Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
Are you confused when it comes to foods labeled “healthy”? So many foods sound like they’re good for you, but combining terms like “natural” and “organic” with appealing photos, can often derail a healthy eating program.
I’d like to share some of my food product pet peeves. These products are everywhere and I’d like to set the record straight with a few of the biggest offenders. I hope you’ll post some of your own!
Yogurt-Covered Raisins: These are about as far as you can get from yogurt. The high-sugar coating of the raisins provides no value-added, only calories. If you don’t want plain raisins, just grab a tiny handful. These are not a better choice than a serving of chocolate-covered raisins. Ditto for the yogurt-covered pretzels.
Vegetable Chips: Don’t be fooled by the pictures of colorful fresh veggies on the package. Inside are fried veggies – with very little nutritional value. After all – potato chips and corn chips are also “veggie chips”. These are salty, high-fat calorie bombs – and not a vegetable alternative. If you eat them, know they’re just a salt/fat treat – and watch those portions!
Spinach or Tomato Pasta: While you might think these provide a serving of a vegetable along with the pasta, these “colored” pastas have very little actual vegetable content. Enough to color, but not to nourish. Keep your portion to one-cup, and don’t over-indulge thinking you’re making a better choice. Better to look for a whole wheat version than a “veggie” version.
Fruit Rolls: Whether in nuggets, strips, or rolls, most of these versions are fruit-juice based, and not the equivalent of serving of fruit – despite the picture of fruit on the package. And they’re pricy – often more expensive than a piece of fruit (especially the organic varieties). Read the labels carefully – some versions DO contain only concentrated dried fruits – and you’ll know from the price! While these are fine as a treat, avoid using these as a fruit replacement.
So – what other health food imposters have you come across?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
A fitness term used frequently is “core strength”. I’m often asked what this means. Many people are afraid to ask this question and it’s an important one.
When you understand the meaning of core strength, you’ll immediately understand why it’s an important foundation to good health and overall fitness.
Your core is your body’s “trunk” – the area between your shoulders and your hips – that supports your arms, legs, head and neck! Two major parts of a strong core are your abdominal muscles, and upper and lower back muscles. The back muscles are the areas where most people struggle.
Core strength is more than just a set of six-pack abs. While that’s a goal for many, strong back muscles are often neglected and become an area that is easily strained. So, what to do if you don’t go to a gym, have a trainer, or make time for a Pilates class?
One easy solution: sit up straight (Mom was right!). Good posture is the single easiest and most economical way to start strengthening your core. When you sit straight, you are forced to hold your stomach in (working those abs) while boosting the back muscles to keep you erect. Become a “mindful sitter” and you’ll notice improvements within several weeks. This extends to walking too! Stop slouching and stand up straight (Mom was right again!).
Not sure how to do this? Try these two ways to visualize (1) imagine a string pulling you from up above, like a marionette, to keep you erect; or (2) imagine your fist, pushing against your lower back, to maintain the curve. Be aware and you’ll stop slouching in no time!
If you like gadgets try sitting on an exercise ball, which forces you to sit up straight to maintain your balance (good for your core) or try the desk-chair version, which is a small pillow-like disk, that achieves the same thing in the workplace. You’ll find versions of these everywhere from Wal-Mart and Target to Brookstone.
What do you do for core strength? Share your thoughts!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
While strolling down the dairy aisle of your local market, you'll notice some new products in the milk section. One of the most popular of these new "milk substitutes", as they're called, is almond milk (others include rice, coconut and soy). Around since the late '90s, almond milk is not a milk product at all - hence the name "substitute". Almond milk is made from crushed roasted almonds mixed with water, vitamins, stabilizers, and sometimes sweeteners. When it comes to calories, almond milk is a bargain with 60 calories per 8 ounce cup, with a delightful nutty, sweet taste that can be used any time you'd use regular cow's milk.
Almond milk is fortified with calcium and vitamin D, so you'll get the vitamin/mineral benefits of cow's milk whenever you use it. One big difference: almond milk is very low in protein (just 1 gram per cup), compared to the sizeable protein content in cow's milk (about 8 grams per cup).
Almond milk can be a big plus if you're lactose intolerant; or if you simply want to try something new and different to give your taste buds a treat. Two of the most popular refrigerated brands are Blue Diamond "Almond Breeze" and Silk Pure Almond. You'll find other boxed varieties, specially packaged for stability at room temperature, on store shelves everywhere.
So, if you'd like to introduce a different kind of "milk" into your eating plan, give almond milk a try!
Are there other almonds milk lovers out there? Let me know!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
We’ve all done this from time to time. This “secret eating” is done from guilt, and a sense that we “shouldn’t be eating”. And why? We feel judged by others, believing that if we eat in private, than “no one will know.” It’s not at all connected to physical hunger.
Secret eating is a major reason for diet self-sabotage. But I’ve found some strategies that really work to help combat secret eating, and break through that barrier to success. See if these help you!
- Give yourself permission to eat – then it’s not “secret” anymore! Spoiler alert: you’ve got to pre-plan your eating to stay in control.
- Keep a food log to see when you’re most likely to secret eat, and what you typically choose. Be specific - not just "sweets", but is it a chocolate bar? cookies? This helps personal accountability.
- Make a list of your favorite "secret foods". Think about some lower calorie alternatives that will satisfy, but not trigger, overeating.
- Learn to manage stress without food. This is tough, and takes a lot of thought and experimentation. Strategies range from keeping your hands busy (clean out a drawer, learn to knit) to keeping your mouth busy with non-food activities (chewing sugarless gum, drinking herbal tea, or water).
"Secret eating" is a common symptom of weight loss struggles that can be managed and resolved, once it is recognized.
What are some of your own strategies? I’d love to hear them!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Red meat has long been a food of confusion. Is it truly healthy and a plus for weight loss? If so, how much red meat and what kind of red meat do you really need to eat to reap its benefits? Or is it a high cholesterol, artery clogging nightmare? Truthfully, red meat can be an important part of a healthy eating plan.
There are 25+ cuts of meat that are low in artery clogging saturated fats. While all red meat contains some saturated fat, a substance which can boost LDL (bad) cholesterol over time, choosing lean cuts can help keep your cholesterol levels in check. Look for terms like “ultra-lean”, “round”, and “sirloin” because those are the cuts lowest in artery clogging fats found in red meat. Choose lean cuts like flank steak, top round, and sirloin tips with a much lower fat content. For ground meats, look for a maximum of 10% fat (90% lean).
You should skip meats with visible fat and marbling, as well as processed, high fat meats like salami and sausage that contain high amounts of saturated fat.
Trying to trim down? Red meat is an excellent source of complete, high quality protein It’s chock full of essential amino acids to build muscle and support a healthy brain. Protein keeps you fuller longer and negates nibbling later. Red meat is also a solid source of vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc and vitamin B12 – healthful nutrients many people (especially women) are often deficient in. A five-ounce serving of lean beef provides about half your protein needs for a day!
But what about the worry of red meat and heart problems? Heart disease has multiple genetic and lifestyle causes, but too much red meat can be bad for your heart if you choose poorly. High fat red meats, including marbled cuts with visible fat and ground and processed meats with greater that 10% fat can raise blood LDL (bad) cholesterol and lead to artery clogging heart disease, as well as contribute to high blood pressure. As I mentioned above, stick with moderate servings (4-5 ounces) of lean meats like flank steak, ground sirloin, and round steak, and cut down how often you consume them each week (no more than 2-3 times).
My bottom line? When it comes to red meat consumption, the old “everything in moderation” message rings true. If you choose lean and ultra-lean varieties, and cut down your portions (4-5 ounces) and how often you eat it (3 or fewer times a week), red meat can be a healthful part of any diet. Think of red meat as a “side dish,” to support a plant-based colorful plate!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
Never heard of vitamin L? It’s not a nutrition term. Vitamin L stands for “love” – as in “learn to love yourself”. Sometimes all you need is a little vitamin L to help stay on track.
When it comes to losing weight, we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We can be VERY hard on ourselves and that can lead to stress and falling off the lifestyle wagon. It’s hard to lose weight! You need to learn to treat yourself right by having realistic expectations of what you’re both willing and able to do. This sets you up for success and avoids disappointment.
It’s hard to make the mental adjustment of being kind to yourself and we are often out own worst enemy and harshest critic. Try these ideas for a boost of Vitamin L:
- Make a list of 10 qualities you admire in yourself. And no, that’s not too many! Think about how some of those same qualities can help your weight loss effort.
- Identify one healthy activity you can do each day. It might be eating five fruits and vegetables one day, or walking for 30 minutes another day.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Whether it’s a less than perfect food choice, or falling off the exercise wagon, don’t get down on yourself. Evaluate why you had some trouble and learn from it.
- Don’t make your weight part of your self-love evaluation. You are the same person no matter what size package you’re in. This takes a lot of mental energy, but once achieved you are liberated.
What ar some other sources of Vitamin L? Please share your thoughts!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
This Sunday, most of us will be cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers from the comfort of our homes. When it’s Super Bowl Sunday, you can count on a lot of party foods. And we all have our traditional favorites.
My fellow nutrition expert at the Health Plan, Sandy Carpenter, told me some hilarious Super Bowl food-consumption statistics for Americans I’d like to share with you.
· 150 billion calories eaten
· 28 million pounds of potato chips crunched
· 8 million pounds of guacamole dipped
· 8 million pounds of popcorn munched
· 1 billion chicken wings nibbled
· 325 million gallons of beer consumed
Here are some of my favorite tips to enjoy your favorite game day foods and not lose control.
· Remembering just two words - mindful eating – can make a BIG difference in staying on track. Try not to think about the party foods as “good” or “bad” – think of them as foods you “taste” and those you “freely eat”. Let the calorie content be your guide – you know the drill!
· For the high calorie treats – anything from wings to nachos to pizza – allow yourself a small serving so you’re not feeling deprived. That often leads to eating hundreds of extra “healthy” calories (think nuts), that you don’t really want!
· Pay attention to your liquid calories – alcoholic or not! These calories aren’t sensed by our bodies very well, and they’re “invisible” add-ons to what we’re eating.
· Are you an excitable fan? Keep that “hand to mouth” action going with a plate of raw veggies, instead of high calorie chips and nuts. Mindful eating usually goes out the window when we’re caught up in the drama of the game.
Go Steelers! (and burn a few calories waving your terrible towel!).
Post away with your own favorite tips!!
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I’ve found that good support can make any weight loss effort easier. We all know that the foundation of successful weight loss is eating less and moving more. But the problem is doing it consistently!
What happens when it’s a struggle to do it every day? That’s where a diet buddy can help your efforts – and a food “frenemy” can sabotage it.
Limit your time with food “ frenemies” or people who encourage you (however subtly) to go off your plan when you feel vulnerable. Do phrases like “it’s okay to overeat you’ve been so good” or “you deserve a break! Eat what you want because you’ve been working so hard” sound familiar? If so, raise your awareness here!
Choose a diet buddy you can count on. Check out these tips to make sure you’re choosing the right kind of buddy to support your effort. They’ve worked for me!
Five Top Qualities in a Diet Buddy:
(1) Someone with compatible goals
(2) Someone with similar amounts of weight to lose
(3) Someone with enjoyment of similar kinds of physical activity.
(4) Someone you see often
(5) Someone enjoying the same non-eating activities as you (like movies, or knitting)
What do you think about diet buddies and food frenemies? Have they made a difference to you? I’d love to know!