January 2015

Top Diet Road Blocks

It’s the New Year and you’re determined to lose that weight for good. Here are a few stumbling blocks to watch out for on your road to success.

The Morning Let Down: For those dieters who find themselves nibbling mid-morning on the stale doughnuts left in the employee lounge, your problem could be what you didn’t eat earlier in the day. People who skip breakfast in an effort to cut calories inevitably eat more calories later in the day. It might sound counter-intuitive, but eat something even if you’re not hungry. I guarantee, for most people, it will help curb those temptations to snack later on. Of course, make it a healthy breakfast. You’re best bet is whole grain cereal, nonfat milk or soymilk, and a glass of OJ or a banana. If you must skip breakfast, be prepared for the inevitable blood-sugar nose dive by bringing healthful snacks, such as fruit, string cheese, yogurt, or nuts.

Lunch Madness: If you didn’t eat breakfast, then you’re likely to be starving by mid-day and lunch can be dangerous for a dieter. Even if you ate a good breakfast, you can over-do it at lunch. People tend to eat more, sometimes up to 44% more, when they dine with friends. Ideally, bring your lunch with you and pack a nutritious one. If you are dining out, decide what you will order ahead of time and make it a la carte. Or, order a salad with dressing on the side and split an entree with a friend. Skip the rolls, tortilla chips, and other nibblies that can add 300 calories or more to your lunch. Order sparkling water and have a cup of coffee while others order dessert.

Mid-Afternoon Doldrums: Whether you are sitting in front of your computer at work or folding laundry at home, by mid-afternoon your energy level can drop, you’re bored or just need a pick-me-up and it is common to turn to food for that lift. Try a non-food way of energizing yourself. Take a brisk walk around the block, jog up the stairs at work, go to the bathroom and splash water on your face, down a glass of ice water, or even sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. Any or all of those can help put a little lift in your day without adding pounds.

Double-Up Dinners: It’s early in the evening, you fix dinner for the kids, it looks good, and you sit down to eat. You also nibble the leftovers off the plates as you clean up the kitchen. Problem is your spouse/partner doesn’t get home for another two hours and you end up eating a second dinner then, along with a glass of wine. To keep away from the food when your kids are eating, snack on baby carrots, chew gum, drink ice water, or make the kid’s dinner healthier so there are a few things you can eat, like the steamed string beans. Feed leftovers to the dog or throw them out rather than nibble on them yourself. Worse scenario, you eat two partial hot dogs, the rest of the tater tots off your child’s plate, and half a brownie. Then there is no reason to also have the chicken breast and salad two hours later.

Central Park foliage photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 51Home at Last: One of the toughest times for dieters who work outside the home is when they first walk in the door. The day’s over, time to relax, you need something to help you transition from work to home, so you head for the refrigerator. Food is the comforting way to settle in, to reward yourself. Your best bet is to recognize you need something to help you shift gears. Go for a quick, destressing walk or bike ride around the neighborhood with your spouse or kids. Take a shower or bath. If you must reach for food, be aware of what you are doing and allow yourself only low-calorie, moderate-portions of a few healthy snacks.

The Evening Binge: You’ve been good all day, even had a healthful dinner of grilled fish, steamed vegetables, and a salad. It’s two hours later and you’re hauling out the ice cream or the chips. If you thought about it, you’d probably realize you’re not even hungry. It could be the sedentary nature of television and the boring nature of most evening shows on TV. Best bet here is to find something to do with your hands other than eat. Take up knitting, give yourself a manicure, ride the exercise bicycle, take a bath, go to bed. Try snacking on air-popped popcorn if you have to eat. But, if you are determined the snack has to be ice cream, make it an event. Don’teat mindlessly and fast. Serve yourself a small portion, sit down and really focus on the taste, texture, and aromas of the snack.
Photo credit: Flickr and Ed Yourdon via Compfight

Just Do This Today

1. Include 2 servings of colorful fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and at least 1 at every snack.

2. Take the croutons, cheese, and other fatty ingredients off your salad. Ask for the dressing on the side, and dip your fork lightly into the dressing for each bite. Plan to leave most of the dressing in the container when the salad is gone.

3. Vow to eat at home this week and bring your lunch/snacks when you go out. See if you can make it one full week without a restaurant meal. You’ll save both money and calories if you do.

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. Low-Carb No Way: Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston investigated the potential benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet on heart attack survival in both men and women. Food frequency questionnaires were given to 2,258 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 1,840 men from the Health Professional Follow-Up Study who had survived a heart attack during follow-up. The participants provided a before-heart attack and at least one after-heart attack questionnaire. Results showed that adherence to a low-carbohydrate diet high in animal fat and protein increased all-cause and cardiovascular deaths by up to 33% and 53%, respectively. In another study from Harvard, researchers found that red meat consumption during the teen years increased premenopausal breast cancer risk in women later in life.
Li S, Flint A, Pai J, et al: Low carbohydrate diet from plant or animal sources and mortality among myocardial infarction survivors. Journal of the American Heart Association 2014;September 22nd. Farvid M, Cho E, Chen W, et al: Adolescent meat intake and breast cancer risk. International Journal of Cancer 2014;September 15th.

2. Dummy Diet for Kids: Children who are fed low-quality diets show an increased risk for mental health problems, along with weight gain, state researchers at Deakin University in Australia. Dietary intakes and mental health status were compared in this review of the research that included 83,000 children between the ages of 4 ½ and 18-years-old. Results showed that poor diets increased the risk for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in both children and teens. In contrast, good diets increased a child’s concentration, school performance, and weight.
O’Neil A, Quirk S, Housden S, et al: Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents. American Journal of Public Health 2014;104:e31-e42.

3. Save the Planet & Live Longer: A change in typical dietary habits could save the planet, states researchers at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. The modern diet high in refined sugars, refined fats, oils, and resource- and land-intense agricultural products such as beef will contribute to an 80% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. A shift from this dietary pattern to one similar to the Mediterranean, pescatarian, or vegetarian diets would boost human life expectancy and quality of life, help prevent diet-related chronic diseases, and significantly slash greenhouse gas emissions, thus saving habitat for endangered species. “We showed that the same dietary changes that can add about a decade to our lives can also prevent massive environmental damage,” conclude the researchers.
Tilman D, Clark M: Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health. Nature 2014;November 12th.

Food & Mood Tip –

Stressed Out Strategies
Eating right when stressed is simple if you plan ahead and make health a priority. To help break the stress cycle:

Cut Out Caffeine: Grabbing a cup of coffee or tea is tempting when you’re stressed or sleep-deprived. But, the caffeine in these drinks, or even a glass of cola or a chocolate doughnut, can linger in the system for up to 15 hours, amping up the stress response and keeping some people awake at night. If you are troubled by sleep problems, try eliminating caffeine. If you feel and sleep better after two weeks of being caffeine-free, then avoid caffeine permanently. Of course, you can add a cup or two after the two-week trial, but cut back if insomnia returns.

Limit or Avoid Alcohol: An occasional glass of wine is relaxing, but drink too much and you’ll sleep less soundly and awake more tired. Alcohol suppresses a phase of sleeping called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) where most dreaming occurs. Less REM is associated with more night awakenings and restless sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol within two hours of bedtime and never mix alcohol with sleeping pills!

Keep Supper Light: Big dinners make you drowsy, but they also interfere with a good night’s sleep. Instead, eat your biggest meal by mid-afternoon and plan a light evening meal of 500 calories or less. Include some chicken, extra-lean meat, or fish at dinner to help curb middle-of-the-night snack attacks.

Sweet mangoDrink Water: When tense, many people experience dry mouth, heart palpitations, and sweating, all caused by imbalances in the nervous system that are aggravated by dehydration. Aim for at least 8 glasses a day.

Just Say “No” to Sugar: Sweets send your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride. You might enjoy the initial high, but not the deeper tiredness and anxiety that follow. Sooth a sweet tooth with fruit, yogurt, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal, and skip the processed sugary items.

Focus on Fiber: Fiber-rich beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains keep you regular at a time when you otherwise might suffer from cramps and constipation.

Eat Regularly: Skip meals and you only accentuate the depression, anxiety, and fatigue brought on by daily hassles or lack of sleep. Stay focused, calm, and able to cope by eating small, frequent meals and snacks, starting with breakfast.

Mind Your Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants to offset cortisol’s harmful effects on the body and brain. Include two servings at every meal and one serving at every snack.
Photo credit: Angelica Portales via Compfight

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month-

Watermelon, Dried Tart Cherry, Chia Seed Muffins
Chia seeds date back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these ancient cultures considered chia seeds to be an energy booster. How did they know that the little black and white seeds are a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and antioxidants?! Combine these little powerhouses with the wealth of nutrients and antioxidants in watermelon and you have one mighty dose of nutrients in these delicious muffins!

Cooking spray
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sucralose (Splenda)
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon zest
2 cups flour
3/4 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons canola oil (I like      Crisco’s canola oil w/ the      omega-3 DHA)
1/3 cup plain, nonfat Greek      yogurt
3/4 cup liquefied watermelon      juice
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 cup dried tart cherries
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 piece muffin pan.
1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, sucralose, and lemon zest. Use fingers to rub zest into sugar until sugar is fragrant. Add flour, chia seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and thoroughly mix. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk butter, yogurt, watermelon juice, and egg substitute until thoroughly blended. Add cherries.
3. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture. Gently toss until flour is incorporated into liquid. Do not over-beat or muffins will be flat and tough. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups. Top each muffin with 1 /2 teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Makes 12 muffins.
Nutritional Analysis per muffin: 267 Calories; 26 percent fat (7.8 grams); 1.5 grams saturated fat; 9 percent protein; 65 percent carbohydrate; > 0.3 milligrams cholesterol; 116 milligrams calcium; 2. 6 milligrams iron, 376 milligrams potassium; 144 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber

Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:

1. Are raw vegetables more nutritious than cooked vegetables?
Yes, no, and maybe. If the vegetables are really fresh and are eaten within a day or two of purchase, then you will get a better dose of vitamin C and folate, the B vitamin important for healthy cells and lowering birth defect risk in pregnant women. On the other hand, some nutrients in vegetables are stuck behind cell walls that our bodies don’t break down very well. For example, lycopene, the carotenoid related to beta carotene and important for lowering heart disease and cancer risk, is better absorbed when foods are cooked, allowing the lycopene to escape through the vegetable’s cell walls. Of course, overcooking any vegetable or allowing it fresh or cooked to sit for long periods of time (such as on a buffet table), dramatically lowers the vitamin content. Also, tossing water used in cooking means tossing out the water-soluble vitamins. Your best bet is to eat some raw and some lightly cooked, and preferably at most meals.

2. Does green tea help with weight loss?
Yes and no. Phytonutrients and caffeine in green tea do boost metabolism and thus help the body burn calories. However, the boost is so slight you are not likely to notice a difference on the scale unless you cut calories elsewhere and exercise every day.

Do You Know?

1. Do carbohydrates make you fat?

2. Do calories count if you are eating healthy foods?

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo-

Egg Nods
Some of the information on an egg carton label is useful. Lots of it isn’t. For example, eggs labeled as being high in omega-3s require a closer look. Unless the chickens were fed marine algae or fish oils, the omega-3 is likely ALA (stands for alpha linolenic acid), which has not been shown to do anything for your mood, mind, or memory. Only the omega-3s in fatty seafood, DHA and EPA, give you the health boost you want. Then there is the word “pasture-raised,” which has no official standard. Different breeds of hens just lay different-colored eggs. Quality, nutrition, and flavor are not affected. Finally, words such as “hormone-free” or “antibiotic free” are empty claims, since no hormones or antibiotics are used in producing eggs for human consumption.

Food Finds/Food Fails:

Food Finds:
1. Pam Olive Oil spray: A tablespoon of any fat, from lard and butter to margarine and olive oil, packs about 100 calories. Use it liberally when cooking, and those extra calories can count up to an extra pound of body fat a month. Use a vegetable oil spray instead. It has zero calories per squirt. Or use a combination of a drizzle of olive oil and the olive oil spray and you still come out ahead calorie-wise.

2. Pasta Plus pasta: My trip to Italy this year ruined me for dry pasta. In a hill town north of Rome, called Orvieto, almost all the pasta served in restaurants is fresh. What a difference! Any recipe tastes remarkably better when you use fresh, rather than dried, pasta. From the spinach linguini to the Garlic Black Pepper at Pasta Plus in Eugene, Oregon, all the pasta is GMO-free, handmade using traditional Italian machinery, and is absolutely delicious. pastapluseugene

Food Fails:
1. Agave Syrup. The hot new sweetener. It’s all natural, so pour it on, right? But wait. You know high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a no-no, increasing the risk for weight gain and a host of other ills. But HFCS is 55% fructose, while agave is far worse, at 82% fructose.

2. Yogurt Coated Snacks: Don’t be fooled. This is a total scam! That white coating on raisins, pretzels, malt balls, or almonds is not yogurt (try coating anything with plain yogurt sometime and see if it sticks. NOT!). Instead, you’re swallowing a bunch of sugar and palm kernel oil.

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 Watermelon, Dried Tart Cherry, Chia Seed Muffin with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 cup blueberries
1 cup nonfat milk, warmed, flavored with almond extract, and topped with grated nutmeg

Mid-Morning Snack:
1 6-ounce plain nonfat yogurt w/ 1 Tbsp. honey
1 apple

1 whole wheat pita bread filled with:
1/4 cup hummus; 1 Tbsp. red onion, chopped fine; 1/3 cup chopped tomato; and lemon zest (optional)
1 cucumber sliced and topped with 1 Tbsp. fat-free vinaigrette dressing
1 tangerine
1 cup nonfat milk

Chicken ala Parmesan: 2 cups cooked herb tagliolini or linguini noodles topped with: 3 oz. grilled chicken slices; 2 tsp. olive oil; 3 Tbsp.      sun-dried tomatoes; 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese; and salt and pepper to taste
Spinach-Raspberry Salad: 1 cup baby spinach, washed and topped with: 2 red onion slices, broken into individual rounds, 3      mushrooms, washed, dried, and sliced thin; 1/3 cup raspberries; and 2 Tbsp. fat-free raspberry vinaigrette dressing
1 slice Italian bread w/ 1 tsp. butter

Evening Snack:
2009-10-19 - Popcorn for Dogs - 00024 cups air-popped popcorn
1 cup low-calorie hot chocolate
Nutritional information: 1,768 calories, 20% fat (65 grams), 58% carbohydrates, 22% protein.
Photo credit: Kelly Garbato via Compfight

What Has Elizabeth Been Up To?

December 3rd: Elizabeth participated in the #HolidayHelpers Twitter party.

December 8th: Elizabeth spoke at the Pop Warner Expo in Orlando, Florida. Her talk centered on how to get kids to eat well for school and sport performance.

December 15th: Elizabeth was on San Diego Living. Her topic: The Post-Holiday De-Tox Diet.

December 22nd: She was on AMNorthWest (KATU, Channel 2 in Portland, OR) offering up the top 10 best diet New Year’s Resolutions.