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Posts Tagged ‘ Food Diary ’

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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5 Easy Weight Loss Tips That Really Work

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post, 5 Easy Weight Loss Tips That Really Work.

You can also read it HERE.

As a nutritionist, I often get clients at this time of year concerned about summer — fitting into a bathing suit, getting some new clothes and navigating holiday eating and parties. I am not a fan of rigid diets, which restrict entire food groups for a short time, but rather I advocate for healthy eating and developing simple strategies which clients trying to lose weight can stick to for the long haul.

Below are simple strategies, which I have seen work for clients trying to lose weight in time for summer and more importantly, help them keep it off and be able to enjoy meals and treats with family and friends.

1. Make smart swaps.
I am a big fan of offering clients simple substitutions for their favorite foods rather than cutting foods out entirely and leaving them at a loss for what else they can include in their eating plan. As I previously wrote here: “What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a lot better.”

For example, drinking seltzer instead of soda and starting your day with bran cereal or a Greek yogurt instead of a doughnut or an oversized muffin can make a huge difference in terms of both losing weight and eating healthfully.

2. Keep a food diary
I recommend that clients keep food diaries, at least for a month or so. Writing down what you eat helps raise your awareness about exactly what and how much you are really eating. It is an excellent behavioral tool to help you practice eating mindfully. And these days, there are so many ways to keep food records. You can stick to the old-fashioned way of writing down your food habits in a spiral pad; you can keep records in your computer or iPad; or you can download an app for your smart phone.

3. Stick to regular meal times.
One way to avoid overeating is to eat at regular intervals throughout the day and not skip meals. If you are not that hungry on a particular morning for example, it is okay to eat a smaller breakfast rather than eat nothing at all. It is best not to allow yourself to get too hungry that you will just “let yourself go” and grab anything you can find.

4. Choose single servings.
Research has found that single-serving packages can help overweight individuals lose weight. I often recommend them to dieters to help them gain awareness about portion control. While we will often take several handfuls of chips or other snack foods without paying attention, we tend to think twice before opening that extra bag of chips.

Most people tend to eat more when they are served more food and drinks or when they are given food in larger packages. A review of nearly 90 studies confirms why oversize portions may contribute to obesity: We eat more when we are served more.

As the researchers from Bond University in Australia write in the Journal of the American Marketing Association, “For a doubling of portion size, consumption increases by 35 percent on average.”

Choosing single-serve packages can certainly help to decrease consumption.

5. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies.
Dieters can actually eat more of certain foods to help them lose weight. Fruits and vegetables are a perfect example as they are relatively low in calories and rich in nutrients. Because they are high in fiber, they will help you to feel full. Adding fruit to your yogurt or cereal is a great way to add fiber, color and volume to your breakfast. Starting your dinner with a tossed salad or a veggie-based soup enables you to eat more food so that you don’t feel deprived. I suggest including at least one fruit or vegetable serving at each meal.

We would love to hear some of your weight loss tips.

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Lifestyle intervention beats diet for weight loss: 6 changes to make

Here is my latest blog post for Huffington Post “Lifestyle intervention beats diet for weight loss: 6 changes to make today.”
You can also read it HERE.

As a nutritionist, for years I’ve seen the pendulum swing back and forth as to which “diet” works best for weight loss: low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, the fill-in-the-blank diet (rice diet, grapefruit diet, peanut butter diet), you name it. The diet rage of the day just leaves overweight individuals confused as to the best way to lose weight and keep unwanted pounds off. It turns out that we may just be better off forgetting the word “diet” altogether, according to an editorial published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Two researchers, Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center, call for an end to the diet wars, because they write that they are all equally as good, or bad, in helping lose weight. In the report, “A Call for an End to the Diet Debates,” they make the case that lifestyle changes trump diet in fighting the battle of the bulge.

As a nutritionist recommending lifestyle changes over diet, I couldn’t be happier with this report. I’ve seen clients try different diets over an over, just to fall off the wagon, get discouraged, and then try a different diet. Which is why I am more concerned helping clients stick with a plan they can follow while incorporating lifestyle changes they can stick with. One of the major problems with diets is adherence, which is so hard for so many overweight people struggling to shed unwanted pounds.

Indeed, as the authors write in the report:

The only consistent finding among the trials is that adherence — the degree to which participants continued in the program or met program goals for diet and physical activity — was most strongly associated with weight loss and improvement in disease-related outcomes.

As reported in Fox News:

In the end, patients only get confused thinking that one diet is superior to another, they said, when in fact changes in lifestyle, not diet types, are the true ways to prevent weight gain and the associated ills of diabetes and circulatory disease.

Lifestyle interventions involve a three pronged approach: making dietary changes, exercising more, and incorporating behavior modification techniques.

Here are six simple lifestyle changes you can make to get you on the road to permanent weight loss. I have used these techniques, along with others, with much success in my private practice helping clients lose weight and keep it off.

1. Practice portion control.
As an advocate for portion control, watching how much you eat is one of the best ways to lose weight. I have been counseling clients for years, and I have seen in my private practice that when clients watch the sizes of their portions (aka eat less), they shave hundreds of calories daily, and lose weight effortlessly. While it may seem obvious that larger portions have more calories than smaller portions, most people don’t recognize just how many more calories a large portion contains.

Another advantage to practicing portion control is that you do not have to cut out entire food groups to get thin and you get to indulge in your favorite treat every now and then. No dieting and no deprivation.

For tips on portion control, click here for my blog post “Rightsize your waist and your plate.”

2. Think positive.
Instead of dwelling on the foods you cannot eat, try instead to focus on what you can have. I tell my clients that there is no restaurant that is completely off limits. You can always find something healthy to eat. For example, when going to an Italian restaurant, instead of dwelling on the fact that you shouldn’t eat fettuccine alfredo, called a “heart attack on a plate” by the Center of Science for the Public Interest, think instead of what you can eat: whole wheat pasta with veggies and fresh tomato sauce or fresh grilled fish with sautéed spinach.

3. Keep food records.
There is no better way to get a handle on what and how much you eat than by keeping food records. And, for the good news you do not have to keep records forever. People who keep records are generally more aware of the mistakes they make and are then able to make corrections. Food records help you see your patterns, both positive and negative ones. For example, are you nibbling in front of the TV without realizing it, are you famished when you get home from work so you eat whatever is on the counter. By identifying your bad habits, you can easily find substitutes for new habits.

4. Eat structured meals and snacks.
Speaking of nibbling and mindless munching, one advantage to eating structured meals and snacks is that you tend to get famished less often. And when we are famished, we tend to just grab whatever food is in sight. And, we also often end up grabbing junk food. Planning in advance is also important. Keep healthy foods at arms reach and bring along a fruit and yogurt if you know that it will be hard to buy something healthy midafternoon.

5. Move more.
All exercise helps. The key is to do what you enjoy and follow an exercise program you can stick with. You do not have to spend thousands of dollars on a fancy gym. Lifestyle activities also add up. For example, take the stairs and walk around the block at lunch. I also advise taking advantage of different exercises you enjoy during the different seasons: swimming outdoors in the summer, taking a walk on the beach, and skiing in winter. The key is to follow an exercise program that you can stick with for the long haul.

6. Cut yourself some slack.
I am a big advocate of focusing on progress, not perfection. It is important to take stock of the changes you’ve made so far and look at the big picture. For example, if you need to lose 50 pounds, and already lost 10 pounds, recognize your accomplishment, instead of complaining that you have 40 more pounds to lose. One way to recognize your progress is to try on some old clothes. Seeing that they are too loose can help you actually see your accomplishment.

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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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