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Posts Tagged ‘ fruits and vegetables ’

Try these 10 simple tips for a healthier 2017

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Try these 10 simple tips for a healthier 2017.”

You can also read it here.

Welcome to 2017! The New Year creates an opportunity to start fresh and set simple achievable goals for getting healthier and losing weight.

As a nutritionist and wellness advocate, I have never been a fan of rigid diets or all-or-nothing New Year’s resolutions that you cannot keep. Instead, I advocate making small actionable changes that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life which can be kept throughout the year.

Planning in advance, looking at the positive, making small changes when food shopping, eating out, and eating at home can make a big difference to your overall health and weigh loss efforts.

To make your life healthier, and even help you shed some unwanted pounds, below are 10 practical suggestions to help you improve your diet this year.

1. Mind your bowls.

Food portions are not the only things that have increased over the years — our plate sizes have too. And we eat more if our plates and bowls are bigger. It makes perfect sense. Consider your favorite breakfast cereal. A recommended serving size for a starch serving at breakfast would be around 1 cup. If you pour a 1-cup serving into a big bowl, it won’t look like much and you will most likely feel deprived. Try pouring it into a smaller bowl, perhaps even a bowl from your grandmother’s set, and it will look a lot better, and you may feel more satisfied. Perhaps because for a dieter, nothing is worse than staring at a half empty bowl or plate!

Even if your cereal is a healthy whole grain, if you eat too much, the calories add up quickly. And after experimenting with clients, most of us would easily pour 2-3 cups of cereal into our breakfast bowl, thinking we are eating a healthy cereal.

A client of mine lost 20 pounds, effortlessly, when switching to smaller plates and bowls. If we downsize our plate, we tend to eat less. Give it a try! This study found that halving plate size led to a 30 percent reduction in the amount of food consumed. I offer more portion-control tricks here and here.

2. Swap refined carbs for healthy fats.

Gone are the days where going fat-free is the healthiest option. Nix the big bagels and oversize muffins and enjoy some healthy fats. Enjoy a schmear of avocado on your whole grain toast, spread your favorite nut butter on a rice cake or two, sprinkle olive oil on your salad, and don’t feel guilty! And swapping carbs for healthy fats is also good for your heart.

3. Eat more, weigh less.

Good news if you are a volume lover. As I referred to them in my book, The Portion Teller Plan, volume eaters like a large portion of food. A solution: fill up on fruits and vegetables which tend to be low in calories (while also being super nutritious and chock full of vitamins and minerals.) Good options include berries, melons, citrus fruit, leafy greens and, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. Enjoy a bowl of mixed berries at breakfast with your yogurt or oatmeal. Eat a large colorful salad every day composed of a variety of different vegetables. Just ask for the dressing on the side and hold the croutons. And as I often say, no one got fat eating too many carrots or bananas.

4. Shop from a list, don’t buy in bulk, and eat before heading to the grocery store.

What you bring into your house will ultimately determine what you eat, at least when you are eating home. So here are some shopping tips that can help you shop smart. Do not go food shopping on an empty stomach. Eat a healthy snack before heading out to the store and you will end up choosing healthier foods. I also suggest making a list of the foods you need and stick to the list. Finally, steer clear of jumbo portions; the bigger the package, the more most of us eat, even if we aren’t hungry.

5. Go meatless once in a while.

Incorporating plant based proteins including chickpeas, lentils, black beans, tofu and tempeh into your diet offer up many health benefits, ranging from weight loss to lower cholesterol and improved blood sugar. Beans and legumes are high in fiber and protein as well as vitamins and minerals such as folate, iron, and magnesium. And here’s another reason to swap red meat for legumes. According to a new study, beans and peas make people feel fuller after a meal than meat. Enjoy a split pea soup with a colorful salad or a bean-based veggie burger instead of a hamburger for a healthy meatless lunch. And at your favorite Chinese restaurant, order tofu with veggies and brown rice (with your favorite sauce on the side) instead of spare ribs with fried egg rolls. Your heart and your waist will be happy!

6. Think positive.

Rather than dwelling on the foods you cannot eat, focus on what you can eat. I tell my clients that there is no restaurant or cuisine that is completely off limits. You can always find something healthy on the menu. And you do not have to order off of the “diet” menu. For example, when going to an Italian restaurant, instead of dwelling on the fact that you shouldn’t eat garlic bread and fettuccine Alfredo, focus instead of what you can eat: start with an arugula and endive salad, minestrone soup, or grilled veggies and for a main dish, you can enjoy whole wheat pasta with veggies and fresh tomato sauce or grilled fish with sautéed spinach.

7. Roast your vegetables.

I love roasted veggies and enjoy them quite often. For a change from steamed veggies which are bland and boring for many of us, you can roast whatever veggies you have in your fridge—broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and red pepper and zucchini to name a few. For a healthy—and filling—starch option, you can also roast sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Just go easy on the oil and you won’t have to worry about the calories.

8. Write it down.

There is no better way to get a handle on what and how much you eat than by keeping food records. Don’t worry; you do not have to keep them forever. People who keep food records become more mindful of their mistakes are then able to make corrections. Food records help you see your patterns, both positive and negative ones. For example, are you nibbling mindlessly while watching TV, and how much are you really eating? By identifying your bad habits, you can easily substitute them for healthier ones. Today, more than ever, it is easy to keep food records as there are so many apps on your smartphone which you can use.

9. Want dessert? Serve yourself.

If you are trying to eat healthier, a new study found that serving yourself can help curb unhealthy indulgences. People who choose their own piece of cake and, cut it themselves, eat less of it. And, better yet, they may even end up not eating cake at all.

While serving yourself stops people from eating unhealthy foods, it didn’t stop them from eating healthy food, the study to be published later this year in the Journal of Marketing Research found. So next time you are at a dinner party and your host offers you a fruit salad, go for it, but when it comes to the cake and cookies, serve it yourself.

10. Stress less.

When we feel stressed, many of us turn to food. Comfort food, that is as opposed to healthy salads. While it may be easier said than done, worrying will not make our problems go away. To beat stress and worry, exercise regularly and develop a daily meditation practice. It is also ok to start small. And be sure not to stress about the exercise: choose an activity you love (my favorite is yoga and swimming) and schedule it on your calendar at a time that works for you so you don’t feel rushed. As for meditation, start with 5 minutes before bed and work up to a longer period slowly. For an added boost, exercise and meditation also improves your mood and your health.

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10 Simple Tips to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

Below is my blog post “10 tips to savor the flavor of eating right.”

You can also read it on Huffington Post HERE.

NNM2016

National nutrition month (NNM) is a nutrition education campaign sponsored yearly by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). This year’s NNM theme is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.

Here are smart tips to help you eat healthier this month.

1. Mind your portions and eat slowly.

One of the best ways to “savor the flavor” is to chew our food well instead of shoveling it in. This will not only help us eat less, but we will be able to actually taste and enjoy what we are eating.

2. Include fruits and vegetables at each meal.

Sprinkle in berries to your yogurt, add a colorful green salad to your lunch, and include vegetables with your dinner.

3. Eat a variety of foods from each food group.

Sorry Paleo lovers, but it really is best to include foods from all the food groups.

4. Aim for color!

Choosing a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables is best, as different antioxidants exist in the different color spectrums. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes and watermelon contains the antioxidant lycopene, for example. The deep orange color found in cantaloupe and sweet potatoes contains beta carotene.

5. Enjoy whole grains.

The recently release 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, as in previous editions, suggest that half of our grains be whole grains. Healthy whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal.

6. Include plant based proteins such as beans, peas, and legumes.

These pulses not only give you protein, but they have an added bonus as they are chock full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

7. Spice it up.

Adding in spices to your favorite foods will not only enhance the flavor, but it will boost your nutrient intake. And adding spices helps to reduce your need to use added sugar and salt.

8. Snack on nuts.

Adding nuts as a midafternoon snack will not give your diet a boost of nutrients while also filling you up. So you may end up eating less later, a great boost for weight loss!

9. Try new foods.

A huge assortment of whole foods are available to us. But we often get into a rut and stick with the usual fare. Give a new food a try and savor the flavor. You may actually love it!

10. Get outdoors.

Spring is coming, so use this as an opportunity to get more active and take advantage of outdoor activities such as walking and bike riding.

We would love to hear your favorite springtime tips.

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10 tips to supercharge your health this holiday season

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “10 tips to supercharge your health this holiday season.”

You can also read it HERE.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net byApolonia

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‘Tis the season for overeating.

The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s are filled with lots of social gatherings and food festivities. Food is everywhere, whether the office party, family events, buffets, cocktail parties or holiday candy gifts. It is also a stressful time for many people which, in and of itself, can lead to additional overeating.

With some advance planning, and smart pointers, however, you can come out healthier and more rejuvenated, and maybe even a few pounds thinner in time for the New Year.

To help you avoid gaining weight this season and reduce “food-related” stress, below I offer strategies that I’ve successfully used with clients in my talks and nutrition counseling practice. I invite you to try incorporating them into your daily routine.

1. Plan your day.

Part of the reason we overeat is that we do not pay much attention to what we are going to eat. We forget to eat, wait till we are famished and then overeat, or just grab whatever we can find when on the run. I suggest trying to map out your day in the morning and thinking about some of the healthy food choices you can make. For example, if you are going to a dinner party, plan for a healthy snack an hour or two before you go so that you are not starved when you arrive. If you are going out to lunch or dinner, view the menu in advance so you can get an idea of what you may want to order.

2. Eat healthy most of the time.

This is not a time to begin a diet. Or to ban your favorite foods. My suggestion for this holiday season is to pick a few foods that you absolutely love and legalize them, that is, allow yourself to include them, sans the guilt. The key is not eating them all at once. Plan for one treat a day and this way you will have something to look forward to.

3. Downsize your portions.

What I love about practicing portion control is that you can still eat what you love, just less of it, which will help you trim calories. You also do not have to say no entirely. For example, if your family is going to your favorite steakhouse, instead of not joining them, allow yourself to sharing a steak and order an extra portion of vegetables. Instead of saying to yourself “I need to cut out all alcohol,” allow yourself to include an occasional glass of wine with dinner. I offer additional portion-control tips hereand here.

4. Swap and substitute.

I am a big fan of swapping out unhealthy foods for healthier ones. As a nutritionist, instead of telling clients not to eat this or that, providing them with healthy options helps to empower them to make smarter choices. Healthy substitutions allow you to give something up while including something else so that you do not feel deprived. Swap out refined grains for whole grains instead of cutting out grains entirely. For example, choose quinoa over white rice, if possible. You can also incorporate smart substitutions at home. Try using Greek yogurt or applesauce to cut some of the butter in your favorite recipe.

5. Drink more water.

Drinking water regularly will keep you hydrated. So often, we think we are hungry, but we really are just thirsty. I recommend including water, seltzer or herbal tea to keep you hydrated. Fruits and vegetables, along with vegetable-based soups also count toward fluid. Skip the soda and juice, and go easy on alcohol and caffeinated beverages. I suggest keeping a water bottle on your desk or in your brief case. It will serve as a great reminder to drink up!

6. Spice up your favorite dish.

I love recommending spices for several reasons. Spices offer up a multitude of health benefits, ranging from containing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, to acting as antioxidants and warding off disease. Also, when you incorporate spices into your diet, you tend to use less sugar and salt, which is a good thing. Spices are simple to keep on hand and don’t take up much space. Instead of adding sugar to your coffee, try using cinnamon; instead of sprinkling salt on your eggs, try turmeric.

7. Include a fruit or a vegetable at each meal.

Many of us fail to eat enough produce. Fruits and veggies contain lots of fiber as well as vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium. They are also relatively low in calories. Make an effort to add fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks. Add berries to your yogurt, choose a salad with lunch or order a veggie-based soup, munch on baby carrots as a snack, and include a colorful assortment of veggies at dinner. Engage your kids and make a smoothie as an evening snack. The fruit and veggie servings quickly add up.

And here’s an added benefit–when you eat plenty of fruits and veggies, you tend to eat less junk food.

8. Keep moving.

Even though this is a busy time of year, trying to incorporate some kind of exercise will really help you to not only keep your eating–and weight–in check but also to help you stay centered. Go for a swim or a run in the morning to get you going or go to a yoga class to help you slow down and be more mindful. Weather permitting, it’s great to exercise outdoors in nature. Call a friend and go for a walk in the park.

9. Practice gratitude.

Being grateful for your life and all of the good things going your way is so important. While things can always be a bit better, it is so important to take time out and have a grateful heart.

10. Enjoy the company of family and friends.

Last but not least, instead of focusing on food, nurture your relationships. When getting together with family and friends, savor their company, and enjoy catching up with them. At a dinner party, take a portion of food, grab your loved one, and focus on filling each other in on what has been going on in your lives.

We would love to hear your favorite holiday survival tips.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy–and healthy–holiday season!

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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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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5 healthy back-to-school tips

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post: 5 healthy back-to-school tips

You can also read it HERE.

With summer coming to a close, next week is back to school for most kids. It is also a great opportunity to create new healthy habits for your kids and for the entire family. As a nutritionist counseling families and children, here are some simple tips to get you and your family off to a healthy start.

1. Eat a nutritious breakfast.

While there has been a debate recently about the merits of eating breakfast for weight loss, it is agreed that kids should not skip breakfast. Breakfast is a perfect opportunity to help your kids get a healthy dose of nutrients such as fiber, calcium, and protein. Great options include: whole grain cereal (with at least 3 grams of fiber) and low-fat or fat-free milk, low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit, or scrambled eggs and a slice whole wheat toast. And, whenever possible, try to eat breakfast as a family.

2. Limit liquid calories.

The easiest place to start is to limit sugary beverages such as soda. Sugary drinks are simply empty calories and devoid of nutrients. Try also limiting fruit juice or diluting juice such as OJ with water to reduce the sweetness and the calories. Try also helping your kids substitute sugary drinks for a glass of fat-free milk.

3. Increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

Fruits and veggies are rich in nutrients including antioxidant vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, and potassium. They are also low in calories. To help your kid increase their consumption of fruit and veggies, I suggest keeping pre-washed produce available for your kids to simply grab and eat. Keep washed berries, apples, pears, and bananas on hand. Keep a bag of baby carrots and celery sticks around for kids to snack on.

4. Plan dinner as a family.

The best way to get your kids to eat healthy dinner is to engage them in the planning. Choose healthy options that everyone likes and let your kids select a veggie option and healthy whole grain option. Steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice are some examples of healthy side dishes. Healthy main dish protein options include baked chicken or grilled fish. Try to make meals kid friendly and try to eat together as a family on most nights.

5. Practice portion control.

Finally, my favorite tip for families is to practice portion control. Minding your portions as well as those of your kids is, by far, one of the easiest ways to manage calories and avoid weight gain. I also love practicing portion control with kids as it allows for occasional treats instead of banning foods altogether. Portion out an occasional cookie for your kids’ snack and add additional healthy choices such as melon, berries or grapes.

We would love to hear some of your favorite healthy tips.

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Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Traveling

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post. “How to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling.”

You can also read it HERE.

This is the season for traveling and summer vacations. While we often do lots of research to find a great travel destination, we often do not have a plan to stay healthy while we are away.

As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time this season teaching clients how to stay healthy, lose weight, and keep it off while enjoying summer vacations. I also enjoy traveling for fun and travel for work as well, so I am always fine tuning simple strategies to maintain a healthy lifestyle while being out of town.

Here are five simple and painless strategies to implement while taking on your next trip.

1. Drink a lot of water.

Staying hydrated is very important while traveling. Often, especially when flying, you may feel sluggish and fatigued due to dehydration. People also mistake feeling hungry when they are really just dehydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy while traveling. If you are going to an exotic location, find out in advance about the safety of drinking the tap water and then plan accordingly. If you are taking a road trip or a bike trip, always keep some water on hand.

2. Watch your diet.

Be mindful of what and how much you eat. As I tell clients, vacations are not a time to begin a diet. It is also not a time to go completely overboard. I suggest enjoying the local cuisine but do not overdo it. Planning in advance helps a lot. Identify the local cuisine that you want to try and plan your eating around that. If you want to enjoy local pasta in Italy, for example, skip the bread. An occasional alcoholic drink is also okay, but best to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner as opposed to on an empty stomach. When it comes to food and drink, think moderation.

3. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.

One of the easiest ways to keep your eating plan in check and to avoid going overboard is to be conscious of including fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. I suggest incorporating a fruit or vegetable at each meal. Try to include a fresh fruit serving in the morning with breakfast or as a mid morning snack, and include some kind of vegetable dish with lunch or dinner. It can be a fresh salad, a cooked vegetable, or a healthy soup option.

4. Eat structured meals.

Eating structured meals is one of the best ways to keep your diet in check. Try for a healthy breakfast including some protein to keep your blood sugar in check. A Greek yogurt with fruit, eggs with whole wheat toast, or whole grain toast and peanut butter are some good choices. Try to skip the pastries, especially in the morning. Do not skip lunch. If you are on the run, be mindful to sit down and enjoy a healthy lunch even if it is a quickie. A salad with grilled fish or tofu, a turkey sandwich, or a veggie burger is a good choice. If you want to indulge in the local cuisine, that is ok on occasion, but think portion control. And skip the fried foods. Finally, don’t go totally overboard at dinner.

5. Get active.

One of the best ways to explore a new location is to walk, walk, and walk. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes so that you can get plenty of exercise. Other types of exercise, such as swimming and biking, are also great, especially in summer months. Find out if there is a pool where you are staying, or better yet, if possible, book a hotel with a pool. Regardless of what exercise you choose to do, the most important point is to incorporate it into your day and do it.

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10 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart

Below is my latest blog post for American Heart Month “10 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart.

You can also read it on Huffington Post.


February marks the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one killer in Americans. For the good news, however, following a heart healthy diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in helping to prevent heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends choosing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and to include nuts and seeds, fatty fish and heart-healthy fats. It also recommends limiting foods high in trans fats, saturated fats and sodium.

As a nutritionist counseling clients on heart health, rather than advise clients just on what foods to avoid, I like to empower them by offering healthy food choices and substitutions to make.

Below are 10 smart food swaps which can make a huge difference to the health of your heart. These are simple tweaks to your diet that can boost your nutrition and they also taste great.

1. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal instead of cream of wheat.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The type of fiber in oatmeal, beta glucans, may be particularly beneficial for heart health and for weight control. Oatmeal also contains the minerals magnesium and potassium also good for the heart.

2. Top your oatmeal with blueberries instead of sugar.
Blueberries are one of the healthiest foods around, and they contribute to health, including heart health. With only 80 calories per cup and low in fat, these tasty blue gems are packed with fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin C, and an excellent source of the mineral manganese. Blueberries contain a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can contribute to heart health and a reduction of other chronic diseases. You can also include them in your diet all year long: they can be purchased fresh and are also available frozen throughout the year.

3. Eat a bean-based veggie burger instead of a hamburger for lunch.
Bean and legumes are a great plant based protein while also contributing to heart health. They are rich in soluble fiber, devoid of saturated fat, and fairly low in calories. Hamburgers on the other hand, are high in unhealthy saturated fats which have been shown to elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol.

4. Top your burger with lettuce and tomato instead of cheese.
Lettuce and tomato are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and contains few calories and virtually no fat. They contain the antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber.

5.  Snack on walnuts instead of chips.
Hungry for a snack? Adding walnuts to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids’s that can benefit the heart, brain and skin. These tasty nuts also contain the antioxidant vitamin E.

6. Start your dinner with a colorful salad instead of fried mozzarella sticks.
Starting your meal with a colorful salad is a terrific way to boost heart healthy nutrients in your diet. Salads and vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. The different colors provide different nutrients so throw in romaine lettuce rich in the B vitamin folate, red cherry tomatoes rich in lycopene and carrots which are full of beta carotene.

7. Top your salad with avocado instead of croutons.
Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, a good fat which may contribute to heart health. Avocados are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E. Not only is this green fruit (yes, it is a fruit) good for the heart, it tastes great and adds a zest of flavor.

8. Choose olive oil instead of butter.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, also known as a heart-healthy fat. Diets rich in olive oil have been associated with heart health. This oil is is also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols which protects blood vessels and other components of the heart. Next time you visit your favorite restaurant, dip your bread in olive oil instead of butter.

9. Choose grilled salmon instead of fried flounder.
We hear that fish is good for the heart. In particular, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are chock full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats that have been shown to benefit the heart as well as the brain.

10. Drink a glass of red wine instead of a soda.
Moderate amounts of alcohol (one drink for women and two for men) have been shown to contribute to heart health and may improve good HDL cholesterol levels. For an added boost, red wine in particular, contains polyphenols, including resveratrol, which have been associated with an increase in good cholesterol and a decrease in inflammation.

Let’s toast to a healthy heart. We would love to hear any heart-healthy food swaps you have made.

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

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Berry bites: Exploring the health benefits of berries

Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables has been correlated with a reduced risk of various chronic diseases. And for good reason: they are low in calories and rich in nutrients. Berries, in particular, are a nutrition powerhouse. Many reasons exist to put berries on your shopping list and to cook with them.

Naturally low in calories, berries contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and calcium. The pigments that give berries their beautiful colors turn out to also contain polyphenols and antioxidants that are good for health. Fruits rich in phytonutrients are linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and cancer in the people who eat them.

And there is more good for berry lovers. A study in Circulation found that berries may ward off heart disease in women.

Berries are also high in fiber which can aid digestion. One cup of raspberries, for instance, contains only 65 calories plus a healthy 8 grams of fiber. So feel free to fill up on them, guilt free. Pectin, one of the soluble fibers in berries, also has cholesterol lowering properties and contributes to heart health.

Berries are a terrific fruit group to include in the diet because of its high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, a measure of antioxidant capacity. Diets high in antioxidants are beneficial and help fight chronic diseases because they protect the body from free radicals associated with aging and inflammation, among other conditions. Blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries are among the foods that top the chart for containing the most antioxidants per serving. So feel free to enjoy these colorful jewels.

Berries—in particular, blueberries, cranberries, and mulberries—contain the polyphenol, resveratrol, associated with heart health, anticancer activity, and reduced inflammation. Berries known for their deep concentrated pigment contain the flavonoid, anthocyanins, which contain many health benefits which may help ward off diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries also contain the polyphenol antioxidant, ellagic acid, which seems to have some anti-cancer properties.

Good news for berry lovers. You can get them year round without worrying about price. While fresh berries eaten immediately after harvest are the best choice in obtaining essential nutrients, frozen berries are the next best thing and allow us to indulge year round. Berries frozen right after harvest preserve most of their nutrients making them a terrific and nutritious choice. I suggest keeping a bag of frozen berries in your freezer.

Here are some berry bites on 5 winners:

Blackberries top the chart for containing the most antioxidants per serving so put them on your shopping list.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and may benefit heart health and brain function associated with aging. Research suggests that consuming blueberries may keep your blood pressure in check.

Cranberries contain flavonoids which may protect against inflammation and may help prevent urinary tract infections. Furthermore, the procyandins found in this berry contains antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Raspberries contain the antioxidant quercetin which contains anti-inflammatory benefits and the phenolic compound, ellagic acid, and can help fight cancer. And even more good news: one cup contains only 65 calories and 8 grams fiber.

Strawberries are a terrific source of vitamin C; one cup of sliced strawberries contains more than a day’s worth of this antioxidant nutrient. A cup of strawberries also contains 3 grams dietary fiber and is low in calories (less than 50 calories per cup).

Berry tip: Beware of HYPE:

While the juice from the acai berry, for example, may be high in antioxidants, little evidence actually exists that it has special weight-loss or other powers, often touted on internet ads.

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Stormy weather?!: Top foods to stock up on

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

Hurricane Sandy is coming. As a  New Yorker living in a crowded neighborhood, I could not help but notice the long lines in the supermarkets today! Everyone was stocking up on food preparing for the worst, as if they will not get out of their house for days on end. Of course, as a nutritionist, I could not help but notice the food choices my neighbors were stocking up on.

In times like this, with all restaurants closed,  what you buy, is what you will eat! For the good news, if you keep healthy foods on hand, you’ll eat those foods. And for the bad news, if you stock up on chips and ice cream, that is what you will most likely end up eating. Unless of course you exert lots of willpower.

Keeping a  little bit of comfort food around the house is ok, of course, but try to choose mostly healthy food choices.

Here are my 5 top foods to keep on hand.

1. Water. I would suggest keeping bottle water on hand while also filling up some jugs with tap water. Drink generously.

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables. As I’ve written before , fresh fruits and veggies impart so many nutrients, contain fiber, are low in calories, and are filling. Choose a variety and keep your favorites on hand. Carrots, broccoli, berries, apples, pears are a few best bets. And for the good news: you don’t have to worry if you eat too much.

3. Nuts and nut butters. Peanut butter, cashew butter and almond butter are all great options, as are the actual nuts.  Nuts and nut butters contain healthy fats and protein. Walnuts, in particular, are high in the heart-healthy fat, omega 3 fatty acids. Stick with unsalted nuts where possible. Be sure to watch your portion as nuts and nut butters are high in fat. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter or ¼ cup nuts at a sitting.

4. Whole grains. Whole grain breads and crackers are better options than white bread, muffins, and oversized bagels. Whole grains are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain fiber which will keep you full. Popcorn is also a great snack and yes it is a whole grain. Make some air-popped popcorn and store it in zip lock baggies. For some good news, 3 cups popcorn = 1 grain serving so you can have a decent size portion.

5. Canned vegetarian soups and beans. Try for the low-sodium varieties. Canned chick peas are terrific and can be thrown into a salad, and canned low-sodium lentil and split pea soups are good choices. As I previously wrote, beans and legumes are high in protein and fiber and low in fat.

Wishing you a safe–and healthy–few days!

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