It's hard not to notice the headlines of many of the articles from major newspapers, magazines, and internet media. "Americans are eating too much sugar: 22 teaspoons daily." "They're not going to outlive their parents." "Childhood obesity has soared in recent decades, making it one of the country's most pressing problems." "Obesity: Lifestyle Changes Needed." "Big bellies can lead to big problems." "Report suggests ways for cities to slim down." "Fat is suddenly fabulous at least on TV." " Plus-sized characters moving to the forefront of teen literature." You tell me, is there a weight problem in America?
As a dietitian, I take this serious problem to heart. It is my job to help those who want to help themselves - who want to help those around them who they love and care so much for. It really comes down to the fact that millions of adults and children are killing themselves by eating the wrong foods, packing on pounds from over-sized portions and undoubtedly not moving their bodies enough. What are we becoming? It's time for all of us to STOP making excuses, and START working on the solutions. So many of us sadly do not realize what we are doing to ourselves when we overeat and simply justify it. Not only are you hurting yourself and ultimately your quality of life, but you are negatively influencing those around you. If we are going to work on reducing the number of overweight, unhealthy people in this country and worldwide, we will need to work together. This starts with you and I - caring for one another in terms of giving encouragement and taking the responsibility for ourselves and being positive examples and role models.
I am not only referring to our dietary intake here - I am referring to living an overall healthy lifestyle and achieving wellness. Diets DO NOT work. When you diet, you may lose weight. But most often, this weight loss is only temporary - you gain the weight back plus a little more, and the weight gained back is usually in the form of fat. In order to prevent this dieting cycle, it takes making a permanent transition to modify your lifestyle, including your food and beverage selections. You'll need to learn which foods help your body burn fat, which ones will give you the most energy, and which foods will negatively impact you and your health. It involves finding "new" favorite foods and having the understanding that it's not about never eating your current favorite foods (and possibly not so great for you foods), it's simply about eating smaller portions and less frequently. It is important to learn how to move your mass. Commit to doing so and find physical activity that you enjoy - not that you dread! Tell others of your goals. Explain to them why this is important to you, and begin your journey to better health. Be excited about becoming stronger both mentally and physically. Be the example! You deserve to feel good, look good, and have the confidence to live a happy and fulfilling life.
If you're ready to begin working towards a healthier lifestyle, but are not sure where to start, contact me to learn how to do so. I offer one-on-one lifestyle and weight management, as well as group classes. I will be starting a new 12-week class on February 21st, 2011. Feel free to visit this link to learn more about the Transitions Lifestyle Management System
I teach and personally follow. Here you will receive a formal introduction to the program by weight management and fitness expert Lydia Martinez. Learn about low-glycemic eating and the fact that with this system, you no longer need to count calories or points. You will also have access to state-of-the-art behavior modification tools that will support your efforts in transitioning to your new lifestyle. Finally, you will learn how to find your favorite activity and exercise program that will last a lifetime. You can also view testimonials
from individuals who have had success with the Transitions Lifestyle System by clicking on the above link, or view my testimonials page
By utilizing the Transitions Lifestyle Management System, your weight management success is a reality. Whether it is utilizing this system or not, it is your responsibility to take action It is just a matter of you taking action to begin your transition from who you are today, to who you want to be in the future!
Alissa C. Robertson, MS, RD
The New Year is almost here! Why wait to get started on your New Year’s resolution to lose weight or to live a healthier lifestyle? Why not get started today? January 1st is just another day, right? Having this mindset will be the key to both achieving and maintaining your weight loss goals.
As difficult as weight loss may have been in the past, today is a new day and weight loss doesn't have to be difficult. With the right mindset, it is possible to lose weight and keep it off for good!
Here are 7 easy to follow weight loss tips to help you in this process.
Alissa's 1st Tip
Focus on small behavior changes that you can commit to each step of the way. Weight loss cannot be simply a diet change, but needs to be a lifestyle change as well if you truly want to lose weight and keep it off. Since this can be overwhelming, try and start out with baby steps. For example, instead of saying you're going to exercise every day of the week for 1 hour, start out with exercising 3 days a week for 30 minutes. You can start out with a short walk around the block three or four times a week for 30 minutes. See how it goes, and when you can easily accomplish this and it has become part of your lifestyle, begin pushing the limit up a bit. Progress to 4 days per week, contemplate getting a gym membership, consider getting a few training sessions with a personal trainer, or whatever else you feel you are ready to try. Keep it fun and interesting. Try to get family members or friends to join you. Get involved in community activities such as charity walks, 5k's, team sports, running or walking groups, fitness classes, etc.
Alissa 2nd Tip
Keep a detailed food and exercise journal until these habits become natural. This may be one of the most important tips that many people on a weight loss mission fail to undertake or commit to. Keep a detailed record of each bit of food and drink, including the time and amount consumed. Don't cheat. Record every food item including between meals and snacks and sneaking a bit of your favorite chocolate bar. Write down your physical activity as well, including the type and duration of exercise during your day. Many people are amazed at the amount of food they eat outside of their normal meal times. Journaling is meant to build awareness, which enables you to make changes. Do yourself a favor and start today!
Alissa's 3rd Tip
Try to limit your intake of refined sugars and processed foods. The majority of your foods should come from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low and non-fat dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, and vegetarian proteins such as nuts/seeds, tofu, seitan, beans, and gluten-free veggie burgers. Stay away from enriched products such as white flour, white rice, white bread, and pasta that is not organic or whole grain. These have no nutritional value. Include grains such as quinoa, brown rice, teff, amaranth, kamut, millet, whole oats, spelt, whole wheat pasta, or barley.
Alissa's 4th Tip
Say goodbye to fast food. Any foods that don't go bad when left out for weeks on end should be avoided like the plague. These are loaded with harmful fats, preservatives, and chemicals. If you have no choice but eat out, choose something healthy from the menu like a large salad, a baked potato, and broiled or grilled meats instead of fried food. When traveling, pre-plan. Bring snacks in a cooler including: unsalted nuts and seeds; dried or whole fruit; cut-up veggies with hummus or guacamole; all-natural protein bars such as Think Thin Bars, Lara Bars, Kind Bars or Clif Builders Bars; Kashi Chewy granola bars; hard boiled eggs; celery with natural peanut butter; apple with peanut butter; sandwiches made on Arnold double protein bread; turkey and cheese roll-ups; or low-fat cheese sticks.
Alissa's 5th Tip
Do a detox seasonly to cleanse and detoxify your system. It is important, however, to choose your cleanse carefully. Safety is of utmost importance and many of the health food stores will carry a variety of cleansing products claiming to "detoxify" your liver or colon. Truly none of these are needed. Simply eating the right combination of whole foods and proper supplementation is best to maximize your results and most importantly, will be the safest for your body. Their are a variety of cleansing options, which should be specific for your individualized needs. Contact me to discuss your healthy detox options. The benefits of a detox just may be what you've been missing in your weight loss success.
Alissa's 6th Tip
Try and make it a habit to include at least some vegetables with each meal and snack during your day. The more you think about adding vegetables, the more often you'll actually get them in. Vegetables include vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to help you from getting sick, to stay full and satisfied, and keep you energized. Include veggies in your morning omelette or have natural peanut butter on celery, have a large organic salad and/or steamed vegetables for lunch and dinner, or have some cut-up vegetables with hummus or guacamole at a snack. Getting vegetables into your diet can be easy when you keep them on your mind.
Alissa's 7th Tip
Stay positive! Don’t say “I’m going to try to lose weight." If you say, “I will lose weight and feel great,” you'll set your self up for success. What you think about you bring about, so always make positive statements and affirmations rather than thinking negatively or making negative statements. Be committed to staying on course and making these necessary lifestyle and dietary changes.
Weight loss and weight maintenance does not have to be overwhelming and difficult. Try to get started with just a few steps from those mentioned above. Take one day at a time, have fun with it, and if you begin to get overwhelmed, take a deep breath and focus on one simple thing you know you can accomplish. The only way you fail is to give up, so keep on keeping on and you're bound to reach your goals in no time!
So what are you going to start with today?
Happy New Year - Make it a great 2011!
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD
Tip #1: Set Realistic Goals
Often in our zest to reach an imaginary weight goal, we set an unrealistic target and time frame. When it becomes clear that the goal can’t be met, our best intentions are forgotten and any lost weight returns with a few extra pounds to discourage us from trying again. Permanent weight loss must be accomplished slowly, with a plan to drop no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. This allows our body time to adjust naturally and make the necessary metabolic changes to maintain our lower weight. Slow and steady weight loss is the key to long-term weight loss. If you want to keep the weight off for good, don't worry about it coming off to fast. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Tip #2: Set Specific Goals
Make a plan to achieve your weight loss goal. Chart your day to include 3 well balanced meals and develop a calorie controlled menu that will allow you to hit your target. Schedule physical activity at a specific time as you would a business appointment. Avoid generalizations about diet and exercise, and be specific with regard to intent and end result.
Tip #3: Allow Yourself Room for an Occasional Slip
Everybody is human and inevitably you will give in to temptation and have a minor set back. This DOES NOT mean you have failed or have ruined your quest for weight loss success. It simply means you're human and you simply get right back to it. Fortunately your body is very forgiving and does not assess caloric intake for a single meal or even an entire day. Allow yourself an occasional treat when you really need it to keep yourself moving forward toward your weight loss goal.
Tip #4: Take Up Yoga
There’s more to yoga than just stretching. Yoga burns calories through physical activity and can also be a relaxing way to have time to yourself. Researchers from the Hutchinson Cancer Center have “found that regular yoga practice is associated with the prevention of middle-age spread in normal-weight people and the promotion ofweight loss in those who are overweight.” Yoga practice leads to mindful eating and healthy weight loss.
The New Year is approaching quickly and health conscious people will be thinking about losing weight gained during the past year. The best way to drop excess pounds is make a structured plan and set appropriate goals that will help you reach your weight target and improve your health and quality of life.
Healthy New Year's Wishes,
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD
Apples and oranges have, for quite some time, been the go-to for many of us. But there's a whole world of fruit out there, and many of them have major health benefits. From 2006 to 2007, sales of goji berry products shot up 75 percent and acai berry products by 50 percent. The questions is whether or not these fruits are actually better than our standard apples and oranges. Well, the truth is that they truly are higher in nutrients, but the secret to maximizing the benefits of these fruits is to make sure to eat a variety of them on a consistent basis. Here is a list of the superfruits we should consider eating more frequently:
Acai - A dark purple Brazilian berry rich in essential fatty acids and fiber. The fruit also contains powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins and flavonoids, which protect your cells from damage and may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Acerola - This is a sweet fruit with an apple-like flavor. The fruit is rich in vitamin C, and contains immunity-boosting vitamin A, similar to a serving of carrots.
Blood Orange - The deep color of this sweet, tart orange comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that has been shown to help fight cancer, inflammation and diabetes.
Cherimoya - This tropical fruit can be sliced or scooped like an avocado and has a similar velvety texture to it. One fruit provides 7 grams of protein and 15 percent of your daily value of iron.
Goji Berry - This Asian fruit is most commonly found in its dried form and has been used in traditional medicine for years to enhance health and longevity. It contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, protein, trace minerals and B vitamins for a nutritional boost.
Guava - According to the USDA researchers, this fruit may be the highest of them all in antioxidants! One cup contains 8,500 micrograms of cancer-fighting lycopene and serves as many of the free-radicals as one serving of broccoli.
Papaya - This fruit is rich in immunity-building vitamin A and papain, an enzyme that aids digestion. It is a delicious addition to salads and stir-fries.
Passion Fruit - This intensely sweet tropical fruit is rich in cancer-fighting carotenoids, polyphenols and packs 12 grams of fiber per fruit.
Pomegranate - The seeds of this fruit are rich in polyphenols, that fight inflammation and may fend off cancer and heart disease. Eat these for a nutritious and tangy punch in your salads!
Prickly Pear - The pulp of this cactus fruit is sweet and mild, rich in potassium, and contains 10 percent of your daily calcium requirement in one cup. If you like watermelon, you're sure to like this fruit!
Star Fruit - This fruit truly is a star! It is rich in potassium and vitamin C, and contains 4 grams of fiver and fewer than 40 calories per fruit.
Ugli Fruit - With a lumpy and bumpy exterior, you wouldn't expect this fruit to be rich in vitamin C and A as well as potassium. It is the cousin of the grapefruit and is low in calories.
I challenge you to try some new fruits this coming year. The benefits will certainly make for a healthier New Year!
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD
Metabolic Syndrome is a condition combining several medical factors including central obesity and insulin resistance that can lead to significant increases in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Patients with this condition, who supplemented with grape seed extract, demonstrated a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to a recent study. I suggest taking an antioxidant supplement each day for anyone who has trouble losing weight, is at risk or has diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or who has high blood pressure.
Among my list of recommended list of antioxidants is NutraMetrix Isotonix OPC-3®. NutraMetrix Isotonix OPC-3® is an isotonic-capable food supplement that is made from a combination of bilberry, grape seed, red wine and pine bark extracts, and citrus extract bioflavonoids, all found to be powerful antioxidants. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are bioflavonoids (complex organic plant compounds) found in fruits, vegetables and certain tree barks that provide exceptional nutritional benefits to the human body. Studies have shown OPCs to be up to 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals. NutraMetrix Isotonix OPC-3 contains the only isotonic form of Pycnogenol® in the world. Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree and the most clinically researched and potent bioflavonoid.
Source: Effect of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with the metabolic syndrome
One of the long-enduring traditions for sporting events of all types is the pasta dinner the evening before the big event. After all, who doesn't believe in the hearty, turbo-fuieling quality of a whopping plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce? As it turns out, the nonbelievers include a number of highly informed and educated people. There truly is nothing nutritious about processed wheat - especially when trying to fuel for a sporting event. Instead, I suggest replacing the traditional starchy foods with balanced, whole-food fuel such lean protein sources, fresh vegetables and fruits, liquid amino acids and whole grains.
This new school of food science is led by Allen Lim, PhD, who's focus is to correct popular misconceptions about food, particularly about carbs and fat. Proponents of this new approach believe, for example, that a diet heavy in starch causes your body to burn sugar instead of fat, so you bonk more easily, often eat too much and end up overweight rather than properly fueled. FALLACY #1: A Calorie is a Calorie
This might be the biggest weight-loss misunderstanding in existence. For years, we've been told that weight loss is a simple calories-in, calories-out equation, and 3,500 excess calories will put on a pound whether they come from soybeans or banana cream pie. That's simply not true.
There are three key types of calories: carbohydrate, protein and fat. They're as different as gasoline, motor oil and brake fluid in terms of the roles they play in keeping your body operating optimally. Many of my clients might eat the perfect number of calories, but they have cut their fat intake too much. So the jobs that fat does, such as repairing cell membranes and optimizing hormones, go undone, and the surplus carbs are stored as fat. By correcting the balance of carbs, protein and fat without changing their calorie intake, my clients are able to effectively lose weight, improve their immune system, gain muscle and boost energy.Alissa's Suggestion
Eat a representative of each macronutrient at every meal. I recommend getting 50 to 55 percent of your calories from carbs (fill your plate with vegetables, fruits and some whole grains), 25 to 30 percent from fats (olive oil, avocado and so on), and 15 to 20 percent from protein (lean meats, fish, eggs and poultry). Just be sure to skew your pre-workout meals or snacks to be heavier in carbs and lower in fat and protein to fuel up properly and avoid cramps. Include a good source of both protein and carbohydrate for your post-workout meals or snack.FALLACY #2: Starches are Sensible Fuel
At some point, starch became synonymous with carbohydrate. While pasta and bagels are carbohydrates, and you do need carbs for fuel, they're often not the best sources, especially if you're trying to keep weight off. Starchy carbs are easy to overeat, and any surplus goes to your fat stores. Our brain operates on sugar, and when you eat bagels or potatoes, your body turns them into sugar and delivers them to your cells quickly, which makes your brain happy and leaves you wanting more. In this case, you shouldn't listen to your body. But this is hard, isn't it?
Fruits and vegetables, by contrast, are rich in carbs but often lower in calories and also digest more slowly. You're less likely to plow through so many berries and carrots that you end up with more fuel than you need. As a bonus, plant foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and immunity-boosting phytonutrients that make you healthier and stronger, so you can go about your day and exercise better, thus burning more calories.Alissa's Suggestion
Choose carbs wisely. Eat starchy, quick-digesting carbs only during and right before and after training or exercise bouts. These are times when it's important to get food that can be quickly digested and converted to fuel. Otherwise, get your carbs from fruits and vegetables.
How much is enough? If you're eating considerably more than 50-55 percent, especially from starchy sources of carbohydrate, then you risk changing your metabolism. When I see someone who is eating lots of starch, they have not only gained fat, but they've also changed their metabolism from fat-burning to sugar-burning. This doesn't happen over one plate of pasta, but the body is adaptable. So overtime, constant intake of starchy foods will do damage, causing your body to switch over to burn whatever you're feeding it most.
When possible, pair your carbs with some protein. Lean meats, nut butters, fish and eggs slow digestion, so you feel full sooner, get more even energy from your meals and stay full longer. The amino acids in protein also help repair, build and maintain muscle tissue.FALLACY #3: All Fat Makes You Fat
It's no coincidence that Americans got heavier as fat consumption went down. For years, the government preached low-fat, carb-heavy diets. That wasn't only misguided; it was flat-out wrong!
As your body becomes more conditioned, you become a better fat burner. You need ample amounts of healthy fat, which, contrary to widely held belief, won't make you fat. In fact, starchy foods turn to stored fat far more quickly. What's more, evidence is tacking up that healthy unsaturated fats are essential for firing up your fat-burning metabolism. In a study of 101 men and women, Harvard researchers put half the group on a low-fat diet and half on a diet that included about 20 percent of calories from monounsaturated fatty acids. After 18 months, the healthy fat-eating group had dropped 11 pounds; its low-fat eating peer had shed only six. Fat is also slower to digest than carbs, so it helps you stay full for a longer period of time.
Fat will help you exercise longer so you can burn more calories. In fact, research shows that athletes who get about 50-plus percent of their diet from fat produce better average times to exhaustion in exercise tests than those eating typical low-fat, high-carb diets.Alissa's Suggestion
Add healthy fats to every meal. Strive for about 20 percent of your calories from Monounsaturated fats, or about 45 grams per day at 1,800 calories. Because most athletes don't have time to count fat grams, the simpler message is: Include small portions of good fats, like almonds, avocado, and olive oil, with all meals and snacks. Try nuts and seeds, olive-based tapenades and even the occasional chunk of dark chocolate.
Here are some healthy portions to shoot for:
FALLACY #4: Food Comes From a Box
- Nuts and Seeds: Everything from pecans to pine nuts, almond butter to tahini. A serving size is 2 tablespoons.
- Olives: Black, green mixed or blended in a spreadable tapenade. A serving is 10 large olives or 2 tablespoons of spread.
- Oils: Canola, flaxseed, peanut safflower, walnut, sunflower, sesame or olive. Cook with them; drizzle them; eat them in pesto. One serving is 1 tablespoon.
- Avocado: As guacamole or just slice and serve. One-quarter cup equals one serving.
- Dark Chocolate: Go for one-square of dark or semi-sweet every so often.
Many athletes who think they're eating healthfully often consume far more sugar and sodium than they realize because they eat so much pasta, cereals, energy bars and other processed foods. Very honestly, the vast majority of grocery-store foods are packaged and processed junk. Some items also contain trans fats - the kind of fats you want to avoid like the plague. The sugar is also troublesome for weight loss because it causes the body to step up its production of insulin, which in turn blocks hormones that control appetite. As a result, the food you eat is quickly stored as fat and at the same time, leaving you hungry.Alissa's Suggestion
Eat mostly whole foods that are part of an animal or plant. Fill most of your cart with foods from the grocery store's perimeter first. If you think about it, that's where the fresh produce, meats, fish and other whole foods are found. If necessary, then go down the specific aisles to get the few foods to fill in the rest. FALLACY #5: Skipping Breakfast is Fine if You Need to Drop a Few Pounds
What can I say...EAT BREAKFAST. That bit of essential advice is simply food gospel. Still, according to a survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, fewer than half of us eat a morning meal.
Breakfast is the key that starts your fat-burning metabolism. Without it, you go into an energy deficit that only leave you ravenous (and more likely to overeat) later, but also suppresses your fat-burning furnace, so what you do eat is more likely to go into fat storage. Research shows that people who skip breakfast are 4 1/2 times more likely to be overweight than those who don't. Alissa's Suggestion
Because you have a whole day of activity - whether it's with or without exercise - try to eat about 25 percent of your daily calories at your morning meal. That meal should include protein, healthy fat an fiber-rich carbs like fruit. A British study found that exercisers who ate a breakfast high in fiber burned twice as much fat during workouts later in the day than those who at less fibrous foods.
For a power breakfast that'll sustain you well into the day, try two eggs any style; 1/2 cup whole oats, cooked; 6 oz. Greek non-fat yogurt; a cup of mixed berries; and 1 cup coffee or tea.FALLACY #6: You Can Eat the Same at Age 40 as Age 20
Muscle is the engine that powers you through your day and exercise, but it also drives your calorie-burning metabolism. The more lean tissue and muscle you have, the more calories you burn and the leaner you stay. As we age, we naturally lose muscle and thus gain fat. Exercise and strength training in particular help prevent that loss, but the right foods are more important for muscle maintenance than most people realize. Because of age-related kidney changes, our blood becomes more acidic and we excrete nitrogen, as essential component of muscle protein, faster than we take it in. Therefore, we essentially end up peeing away our muscles. Alissa's Suggestion
Prevent nitrogen loss and preserve muscle mass by increasing the alkalinity of your blood to neutralize the acidity. One way method of doing this is to take supplements such as greens
, but you can also eat foods that enhance alkaline. Fruits and vegetables are the only foods that offer a net increase. Fats and oils are neutral. All other foods, including grains, legumes and meats, have an acid-producing effect. If you don't get most of your carbs from fruits and vegetables, you're losing muscle mass as well as calcium from your bones, which also gets leached away in an acidic environment as you age.FALLACY #7: You're Never Hungry...or You're Always Hungry
Most diets treat hunger as the enemy. But it's actually the key to your success. Once you start the fat-reduction process, you'll be a little hungry, but not starving. This is true, but only when it's getting close to the time to have another meal or snack. The trick is to balancing the two, so you're losing weight, but not setting yourself up for a binge. Alissa's Suggestion
Try to eat every 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Eat breakfast, then wait until you feel hungry and eat just until you're no longer hungry. If it has been 3 or 3 1/2 hours and you're not feeling particularly hungry, eat a little something such as a few nuts and a few grapes, but not too much more. This will help to keep your metabolism burning and prevent you from overeating later when you DO feel hungry. Once you get the hang of it, weight loss and maintenance will be a breeze.
Alissa Robertson, MS, RD
Tis the season of food, food, and more food. How will you fare this Holiday season when it comes to maintaining your waist line?
It may seem hard to believe, but it is completely realistic to avoid the Holiday pounds we simply expect and regretfully accept each year. By practicing the following nutrition and wellness strategies, you will for possibly the first time in your life, breeze through the Holidays without having to revert to wearing your "fat clothes" or killing yourself at the gym.
It's ALL in Your Head
The first place to start is with your goals. Write down your goals on a piece of paper and commit to reading them out loud to yourself each day. Make sure to approach your goal(s) by saying I can rather than I can't.
Unfortunately, it is common for us to focus on the foods that we can't eat. It's not our fault since most diet and weight loss programs set this premise. We say to ourselves, I can't eat anything at any Holiday parties, I can't eat any of my favorite Holiday foods, or I can't have an alcoholic drink. We consistently deprive ourselves of everything, leading us to hate what we're doing and lose sight of our goals. It's not surprising that diets only last a few days for most of us before we simply cannot take it any more.
Fact: When you begin telling yourself I can't, you have already set yourself up for failure. You lose sight of your goals and lose the willpower to continue.
On the other hand, when you approach your goal(s) saying I can, you are mentally in a place to handle the challenges you WILL be faced with this Holiday season. Here are 3 ideas to be in a strong mental space to get through the Holidays:
- Focus on positive actions only.
Make sure to read your goals OUT LOUD every day. Rather than obsessing over the foods you can't eat this Holiday season, focus on all the positive and healthy choices you are making. Give yourself credit where credit is due! It's not what you do one time that makes you healthy or not healthy, it's what you do MOST OF THE TIME that matters most. Focus on moving your body. Take every opportunity to get some sort of exercise. Park your car further away, do sit-ups during commercial breaks, stretch while watching t.v., go for a walk, or maybe you can get to the gym. Every time you move your body, write it down. You'll be amazed at how having a focus on positive, healthy behaviors can empower you to keep going.
- Make preplanning a priority.
It is important to plan for the unexpected. If you're going to a Holiday party, eat a little something before you go. Bring a healthy dish that you will eat - you'll be surprised at how many other people will eat it too! Bring snacks in your purse or in your car so you'll always have a healthy option, regardless of where you are. Remind yourself of your goals prior to going out to eat or going to Holiday parties. Remind yourself that these foods are ALWAYS going to be available another time. Decide which foods are most important to you to have, and allow yourself to have a small amount of it. It is also important to schedule time to exercise. During this busy time of year, this is often put on the back burner. Make exercise a priority and schedule time EACH DAY to move your body.
- Reward yourself for positive action.
At the end of each day make sure to take the time to evaluate your day. Reward yourself for all the positive actions you took. Did you exercise? How were MOST of your food and beverage choices during the day? Did you read your goals? Did you drink water? Did you eat every 3 hours or so? Did you resist temptation or eat less of something you would normally have eaten more? Make sure you DO NOT use food as a reward. Reward yourself with new clothing, a book you've been wanting, a nap, a massage, or getting your hair or nails done.
It's all in your Belief - What you think about, you bring about!
It is as simple as this: If you tell yourself you won't gain weight this Holiday season, you truly won't. You believe in your goals, and most importantly, you believe in yourself.
Take the following steps to building a strong belief in yourself this Holiday season:
Identify your belief(s). Example: I won't gain weight this holiday season! I CAN do this! I want to be successful this Holiday season! I deserve to achieve my goals! I'm worth it!
Examine your belief(s) in more detail. Determine the reasons that it is important to you that you do not gain weight over the Holidays. Make a list of all the cons to gaining weight over the Holidays. How will it make you feel? How will you look? How will your clothing fit? How will gaining weight affect your family? What about your health? Re-visit this list and your goals each day through the Holiday season.
Create positive action through frustration. This means finding a way to disturb yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to try on clothing. Any of the following actions will work: trying on your bathing suit; looking at yourself naked in the mirror; putting on jeans that no longer fit, or any other clothing that you love, but that you simply cannot wear comfortably anymore. Do this frequently (at least once per week) to remind yourself why weight gain is not an option for you this year.
Take positive action. Start journaling your dietary intake and physical activity. Commit to yourself by writing your goals down and making your list of cons. Schedule the times during the week that you are going to exercise. Attend group fitness classes, meet with a personal trainer, schedule an appointment to meet with me to start off on the right track. The most important step is taking action. Once you've done this, the rest will simply fall into place.
Positive thoughts and a belief in yourself are the key to avoiding the Holiday pounds this season. Do yourself a favor and get started today!Healthy wishes,Alissa Robertson, MS, RDLifestyle Nutrition(802) firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you're younger, older, or somewhere in between, bone health should be on your radar. Having weak bones is not just an issue for older women. In fact, osteopenia (low bone mineral density) is being diagnosed in both younger women AND men - most often in lower weight individuals. So if you're an athlete who is lower in weight OR if you're a person who hasn't exercised regularly for quite some time, read on to learn how to protect your bone health!
There are a number of foods and nutrients that can boost your bone health and are shown to have protective benefits!
Lycopene - This phytonutrient is found in tomatoes, ketchup, tomato sauce, watermelon, canned tomato products (I suggest buying low-sodium), pink grapefruit, red peppers, apricots, and guava.
Flaxseed oil - Contains ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which may help to protect bone matrix formation and bone mineralization. Add to salad dressings, in your shakes, or into your oatmeal.
Protein - Choose at least 60 grams daily for women, and 80 grams for men. The amount varies based on your weight and how active you are. You will definitely need more if you strength train regularly. Choose lean protein sources such as: skinless chicken breast; skinless turkey breast; fresh fish; tofu; beans or lentils; veggie burgers; lean turkey burger; unsalted nuts or seeds; low or non-fat Greek or plain yogurt; eggs or egg whites; and peanut, almond, or soy butter (be careful with portions).
Calcium - 1,000 mg per day for those under age 50; 1,200 to 1,500 mg after age 50. Supplementation can be extremely beneficial as getting this amount of calcium from our foods is challenging.
Vitamin D - This vitamin is essential for calcium absorption – 600 IU per day up to age 70; 800 to 1,000 IU per day after age 70. These figures were updated just yesterday, however many health professional are of the opinion that the preventative dosage should be higher. I recommend supplementing with Vitamin D at least 2,000 IU per day up to age 70 (and up to 4,000 IU during the winter months) and 4,000 IU per day after age 70. This is especially important for those of us who live in the Northeast due to the fact that during the winter months, the sun is not strong enough for the skin to make vitamin D!
This may come as a surprise to you, but decreasing your grain intake can also be a beneficial step in protecting your bone mass! Researchers at Tufts recently found that breads, cereal, rice, pasta, tortillas, pastries, etc., release sulfuric acid when metabolized, which can add to the acid load, and may result in the body's breaking down of bone and muscle in order to neutralize the excess acid.
What CAN you eat, you ask? Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables! YUM!!! These foods are broken down to bicarbonate and add alkali to the body to help neutralize the acid. There are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from and so much you can do with them. I encourage you to try some that are new to you!How can you transfer this information to your every-day life?These tips and your motivation to live a healthier lifestyle will help you to keep your bones strong for a lifetime!
Alissa Robertson, MS RD
Lifestyle Management & Nutrition
Recent research has revealed a potential connection between nutrition and our genes. This new area of science is called nutritional genomics and is focused on how foods affect our genes, as well as how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to the consumption of foods. Experts are of the opinion that nutrition advice from dietitians will be based partly on an individual's genes. Only the future will tell!
How Do Your Genes Impact You?
As most of us know, we all inherit our genes from our parents, which determines how we look (including eye and hair color), as well as how our body functions. The study of genetics involves looking at how individual traits are inherited from our family members.
The current research is looking closely at our genes to learn how our health and behavior is influenced by them. We already know that our risks for many chronic diseases and health problems are increased when found in our parents and/or grandparents. An example of inherited health conditions is an intolerance to milk. Lactose intolerance is more common in African-American and Asian populations than in Caucasian populations. This has been linked to a common genetic trait in these populations. Although we know many health problems are inherited, the possible link between nutrition and our genes is not understood. While we know our genes play a role in our overall health and wellness, we also know that our health is greatly influenced by our lifestyle - diet, exercise, and habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking tobacco.
Can Diet Impact Your Genes?
Researchers are finding that our genes may determine how our diet, as well as your lifestyle, affect your health. What we eat can greatly influence cellular reactions in our body's tissues and organs. Diet and lifestyle-based habits may also contribute to the likelihood of developing chronic diseases. More research on the relationship between diet and genetics may help to explain individual differences in the development of disease. This research may also help us in determining how we can continue to prevent the onset of chronic disease.
There is no question that what we eat most often will always matter. Living a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, including regular forms of physical activity, managing stress, and proper supplementation is and will continue to be important for everyone - regardless of their genes. It is, however, very exciting that we will soon know more about the role of genes and our ongoing health and wellness.
Genetic testing is available in many doctors offices worldwide. Testing in these settings, however, can be extremely expensive and is often not covered by health insurance. I currently offer genetic testing in my practice through Gene SNP DNA Analysis. Through this technology, your health and lifestyle considerations can be addressed by examining your own unique, genetic makeup. The Gene SNP DNA Screening Analysis provides you with valuable information about the relationship between your genetic profile and your health. It is an affordable and extremely easy process, and the best part is that the results remain accurate throughout your entire life. This is because our genes don't change! You will receive a comprehensive action plan including: dietary recommendations; the types of exercises most beneficial for your body; recommended overall lifestyle changes; and personalized nutritional supplementation recommendations to support your health.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in some grains, especially wheat and is found in the following grains:
- Oats (possibly, the proportion of individuals with gluten sensitivity that are also sensitive to the storage proteins in oats is likely less than 1%)
Gluten is not found in the following grains:
- Rice (all varieties)
What you should know about gluten
Gluten intolerance is the most common food sensitivity disease of the intestine. It affects about 15% of the US population, although since many people are undiagnosed, it may be even higher.
Consuming gluten triggers an immune response in gluten-intolerant people.
When we swallow a food antigen (like gluten) the body goes to work fighting it. White cells recognize the antigens and destroy them. When the white cells are overwhelmed, inflammation results.
Short- and long-term effects
Initially, gluten intolerance can manifest as diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, uncomfortable stools, weight loss and malnutrition. Other inflammatory symptoms can also result. For an intolerant person, regularly consuming gluten will result in long-term damage, including intestinal scarring and nutrient malabsorption.
Chronic inflammation can atrophy and flatten the intestinal lining, which impairs digestion.
Gluten and other inflammatory proteins can weaken the intestinal wall by opening tight junctions.
When the intestinal lining is compromised, more food antigens can then cross the barrier and enter the bloodstream. Other pathogens get into general circulation. This causes the body to produce more antibodies, attempting to fight the antigens. It can also mean that depending on the pathogen, the body is more susceptible to harmful micro-organisms and unwanted invaders.
How do I know if I am intolerant?
Because these processes can trigger widespread effects throughout the body, it can often be challenging to diagnose gluten intolerance right away. Digestive upset is one of the most common and obvious symptoms; this can include gastric reflux (heartburn), bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
In addition, there can be other symptoms — often symptoms that we wouldn’t assume to be related to what we’ve eaten. However, if we understand gluten intolerance as a wide-ranging systemic inflammatory response, then this broad range of symptoms makes more sense. These can include:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion (e.g. low iron levels)
- Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)
- Aching joints
- Depression, anxiety, irritability and other behavioural changes
- Eczema and skin rashes
- Chronic fatigue and low energy
- Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
- Cramps, tingling and numbness (often due to vitamin B12 malabsorption)
- Slow infant and child growth
- Decline in dental health
- Asthma and allergies
- Food cravings, especially for baked goods and sweets
Since your body makes antibodies in response to what it sees as a harmful invader, testing the serum for antibodies can identify most patients with a gluten allergy.
Not everyone has an allergic reaction to gluten. Some may simply have a sensitivity to it. Individuals with a sensitivity to gluten may find that gluten-containing foods cause bloating, water retention, anheighten food cravings, particularly sugar and carbohydrate-laden foods. A gluten-free diet may lead to increases in beneficial gut bacteria, and therefore aid in weight loss, decreases in food cravings and therefore lead to better self-control over food choices.
Why is gluten so important?
North Americans eat prodigious amounts of grains. In 1967, consumption of gluten-containing grains was 115 pounds per person. In 2003, it reached 139 pounds.
Gluten intolerance appears to be more prevalent in people of white European descent.
The estimated prevalence of gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) or celiac disease (CD):
- In the general U.S. population: 1 in 133
- In African-, Hispanic, and Asian-Americans: 1 in 236
- Worldwide: 1 in 266
It’s been shown that gluten can be addictive. In Food Addicts Anonymous, wheat is actually put in the same category as sugar and flour.
Summary and recommendations
- If you suspect an allergy or severe intolerance to gluten, contact your physician and set up testing.
- If avoidance of gluten is warranted, begin doing a kitchen audit. Get rid of gluten-containing foods and start keeping a dietary log to note what you are eating and how you feel.
- If you don’t have any type of sensitivity to gluten, it may still be beneficial to diversify grain use when possible. Rotating grains may prevent the development of any sensitivity along with diversifying your nutrient intake. Still, incorporating some grains with gluten is probably fine.
Hidden Gluten-containing foods
Gluten can also be found in:
- Modified food starch
- Soy sauce
- Medications & supplements
- Other processed foods