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Archive for the ‘ Healthy eating ’ Category

5 foods to keep you feeling full

As a nutritionist specializing in portion control and weight loss, I know from my clients that the worst part about trying to lose weight is feeling deprived and being hungry. When you are hungry, you tend to overeat, and often on the wrong foods.

And no, you do not have to eat skimpy portions to lose weight. You want to learn to eat the right foods which contain nutrients that will help you feel full.

I have never been a fan of rigid diets, and over the years, have recognized the importance of developing healthy habits you can sustain. One such habit is choosing “go to” foods that you enjoy and that also make you feel full. Foods which contain fiber and protein tend to keep your hunger at bay, which is ideal when trying losing weight.

Here are some of my top picks which will help keep you feeling full.  You won’t even know you are trying to lose weight.

chickpeas

 

1. Oatmeal

Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to keep from feeling hungry an hour after eating. Oatmeal contains a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber which is not only good for your heart, but it also may also keep your hunger pangs away.

Research comparing the effects of oatmeal and corn flakes on feelings of fullness and hunger found that overweight subjects reported feeling more satisfied after consuming oatmeal than corn flakes. And they also ate less at lunch.

Add water, fat-free milk, vanilla-flavored soy milk, or almond milk to your favorite brand of oatmeal and you have a delicious and nutritious breakfast.

2. Chickpeas

The United Nations (UN) declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP).  Pulses are comprised of dry peas, beans, lentils, and legumes and are protein-packed and high fiber vegetables, a terrific combination of nutrients to help you feel full and even help with weight loss.  A nutritious protein alternative for vegetarians, pulses (including chickpeas), contain the nutrients iron, folate, magnesium and potassium.

Try incorporating chickpeas and other pulses into your diet, if you don’t already. You can enjoy a hearty soup made with chickpeas, hummus, or a chickpea salad. Ready to incorporate more pulses into your diet? I invite you to visit pulsepledge.com for recipes, meal plans and other resources.

3. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great food to include in your diet. It is high in protein keeping you feeling full and a good source of calcium and vitamin D. It also makes for a great snack, as it is portable. Just one caveat: Stick to flavors that are not loaded with added sugar. My suggestion: Stick to the plain yogurt and add fresh fruit, flax seeds, and a drizzle of honey if necessary.

4. Mixed nuts

Need a healthy late-afternoon snack? Grab a handful of nuts. The protein, fiber, and fat in nuts help you feel full longer, so you may actually end up eating less throughout the day. Studies show that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control for total calories. As an added benefit, nut eaters may have a lower incidence of diabetes when compared to those who rarely eat nuts.

5. Quinoa

Quinoa makes for satisfying addition to a meal. This ancient grain contains a variety of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E as well as protein and fiber, a winning combination to helping you feel full.

And no, quinoa is not high in calories. A ½ cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 100 calories. And next time you can’t decide what to eat for dinner, enjoy a healthy portion of quinoa (around ½ cup-1 cup cooked) with grilled salmon or tofu along with your favorite assortment of sautéed vegetables.

 

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. 

 

 

 

 

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Add more of these 5 superfoods to your diet

Legumes

It’s a new year and a great time for healthy eating and to try new foods. The foods below are not only trending now but are also healthy, delicious, and versatile. As a nutritionist, I urge you give them a try.

 

  1. Cauliflower

Move over kale; cauliflower is the “in” vegetable these days. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and a member of the brassica family alongside broccoli and Brussel sprouts. It is a nutrition powerhouse, chock full of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It is also very low in calories; one cup raw cauliflower contains only 25 calories so don’t worry about eating too much.

One reason cauliflower may be making a comeback is because of its versatility. When cooked and soft, try experimenting by making cauliflower “rice or potatoes” to replace actual potatoes or rice.

 

  1. Pulses

The United Nations (UN) declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). Pulses are comprised of dry peas, beans, lentils, and legumes and are protein-packed and sustainable vegetables.  As discussed in the recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pulses are also excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients, including potassium and the B vitamin folate. They also contain iron and zinc and are a terrific protein choice if you are vegetarian or just interested in cutting back on meat.

Adding pulses to your diet is easy. You can enjoy a split pea soup, throw a handful of chick peas into your salad, or make a delicious lentil stew instead of a meat dish. Ready to incorporate more pulses into your diet? Visit pulsepledge.com to take a 10-week challenge and get access to recipes, meal plans and other resources.

 

  1. Beets

This long lost vegetable is certainly trending now. Eating more beets is good for you and can certainly help boost your nutrient intake.  Beets contain betalains, a potent antioxidant which can help fight off oxidative stress. Beets are also high in fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium.  This naturally sweet and tasty vegetable also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help fight chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension, inflammation and cancer.

 

  1. Spiralized Vegetables

Spiralizing is a great way to use veggies in different ways, and can certainly help boost your intake. A “spiralizer” is a spiral vegetable slicer that creates strands (resembling pasta) out of vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, and carrots. You can swap pasta for spiralized zucchini to save lots of calories. And what I love is that you get to eat a bigger portion. While one cup of cooked linguine contains around 200 calories, two cups of cooked veggies like carrots and zucchini contain under 100 calories. You can also add spiralized veggies to your favorite salad or stir-fry for a healthy side dish. It is a great gadget to add to your kitchen.

 

  1. Hemp Seeds

These nutty seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Use them like you would wheat germ or seeds – sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal and other cereals for added flavor, crunch, and nutrients. You can also add them to salads and to sautéed vegetables. You can even use hemp seeds instead of bread crumbs to make a healthy crust for fish or chicken.

 

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. 

Photo courtesy of: USDA/ARS, Keith Weller.

 

 

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9 Foods This Nutritionist Stocks in Her Kitchen

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, 9 foods this nutritionist stocks in her kitchen.

You can also read it HERE.

The people we surround ourselves with help to contribute to our happiness. In food speak, the foods we surround ourselves with, help keep us healthy.

As a nutritionist, I have seen first hand that our environment plays a huge factor guiding our food choices. If our “default” environment is filled with large portions of junk food, it becomes increasingly difficult to make healthy food choices. If, on the other hand, we keep healthy foods handy, we are more likely to make more nutritious food choices.

While everyone — including me — loves to indulge on occasion, eating well at least 80 percent of the time is the key to staying healthy. And surrounding ourselves with nutritious foods certainly helps us to make healthy food choices.

Here are nine healthy foods I try stock in my kitchen regularly.

1. Greek yogurt

I make sure to keep Greek yogurt in my refrigerator at all times. It tastes great and contains protein which helps keep me full along with the mineral calcium necessary for bone health. Greek yogurt is a great snack and the sky is the limit as far as nutrition goes; adding ground flax or chia seeds, nuts, and your favorite fruit adds a huge nutrition boost. Greek yogurt is also rich in good bacteria called probiotics known to have a multitude of health benefits, among them aiding in digestion.

2. Almonds

Almonds are packed with nutrients and are a filling and flavorful snack. They contain protein, vitamin E, heart-healthy fats, along with the minerals calcium and magnesium. I try to pack a one ounce serving — 23 nuts to be exact — in a small tin or baggie to take along with me if I will be out all day.

Almonds are also very versatile and make for a delicious addition to both fruit salads and green salads. I also love sprinkling slivered almonds into my morning oatmeal or yogurt.

And you have no reason to avoid eating nuts if you are watching your weight. Even though they are high in fat, research found that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control total calories. One caveat: include a handful of nuts instead of chips (the key word being “instead of.”)

3. Oatmeal

Not only does oatmeal taste delicious, it is also filling, chock full of fiber, and lower in calories and sugar than many breakfast cereals. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol level, making it a great choice to prevent heart disease. Oatmeal also contains magnesium and potassium, two minerals also good for your heart.

4. Apples

I love eating apples especially in the Fall season in New York. Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in calories, and an apple a day may even keep your prescription medication away. I enjoy an apple (Fuji is my favorite) as a snack most days and also love making baked apples to enjoy while home. I suggest buying organic apples and eating the entire apple along with the skin.

5. Blueberries

These tiny blue-colored berries are among my favorite fruits. Not only do they taste great, they are relatively low in calories and pack in nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, and fiber ( 4 gram of fiber per 1 cup serving). I often eat them by the handful or throw them into yogurt, smoothies, or salads. Frozen blueberies also taste great after nuking them in the microwave for a minute or so.

6. Peanut butter

I must confess that I love peanut butter and find it hard to stick with just a tablespoon or two even though I have spent a good part of my life studying portion control. If you can get a handle on your portion (2 tablespoons look like a walnut in a shell), peanut butter makes for a great snack or even a quickie mini-meal for kids and grown ups (remember peanut butter on whole wheat bread with sliced bananas). Peanut butter is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and contains protein which helps you to feel full.

7. Broccoli

I am a huge fan of eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit not just because they are healthy and relatively low in calories but because they taste great. Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables and is a true nutrition powerhouse. A cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica family, broccoli is high in the antioxidant vitamins A and C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can help ward off cancer. While I prefer fresh broccoli, I always keep a bag of frozen broccoli on hand for a rainy day. Sautee broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and you are good to go.

8. Olive oil

While olive oil is high in fat and calories, and should be used sparingly (1-2 tablespoons as a serving on a salad), it is rich in monounsaturated fat and contains many health benefits, among them controlling cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels. I always keep a bottle of extra virgin olive oil handy — in a cool dry place — to toss on salads, drizzle on fish, and add zest and flavor to my favorite vegetables.

9. Avocados

Avocados taste great and add zest to a meal. They are also rich in healthy nutrients — including heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E and potassium — while also keeping your hunger at bay. I love to add avocado to a salad or spread it on whole grain crackers as a late-afternoon snack.

We would love to hear which healthy foods you stock in your kitchen.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Eat these 5 foods to help boost bone health

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, Eat these 5 foods to help boost bone health.

You can also read it here HERE.

Our bones tend to remain strong through early adulthood. As we age, however, our bones tend to become thinner. And when a woman enters menopause, she loses additional bone. Men and women alike, however, can get osteoporosis, a disease characterized by breaking bones. It happens when you make too little bone, lose too much bone, or both.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis. About 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men ages 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Good news you can control. The foods that you eat — as well as other lifestyle habits — can affect your bones. To build strong bones, several key nutrients play a pivotal role, including calcium and vitamin D. Calcium supports the structure of your bones while vitamin D improves calcium absorption. Other key nutrients to build strong bones include vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium.

To boost bone health, include these five foods in your diet.

Milk

When we think about calcium, we tend to think milk, and for good reason. An 8-ounce glass of fat-free milk contains under 100 calories and around 300 mg of calcium, and 30 percent of the calcium recommendation for a 50-year-old. If you are not a milk drinker, try blending it with your favorite fruit and making a smoothie. Choose a brand that is fortified with vitamin D to get additional bone-health benefits.

Yogurt

Eating a serving of yogurt each day is a great ways to get your daily intake of calcium. Yogurt is portable, tasty, and packed with nutrients. Yogurt also contains probiotics, shown to promote gut health. Yogurt makes for a great breakfast option and also an easy snack. While Greek yogurt contains less calcium than regular yogurt, I tend to prefer it due its higher protein content helping to promote satiety, a feeling of fullness. Even if you are lactose intolerant and have a hard time digesting milk, you can probably eat yogurt without a problem.

Turnip greens

While most of us know that dairy products are good for our bones, we rarely think of fruits and vegetables as being linked to bone health. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is healthy for a multitude of reasons, one being that it contributes to stronger bones. Produce contributes antioxidants and polyphenols, in addition to vitamin K, magnesium and potassium, shown to promote skeletal health.

Greens such as turnip greens, bok choy, and kale are also rich in calcium. Turnip greens are one of my favorites: one cup cooked contains nearly 200 mg calcium, and 20 percent of the calcium recommendation for a 50-year-old. These greens are also chock full of other nutrients including vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, potassium, iron, and fiber. Sautee them with a little olive oil, add them to a salad or smoothie, or add chopped turnip greens to veggie casseroles.

Prunes

Got prunes? Move over milk. Prunes, also known as dried plums, may help strengthen bones, prevent bone loss, and perhaps even reverse bone loss due to osteoporosis. In fact, research found that eating just 5-6 medium prunes per day may do the trick. Prunes also contain plenty of fiber (helping our digestive help), vitamin C, and are alkalizing to the body, which may help to protect our bones.

Salmon

While we know that fatty fish, including salmon and sardines, are good for our heart (thanks to its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), believe it or not, fatty fish have also been linked to skeletal health. In addition to being an excellent source of protein and omega-3s which help support skeletal health, salmon is rich in vitamin D which improves calcium absorption and bone health. A 4-ounce serving of cooked salmon contains around 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D, the recommended intake for adults under 70 years old. While we can get vitamin D from sunlight, nearly half of Americans are deficient in this vitamin, and few foods are naturally rich in this bone-protecting nutrient.

Still think your diet is low in calcium and vitamin D? Try taking a supplement. While I recommend that you get your nutrients from foods, if your diet is low in calcium or vitamin D, a supplement may help fill the gap.

While you can take calcium in pill form (citrate or carbonate are preferred), if you are the type to forget to take it, try ending your lunch or dinner with an Adora, a yummy chocolate supplement. Each wafer provides 500 mg calcium and 500 IU of vitamin D. Be sure to stop at just one. Additional calcium will not provide any added benefits for bone health. In fact, too much calcium can lead to kidney stones and other problems. So proceed with caution, and as I like to say, practice moderation.

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12 healthy swaps in time for summer

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, 12 healthy swaps in time for summer.

You can also read it HERE.

Summer is right around the corner, marking a time of barbecues, outdoor eating and gatherings with family and friends. It is also means going to the beach and wearing (while also feeling comfortable in) your favorite bathing suit.

To enjoy the summer season and social gatherings that go along with it, it is important to make healthy food and lifestyle choices. It is no surprise that as a practicing nutritionist, this is one of my busiest seasons.

Here are several healthy — and simple — swaps to make this time a healthy season. Try to incorporate at least one swap per day and you will be on your way to a healthier summer.

1. Wake up practicing gratitude instead of complaining.

Be grateful for the good things in your life, instead of the bad things. While we can all finds things in our lives that could be better, things could also be a lot worse. Starting your day with a grateful heart opens us up to receive all of the miracles that life has to offer.

2. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal instead of a bowl of granola.

Not only is oatmeal filling and contain fiber, it’s also lower in calories and sugar, when compared to granola. While a half cup serving of oats contains just 1 gram of sugar, many varieties of granola contain upward of 10 grams of sugar.

Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The type of fiber in oatmeal, beta glucans, may be particularly beneficial for heart health and also for weight control. Oatmeal also contains minerals, including magnesium and potassium, which promote heart health.

3. Top your oatmeal with fresh blackberries instead of sugar.

Blackberries taste sweet and are high in antioxidants and fiber while adding bulk to your portion of oatmeal. Sugar, on the other hand, is nothing more than empty calories

4. Drink sparkling water instead of soda.

Soda contains pure sugar, is liquid candy and a waste of calories. Swapping soda for sparkling water can save you hundreds of calories. For flavor, add a splash of lemon, lime or cucumber or throw in a few fruit flavored ice cubes (pour your favorite juice into an ice cube tray and freeze).

5. Eat a salad made with kale instead of iceberg lettuce.

In general, the darker the green, the more nutrients it contains. While iceberg lettuce is mostly water, kale is richer in nutrients and antioxidants such as folate, fiber, and vitamins A and C.

6. Top your salad with grilled salmon instead of steak.

Salmon contains heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids known to prevent blood clots and promote heart health. Red meat, including steak, on the other hand, is high in saturated fat.

7. Toss cherry tomatoes instead of croutons into your salad.

Adding tomatoes to your salad will boost your intake of antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamin C without contributing too many calories. Croutons, on the other hand, contain few nutrients and are mostly empty calories.

8. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Engaging in unstructured exercise such as taking the stairs or parking your car a few blocks away from where you are going is a great way to rev up your metabolism. Taking the stairs is also a great way to boost lean body mass.

9. Snack on peanuts instead of chips.

Hungry for a snack? Adding a handful of peanuts to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of healthy unsaturated fats which may benefit the brain as well as the skin. Peanuts are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E. And even better, eating peanuts may protect against major causes of death.

10. Eat ‘spaghetti’ primavera made with spaghetti squash instead of white pasta.

Not only will you save lots of calories by swapping pasta for spaghetti squash, the squash will also give you a healthy helping of folate, vitamin C, fiber and magnesium. And even better, you can enjoy a generous portion without having to worry about gaining weight.

11. Enjoy fresh corn on the cob instead of mashed potatoes.

It’s great to take advantage of produce in season. Corn on the cob is fresh and sweet while also containing a healthy dose of fiber. It is also portion controlled so it is hard to overdo it as you would mashed potatoes.

12. Swap your salt for a dash of turmeric.

Cooking with herbs and spices is a great way to reduce the amount of salt you ingest.Turmeric, in particular, not only adds a zesty flavor but it also contains anti inflammatory properties which may promote health.

Wishing you a wonderful summer. We would love to hear your favorite summer swaps.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Healthy foods to keep your hunger pangs away

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post.

You can also read it HERE.

The worst part about trying to lose weight is feeling hungry. As a nutritionist specializing in weight loss and maintenance, I have experienced firsthand that feeling hungry often leads dieters astray and contributes to them falling off the wagon.

I have never been a fan of deprivation diets — or any diet for that matter. It is more important to develop lifelong habits you can sustain. One such habit is choosing “go to” foods that you enjoy and that also make you feel full. The key to feeling full is not eating large portions, but rather, choosing foods that contain nutrients which aid satiety. Foods high in protein, fiber, and good fats tend to keep your hunger at bay, which is what you want to aim for when trying losing weight.

Here are six nutritious — and delicious — foods that will help keep you feeling full. You won’t even know you are trying to lose weight.

1. Oatmeal

Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to keep from feeling hungry an hour after eating breakfast. Oatmeal contains a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber which is not only good for your heart, but it also may also keep your hunger pangs away.

Research comparing the effects of oatmeal and corn flakes on feelings of fullness and hunger found that overweight subjects reported feeling more satisfied after consuming oatmeal than corn flakes. And they also ate less at lunch.

Add water, fat-free milk, vanilla-flavored soy milk, or almond milk to your favorite brand of oatmeal and you have a delicious and nutritious breakfast.

2. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great food to include in your diet. It is high in protein keeping you feeling full and a good source of calcium and vitamin D. It also makes for a great snack, as it is portable. Just one caveat: Stick to flavors that are not loaded with added sugar. My suggestion: Stick to the plain yogurt and add fresh fruit, flax seeds, and a drizzle of honey if necessary.

3. Avocado

Avocados taste great and add zest to a meal. They are also rich in healthy nutrients — including heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E and potassium — while also keeping your hunger at bay. Research from Loma Linda University and sponsored by the Hass Avocado Board found that subjects who consumed one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch felt more satisfied and had less of a desire to eat after the meal.

So the next time you are deciding what to eat for lunch, add some avocado and you won’t be running to the vending machine for a late-afternoon snack.

4. Lentils

Beans and legumes contain a terrific combination of nutrients to help keep you feeling full. They are loaded with soluble fiber and protein. An excellent protein alternative for vegetarians, they are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate. These heart-healthy nutrients may also help to reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

I invite you to incorporate lentils into your diet, if you don’t already. You can enjoy lentil soup, lentil pate, or lentil salad. Toss some cooked lentils with some olive oil, chopped red peppers, scallions, and your favorite spices. This salad can be eaten as part of a meal or as a healthy and satisfying snack.

5. Almonds

Need a healthy late-afternoon snack? Grab a handful of almonds. The protein, fiber, and fat in nuts help you feel full longer, so you may actually end up eating less throughout the day. Studies show that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control for total calories. As an added benefit, nut eatersmay have a lower incidence of diabetes when compared to those who rarely eat nuts.

6. Quinoa

Quinoa makes for a healthy and satiating addition to a meal. This ancient grain contains an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E as well as protein and fiber, a winning combination to helping you feel full. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked quinoa contains 2.6 grams of fiber and 4.1 grams of protein as compared to 1/2 cup of cooked white rice which contains only 0.3 gram of fiber and 2.2 grams of protein.

And no, quinoa is not fattening. A ½ cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 100 calories. And next time you can’t decide what to eat for dinner, enjoy a healthy portion of quinoa (around ½ cup-1 cup cooked) with grilled fish or tofu along with your favorite assortment of sautéed vegetables.

We would love to hear your favorite foods that keep your hunger pangs away.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Spring forward into health with these simple tips

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Spring forward with these 10 simple tips.”

You can also read it here.

With a new season often come new rituals and habits. With more daylight in the springtime, it is often easier to adopt certain habits, such as fitting in an early evening bike ride. It is also a great time to try new foods and develop new habits, in an effort to get healthier.

As a nutritionist, I am a big believer in working to improve our bodies–as well as our minds–for optimal health.

Below are 10 easy tips to incorporate into your life this spring. I hope you can give some of them a try, if you are not already practicing them.

1. Start your day with a grateful heart.

Giving thanks and having an attitude of gratitude lead to stronger relationships, better sleep, and improved mood. Research reveals that cultivating gratitude not only leads to better psychological health, but also to improved physical health. While we can always find something to complain about, if we look hard enough, we can always find a multitude of things to be grateful for.

2. Get moving outdoors.

Exercising regularly offers many health benefits, ranging from managing weight to improved cardiovascular health and strength. Exercising outdoors, however, seems to provide added benefits. Research shows that you exert more energy when exercising outdoors and you also enjoy it more. People exercising outdoors report less depression and fatigue. Whether going for a morning run, a bike ride, or taking a brisk walk in the park after work, the spring season is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and be one with nature.

3. Try a new food.

As the old adage goes, “variety is the spice of life.” It turns out, variety may also be good for you, at least when it comes to making food choices. Choosing different foods of varying colors from the various food groups provides a more nutrient-dense and balanced diet. So next time you visit your favorite market, select a fruit or vegetable you have not tried before. You just might like it.

4. Write it down.

Keeping a food diary provides many benefits, from helping you shed unwanted pounds to identifying foods that may not agree with you.

Research conducted by Kaiser Permanente found that dieters who kept a food diary for six months lost twice as much weight as those who did not keep records. Perhaps because keeping a diary makes you more aware of certain habits such as nibbling and munching mindlessly. Keeping track of your mood may also prove useful.

5. Toss avocado into your favorite salad.

Avocados are a delicious, nutrient-dense fruit loaded with healthy fat and fiber. For an added nutrition boost, avocados seem to enhance the absorption of certain nutrients.

Research conducted by Ohio State University and supported by the Hass Avocado Board found that eating avocado with either raw carrots or tomato sauce (both rich in carotenoides, including beta carotene) significantly enhanced the body’s ability to absorb the vitamin as well as convert these carotenoides into an active form of the vitamin.

This is a great example of how eating certain foods together can impart added health benefits. So next time you are making a salad with carrots or a pasta dish with tomato sauce, toss in some avocado for an added health boost.

6. Snack on an apple

Apples are tasty, loaded with fiber, and low in calories. They are also easily portable, which is great if you are often on the go. While we are not sure if an apple a day will really keep the doctor away, new research reports that people eating an apple a day take fewer prescription medications than non-apple eaters. Certainly a good thing.

7. Add a handful of peanuts.

Adding a handful of peanuts to your diet can give you a great nutrition boost; they contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, antioxidants including vitamin, protein, fiber, and plant stanols. They are also easy to pack and do not need to be refrigerated. Just be sure to stick to one handful.

8. Practice yoga

Practicing yoga has seen shown to increase flexibility and strength, boost mood, relieve stress, and more. While you can practice yoga at a studio, your local gym, or at home you can even do certain poses wherever you are and reap some benefits.

9. Include a cruciferous vegetable with dinner.

Cruciferous vegetables are packed with vitamin C, fiber, and folate, and are low in calories. Perfect for watching weight and promoting health. Members of the Brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties which may help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. Turns out, these veggies also taste great. Choose from cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, and bok choy. Sautee your favorite veggie with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite spices and you are good to go.

10. Spend time with people who make you laugh.

Laughter seems to provide some health benefits and research finds that it may even compare to eating well and exercising to keep you healthy and free of disease. Laughter may calm the mind, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress.

And when you laugh and think positive thoughts, you are more likely to end your day on a happy note.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Foods to enjoy without added sugar

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post 10 foods to enjoy without added sugar.

You can also read it HERE.

The problems with consuming too much added sugar seem to be getting lots of attention these days. From contributing to inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, sugar has been recently singled out as a cause for concern.

The recently released report from the Dietary Guideline Committee (DGAC) suggests, for the first time, that Americans limit sugar to 10 percent of calories. That would translate into roughly 200 calories–and 12 teaspoons–for a 2000 calorie diet. TheWorld Health Organization (WHO) also suggests we limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of total calories. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed that manufacturers be required to declare the amount of “added sugars” on food labels to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to a product.

Indeed, we love sugar and eat too much of it. Americans currently consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar daily, half of which come from soda, juices and other sugary drinks. Sugar contributes to the sweet taste of our foods and drinks while also acting as a preservative in many of our favorite foods.

Acting as a food sleuth, I recently visited a local New York City supermarket with a reporter for a public radio station for a story on hidden sources of sugar. While we know that sugary drinks such as soda and sugar-sweetened cereals such as Fruit Loops are a main culprit of added sugar, it is often surprising to people when they hear that sugar is also lurking in breads (even whole-wheat varieties) as well as salad dressings (even healthy sounding ones especially low-fat varieties.) Perusing the supermarket aisles, while we were sure that we would see lots of sugar in fruit punch, ice cream, and candy bars, we also found considerable amounts of added sugar in many commonly consumed foods including waffles, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and granola.

So what can we eat without too much added sugar?

Below are 10 foods to enjoy without having to worry about exceeding sugar budget.

1. Plain Greek yogurt
Finding the added sugar on your cup of yogurt can be tricky these days which is one of the reasons why the FDA wants to require manufacturers to list “added sugars” on the food labels. While on first glance, yogurt appears to be high in sugar, unsweetened yogurt contains only the naturally occurring simple sugar lactose, called milk sugar. Flavored yogurts, on the other hand, often contain lots of added sugar, in addition to the naturally occurring sugar. Many sweetened yogurts contain several teaspoons of added sugars.

2. Apple
While fruits contain sugar (called fructose), it is a naturally occurring source of sugar. Apples, as well as other fruits, also contain fiber which will help you feel full without the calories.

3. Peanut butter
Spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on your apple for flavor and fullness while also getting a dose of healthy fats and added nutrients. Steer clear, however, of the sugar-sweetened peanut butters. Stick to the plain unsweetened varieties.

4. Tossed salad
Fresh vegetables of all kind contain carbohydrates as their primary source of calories but you really do not have to worry about their sugar content. While a carrot may have more sugar, and therefore more calories, than a stalk of celery, vegetables contain naturally occurring sugar while also containing fiber, high water content, and a fairly low calories count. Fresh vegetables in their natural state do not contain added sugars.

5. Avocado
Throw in some avocado which contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. While avocado is not low in calories, (due to its fat content), this fruit is not a source added sugar.

6. Homemade salad dressing
To skip the added sugar often found in store-bought bottled salad dressings, I suggest making your own. Ingredients such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and lemon are very low in sugar.

7. Grilled Salmon
Top your salad with grilled salmon which contributes protein as well as heart-healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon as well as other fish and high protein foods are not a source of added sugars. However, watch the teriyaki glaze, soy sauce, and breadcrumbs which can contribute sugar, salt, and added calories. Drizzle your salmon with olive oil and spices to save on added sugar and salt.

8. Air-popped popcorn
Hungry for a mid-afternoon snack? Skip the candy bar and choose air-popped popcorn instead. Air-popped popcorn is low in sugar and calories and contains fiber which will help you feel full. And, what’s even better, is that you can enjoy a generous serving. 3 cups of popcorn constitutes one serving from the grain group.

9. Hummus and veggies
Hummus contains protein which helps you feel full. Enjoy this yummy chick pea spread with your favorite fresh vegetables.

10. Sparkling water
Hydrate yourself with sparkling water instead of soda and other sweetened drinks. Add a twist of fresh lemon or lime for a hint of flavor. Many sparkling waters are flavored naturally without any added sugar. Read labels carefully, however, because some healthy sounding beverages often contain added sugars. And those without added sugar often contain artificial sweeteners, which aren’t much better than sugar.

We would love to hear some of your favorite foods which are low in added sugar?

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Nutrition panel urges American’s to eat green, limit sugar, drink coffee and more

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post on the new report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC):  Nutrition Panel urges American’s to eat green , limit sugar, drink coffee and more.

You can also read it HERE.

new report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which convenes every five years and advises the federal government on the official dietary guidelines, calls for some changes to the American diet.

The purpose of the Advisory Report is to inform the government on the scientific evidence related to diet and nutrition. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly write the Dietary Guidelines, which are due out later this year.

According to the DGAC:

… about half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese … Poor dietary patterns, over consumption of calories, and physical inactivity directly contribute to these disorders.

Americans eat too much sugar, saturated fat, and salt. We don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish.

The report further states that:

… individual nutrition and physical activity behaviors and other health-related lifestyle behaviors are strongly influenced by personal, social, organizational, and environmental contexts and systems. Positive changes in individual diet and physical activity behaviors, and in the environmental contexts and systems that affect them, could substantially improve health outcomes.

The report by the committee eased certain restrictions (those for cholesterol, total fat, and coffee) and stressed limits for other restrictions (such as those for added sugar and saturated fat).

Rather than obsess over individual nutrients, the committee urges Americans to strive for a healthy dietary pattern: a diet with more fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seafood, and low- or non-fat dairy, and less red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, and refined grains.

According to Dr. Marion Nestle, my NYU colleague, author, and nutrition policy expert: “The DGAC has produced an honest, straightforward, courageous report thoroughly based on research and at long last without mincing words.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C., also supports the report and issued the following statement:

The report of the DGAC is mostly unchanged from the reports of 2010 and years past, and in the ways it differs, the changes are mostly for the better. Contrary to some media accounts, the pendulum is not swinging wildly back and forth on most of these scientific questions; the basic advice to eat less saturated fat, sugar, and salt, and to eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is largely the same.

Here are some of the committee’s key recommendations.

SUSTAINABILITY

The committee, for the first time, urges American’s to eat green.

The report recommends that the government consider the environment — along with their heart, of course — when advising Americans about what they should eat.

The panel wrote “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”

This move could have a significant impact on how much meat people eat. Not surprisingly, the meat industry called the report “flawed” and “nonsensical.”

ADDED SUGAR

The committee stressed that Americans consume too much added sugar and recommended a daily intake of 10 percent of calories, which amounts to around 12 teaspoons for a 2,000-calorie diet. To put this in perspective, “12 teaspoons of sugar” is just a tad more than a can of soda. Americans currently consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar daily, half of which come from soda, juices and other sugary drinks. This is why the report recommends that Americans drink water instead of sugary beverages such as soda.

Previous dietary guidelines have included warnings about eating too much added sugar, but this is the first time the committee made a specific recommendation for limiting sugar. Indeed, too much sugar is linked to obesity and chronic disease.

The CSPI welcomed the DGAC suggestions to consume less sugar along with the report’s blunt advice to drink fewer sugary drinks. They said, “The strong recommendations on added sugars are important and have far-reaching policy implications.”

I also applaud the recommendation for limiting added sugar along with environmental and policy changes like those suggested by the committee. As I toldFood Navigator, “The DGAC report supports the possibility of soda taxes as an incentive to promote purchasing healthier beverages, policy changes for SNAP…and limiting food marketing to kids, all steps in the right direction to promote a healthier food environment.”

The American Beverage Association (ABA), however, issued a different sentiment on restricting sugar and sugary drinks. According to Food Navigator, the ABA said: “Numerous studies have shown that restricting one food or food group is not the best approach for achieving calorie balance and maintain a healthy weight.”

Indeed, drinking less soda would be bad for their business.

FAT

The Committee is recommending that we limit saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of total calories. Saturated fat may promote heart disease by elevating blood cholesterol levels. Americans are urged to eat unsaturated fat — found in nuts, fatty fish, olive and vegetable oil — instead of saturated fat, found in red meat, cheese, butter, coconut, and palm kernel oil. While many celebrities and Atkins devotee’s heavily promote both coconut and red meat, the committee report advocates the contrary.

The DGAC, however, dropped a suggestion from previous guidelines to restrict total fat intake to no more than 35 percent of daily total calories. While previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines have advised Americans to eat a low-fat diet, the committee suggests that reducing total fat intake does not appear to decrease our risk for heart disease. Rather, replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates — including low-fat cookies and cakes — increases our disease risk.

CHOLESTEROL

The committee dropped its long recommendation that Americans limit their intake of dietary cholesterol from foods such as eggs and shellfish to no more than 300 mg per day. (One egg contains nearly 200 mg cholesterol.) The committee cites research showing that cholesterol from the diet has little or no effect on blood cholesterol levels for most people.

Dr. Nestle, however, wrote a thought-provoking blog post raising several important points on the research. She states, “I’m wondering if research sponsored by the egg industry could have anything to do with this.” Furthermore, she writes, “if the Advisory Committee is dropping the cholesterol recommendation, could it be because so many people are taking statins that dietary cholesterol doesn’t appear to matter so much anymore?” These are certainly points to consider.

COFFEE

If you enjoy several cups of coffee, you are in luck. The committee advised that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day (or up to 400 mg of caffeine) is okay. However, I suggest you watch the size of your mug to partake healthfully in those “five cups of coffee.” As I told Food Navigator, “3-5 cups translates into 2-3 Starbucks-sized cups … I worry that the public may think they can drink more coffee than the guidelines really suggest. Education on serving size is necessary here…”

Finally, will the feds accept these recommendations, and how will we implement them?

The DGAC report states:

It will take concerted, bold actions on the part of individuals, families, communities, industry, and government to achieve and maintain the healthy diet patterns and the levels of physical activity needed to promote the health of the U.S. population. These actions will require a paradigm shift to an environment in which population health is a national priority and where individuals and organizations, private business, and communities work together to achieve a population-wide “culture of health” in which healthy lifestyle choices are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative — both at home and away from home.

According to Dr. Nestle, a former member of the DGAC:

Whether the agencies — USDA and HHS — will accept its recommendations remains to be seen. Congress has already weighed in and said that the Dietary Guidelines cannot consider sustainability in making dietary advice. Much will depend on the response to the call for public comments.

Stay tuned.

We would love to hear our thoughts on the DGAC report. And you can tell the gov’t what you think by weighing in here.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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5 tips for building a healthy salad

Below is my blog for Huffington Post “5 tips for building a healthy salad.”

You can also read it HERE.

As a nutritionist, I am a huge fan of salads. After all, colorful veggies are great — chock full of nutrients without too many calories. However, just because you order a salad when you go out, (while thinking you are being virtuous), does not necessarily mean that it is good for your waistline. The mantra “I’ll just have a salad” can be a dieter’s dream or a diet disaster depending on what goes into that salad.

For example, the chicken Caesar salad at The Cheesecake Factory contains a whopping 1,510 calories. That is the number of calories that certain people should eat in an entire day. It contains globs of dressings, croutons, and more. And the Quesadilla Explosion Salad at Chili’s contains 1,430 calories. Many sandwiches contain far fewer calories. Who would have guessed?

So next time you order a salad, get a custom blend if possible, and follow these tips. You’ll save lots of calories while getting plenty of nutrients.

1. Choose an assortment of deep greens.

Romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach are great choices, high in fiber, folate, and vitamin C. Skip the iceberg lettuce, which is mostly water, and not nearly as many nutrients as the deeper greens.

2. Add a mix of colorful non-starchy vegetables.

Adding an assortment of colorful vegetables are your best option, as the different colors impart different nutrients. Throw in some orange veggies such as carrots which are rich in contain beta carotene and add tomatoes which contain lycopene. Other great options are vitamin C-rich yellow and red peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, and mushrooms. You get the idea. It’s okay to throw in the kitchen sink, as they say.

3. Add a healthy protein.

Add grilled salmon, chicken breast, canned tuna, or sliced turkey as a healthy protein option. Aim for around 4 ounces (a little larger than your palm). Tofu or tempeh makes for a great vegan option. Protein is filling and also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Skip the fried chicken, fried fish, and fatty deli meats such as pastrami. And go easy on the cheese.

4. Toss in your favorite beans or legumes.

If you have the urge, toss in some beans or legumes for flavor and added fiber. Chick peas, black beans, kidney beans or lentils are great options. Aim for around 1/2 cup (looks like a cupped hand.) Beans and legumes will add more substance to the salad along with fiber and nutrients. And they will certainly keep you full. But best to skip the re-fried beans.

5. Go easy on the dressing.

Salad dressing is high in calories and fat, and we usually get way too much dressing when we order a salad straight off the menu without specifying “light on dressing” or “on the side.” It is common for a restaurant salad to contain at least a quarter of cup, or 4 tablespoons of dressing. I suggest asking for dressing on the side, and then you can control how much you add. It’s also important to watch your portion when you are home, as a mere tablespoon of oil (while containing heart-healthy fat) contains over 100 calories. When choosing a dressing, best to aim for non-creamy dressings such as balsamic vinaigrette, Italian, or use olive oil and vinegar along with your favorite spices. Skip the ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese. When eating at home, try making your own dressing with olive oil, mustard, vinegar, and fresh lemon. Or choose a low-cal dressing. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons (or a shot glass worth) of dressing.

We would love to hear your favorite salad tips and recipes.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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