Category Archives: Nutrition Info

Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming (Book Review)

childs-weightEvery parent and dietitian should read Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.  Ellyn Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist, and is considered to be the leading expert on feeding and raising healthy kids.

In the book, Satter refutes the idea that parents must force their children to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.  In the long run, this technique backfires, as children become preoccupied with food and turned off to physical activity.  Rather, Ellyn coaches parents to feed well, parent well, and allow children to grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

For a summary of the books main points, read on, or click here for a PDF summary from Satter herself.

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How to Snack at the Office

Top-12-Best-Healthy-SnacksSnacking can help you stay energized and prevent overeating at your next meal.  But chips, candy and soda contain “empty calories,” meaning short-lasting energy and virtually no nutritional value.  Here are some healthy snack ideas to fuel your workday.

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Better Health in Your Own Backyard

Anyone who has ever eaten a freshly picked fruit or vegetable will agree: there is nothing as satisfying or delicious as garden-fresh produce. And with spring finally here, there’s no better time to start a vegetable garden so that you too can enjoy the fruits of this season’s bounty.  To learn how to pick, plant, and prosper from your very own vegetable garden, just follow the tips below.

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EurAsian Secrets to a Healthy Lifestyle

How do individuals living in Asian and European countries maintain good health without sacrificing great-tasting foods? The secret is… they don’t diet. Instead, they embrace food as fuel and eat real, whole foods that are packed with nutrients. Here are some key tips from both cultures to help you live a little healthier.

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100 Nutrition Tips

Today, I have reached a blogging landmark: my 100th post!  In honor of this occasion, I have decided to share with you 100 nutrition tips. Each tip is from one of my previous posts, starting with my very first post and working up to today.  Each tip’s number links back to the original post.  If you see a tip you like and want to read more, just click on the number.  Enjoy!

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Coo-Coo for Coconuts?

You may have heard some buzz lately about the nutritional benefits of coconuts.  Is there any truth to the hype?  Read on to find out…

Coconut Oil

Currently, the jury is still out on whether coconut oil is good or bad for you. For years, experts have been advising people to minimize their consumption of saturated fats. Although olive oil and other unsaturated plant oils are generally considered to be healthier sources of fat, new research suggests that the saturated fat found in coconut oil may be healthier than other saturated fats.

The fatty acids contained in coconut oil are made up primarily of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) whereas animal-based saturated fat sources (like those found in beef or cheese) are comprised of long-chain triglycerides (LCT). Researchers have found that MCTs are more easily metabolized than LCTs and virgin coconut oil has not been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels. Long-term research is needed to determine whether coconut oil, like other saturated fats, raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Coconut water

Coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, does not contain any of the saturated coconut oils described previously.  Coconut water has been become popular recently as a natural substitute for energy drinks because it contains sugars, water, electrolytes, and more potassium than Gatorade. Additionally, coconut water contains healthy compounds like selenium, which has been shown to fight cancer in laboratory research.

In fact, a 1996 study by Dr. Larry Clark of the University of Arizona showed just how effective selenium may be in protecting against cancer. In this study of 1,300  people with histories of skin cancer, the occurrence of cancer among those who took supplements of selenium daily was reduced by 35% compared to those given a placebo. Cancer deaths for those taking the selenium were cut almost in half, according to the study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Conclusion

In conclusion, coconuts have some excellent nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation.  You won’t see me going “coo-coo” for coconuts, but you can bet I’ll enjoy a fresh one next time I’m in Hawaii.

This article with written with assistance from Katrina Evans, a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. She enjoys making a difference in people’s lives, and is especially passionate about helping others prevent cancer.  Katrina is a “fruit junkie” who also enjoys reading, staying fit, and listening to podcasts.

Whole Foods for Better Health

Nutrition advice can seem confusing, but in reality, it can usually be boiled down to one simple piece of advice: Enjoy a variety of whole foods for better health.

What are “whole foods?”

Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, with minimal processing and refinement.  Foods created by mother nature contain countless nutritional benefits, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Foods created by humans in a laboratory (processed foods) contain only a few of those nutrients, and usually a great deal more of unhealthy additives, such as sodium, trans fat, preservatives, and added sugar.

Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods

The below list shows some examples of whole foods vs. processed foods.  The best, whole food choices are in the left-hand column.  The more processed the food, the fewer nutrients and greater number of unhealthy added ingredients it contains.

Whole Food Processed Food Highly Processed Food
Apple Apple juice Apple-flavored fruit chew
Baked potato Instant mashed potato French fries, potato chips
Brown rice White rice Rice-a-Roni
Chicken breast Chicken deli meat Chicken nuggets
Corn Corn flakes, tortilla chips Soda (contains high fructose corn syrup)
Edamame (soybeans) Soy protein powder Energy bar, margarine (partially hydrogenated soybean oil)
Nuts Roasted, salted nuts Nutter Butter cookie
Oatmeal Instant oatmeal Chewy oatmeal bar
Whole grain pasta Regular (refined) pasta Ramen noodles
Whole wheat flour White flour Donut, cupcake

Finding Whole Foods

Check the list of ingredients:  In general, healthier food products contain a short list of ingredients that sound like food (and not like chemicals).  Healthy ingredients to look for include: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and skim milk.  Ingredients to watch out for include: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and enriched flour.  Keep in mind that some of the healthiest food items do not contain nutrition labels at all, like fruits and vegetables!

Find a farmer’s market: Visit your local farmers market for some of the best-tasting whole foods on the planet.  Visit http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/ for market times and locations.

Enjoying Whole Foods

If you are accustomed to eating highly processed foods, it may take a little while for you to learn to appreciate the taste of whole foods.  Your taste-buds are likely used to intensely sweet or salty flavors, rather than the subtle  complexities of whole foods.  Hang in there!  The average life-span of a taste-bud is 3 weeks. You can train your taste-buds to appreciate whole foods.  Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Spice it up!  Spices can add flavor and nutrition to food.  Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamom, mace or nutmeg bring out the sweetness in whole foods.  Black pepper, garlic, curry, cumin, basil, ginger, and onion can replace salt and bring out savory flavors.
  • Try new cooking methods:  Cooking whole foods (like fruits and vegetables) can bring out their natural sweetness.  Experiment with multiple cooking methods and recipes before deciding that you dislike a food.   Try foods grilled, poached, steamed, roasted, baked, or sauteed.  Some examples include:
    • Grilled peaches, apples or pears sprinkled with cinnamon
    • Steamed green beans drizzled with olive oil and toasted almonds
    • Eggplant and zucchini stewed in tomato sauce or pesto
    • Roasted corn on the cob
    • Mixed Asian vegetables sauteed with garlic and ginger
  • Keep it convenient: Eating whole foods doesn’t have to be time-consuming or inconvenient.  Try some of these time-saving whole foods and cooking techniques:
    • Pre-chopped vegetables for stir-fry
    • Whole fruit and nuts: easy grab-and-go snacks that require no prep-work
    • Quick-cooking oatmeal or instant (par-boiled) brown rice
    • Whole-grain bread for sandwiches or toast
    • Bagged salad kits
    • Fish filets and chicken breast cook in minutes on a George Foreman grill
    • Cook a large batch of soup, stew or chili and enjoy all week long

How do you find and enjoy whole foods?

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