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Archive for the ‘ Healthy goals ’ Category

7 tips to nourish your body and soul

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post, “7 tips to nourish your body and your soul.”

You can also read it here.

With a new season comes changes and often a time for new beginnings. If you are at all like me, transitioning into the fall and winter seasons are more difficult than moving into spring and summer where the days are longer and the meals often lighter.

As the weather gets colder, we often have different food preferences as well as exercise habits. The days also get shorter, which can affect both our moods and our food preferences. However, there is lots of good we can cultivate as we transition into the fall season.

Here are seven tips to nourish your body and your soul.

1. Enjoy the beauty of nature.

As the weather cools off, the leaves begin to change (at least in many locations), and the colors are breathtaking. Many people consider it one of the most incredible times of the year. Spending time outdoors, whether it be taking a hike or just going for a brisk walk, is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is a great way to take advantage of the changing seasons.

2. Start your day with hot cereal.

When the weather cools off, I love starting my day with hot cereal. Oatmeal or mixed whole grains make for a nutritious and satisfying breakfast, high in fiber and rich in nutrients. Top your favorite whole grain hot cereal with berries, flax seeds, and chopped nuts as a great way to boost your nutrient intake.

3. Smile.

Putting on a happy face is a great way to boost your spirits. Smiling may improve our mood, reduce our stress levels, and also make us more attractive, and even younger.Smiling increases our endorphin levels, hormones which make us feel happier. People who smile also appear to be more self confident.

The next time you are not feeling in a great mood, put on a smile, and there is a good chance, you will feel better. As the saying goes, fake it till you make it.

4. Warm up with soup.

This is a great time of year to enjoy soup. I am a huge soup fan. Soup makes for a great hot meal (or snack) with huge benefits. Soups are filling and a nutritious, and a great way to boost your intake of healthy vegetables, especially if you are in the mood for something more satisfying than just a salad. At this time of year, I tend to prefer split pea, lentil, mushroom barley, and minestrone soups. An added bonus: If you start your meal with a healthy low-cal soup, you may actually end up eating less over the course of the meal. Because soup is so high in water, it helps fill you up without too many calories. One caveat: Many store bought soups are high in sodium, so you may want to make your own soups and freeze them.

5. Go apple picking.

This is a great time of year for many of us to go apple picking. I love the different varieties of apples available in New York at this time of year. As I previously discussed, apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, low in calories, and an apple a day may even keep your prescription medication away. As the weather cools off, I love eating a baked apple for dessert. Add spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, for an added boost of flavor and health.

6. Enjoy winter squash.

Despite its name, winter squash is grown in the summer and harvested in the fall. I am a huge fan of both butternut and acorn squash. Not only are these winter squashes nutritious, they are also versatile and, best of all, filling. One cup cooked butternut squash contains only 80 calories, over 6 grams of fiber, and is also rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. It tastes great roasted, lightly sauteed in olive oil, or pureed into a soup. I often enjoy it as a filling side dish or even as a late afternoon snack.

7. Get a massage.

I love getting a massage to help me relax and de-stress. Massage therapy, however, offers up many additional health benefits. Some research has found that massage therapy can be helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, soft tissue strains, and even mild insomnia. My favorite is an aromatherapy massage which provides an added boost. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils (my favorite is lavender) may stimulate brain function, improve mood, and perhaps even increase cognitive function.

We would love to hear your favorite fall rituals.

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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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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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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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10 diet tweaks for a healthier 2015

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “10 diet tweaks for a healthier 2015.”

You can also read it HERE.

Welcome to 2015! As a nutritionist and health advocate, I am not a fan of rigid diets or New Year’s resolutions that you cannot keep. Unmet goals and resolutions just lead to frustration and feelings of failure. Instead, I am a fan of small actionable changes that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life.

What I have found in my work with private clients is that simple action-oriented steps or tweaks to your daily routine can be kept throughout the year, ultimately yielding positive results, whether it be losing weight, eating healthier, or learning to cook.

Here are some smart and simple diet tweaks that you can incorporate into your everyday routine to lead you to a healthier 2015.

1. Shop smart.

You will, likely, eat what you bring into your house. Trust me on this one. With years of experience helping clients lose weight, one of the most effective tools to eating healthier is to surround yourself with healthy food. Do not go food shopping on an empty stomach (as you will be tempted by unhealthy choices) and shop the perimeter of the supermarket first, stocking up on fresh fruits, veggies, and other real foods. Keep healthy foods around the house for you and your family that you can easily grab and eat: baby carrots, assorted berries, apples, part skim cheese, hummus, nut butters, and whole grain crackers.

2. Choose wisely.

When deciding what to eat, choose healthy food choices. Try to include protein at each meal. Healthy choices include fish, chicken or turkey breast, beans and legumes, eggs, and low-fat dairy. No need to eliminate grains and starches. Instead, pick the healthier ones: whole grains such as whole wheat breads, quinoa, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and oatmeal to name a few.

3. Be wise about portion size.

Aim for approximately 4 ounces fish or poultry (a little larger than deck of cards or your palm). As for healthy starch, stick with no more than a cup (your fist) as a side dish. Watching your portion size is by far the best way to watch calories without having to actually count them.

4. Fill up on lots of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients and low in calories. Include tossed salads, cooked veggies, and veggie-based soups to round out your selections. And don’t skimp on fruits. Aim for around 2 cups fresh fruits daily and choose the whole fruit over the juice.

5. Cook more.

If you rarely eat at home, I suggest you try it. Home-cooked food tends to be healthier than store bought food, containing fewer calories and less salt and sugar. If you don’t know how to cook, take a cooking class or experiment with your mom’s favorite recipe.

6. Don’t skip meals.

Eating meals at regular intervals prevents you from getting overly hungry that you would just eat anything. Best to start your day with a healthy breakfast. If you are not a morning person, no need to eat a huge breakfast but do include something light, at least mid-morning. Fruit and a yogurt is a good choice. Eat a healthy lunch and dinner including vegetables/fruits, lean protein, and healthy starch.

7. Snack wisely.

Snack on whole food instead of processed foods. A piece of fruit, a small bag of nuts, whole grain crackers and cheese, or hummus and carrots are all god choices. Skip the chips and candy.

8. Hydrate healthfully.

Don’t forget to drink your water. Flavor your water with lemon, lime, or a slice of cucumber. Flavored seltzer is also a great option. Skip the soda or other sugar sweetened beverages full of empty calories and devoid of nutrients.

9. Dine out wisely.

Do not arrive at a restaurant famished. Skip the bread basket and start with a salad or a vegetable based soup such as minestrone. Choose grilled fish, chicken, or tofu and include lots of fresh vegetables. Choose dishes sautéed or steamed as opposed to fried. Choose fresh fruit for dessert, or for a special treat, share dessert with your dinner companion.

10. Enjoy!

Enjoy your food, enjoy the company you eat with, and savor each bite.

Here’s to a healthy 2015 with joy, peace, and contentment.

We would love to hear your healthy tips.

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

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Healthy habits to adopt now

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post “8 healthy habits to adopt now.”

You can read it HERE.

You can also read it in Portuguese at the Brasil Post HERE.

Eating healthy does not have to be difficult. In fact, if you develop a routine of adopting positive healthy practices, which you engage in regularly, eating healthfully can become second nature. Consider brushing your teeth. Most of us regularly brush our teeth so the practice has become easy to sustain on a regular basis. That is the goal of developing healthy eating habits. I teach clients to engage in a few practices regularly until they become second nature, and it feels unnatural not to do them.

As most of you know, I am not a fan of diets. The reason is that we follow a certain diet for a while, and then we fall off the wagon as we are unable to sustain it, and so often, end up discouraged. Better to adopt a healthy lifestyle you can sustain for the long haul.

One key, however, in adopting healthy habits is to know yourself. As bestselling author of the upcoming book on habits, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin says, “I’ve realized that the secret to good habits — for nutrition, or anything else — is to know yourself. For instance, some people do better when they give up a temptation all together, others when they indulge in moderation … You have to think about what works for you.”

Here are eight simple healthy habits which will help you to lead a healthier lifestyle.

1. Stock up on healthy foods.

We tend to eat what we buy and keep around the house. It is, therefore so important to stock up on healthy foods. Keep fresh fruit and veggies handy which you can grab and eat easily — baby carrots, apples, pears, berries. Buy whole grains instead of white bread products — oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat breads. Keep healthy protein options around — nuts and seeds, fresh turkey breast, and eggs. Try not to keep soda, cookies, and sugary cereals around.

2. Eat sitting down.

When you eat meals while you are sitting down, you tend to eat more slowly, enjoy what you are eating, and may even end up eating less. When you eat standing, you often do not even realize that you are eating. If you want a scoop of ice cream, instead of eating straight from the pint (and wolfing down the whole pint), place a portion in a bowl, sit down, and enjoy it. It’s also great to eat with others and enjoy the social experience of dining.

3. Drink water instead of liquid calories.

Limiting liquid calories — soda, sweetened drinks, fruit juice — is one of the simplest ways to cut out calories and sugar. Sweetened drinks like soda provide no nutritional value and are just empty calories. Diet sodas also provide no nutritional value, taste too sweet, and do not help most of us lose weight. So why even bother drinking them? Instead, get into the habit of opting for water or flavored seltzers. They will keep you hydrated without providing any calories. Try drinking a glass of water before eating each meal or snack, and you may just end up eating less.

4. Snack on fruit instead of chips.

It really is pretty easy to eat fruit if you keep it handy. Opt for a variety of fresh fruit in season, and plan for it. So often, we grab a bag of chips because it is convenient. Choosing fruit can also be convenient, if we set it up that way. The trick is to either know where to get fruit if you are out, or to stock it in your fridge, and bring it along if you are going to be out all day. Throw an apple in your bag on your way to work; this will help to ensure that you eat it if you need a mid-morning snack. Also choose a fruit with breakfast. Throw a handful of berries into your yogurt or oatmeal or have a piece of melon when in season. Fruit also makes a great after dinner snack.

5. Eat a colorful salad — or veggies — each day.

Eating salads are a great way to get a variety of nutrients without too many calories. (Of course, that means” dressing on the side.”) The different colors of vegetables impart different nutrients, so it’s best to choose a colorful variety. And fill up on what you like — you’ve got enough to choose from. Several top picks include romaine lettuce, kale or spinach topped with a colorful assortment of tomatoes, carrots, red peppers, beets, mushrooms, or cucumbers. If you don’t love salads or are not in the mood, another way to get your veggies is to have a vegetable-based soup or to eat steamed or sautéed dressing. You will still get so many of the healthy nutrients including antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and more.

6. Chew your food well.

When we chew our food and pay attention to what we are eating, we eat more slowly, and usually end up eating less. It takes at least 15 minutes for our bodies to register that we are full. Also, our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomach, and when we eat quickly, we often tend to eat too much and end up feeling uncomfortable and stuffed.

7. Put leftovers away.

Leaving leftovers sitting out on the counter signals “eat me.” It is so hard to resist temptation when food is just sitting around. Why tempt yourself?

8. To thyself be true.

It is so important to know yourself and recognize what works — and what doesn’t work — for you. I’ve counseled many different types of clients over the years, and some need an after dinner-treat while others end up overeating if they have one small cookie or piece of chocolate. In an email, Gretchen wrote me the following: “My sister’s Kryptonite is French fries, so she gave them up altogether — that was easier for her. But some people feel rebellious if they can’t have that one square of chocolate every day, and if that describes you, keep a chocolate bar in your desk drawer.”

So, take some time to reflect on what you like and on what works for you.

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5 ways to build a healthy breakfast

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “5 ways to build a better breakfast.”

You can also read it HERE.

Eating breakfast is a perfect opportunity to get a healthy dose of several key nutrients including fiber, protein, and calcium. It can also be a good time to bond with your family and touch base before heading out for the day. While there has been a recent debate about the merits of eating breakfast for weight loss, it is agreed that children should eat breakfast.

What you choose for breakfast is important for improving your health, and the right breakfast may keep you feeling full and help you eat less later in the day so that you may even lose a few pounds.

Here are five simple tips that I use with clients to help build a healthy breakfast.

1. Include a healthy protein rich food.
Including a serving of protein rich food will help keep you full. A few great choices are low-fat Greek yogurt (yes, Greek yogurt is packed with protein), eggs, or egg whites. Nut butters such as almond butter or peanut butter are also great options so long as you practice portion control (a walnut in its shell is approximately 2 tablespoons worth). Low-fat milk and cheese are also good options.

2. Include a serving of fruit.
Eating a serving of fruit in the morning is a great way to get a dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. Choose a fruit in season that you enjoy. A cup of berries or melon in season is a great choice. An apple or pear is portable if you want to bring it with you. An orange or half grapefruit is another great option. Whole fruit is preferred over juice. The fruit is higher in fiber and lower in calories. And it takes time to chew so you will eat slowly and recognize that you are eating.

3. Include a whole-grain serving.
So many people are skipping carbs, in particular, healthy grains, in an effort to lose weight. Grains and carbs are not the villain. While I would recommend skipping the donuts, coffee cake, and bagels, or saving these foods for a special occasion, a cup of cooked oatmeal or a slice of whole wheat bread is a great choice to include for your morning meal. Other examples of healthy whole grains are: whole grain breakfast cereal (with at least 3 grams of fiber), brown rice cakes, a whole grain English muffin or pita, or brown rice crackers.

4. Sit down and enjoy!
As I always tell clients, eat mindfully and eat sitting down. When you eat on the go, you tend not even to remember that you are eating. It’s almost as if you rationalize to yourself “the calories don’t count when you eat standing.” But, as you know, calories do count regardless of whether you eat them standing or sitting. Better to sit down and enjoy a bowl of whole grain cereal than to eat a “healthy sounding” energy bar on the run.

5. Eat slowly.
Along with sitting down and enjoying your breakfast comes eating slowly. When you eat slowly, you tend to pay attention to what you are eating, and you eat less. Eating slowly also allows your body to register a feeling of satiation and fullness.

If you are in a rush, if you can, instead of wolfing down breakfast at home, bring a portable breakfast along with you and enjoy it when you get to work. You do not need to eat breakfast as soon as you get up. ( I tend to be a mid-morning breakfast eater.) The important point is that you eat something instead of waiting till 1 p.m. to get your first bite in.

Here are a few great breakfast options:

— A spinach and tomato omelet with a slice of whole grain toast and a half grapefruit.

— A Low-fat Greek yogurt with blackberries, strawberries, and a handful of whole grain cereal.

— A whole grain English muffin with a schmear of almond butter and a pear.

— A bowl of oatmeal made with fat free milk and topped with blueberries and a few walnuts.

Enjoy. We would love to hear some of your favorite breakfast choices.

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Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014.”

You can also read it HERE.

It’s that time of year — a new year and a new beginning. As a nutritionist, I often hear from new clients that they make New Year’s resolutions early January and by Valentine’s Day, they are discouraged and back to their same old patterns. Resolutions such as, “I have to lose weight” or, “I want to eat healthier” tend to be too broad, and therefore do not generally work. What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a lot better.

Here are some smart-and simple food swaps that you can actually implement and incorporate into your everyday routine to help you lead a healthier life.

1. Choose whole fruit instead of juice.

Juice tends to be high in sugar and low in fiber. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, contains more fiber than the juice and has a higher water content, both which are excellent for weight loss. Eating an orange instead of guzzling down a pint of orange juice can save you over 150 calories. Imagine how many calories you can save if you make this switch daily.

2. Start your day with a low fat Greek yogurt instead of a doughnut.

Greek yogurt is an excellent breakfast as it is high in protein, which can keep you full longer. Top your yogurt with fresh fruit and a handful of walnuts to round out your breakfast. A doughnut, on the other hand, is full of calories without much nutrition.

3. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.

Grains and starches are not taboo and do not need to be avoided to be healthier and lose some weight in the process. The trick is to eat the right kind of grains. Whole grains are the best choice as they are chock full of nutrients and fiber. Include brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal instead of white bread, white rice, and white pasta.

4. Drink water and seltzer instead of soda.

Soda contains pure sugar, is liquid candy, and a waste of calories. Why not eat your calories instead of drink them? Swapping soda for water or seltzer can save you hundreds of calories. For flavor, add a splash of lemon, orange, or cucumber or throw in a few fruity ice cubes (pour your favorite juice into an ice cube tray and freeze for flavored ice cubes).

5. Eat an English muffin (whole grain, of course) instead of a bagel.

Making this swap can save you over 200 calories. While both a bagel and an English muffin are just one item, a bagel is equivalent to approximately five bread slices whereas an English muffin is more like two bread slices. Save the bagel as an occasional treat.

6. Start your meal with a vegetable salad (dressing on side) instead of a fried appetizer.

Starting your meal with a fresh salad is a great way to include vegetables into your diet. Salad and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, full of fiber, and low in calories.

7. Choose a low-fat tomato-based soup instead of a cream-based soup.

I am a soup lover. I enjoy eating soup in the cold winters in NY and also in the summer. Soups make a great snack, a healthy appetizer, and even a great meal. The key is to eat a vegetable based soup and to skip the cream. Great choices include 10 vegetable soup, minestrone soup, and white bean and escarole soup.

8. Eat an apple or a pear as a snack instead of a bag of chips.

When you feel the urge to nibble, go for a healthy piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips.

9. Choose salmon instead of steak.

I advise limiting read meat and choosing fish instead. Grilled salmon, for example, is high in protein, much lower in saturated fat than red meat, and full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Finish your meal with a cup of blueberries instead of a slice of blueberry pie.

Berries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients and low in calories. If you want to indulge in an occasional slice of pie, make it a sliver, and surround it with a cup of fresh fruit.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!

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Welcome to 2013!: 8 Healthy Tips

Welcome to 2013.  8 Tips to Better Health

Happy New Year!

Below is my latest post for Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Happy 2013!  Do you feel that another year has gone by and you have not met your health and weight loss goals? As a registered dietitian (RD), I counsel so many clients who have told me that they make new resolutions early in the New Year, and by spring, they are bored, frustrated and back to their old patterns. Here are some tips I’ve offered them–and now you–to get out of the all-or-nothing mentality and into the mode of setting lifestyle goals that you can actually stick with to help you lead a healthier and more hassle-free life.

1. Set mini goals. Set goals that are achievable and that work with your life. If you want to lose 50+ pounds, set a mini goal first, say 10 pounds. When you lose those 10 pounds, then you can work on the next 10 pounds.

2. Practice portion control. Watching your portion sizes is the single best way to lose weight and keep it off, while eating all your favorite foods. Bigger portions contain more calories than smaller portions, so scaling back on the size of your food portion will help you trim calories. The best way to get started is first to identify how much you actually eat and when you overeat so that you can make necessary changes. Practicing portion control does NOT mean having to eat tiny portions of all foods. You’ll want to limit food portions that are high in calories—such as salad dressings, chocolate, and soda, for example. But good news—you can eat MORE fresh fruits and veggies without having to worry about how much you’ve just eaten. A salad is a great choice (and don’t worry about how much lettuce and cucumbers you include, as they have few calories) but you’ll want to scale back on the salad dressing which is high in calories. Aim for no more than a shot glass worth of dressing which is 2 tablespoons.  I offer an extensive list of tips and tricks in my book The Portion Teller Plan.

3. Keep a food diary for a while. Identifying your problem areas with your food choices is the first step toward making lasting changes. Try keeping a food diary—even for just a month—to identify your problem zones. Try to be mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, and if you eat because you are truly hungry, or for some other reason.

4. Make small changes. Aim for making 1-2 small changes at a time. You are most likely to stick to it, if you set a small goal.  First, try to avoid liquid calories in the form of soda, for example. After a week or so, when you get that down pat, work on avoiding fried foods for example. And so on. And reward your behavior!

5. Eat a rainbow of colors. Try eating an assortment of fruits and vegetables and vary them by color. Choosing a colorful array of fruits and vegetables is best, as different antioxidants exist in the different color spectrum. PS: By eating a more colorful diet, I’m not referring to different colors of M & M’s!!

6. Indulge in your favorite “cheat” every now and then. By incorporating and legalizing your favorite cheat food once in a while, you will less likely feel the need to have it. Enjoy  it and don’t feel guilty.

7. Get moving. Do an activity you really enjoy and can be incorporated into your life. Pick something you enjoy and can sustain. If you didn’t like going to gym last year, this year, set a goal to do a different kind of exercise. And, remember, small lifestyle exercises count. Take the stairs instead of an elevator, walk for a few blocks at lunch, or park your car a few blocks away from your destination.

8. Nix DIETS. Forget fad diets, high protein diets, or “magical” food combining. You are most likely to succeed if you eat foods from all food groups and develop a healthy lifestyle.

And finally, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. MAKE A COMMITMENT TO SUCCEED AND YOU WILL!!

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