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Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category

I am sick of New Year’s Resolutions and I have had a Revelation…I want to have a Resolution Revolution.

Okay enough alliteration, but it does bug me that we get obsessed with “new beginning” on January 1rst.

Most folks set themselves up for disappointment by making the same sweeping promises to themselves (eat better, lose weight, stop smoking) and not really thinking about all the bite size behavior changes it might take to get there.  Then when the New Year rolls around again we have a groundhog day moment and are back to where we started.

Plus we always seem to be cracking the whip on ourselves without taking a moment to recognize any of the positive changes we actually did make.  Come on….I know there is one thing you can think of that you changed in the last year that you are proud of?!?

So how can you focus on that small thing you did right and build on that?

Did you reward yourself for it?

A reward is one key way to solidify those bite sized behavior changes so be sure to give yourself a (ideally non-food) reward once you did that thing you said you were going to do.  Or just as a pat on the back for being human.

The reward doesn’t have to be $plurgetastic– how about just a flower for your bedside, a bubble bath or taking a moment for a funny dog/baby/blooper video on youtube?

One of my favorites is pure Tali-time with a cup of tea and a stack of magazines.  Delicious.

What are you going to give yourself for 2013’s successes?

tea & magazine reward photo

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Its been a week or so since THANKSgiving yet I just can’t stop being thankful for everything around me.  Think I am just a lucky person?  Well I am, but I have also been practicing being thankful or full of gratitude to better my health and self.

That’s right, scientists are finally starting to research this stuff and are finding that gratitude is good for us.  “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress” states the UC Davis Emmons Lab.

The basics on practicing gratitude….think of at least one thing you are grateful for.  It could be something big (waking up next to someone you love) or small (the gal you get your coffee from each day). The key is that you take a moment to feel it, mean it.

Other ideas…try it as a pause before meals, try writing a few things you are thankful for down to make a gratitude-journal, get a gratitude email pen-pal (this is what my friend started doing with me-  its wonderful to read his email each day with 5 things he is grateful for and then respond with 5 of my own),  add  something you are grateful for to a post-it at home or at work.

Other resources…I love the articles and newsletters from Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center  (“the science of a meaningful life”) and another friend just turned me on to “Awakening Joy” a 5 month long online course on happiness that focuses heavily on gratitude.

I am so grateful that in this day and age we can realize that good health is not just a number on a scale or how many miles we can run or even a lack of disease but also how bright our spirit shines and how we feel about ourselves and others around us.


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So if you didn’t notice yet, I have a lot of vegan and vegetarian clients and today’s blog post is thanks to one of them…

Vegans and Vegetarian’s (and pre-menopausal Ladies in general) have to be sure to get enough Iron in their diet.  Now that can be easy if you eat a lot of beans and leafy greens but you also have to careful to maximize absorption (or how much iron your body actually takes in)….

Here is the deal with Iron & Absorption:

  • Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (i.e., heme iron) is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (i.e., non-heme iron).
  •  Vitamin C enhances non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal.
  • Calcium in dairy or fortified non-dairy milk decreases absorption of both heme/non-heme iron.
  • Iron absorption is also inhibited/decreased by polyphenols, phytates.

— Polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins) are found in coffee, tea, cocoa and red wine and when consumed in high amounts, may lead to decreased iron absorption.

— Phytates are in grains/legumes. Soaking, sprouting, leavening, and fermenting whole grains render the iron more bioavailable by degrading the phytates.

— Soy also has Phytic acid and can decrease iron absorption

So whats a girl to do?

Try to increase your Iron Sources and eat them WItH Vitamin C sources. Eg. Spinach with Red Bell Peppers, Fortified Cereal with Strawberries and almond milk.

Use an iron skillet– you actually get some of that iron into your food!  Especially with longer cooking times, frequent stirring and a newer skillet.

Avoid eating your iron-rich foods at the same time as your coffee/tea/red wine or dairy (or calcium supplement).

Here is a link to sources of both Iron & Vit C and here is a link especially for the vegetarians/vegans that has a nice list of plant sources of iron:

Also talk to your doctor about your latest blood labs and they can  tell you if your labs are looking anemic or low in iron.

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Taking a long road trip this summer or flying to Europe?  Here are some handy healthy snacks ideas to make sure you don’t give-in to the Cinnabon at the airport (880 kcals for the classic!) or Doritos at the gas station…and of course bring a refillable water bottle wherever you go too!

I also like to travel with my own herbal tea bags for the decadent taste of home (decaf chai for me please).

Non-Perishable Suggestions:

• Energy bars: Make your own or look for low sugar (<10g),high fiber(>3g). A few brands to try: Kind bar, Larabar, Kashi, FiberOne or Luna/Cliff bar.

• Plain or low sodium almonds, peanuts, cashews, soy nuts, mixed nuts, etc without added oils. Keep servings to a small snack sized baggie (pre-make several as necessary).

• Dried fruit (mix with nuts for a protein boost)

• Pistachio seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with shells- this will keep your hands busy (bring an extra baggie for empty shells)

• Trail mix- homemade or from the store, keep the serving to a snack sized baggie

• Canned fruit (in water not syrup and remember to bring a spoon!)

• Instant oatmeal packets (low sugar ideally). Top with handful of nuts for an extra protein boost and/or dried fruit for added sweetness.

• Peanut, almond or apple butter with whole grain crackers ( like Akmak or Wasa). I like Justin’s single serve nut butter

• Air popped popcorn  or microwave popcorn (look for low fat, “natural” brands”)

• Brown Rice cakes;flavored (sweet or savory) or plain and spread with peanut, almond, nut butter.

Perishable Suggestions (pack a soft cooler bag with a ice-pack):

• Low fat string cheese or wedge cheese and whole grain crackers

• Apple slices with snack sized packets or containers of nut butter

• Mini Pita and hummus sandwiches-add lettuce and tomato too or eat with baby carrots

• Mini or scooped bagel. Spread with light cream cheese, cottage cheese or peanut butter and whole fruit low sugar jam.

• PBJ on whole wheat bread (>3g fiber per slice)

• 6 oz low fat yogurts, I like greek yogurts in the lowest sugar flavor possible or plain with berries.

• Protein roll ups-roll up turkey, roast beef or light cheese, wrap and pack in plastic

•  Hard boiled eggs

•  Cut up veggies with low fat dip (you can find this prepackaged in many local supermarkets)

• Hummus with cut up veggies, pretzels or pita chips

• Unshelled edamame (Trader Joes sells these fresh or find them in the freezer section and thaw on the road

• Homemade low sugar whole wheat fruit muffins

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This isn’t my normal nutrition post but I just had to share my DC adventures since they were so inspiring and made me get psyched about my electoral voice!

Two weeks ago today, I had my first visit to “The Hill” in Washington, DC as  I was awarded a stipend to travel to DC for PPW 2012 by the Bay Area Dietetics Association (BADA) board, on which I sit  as a Community Co-Chair.  The “Public Policy Workshop” (PPW) is a yearly event put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association) in conjunction with their full time public policy Washington staff and dietitian representatives from all 50 states.

The workshop consisted of two FULL days of training where we learned everything from your “elevator pitch” (who are you and what you want in 1 minute), the ins-and-outs of having a voice in politics (and various levels and ways to do so) and the importance of wearing patriotic socks (might pass on that one) to important issues around government spending priorities (prevention is a big buzz word finally) and how First Lady Michelle Obama has inspired and supported cities like Austin and New York to start “Lets’ Move” campaigns.

The third day, a Tuesday morning, we went to the hill and with RD’s from our region (Go California!) pitched our support for two of the four pieces of legislature that were our given priorities:

1) The Farm Bill (or “The Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill” as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak urged us to call it in his Keynote address)- and ensuring that the SNAP (food stamp program) and SNAP-ED (Nutrition education) programs are funded adequately as well as Agricultural/Nutrition research, the TEFAP program (food banks), the commodity food program ( CSFP- remember those cans of peanut butter at school or camp?), the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP) at schools and the Senior Farmer’s Market program (cool!).  Key message here was empowering consumers with nutrition education (!) and ensuring access to healthy safe foods.

2) The Older Americans Act (OAA)- pass this bill currently stalled in Congress (and develop a bill for the House) and include language that supports having nutrition professionals (RD’s) at all levels (local, state, federal) of the “aging network” to ensure cost-effective nutrition services and evidence-based results.

3) Prevention Diabetes in Medicare Act (H.R. 2741)-  support or sponsor this bill to cover lifestyle intervention that include dietary changes (that’s my job) by RD’s for Medicare recipients who have pre-diabetes (vs only those with WITH diabetes as that and CKD are currently the only diagnoses covered by Medicare).  Almost 1 in 10 have Diabetes but almost 4 in 10 have pre-diabetes.  Studies show that 50-70% of Medicare participants with pre-diabetes can avoid diabetes with lifestyle interventions.

4) Drug Shortage Prevention Act (H.R. 3839)- support this bill as well as H.R. 2245 and Senate bill S 296 to help curtail and prevent the drug shortage phenomena that has been taking place more frequently since 2012 and puts patients across this nation at risk.  RD’s, pharmacists and doctors are all unable to do their jobs fully when drugs, vitamins and minerals are taken off the market or under-produced due to low profit margins or other reasons.

Coming off my three meetings with Congresswoman Barbara Lee (I met with her people all alone!), Senator Diane Feinstein, and Senator Barbara Boxer, I felt powerful and that my voice was heard, our opinions mattered.  What a great feeling.  Later that evening I even got an email from the young man I met with at Lee’s office, letting me know she would support one of the bills I spoke especially passionately about (#3 above)- awesome!

Want to feel heard?

If you are a Dietitian, you can speak up around these issues and/0r others that you feel passionate about.  A great resource is the Grass Roots Manager section of the eatright.org website , or join and get involved with the Political Action Commitee (ANDPAC).

Just a regular joe? Check out House.gov to find/write your representatives or go to the user-friendly gov.track.us or the dense Library of Congress Thomas site to follow a specific bill or see what is being voted on this week…

Thanks for listening! And yes– I did have a fun Vegan shawarma sandwich while in DC, check out a recipe here… Now go be a voice yourself…

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I love working with folks around food choices, exercise goals and weight loss and most often what we talk about is behavior change.  It starts like this…

“I want to lose 20 lbs”

“I want to eat better”

“I want to avoid diabetes since it runs in my family”

And then comes the hard part– how to get there…

So often we want to make HUGE commitments (think of your last New Year’s Resolutions) but it turns out that small change over time works best.  Setting small goals that are measurable and realistic = Bite sized behavior change!

So instead of saying “I want to lose 10 pounds”, try “I will only eat dessert once a week” or “I will walk 10 minutes at lunch every day”.

Dr. BJ Fogg from Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab agrees and in fact has started a program based on tiny habits and counters the argument that change happens with “will power” and instead encourages people to make it as easy as possible by setting up your environment to promote the new behavior and attach your new “habit” to one that already exists (eg. brushing your teeth, eating a meal etc).

I love his website which you can sign up for free and pick your own 3 tiny habits to work on.

What tiny habits would you like to add to your life?

Image

Photo by zole4

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I have been really busy really lately working with a lot of new clients and especially new moms who had Gestational Diabetes (GDM) in their last pregnancy and a theme that has come up is EATING REGULARLY.   These new moms of course are busy and sometime forget to eat breakfast or go 7-8 hours without eating anything! The stress of new motherhood (or your busy workday) can over-ride your hunger cues and before you know it, when you do eat you eat way too much or just end up slowing your metabolism down and holding on to those fat stores.

Eating regularly is important for blood sugar control and this applies to everyone, not just those with GDM or Type I or II Diabetes and one way to do this is to get a healthy snack between meals so that you are not going more than 3-5 hours without eating something.

Having a healthy snack is also another opportunity to get some healthy stuff in- like fiber, protein or fruit and vegetables!  Plus having a snack with protein + fiber will keep you full longer.  Make that snack small but mighty!

How much to snack on?  Well that depends on when your next meal is going to be and how much you typically eat at a meal. A good rule of thumb is that if you are going to be eating in the next 1-2 hours, choose a smaller snack (around 50-100 calories) and if you aren’t getting to that next meal for 2-3 hours choose something a bit more substantial (around 150-200 calories).

Below are some snack ideas but even yesterday’s meal can be a snack if the portion is adjusted!

Snack ideas:

▪ Low Fat String cheese & whole-grain crackers

▪ Non/lowfat yogurt mixed w fresh fruit & 1 Tbs granola

▪ Cut-up fruit or vegetables with yogurt dip or hummus

▪ whole-wheat pita filled with hummus

▪  Corn tortilla with bean dip

▪ whole wheat tortilla filled with turkey, cheese & vegetables

▪ 1 slice whole wheat toast topped with nut butter & banana slices

▪ 1 slice of whole wheat toast with tuna salad (low fat, low sodium)

▪ Low-fat popcorn with grated Parmesan cheese or Nutritional Yeast sprinkled on top

▪ Handful of nuts mixed w a peice of fruit.

▪ Small salad topped w grilled chicken/tofu/fish (1 oz protein)

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I get a lot of vegans in my private practice– and they usually are thrilled that I can reassure them that YES a vegan diet can be amazingly healthy and then we go over there food choices together and make sure they are getting all the macro and micronutrients they need.

One that often comes up is Calcium (Ca+).  Sure we have been brainwashed into thinking that we can only get calcium from a milk mustache but actually there are plenty of vegan sources to get your RDA (for men and women under 50 years old that’s 1000mg and if you are > 60 yo its 1200mg).  Here are some ideas I recently shared with a client (who by the way- doesn’t eat nuts or seeds- which are another great source of Ca+)

Morning ideas:

Fortified juice/non-dairy milk (6 oz)   200-260mg

Fortified High Fiber Cereal (eg. Total RB) (8 oz)  1000mg

Blackstrap Molasses (1 tbsp) on toast  130mg

Lunch and Dinner ideas:

Protein Sources: per 1 cup serving

Garbanzo beans, cooked  340 mg

Soybeans, cooked   450 mg

Tofu, firm  (w calcium suffate) 400 mg

Tempeh  215 mg

Vegetables – per 1 cup serving

Turnip greens, cooked  450 mg

Nettles, blanched  428mg

Spinach, cooked  250 mg

Collard greens, cooked  260 mg

Mustard greens, cooked 100 mg

Bok choy, cooked 158 mg

Kale, cooked 100 mg

Broccoli, cooked 100 mg

Misc sources:

Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp.) 130 mg

Tahini (2 tbsp)  128mg

Dried figs (3 oz.) 100 mg

Dried apricots (3 oz.)  80 mg

Nettle (cold) infusion:

1 cup dried nettle leaf (available in most health food stores in the bulk culinary herb section)

4 cups cold water – steep overnight, strain and drink.

Nettles can also be used like spinach in soups, eggs etc…

Kale & Blueberry Salad

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I am posting this in honor of a client of mine who is working to tame her sugar cravings– she is not alone.

More and more research is showing that sugar can be an addiction and triggers the reward center in your brain in a powerful way.  Some even think its toxic (read this interesting New York Times article). That said, I think a little dark chocolate can be a beautiful (and healthy) thing. From my perspective, moderation is key and choosing a best option or healthier substitution can be easier than you think.

Whether you are a candy junkie or just can’t say no to those office cookies, here are a few tips to decrease the sugar cravings.

  • Avoid or cut down on the white stuff (foods with simple sugars and not much else).

This seems obvious but the more you cut the straight sugar out of your food choices the easier it will be to resist it next time.   This means try your coffee/tea without two heaping mounds of sugar or avoid the white flour cupcake or breakfast muffin.
Replace with: Fresh Fruit!  Nature’s candy which is more often than not has fiber to help slow down the sugar breakdown. Try whole wheat  versions of that baked good, ideally make with less sugar.  If you must add a sweetener, try a sugar that has a few (very few) minerals too (like brown sugar, molasses or maple syrup) and often have a more robust taste which enables you to need less.

  • Eat regularly and eat right.

Often times our sugar cravings are just are body telling us we are hungry and want a quick fix of glucose.  Try and eat regularly, at least a little fiber, fat and protein every 3-4 hours. By eating the right foods (whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, lean protein) your body will feel full and is won’t be screaming for instant sugar energy.
Try snacks such as: 2 tablespoons of hummus with a cut up carrot or two or some whole wheat pita. Yogurt and berries.  2 tablespoons of almond butter and 4-6 apple slices.

  • Manage the other S’s….Sleep and Stress.

Studies have shown that sleep deprived people make poorer food choices (hello, I need instant energy because my body is so tired) and gain more weight than folks who get enough Zzzz’s. Additionally, stress is another trigger for your body to want simple sugars to get through what must be a survival crisis.

Enhance your lifestyle: Aim for at least 6-8 hours a night. Maybe your after dinner “treat” is getting to bed earlier. Find new ways to cope with stress.  Breathing techniques, a brisk walk or other form of exercise or having a good laugh all help relieve stress. Finally a medical reason to watch funny YouTube videos at work!

  • Track down Triggers

Work with yourself or a profession to identify what triggers you have around food and especially sweets.  Do you “take care” of yourself with sugar because you really want a hug?  Learn to get in touch with your true body cues of hunger with intuitive or mindful eating.

Practice Mindful eating by: slowing down when you eat, asking yourself if you are really hungry, taking 5 minutes between impulse and action.

You truly can have a sweet life with less sugar– which of these tips will you try today?

OR

Watch my video here about sugar for the American Heart Association (AHA) or read more about sugar on the AHA website.

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Last week I led a lovely group in a herb & spice workshop at 18 Reasons and aside from making some delicious dishes with cumin ( a favorite spice) we also talked about the health properties of various spices.

Culinary herbs and spices are the grandparents of the “food as medicine” movement and have been used for thousands of years, not only to add flavor to foods but also to prevent illness and keep food safe from bacteria.

Did you know…

Adding cinnamon to your oatmeal, coffee or cous-cous can help control blood sugar and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Turmeric also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease and can even help prevent blood clots.

Mint really does help with indigestion, even folks with IBS, as it helps relax your smooth stomach muscles.

Basil (a member of the mint family) also helps with indigestion and symptoms such as diarrhea and gas.

Rosemary is an anti-oxidant (cancer protective) and also an antibacterial so makes for a great meat marinade.

Getting in the habit of using more fresh and dried spices will also displace the need to flavor with salt or need loads of fat or sugar to make the dish flavorful.

Tip: You get a more potent flavor and health benefits if you buy spices like Cumin seed, Coriander seeds, Dill seed,Fennel seed and Fenugreek seeds in their whole form and grind them (use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) right before using.

teaching a workshop on spices & health

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