May 2014

Your Spring Weight Loss Guide

Body ImageBefore you bolt from the diet shoot this Spring, take time to review what really needs changing and where you should start. Fixating on a desirable figure is not a matter of just losing weight. You want to lose the right kind of weight – namely fat weight – and you want to lose it for good without having to sacrifice your health to do it. Here are the three pre-dieting steps to take before starting a weight-management plan:

Step One: Goals are your roadmap to weight management. Without them you won’t know where you are going or even if you got there. But, for a goal to be useful, it must be specific, realistic, and flexible. Specific goals are measurable. Instead of a vague goal to “reduce fat intake,” write specific goals that include what, when, where, and how, such as “I will jog for 30 minutes during my lunch hour, five days a week, for the next six months,” or “To reduce my fat intake, I will spread apple butter instead of butter on my toast in the morning.” Realistic goals take into account where you are today and what you are likely to accomplish with reasonable effort. Plan to lose no more than 2 pounds/week (this way you’re most likely to lose fat weight, not lean or water weight, and you’re most likely to keep off the lost weight.) Unrealistic goals are a set up for failure, so avoid perfectionist goals that use words such as “always,” “never,” or “everyday.” (One way to test a goal is to ask yourself “Would I expect a friend to meet these expectations?”) In short, goals should be challenging, not overwhelming. Flexible goals allow you to adapt as you navigate the weight-loss road. You may find that you need to avoid food temptations by eating ahead of a party or you need to increase your daily exercise to reach your week’s goal.

Step Two: Keep records. You don’t know where you are going until you have a firm idea where you are and that means keeping a food record for two to three weeks. Write down everything you eat, how much, where, when, and with whom. Also note how you feel before and after. From those foods records, you’ll note patterns that either encourage or interfere with your weight/fitness goals. Use your food records to help break down your big goals into weekly small goals. For example, a long-term goal to lose 20 pounds can be broken down into short-term goals to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week for the next 10 to 20 weeks. These might include replacing negative thoughts with supportive thoughts or substituting baby carrots for potato chips at the mid-afternoon snack.

Step Three: Identify from your food records the nutritional stumbling blocks that keep you from attaining a desirable weight. And then develop a plan how you will overcome those obstacles.
Photo credit: Charlotte Astrid via Compfight

Just Do This Today

Vegetables1) Focus on Plants: The basis of this weight-management eating plan is to emphasize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with moderate amounts of calcium-rich (nonfat milk) and iron-rich (extra-lean meats, chicken, fish, or legumes) foods. By doing this, you will automatically cut back on fat, sugar, and unnecessary calories.

2) Even the best diet can’t guarantee optimal intake of all nutrients when it drops below 2,000 calories. So, consider taking a moderate-dose, well-balanced vitamin and mineral supplement.

3) Lose Weight Gradually: You want an eating plan you can live with for life and that will allow a gradual weight loss of no more than 2 pounds a week. Strive for no less than 1,500 calories if you are short or relatively inactive (add an additional 500 calories if you are tall and/or active). You should increase exercise, not cut calories further, if you can’t lose weight on this low-calorie plan.

4) Commit to Health: Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is not just a certain figure or a number on the bathroom scale, it is a lifelong commitment to be the best and healthiest you. This plan requires a lifetime commitment, not to lose weight and keep it off, but to modify habits so they support health and, ultimately, maintain the best weight for you.
Photo credit: Jim Moran via Compfight

Hot Off the Diet Press

Sleeping1. An Alternative to Goodnight Moon?: Sleep problems are associated with poor school performance, but now researchers at the University of Oxford, U.K., might have a solution to that problem. They measured blood levels of the omega-3 fats and compared that to sleep habits in a group of 395 healthy children aged 7- to 9-years-old who struggled with reading in school. In 40% of the sample, scores on the Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire showed clinical-level sleep problems. In addition, poor total sleep scores were linked to lower blood levels of the omega-3 fat DHA. The children were supplemented daily with 600 milligrams of algal DHA for 16 weeks. Results showed supplementation was associated with, on average, seven fewer wake episodes and 58 minutes more sleep per night. The researchers conclude that “…higher blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] may be related to better child sleep.” Montgomery P, Burton J, Sewell R, et al: Fatty acids and sleep in UK children. Journal of Sleep Research 2014; March 8th.
Photo credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight

Milk 2. More Than Just a Bone Builder: Drinking more milk, and in particular including more milk protein, might help decrease body fat and maintain a healthier body weight, according to a study from the University of South Australia. After analyzing the diets of 720 overweight adults, the researchers found that overweight adults who consumed more milk and milk products, and consequently had more calcium and protein from dairy in their diets, tended to weigh less and have less body fat compared to those who consumed few milk products. Yogurt consumption was associated with lower percent body fat, abdominal fat, and waist circumference, while reduced-fat milk intake was inversely linked to BMI, waist circumference, and percent body fat. The researchers conclude that, “…consumption of dairy products, dairy protein, and calcium was associated with more favorable body composition.” Murphy K, Crichton G, Dyer K, et al: Diary foods and dairy protein consumption is inversely related to markers of adiposity in obese men and women. Nutrients 2013;5:4665-4684.
Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar via Compfight

3. Lutein: The New Anti-Aging Supplement: Lutein supplements got seniors up and moving in a study from the University of South Australia. Forty-four seniors who did not meet the Australian physical activity guidelines were given daily placebos or supplements of lutein (21 milligrams), and were encouraged to exercise more. After one month, those seniors taking lutein (a carotenoid typically found in dark green leafy vegetables) showed increased blood levels of the carotenoid and a significant reduction in sedentary time. In fact, the percent change in blood lutein was directly associated with the increase in daily activity. The more, the better. Thomson R, Coates A, Howe P, et al: Increases in plasma lutein through supplementation are correlated with increases in physical activity and reductions in sedentary time in older adults. Nutrients 2014;6:974-984.

Food &Mood Tip – Stress Eating

Weight gain, even obesity, is strongly linked to chronic stress. In fact, nibbling, gnawing, and eating is common in all animals under stress and may be a way to release pent-up tension. Studies from Louisiana State found that stressed animals chew and gnaw more than calm animals, while studies on up-tight people show they are more likely to chew their nails, smoke cigarettes, dive into the cookie jar, and drink more alcohol than are care-free people. The need to nosh is a strong predictor of substantial weight gain in people, according to a study from the University of Helsinki in Finland. The trick is to nibble on healthful, low-fat snacks, like baby carrots, pea pods, red pepper slices, and jicama strips. The right foods will protect you from stress, not add insult to injury.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month

Grilled Cheese, Watermelon & Arugula Sandwich
watermelon You need at least 8 colorful fruits and vegetables every day. What an easy way to meet one of those servings by adding them to a sandwich!

4 slices watermelon, approximately 4”X 4″X ½” thick
8 slices 100% whole grain bread, preferably chewy in texture (Dave’s Killer Bread is great!)
2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided into 4 equal portions
cooking spray
1 1 /2 cups baby arugula

1. Place watermelon pieces between paper towels to absorb extra fluid. Set aside.
2. On each of four slices of bread, spread mustard and top with 1 1 /2 ounces cheese. Top with second slice of bread.
3. On a griddle or Foreman grill, spray cooking spray and grill the 4 sandwiches on each side until cheese begins to melt. Remove from griddle/grill, open and place a slice of watermelon and arugula. Close sandwich and cut in half. Serve. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Analysis per serving: 424 Calories; 36 percent fat (17 grams); 10 grams saturated fat; 18 percent protein; 46 percent carbohydrate; 6.4 grams fiber.
Photo credit: Franie Frou Frou via Compfight

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

1. The omega-3s in flax, walnuts, and/or soy help lower the risk for dementia and depression. False. There are three omega-3 fats and they are not all created equal. While the omega-3 in flax, walnuts, soy, and other plant foods, called alpha linolenic acid or ALA, helps reduce inflammation and lower heart disease risk, there is no body of evidence to show it has any affect on mood, mind, or memory. Only the omega-3s EPA and DHA improve both heart disease and brain function, and of the two, DHA is by far the most important. Up to 97% of the omega-3s in the brain is DHA. Your body cannot make this fat; you must get it from the diet or from supplements.
2. All sugar is bad for you, both added and natural sugars.
False. The human body evolved over millions of years with the help of natural sugars from fresh fruit, honey, and some vegetables. It is the added sugars that have gotten us into trouble. According to the USDA, we are consuming record amounts of added sugar, up to 150 pounds per person per year. That intake is linked to increased risk for tooth decay, obesity, and numerous diseases including heart disease and diabetes. While diabetics must balance all carbs throughout the day, by far the biggest concern even for diabetics is added sugars in processed foods.
Photo credit:  Rachel via Compfight

Do You Know?

1. True or false. Are food cravings a sign your body needs certain nutrients?

2. True or false. Are most of the nutrients in the skin of vegetables, such as potatoes?

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo

A recent report found that most customers check the calories per serving on a food label. However, few check the size of the serving. Big mistake. Many processed foods look low-calorie because they have shrunk the serving to the size of a golf ball. For example, a well-known granola supplies only 120 calories, but check the serving size…it’s 1/3 cup. I’m more likely to pour one cup into my bowl and unless I checked the label, would foolishly think I have a low-calorie cereal. Until the FDA updates food labels, it remains a “buyer beware” market. Always scrutinize the label with an eye for details, including a comparison of serving size to calories.

Food Finds/Food Fails:

Food Finds:
Lean Cuisine Honestly Good: Lean Cuisine Roasted Red Pepper Chicken1. Lean Cuisine Honestly Good Roasted Red Pepper Chicken: Looking for a quick meal? This frozen entree can be trusted. It says it’s “all natural” with “no artificial ingredients and no preservatives,” a claim that usually means nothing on a label, but in this case, it is true. Granted, calling “sugar” and “cornstarch” natural is a bit of a stretch, but other than those two ingredients, you’ll recognize and be able to pronounce all the ingredients. This entree only has 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 6 grams of sugar, while supplying 5 grams of fiber, all for only 270 calories. The sodium is high at 520 milligrams, but compliment this with a salad or steamed vegetables, which will help dilute that sodium for the entire meal.

Life Balance Medium/Soft Taco Whole Wheat Tortillas2. Mission Life Balance Wheat Tortillas: If you don’t drink milk, these tortillas are a great way to get your calcium. Each tortilla supplies the calcium in a glass of milk, along with the brain- and heart-healthy omega-3 DHA, vitamin D, vitamin B12, chromium, iron, vitamin E, and a wealth of other vitamins and minerals. You even get 3 grams of fiber in each tortilla, and no trans fats. Oh, and they taste great, too.

Food Fails:
1. Annie’s Creamy Deluxe Macaroni Dinner: It’s “made with goodness” (whatever that means?!), with no artificial flavors or synthetic colors or preservatives. Hey, it’s even made with organic pasta. This must be about as close to perfect as you can get, right? Wrong. One cup packs 300 calories, a teaspoon and a half of saturated fat, and 760 milligrams of sodium. If you serve a more normal serving, say a cup and a half or two cups, you’re likely to exceed your daily quota of sodium at that level. Of course, I suppose you can call a salt lick “natural” or “organic,” but there is nothing goodness about that much artery-clogging saturated fat and blood pressure-raising sodium, even if it is “made with real cheese.”

2. State Fair Classic Corn Dogs: It’s probably no surprise that this item is as close to junk on a stick as you can get. The only “health” claim on the label is that it is “made with real honey” (as opposed to all the other fake ingredients?), which is a sign you’re in for nutrition trouble. One greasy dog packs 190 calories, 38% of which come from fat, along with 480 milligrams of sodium, and almost 2 teaspoons of sugar. What is even more amazing is that this food-like product succeeds in providing absolutely no fiber. I wouldn’t feed this dog to my dog, let alone to anyone I loved.

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 poached egg
1 sliced 100% whole wheat bread
2 teaspoons jam
1 cup orange juice

Mid-Morning Snack:
1 2″ oatmeal-raisin cookie 1 cup low-fat milk or soymilk w/ DHA

1 Grilled Cheese, Watermelon & Arugula Sandwich
1 cup sliced sweet red pepper
1 cup nonfat milk, warmed and sprinkled with nutmeg

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
1 ounce almonds
3 graham crackers

4 ounces roast chicken breast (Save extra chicken for salad later in week.)
Glazed Carrots: 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ diagonals, cooked in 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 cup orange juice until tender. In a small bowl, mix until smooth 1 /2 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, pinch of nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons water. Add ginger mixture to carrots and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons chopped chives and a pinch of red pepper flakes (Optional).
1 cup steamed Brussels sprouts
1 cup mashed potatoes made with 1% low-fat milk
Sparkling water with lime juice

Late-Night Snack:
1 cup frozen blueberries

Nutritional Analysis: 1,999 Calories, 30 % fat (66.6 g, 13.6 g saturated), 50 % carbs (250 g), 20 % protein (100 g), 34 g fiber, 1,587 mg sodium.