published in the New England Journal of Medicine
on October 11th, 2012 suggests that this type of promotional strategy, called “impulse-marketing,” may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.
According to the CDC
, over 35% of US adults are currently obese and an additional 33% are overweight. We know that obesity can be a serious concern, as it increases the risk of many other diseases like heart disease and cancer.
The researchers who published this perspective piece suggest that “…placement influences our food choices in a way that is largely automatic and out of our conscious control and that subsequently affects our risk of diet-related chronic diseases.”
They present some interesting facts about those products on the end caps and aisles at the supermarket:
- Food merchandisers will often pay more to have items positioned in these spots
- About 30% of all supermarket purchases come from items in these spots
- Sales of these items may increase up to 5 times more when they are located in these spots
- Choices to purchase unhealthy food items located in these spots are often made more quickly than choices to purchase healthier items
The authors conclude by stating “With strong empirical research, it should be possible to identify which marketing strategies place people at risk or undermine their health, as well as to quantify the magnitude of risk. This kind of knowledge should be applied in informing regulations that could govern the design and placement of foods in retail outlets to protect consumers.” What do you think about this? Do you think that impulse marketing plays a large role in unhealthy purchases? Have you ever succumb to the temptation of a candy bar at checkout?
I certainly have.
While I know there would probably be uproar about regulations like this if they were ever put into place – the “food police” argument – I do think it would make people less likely to grab those unhealthy items on a whim. Share your thoughts with us below!
On Plum District a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a voucher for a one week vegetable CSA trial at a Pakeen Farm
in Canton, MA. I typically do a lot of shopping at farmers markets for produce, but I love the ideas of CSAs as well. In these programs, you agree to pay a certain amount at the beginning of the season for weekly boxes of produce. You typically don’t get a choice the items each week, but are guaranteed a variety of items. CSAs can be a fun challenge, because you might receive ingredients you don’t frequently use, so it gives you a chance to experiment with them.
Case in point – in my trial share, I got some fresh beets. I’ve done a little experimenting with beets in the past and enjoyed it (try my mango beet smoothie recipe
for delicious proof!) but haven’t cooked with them much since.
I was brainstorming how to use these, and remembered that Terra Chips had a variety that they sold which I really liked, and it included sweet potato and beet chips. So I decided to experiment with that idea by making my own beet chips!
I started by washing and scrubbing the beets, then slicing them. Wow, isn’t that color just fantastic?!
After that, I tossed them in olive oil, rosemary, and a tiny bit of salt, then put them in the oven to bake. Twenty or so minutes later and voilà – my snack was done!
The chips didn’t look very beautiful after cooking – partially because I didn’t have a mandolin slicer to get those nice, very thin chip-like slices – but they tasted fantastic.
And they’re super healthy. Beets pack in lots of potassium to support heart health and muscular health. They are also rich in folate which is important for pregnant women to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. And since we leave the skin on in this recipe (yes, you can eat beet skin), you’ve got a great source of dietary fiber – important for a healthy digestive system!
Here’s the recipe – give them a try! Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Makes 1-2 servings, depending on if you like to share Ingredients:
4 fresh beets
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (you can use more or less depending on your taste preferences)
A dash of salt (optional) Directions:
Nutrition Analysis (for total recipe):
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove beet greens, stalks, and the bottom part of each beet. Wash and scrub beets well.
- Cut beets into thin slices. I don’t have a mandolin slicer, so I just used a sharp knife, but the mandolin would definitely be quicker and make it much easier to get a uniform size.
- Toss in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, and salt.
- Spread onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15-25 minutes, until beets are crisp. Keep an eye on them, as cooking time will depend on the size of your beets and thinness of the slices.
- Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy!
227 calories, 10 grams of fat, 354 mg sodium, 33 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein
Do you get enough seafood in your diet? I know I probably fall short of this nutritional superstar a lot of weeks. But this week I won’t have that problem - I’m super excited, because I just won a free one-week fish CSA share through Edible South Shore
and the South Shore Seafood Exchange
(whose acronym is SOSSEXI - I love it and it's easy to remember!)! It got me thinking about sharing how important seafood can be in your diet.
The last set of Dietary Guidelines and the new MyPlate icon are one of the first sets of governmental recommendations to actively and specifically promote seafood consumption (note I said governmental – other organizations have been pushing this for a long time). The recommendation is to eat seafood twice a week, or about 8 or more ounces per week. To give you some perspective, a drained can of tuna is about 3-4 ounces while a fillet of white fish or salmon ranges from 3 to 6 ounces. Yet the average American eats only about 3 ounces of fish each week, falling short of the 8 or more ounce guideline.
Fish is rich in protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits. They can improve heart health by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and may reduce the risk of arrhythmias. Omega-3s are also thought to reduce inflammation it the body, leading to improvements in arthritis and joint problems. They may decrease the risk or progression of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. There is also evidence that pregnant women who eat omega 3s through low mercury seafood choices have children with improved cognitive function later in life. Pretty powerful stuff, huh?!
Here are some tips for a diet full of healthy seafood choices: Eliminate boredom; eat a variety.
Try including different types of fish in your diet, from salmon to oysters to cod. Both fish and shellfish count towards the 8 ounce per week guidelines, so there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from.
If you’re bored with a piece of grilled or baked fish, think of other unique ways you can make fish. For example, I just made a nutritious paella with lots of delicious vegetables, whole grain couscous, and sautéed scallops! You could also try shrimp stir fry, pasta with clams, salads topped with tuna, or add grilled fish to a sandwich. Try a burger made from fish rather than meat.
Or try tacos made with fish. These can be a healthy and quick dinner option. Use whole wheat tortillas, whatever kind of fish you have available or an inexpensive option from the grocery store, and some vegetables. I’ve made tacos with tilapia and a salsa made from cucumbers, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, jalepeno, and green onions – yum! Use healthy cooking methods and cook it safely.
Let’s move away from the fried fish fillets and breaded fish sticks. Fish can be cooked in many delicious ways that cuts down on extra calories and fat. Baking, broiling, roasting, and grilling are good options. You can use spices and seasonings to add flavor, as well as lemon or lime juice.
You also want to cook fish correctly – cooking it enough to kill bacteria, but not so much that it overcooks which can dry it out quickly. The recommendation is to cook fish to 145 degrees to ensure any unsafe bacteria are killed – use a meat thermometer to measure temperature, or look for when the fish starts to flake. For shellfish like shrimp and scallops, cook until they turn opaque (that milky white color). Canned counts.
Canned tuna, sardines, and salmon are all good choices. They’re inexpensive, easy to keep on hand, and can be used in a variety of ways. And a fun fact: did you know that sardines are a good source of calcium? That’s right, because they still contain those little bones, they provide a great boost of calcium for those of you who don’t like typical calcium-rich dairy products. Avoid too many high mercury choices.
The biggest sources of mercury are from shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. Check out this great list
that categorizes fish by mercury level if you’re interested in learning more about what food choices are lowest in mercury and safest to eat, particularly for pregnant women. Share with me: What’s your favorite way to include seafood in your diet?
Grains get a bad reputation – people claim they’re filled with “unhealthy” carbohydrates, and they’re often the first thing people cut out when they start dieting. But grains have an essential spot in our diet. Yes, they provide carbs – a word that has a bad connotation in much of the dieting world – but carbohydrate is our body’s preferred source of energy, and it’s where the majority (40-65%) of our calories should come from. We of course want to make sure these carbohydrates are coming from healthy choices like fruits, veggies, and grains.
The key when choosing grains is to select whole grains- those made from the entire kernel of the grain. And what better time to talk about these than Whole Grains Month, which happens every September!
Here’s the deal on whole grains – they contain all three parts of the grain kernel. This includes the:
- Bran – This outer layer surrounds the grain and protects it. It provides fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals
- Germ – This is where a lot of nutrients are stored, including antioxidants, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and healthy fats.
- Endosperm – This is the largest part of the grain kernel and contains carbohydrates as well as protein.
Because all the parts of the grain kernel are used, we’re given an extra boost of fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system – I always tell the kids I teach that “it helps us poop!” and hear the class break out in “ewwww!”. But it’s the truth, and it’s important that we get enough fiber each day for that reason. Fiber is important in other ways, too – for example, it helps regulate blood sugar better than when we eat foods lacking fiber. One type of fiber, soluble fiber, can also help to lower cholesterol.
A refined grain product is typically only made from the endosperm portion – so it provides carbohydrates, but lacks a lot of other nutrients. Some of these lost nutrients are added back in during processing (through enrichment and fortification) but not
to the same nutritional profile of the original whole grain.
So how do you spot the whole grains? It (unfortunately) isn’t as simple as you might think! There are tons of breads out there that look like they should be whole grain – they’re a brown color – and some even say “wheat bread” or “multigrain” in the name of the product. But to truly identify if you’re eating a whole grain, you’ll need to flip the package over and take a look at the ingredient list. The very first ingredient should say “whole wheat,” “whole grain oat flour,” “brown rice,” or a similar term (for other types of grains) indicating it is the unrefined form. If it’s a multigrain product, look at the different types of grain in the label to see if they are all whole grains. If you see “enriched wheat flour” as the first ingredient, that’s just another term for white flour, aka a refined grain product.
Sometimes people look at the nutrition facts to check the amount of fiber, and purchase products based on this amount. This can be deceiving, though, since manufacturers have jumped on the fiber bandwagon and have been adding isolated fibers to foods. These boost the grams of fiber without adding whole grain, so they can be added to refined products to make them seem like a healthier choice. Scientifically, though, we’re not sure if these isolated fibers have the same impact as regular fiber on your body. Your best bet is to read the ingredients and select items that are truly a whole grain.
Want to experiment with some new whole grains, or stock up on your favorites? Would a $25 Bob’s Red Mill gift card
help you with that?
Well perfect, because we are going to give one away!
Simply make a comment below on this blog post by 10/4/12
and be entered into a raffle to win a $25 gift card to use in their online store
. Bob’s Red Mill makes great products, including different flours, oat products, barley, and other grains. My favorite product is there whole wheat pastry flour, which I use for all my baking needs.
Terms: You must be at least 18 years old to win this giveaway. Upon winning, we will contact you via email and you must reply with your mailing address within 3 days or we will choose another winner.Good luck!
I finally have started getting through some of the food documentaries that have been sitting in my Netflix Instant Queue (right there next to My Fake Fiancé, my favorite ABC Family movie – shhhh, don’t tell). This morning, I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
The movie chronicles Joe, a man who started the movie with an autoimmune disorder and other health problems. Joe realizes that his health problems might have something to do with his diet, which up until this point has been high in processed food, takeout, and large portions. Joe decides to embark on a 60 day “juice fast” in order to lose weight and improve health. Along the way, he interviews people across the US about health, nutrition, and weight - two of which he inspires to also start a juice fast. One woman does a shorter 10 day version and then regularly incorporated juicing into her diet afterward, while the other gentleman decides to embark on the full 60 days. Both Joe and the second individual, Phil, lose dramatic amounts of weight during their juice fast.
So here are my (good and bad) thoughts: I like that the movie emphasized personal responsibility. Throughout the movie’s narrative from Joe as well as his interviews with other people, it becomes clear that they are emphasizing taking control of your health. Emphasizing that nutrition impacts a variety of diseases and health outcomes – which is so true!
What I didn’t like was the major emphasis on juicing. I think many people might take it as looking for a ‘quick fix’ to their weight and health problems. A healthy rate of weight loss is somewhere in the range of a ½ pound to 2 pounds per week – not 9-15 pounds in a week as shown at some points in this movie. I as much as the next person love dramatic transformation stories – who doesn’t? – but in reality, we put weight on gradually, and we should take it off gradually. I know that probably wouldn’t sell as well – I don’t picture many people running to the theater for a tagline of “Watch this guy lose 4 pounds in a month!” But rapid weight loss can lead to health problems like gallstones, headaches, fatigue and more. Now, did those happen in this movie? Nope. Would they happen to everyone? Nope. But my personal and scientific beliefs are that we should make sustainable, lifestyle changes that promote weight loss – not trying a low-cal juice diet for 2 months because it could result in quick weight loss.
On that note, throughout the movie there were recommendations to do just a 7-10 day juice fast or incorporate juicing into a balanced diet, rather than the more extreme 60 day cleanse. While I personally wouldn’t recommend a 7-10 day juice fast – I think people tend to feel overly deprived and often overindulge after that week – I also don’t see much harm in a week of this if you believe in it or feel that it would be beneficial for your body. And incorporating it into a balanced diet with whole produce, whole grains, beans, etc.? Sure, why not! It certainly could help you boost your micronutrient and phytocemical intake – you are combining tons of them into an easy to drink option.
Let’s touch on the definition of types of nutrients for a minute, because the video misses the mark a bit. Throughout the video, Joe calls fruits and veggies “micronutrient foods” and everything else “macronutrient foods.” That’s not true. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein. So yes, fruits and veggies contain many vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) but they also do contain carbohydrates – a macronutrient. Along the same lines, lean beef provides a lot of protein (a macronutrient) but also provides iron – a micronutrient.
The problem with relying on just juicing for too long is that you’re missing out on some essential nutrients. With many juicers, you extract the juice and separate out the pulp from your juice – so you’re missing out on the fiber in the foods. In addition, you’ll also fall short on protein and essential fatty acids. Again, for a few days or maybe a week, this wouldn’t be a major concern – but I certainly don’t think it’s healthy to do so for 2 months. Remember, weight does not always = health. Even though Joe’s medical monitoring and blood work showed no problems in his story doesn’t mean it would work the same for every individual.
I also wish they had touched on what diet they were eating afterward. At the beginning of the movie, he said that he was going to focus on fruits, veggies, beans and nuts afterward – but there is really none of this shown or mentioned again in the movie. I would’ve liked to see what his post-juicing diet was like.
I guess the point of all my rambling here – why not just focus on eating more whole fruits and veggies rather than looking for a quick fix? Focusing on making the majority of your meals plant-based foods is useful, nutritious, and sustainable over the long term. And maybe it’s just me, but I like to eat! I’d prefer creating delicious, nutritious meals that I can sit and savor, rather than trying to get down a so-so green juice.
But those are just my thoughts. What about you? What did you think of the movie?