Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Setting Your Kitchen up for Success

If you are like me, the nutrition gatekeeper of the family, it can be a challenge to get a good, nutritious meal on the table in a timely manner without too much stress. Being that I'm pretty organized I have developed a system that works for us. Here are some tips you can try.

  • Plan ahead! It takes about 10-15 minutes every week that you dedicate any day that is convenient for you. This dedicated time will save you a TON of stress & frustration during the week.
  • Raid the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. You probably have something that you can use to put together a menu, whether it's frozen hamburgers or leftover beans, you can always build a meal or side item from these. Use what you have on hand to prevent from wasting or over-buying.
  • Put together a menu for the week. At my house, I plan a dinner menu based on what we having going on during the week. I usually do this one day during the weekend, then I know what we will have for the entire week. I then jot down a few things we will have for breakfast and lunch as needed. I don't get as specific with the days for these because it's easier for me to throw something together.
  • Jot down your grocery list based on what you will be cooking for the week. This way you are sure to have everything you need for your meals. It's also important to keep the grocery list accessible for everyone in the household to make additions as needed.
These are a few of my ideas to keep sanity in the house and food in the tummy. I'd love to hear what works for you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The School Year-A Time to Start Anew

It's that time of year again...time for early rises, quick breakfasts, homework, and enforced bedtimes. Next to the beginning of the year, embarking on a new school year is a favorite time for people to make a fresh start. This is a great time also take a look at your eating and cooking habits for the family. If you're stuck and fresh out of ideas, here are a few that can get your hungry for the change.

  • Take some time to plan. Although it sounds like one more thing to add to your to-do list, a few minutes of thinking about the week as a whole can allow for the daily meal planning  to go much smoother. The most likely time to plan meals is before you head to the grocery store. Check out what you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to find out what you already have and plan a meal around your staples.
  • Keep a stash of your "tried and true" favorite meals and all of the ingredients needed to prepare them in one designated area. I keep an envelope with index cards of my favorite meals and all ingredients needed to near my kitchen. When I'm drawing a blank on what to cook I can always go my envelope and quickly find what I need to add to my grocery list.
  • Consider preparing the core of a meal in bulk. One of my favorite things to do is buy ground beef in large amounts and break it down into smaller portions. I will make mini-meatloafs and freeze in disposable containers, or roll out some meatballs and flash freeze to use for spaghetti, meatball stew, or meatball sandwiches.  I also like to buy chicken and cut into pieces and freeze individually. I will even make my own chicken nuggets when I get ambitious. In doing this I will spend a couple of hours in the kitchen when preparing them, but I know I will buy quality meat and add the ingredients I want, instead of the manipulated pre-packaged food products sold in the grocery stores.
  • Use the weekends to prepare for the week. Our breakfast options on the weekend are usually a little better than during the week. While there's no time to prepare French toast, egg casserole, or my favorite banana eggs during the week, I can make a larger portion to be stored in the fridge to use during the week. Then I can just pop them in the toaster oven or microwave for a quick, but nutritious breakfast during the week.
  • Remember the slow cooker! It's the most wonderful feeling to get home from a full day of work and walk into supper already prepared! You can keep it simple, such as dried beans (if you soak them the night before you can pop them in the slow cooker with some meat, onions, bell peppers, garlic, bay leaf, and your seasonings of choice to cook all day), spaghetti, or pot roast-but the options are truely limitless. Throw in some veggies when you get home to prevent them from over cooking.
  • Be creative! If you hear of an ingredient that you've never used, get ambitious and try a new recipe. It may be exactly what you or your family needs when the week starts to get monotonous.
As a wife and mom, I feel an unwritten responsibility to have quality meals available to nourish my family to prepare them for day-to-day life. While I take this seriously I try to make this an adventure rather than a chore. Sometimes it's easier than others.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Synergy of Real Foods

For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to be a dietitian. There's something about food that fascinates me-I like to grow food, learn about food, cook food, talk about food, and of course-eat food. It wasn't too long ago that I realized that I got a traditional "dietetics" education and learned the way conventional science studies food, which is in parts. In the quest for science to be able to provide the "answers" we are looking for (for weight loss, prevention of heart disease, treatment of diabetes, improved mental function, and the list goes on and on) everything is broken down in to its parts.

macronutrients: carbohydrates-sugar, fiber, fructose, sucrose; protein-complete, incomplete; fat-saturated, unsaturated, mono, poly, omega-3, trans, cholesterol
micronutrients: vitamins-A, C, D, E, B (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, folic acid); minerals-potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium
antioxidants: glutathione, tocopherol, ascorbic acid
phytochemicals:flavanoids, isoflavones, carotenoids, lycopene

The more science thinks it knows about the breakdown of food the more researchers feel like they can isolate the one thing that will magically cure or prevent "the problem." However, "the problem" is that we are not looking at the big picture. All of these nutrients work synergystically together. And the closer a food is to it's natural state, the better the community of nutrients can work together. We have been told to throw out egg yolks because they have too much cholesterol, however when you do that you are also getting rid of the lutein and carotenoids, and all of the fat-soluble vitamins; A, D, E, & K. And don't forget the saturated fat. It's hugely beneficial when it has other nutrients to work with.

The point is this-most real foods have a variety of properties, but they all work together. Once we begin to remove or add nutrients to a food when it doesn't really belong we are manipulating the synergistic properties and that's just messing with nature. Mother nature will always win.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diet Shmiet

I was watching the news last week and they were talking about the newest diet fad. This one wasn't about selling a specific program, or injecting hormones + limiting to 500 calories per day (who wouldn't lose weight by eating only 500 calories), or eliminating foods, nope the newest diet fad is eating baby food. Yes, you read it correctly, eating baby food is the newest diet fad because, according to the promoters baby food is full of vitamin, has little or no additives, and teaches portion control. REALLY?? Our society has gone loco when it comes to losing weight. It's become acceptable to eliminate groups of naturally grown foods, or eat only at certain times all because "they" said it would work. Well, who are they? 

Believe it or not, there is a better way. They body is designed to tell us when we need food, but you have to listen. Listen to what your body is telling you and use those cues to decide how you will address it. You also have to learn to accept the decisions you make with food.  Rather than judging the signals your body gives by saying "I shouldn't be hungry;" or ridiculing the decisions you make by saying "I shouldn't be eating this" maybe you can treat yourself the way you would treat a child who is learning a new skill. Take a deep breath and have some patience with yourself.

These concepts are very simple to say, but a little more difficult to put into practice. Join me for the Love Your Food Workshop where we will dive into this a little deeper and pave the way for you to use your body signals as a guide for making food choices that you enjoy. As Dr. May would say, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting to Know Yourself

For as long as I can remember, even as a child, I've always had an interest in food. Not only in the nutritional content, but why we choose the foods we do, and then how that affects other aspects of our life. I began studying this in high school, then college and my internship and I've been passionate about it since.

The single most important thing I've learned through all of my research an studying is that to begin to understand your patterns, cravings, and desires around food you must first know yourself. Yep, I said it and it sounds so simple and common sensical, yet so many people live day to day without thinking about themselves on any level.

Throughout the years I've learned many things about myself when I stop to pay attention. I know that if I don't get enough sleep (such as last night when I was up with my sick child several times) it has a HUGE effect on what I choose to eat the next day. I've also learned that if I wait to exercise in the afternoon, it doesn't happen-I do much better getting up early before the rest of the family gets up. It gives me time to myself that I thoroughly enjoy. Most recently I've started meditating, and I've noticed a tremendous difference in my patience. I am more patient when driving, when convincing my son why he has to brush is teeth, and also more patience with my husband who has a tendency to talk alot once he gets started.

Occasionally I feel like I have more about myself that I need to learn, and now is one of those times. I've been feeling like there's a part of me I don't quite know well enough. After you stop to pay attention to yourself, the next step is to write it down or journal what's going on. For many years I avoided journaling because I thought it was too intense and too much to do. However I realized that my journal can be whatever I want it to be. So here I go again. I'm starting my journal, this time keeping track of how certain foods affect me (I'm interested in sugar specifically), gratitude, and a few other things. As a food coach, I am here to keep you accountable and now you can do the same for me. I'll keep you posted on what I learn this time.

I'd love to hear about your journaling journey. Feel free to share things you've learned about yourself or ask questions to get you started. It can be very informative and liberating all at the same time! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Process of Change

Change...a word that many fear because of the unknown. I find it so interesting that although you may not be happy with a situation-your job, your relationship, your health, your weight-you keep doing the same thing over and over because it's comfortable. Then once the idea of change becomes inevitable, you want it to happen as quickly as possible so you don't have to endure the pains of change. 

However, change is part of life, it's what lets us know we are alive.  Change allows caterpillars to morph into magnificent butterflies; change allows a bud to blossom into a stunning flower; change can also provide you with invaluble learning opportunties for your own experience and growth. 

So the next time you think about something you want to change, I challenge you come to terms with the part of your life, look it in the eye, and and say BRING IT ON! Then take advantage of this opportunity to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Men's Health Week

As I've grown older my dad and I have a very different relationship than when I was a child, obviously. But around this time every year I begin to think about all of the ways he has contributed to my life. It was my dad who was my role model to become a runner, I attribute my timeliness and partial perfectionism to him, and just the other day I found the hand written step-by-step directions of how to change a tire (he insisted I have this in my car before I left for college).

So for the week leading up to Father's Day, which has been established as Men's Health Week, I'm pondering how to give back to my dad. I want to give him something that will keep him around for a while. Here are a few ideas I've come up with...

  • A certificate for us to spend time together. I live about an hour away from my dad, so we have to plan our time and it often gets overlooked. If he has a certificate it will be a reminder for us to get together and just hang out.
  • An electric toothbrush. He is just like many other men, he loves electronics! An electric toothbrush is an electronic gadget that is worth paying for. The road to a healthy body begins with the teeth.
  • A massage. Although he would NEVER ask for a massage, or probably admit that he would enjoy it, I think it's a great way to relax and allow the body to get rid of some toxins.
  • A hand grip strengthener. It sounds a little strange, but I think he would enjoy it. Also, I've recently read it can lower blood pressure in addition help with a firm handshake.
I encourage you also to make this year a tribute to your father's health. Rather than purchasing specialty beer or discounted meals at local restaurant, find something that will keep him kicking for a while.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Creating Your Day

This is a poem my husband, Jonathan, wrote a few years ago about creating your day. He stumbled upon it again recently and I thought I would share.

I think of the smell of fresh cut grass in the morning as I wake
It reminds me of  starting anew, accepting no determined fate
I smile and think another day, stretching and rolling in bed
If I need another thought of joy, I just conjure one up in my head

To some it seems, not I, their blood, is always at flow
I need some action to get myself going, to shake off dampening slow

As I ride, or run, or walk, or play, I think of what I will paint today
Not just the contents of breakfast, not just the smoothness of employ
Not just a guess, not a round-about wish, no reason to be coy

My breakfast will give me energy, so much I can give it away
I’ll eat every bite, savor its flavor, and intentionally start my day

Something at work will surprise me.  I don’t know what it will be.
All day it will keep me excited.  Not matter the size, it’s for me.
I’ll also receive a compliment, so I may receive a correction
Whatever it takes, I’ll take it today and tomorrow can be that much better

I’ll also be kind and grateful, more to those in need
More to mean and bitter, I’ll be grateful I’ll plant a seed
There is so much to which I am grateful, so much to think of it all.
The air, each other, knowledge, power, a pet, a friend, sex, lights, and water.
Soothing music, cozy blankets, dancing, parties, plants, and planets.
Movies, colors, shade, wind, rain,
Food, festivals, my imaginative brain.
I can go on… shall I not?  I can go on and rarely stop.

This day is for me, I’ll conjure it all, I’ll do it and no one around me will fall.
I’ll lift every spirit that touches with mine, it happens with barely a mention.
This day is for me, no one else is to blame, all it takes is a little intention.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vacationing in the mountains

If you are headed to the mountains this summer, I have to say I am envious! Being in southern Louisiana we don't see mountains or even hills unless we are making a point to find them. A mountain view is so refreshing for the heart and soul; a great time to relax and stretch your mind and body. A vacation in the mountains is the perfect opportunity to spend a little time with yourself-listen to peace & quiet and revitalize your sense of well-being.  You can take advantage of the unique outdoor experiences, such as hiking, horse-back riding, and fishing, and if you're of the brave, white water rafting or kayaking. These things truly nourish the soul. 

When you want to nourish your body here are a few tips to keep in mind...
Experience what the local fare has to offer. Whether it's a roast elk tenderloin or freshly caught fish, just enjoy! Give yourself permission to eat foods you don't typically have available to you. Allowing yourself to eat these great foods without judgement and guilt will have an affect on how you digest your food.

Stick with the menu options. Even if a buffet is available, use the menu to find one thing really can't resist and go for it. Keep in mind you don't have to eat everything on your plate and it's okay to leave a restaurant satisfied but not stuffed, which I call "pleasantly plump."

Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1 oz of water for every 2 pounds in body weight. Don't confuse water with soft drink (even diet ones), iced tea, sports drinks, coffee, you get the picture. Water is water and that's what your body needs for hydration.

Relax. Allow yourself time to re-energize! Most importantly, have fun!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane?

The weekend is fast approaching! If you are headed out of town by way of flying, inevitably you will spend a chunk of time in an airport. Self-entertainment in the airport and on the jet plane are somewhat limited-I mean, you can read a good book, catch up on gossip magazines, catch a few zzzz's, or find something to eat. If eating is on your agenda, let's explore a few ways to keep your wellness in check.

Of course a plan is always a good idea. Keep a few snacks in your carry-on so you can have easy access to something you "approve." Some ideas could be a Zydeco bar, some toasted pumpkin seeds, dried chickpeas, or if you are brave throw some edamame in there.

If you are looking for something at the airport grab a boiled egg and throw some hot sauce on it (that's one of my favorite snacks). You can also look for some fruit or a little salad if you need a snack. If your stomach is growling and you are more in need of a meal, consider a slice or two of thin-crust pizza. Of course, you have to obey The Pizza Rule-for every meat you have, you must also have a veggie. Another option for a meal would be an omelet, which The Pizza Rule would also apply. Deli sandwiches are also usually pretty easy to come by, but bypass the chips.

The last time I was on a plane they were charging for the snacks, and it the price was ridiculous! That made it easy to pass on the junk food they offer. Unless it's just good ole' roasted peanuts, the snacks usually have little nutritional value. If you can't say no, you can always tilt your head back, close your eyes, and pretend like you are sleeping, the flight attendants won't even ask if you are sleeping. If you feel compelled to get a beverage, as I always do, water is a fave or better yet, sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice.  And if you decide you want to start your vacation early with an adult beverage on the plane, red wine is likely the best option.

Wherever you are headed have a great time!