National Nutrition Month: Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

(Disclosure: Post Grape Nuts, KIND Snacks, Body Armor, National Frozen and Refrigerated Food Association, and Sunkist are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.)


March is National Nutrition Month which means it’s time to celebrate with the theme“bite into a healthy lifestyle”.  I’m thrilled to share these ideas — they’re easy, fun, and delicious and perfect for all occasions!

Check out my recent segment on Let’s Talk Live D.C. in the video clip and read on to get my tips and recipes you need to “bite into a healthy lifestyle” today!

Cook Once Eat All Week

Grape nuts crunchy oatmeal pancakes

Grape nuts crunchy oatmeal pancakes

Grape Nuts cereal has been nourishing us for over 100 years. A half-cup serving of Grape-Nuts cereal
is an excellent source of fiber, provides 100% of your day’s whole grains, and it’s high in iron. You know you can enjoy Grape Nuts with cold milk or warmed up – but did you know you can also cook with it?

Crunchy Oatmeal Grape Nuts pancakes are a huge hit with my family. I love making them once on the weekend and having left overs to enjoy during the busy week. There are lots of creative recipes for meals, appetizers, and snacks at GrapeNuts.com.

Brighten Meals With Citrus

Specialty citrus is in season right now through April. You can get lots of varieties like cara cara oranges, which offer 150% of your daily needs for vitamin C. Moro blood oranges have a beautiful distinctive red interior and hints of raspberry flavor, and Minneola Tangelo, which you can identify by the distinctive knob at the stemare an excellent source of both Vitamins C and Folate.

Sunkist minneola salsa over  grilled chicken thighs

Sunkist minneola salsa over grilled chicken thighs

If you’ve never had a Minneola tangelo, you’re in for a real treat. They are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, giving them a juicy, sweet and tangy flavor!

Try pairing fish, meats or grilled vegetables with minneola salsa – The salsa has oranges, roma tomatoes, onion and cilantro adding flavor and zest to ANY dish. I used grilled chicken thighs, but you could also use this salsa with fish or black beans and rice. Check out Sunkist.com for this recipe and more.

Make Your Homemade Meal Easy

Real food, frozen.

Real food, frozen.

We all know how hard it can be to get a wholesome, homemade meal on the table. When you’re in a dinner dilemma look in the frozen foods section where you’ll find REAL FOOD, frozen.

Butternut squash and sage ravioli from Evol, is prepared and FLASH frozen which locks in nutrients. Add color and nutrition with Green Giant Tuscan broccoli. These vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen, also locking in nutrients.

Real food, frozen

Real food, frozen

Let’s talk convenience. Start to finish, dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes and you don’t have to order take out, which can be pricey. Here you can be in charge of quality even if you don’t cook from scratch.

Frozen foods aisles have global flavors available too – lots of ethnic-inspired dishes for the types of cuisine your family enjoy. Visit EasyHomeMeals.com  to discover your next homemade favorite.

Do the KIND Thing

KIND healthy grains bars

KIND healthy grains bars

Try KIND Healthy Grains Bars. Granola bars made from ingredients you can see and pronounce.

With five super grains: Gluten Free Oats, Millet, Quinoa, Amaranth and Buckwheat,  KIND healthy grains granola bars have at least 18 grams of whole grains per bar, and a good source of fiber.

They have a chewy and crunchy texture for a satisfying snack morning or afternoon.

KIND is on a mission to inspire “KINDness” in our communities.You can go online and vote for your favorite socially impactful cause and KIND will give away $10,000 a month to the cause with the most votes. www.KINDsnacks.com

Upgrade Your Sports Drink

Spring sports have started (or will start soon). Parents will often ask me, what’s the best sports drink for my active child. If you are an athlete or have a very active child, you might benefit from more than just plain water during activity, especially if it’s over 60 minute

Potassium packed sports drink, no artificial ingredients.

Potassium packed sports drink, no artificial ingredients.

I recommend BodyArmor because it has no artificial ingredients and is low in sodium – unlike other sports drinks. BodyArmor has more potassium-packed electrolytes and vitamins that any other sports drink, and it’s made with coconut water.

Try 5 great tasting flavors like fruit punch, orange mango, grape, and strawberry banana. Pick it up at Target or retailers near you. www.DrinkBodyArmor.com


(Disclosure: Post Grape Nuts, KIND Snacks, Body Armor, National Frozen and Refrigerated Food Association, and Sunkist are TV clients of mine. I was not compensated to write this blog posts.)

 

 

 

Creating New Healthy Habits, Part 2

Change? Who has time for change?

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Now that we’re exiting February and approaching March, I have to ask, “how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along?” I’m sorry. I’m only half kidding…

We all have the best intentions when we create those resolutions, don’t we? Exercise more, eat less, sleep more, spend less, and the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that we are all want to do better! But so many of us just can’t seem to find the time or don’t know how to get started. (hint, the goals are way too unrealistic for your brain to go along for the ride).

So if you bagged on your resolutions already, that’s alright. You’re like the other 65% of Americans (probably higher than that). Now you are ready for the real change. Putting effort into habits that will stick with you.

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a podcast in which Dr. Christine Carter discusses eight steps to building healthy habits. If you haven’t read it yet, go back and read it. Do it now. I’ll wait.

In that blog, I covered Dr. Carter’s first four steps of her change process and also included a link to her second podcast, which includes the last four steps.

The more and more I thought about, though, I felt that just didn’t do the last four steps enough justice. So I’m going to discuss her last four steps here in more detail. Yeah, it’s THAT important!

So here they are: the last four steps in Part II of the podcast, Getting in Good Habits.

How to Change Your Habits (part 2)

 (5) Pick a super-easy first step. Now we aren’t talking about a goal like, “exercise more.” Because that is not only non-specific,  but it also can be super intimidating. So Dr. Carter suggests picking a teeny tiny first step, something that will literally take less than 30 seconds. And even if you’re tempted to jump to the next step immediately after this one, don’t!  Trust me – if you do this step over and over again, your brain will eventually recognize it as a new habit.

You can do it challenge: Decide what that “teeny tiny” first step will be. (and let me know about it in the comments) I challenge you to think what is the LEAST you can do to change the habit and work with that first then move on. 

For example, if you tend to eat when you aren’t hungry. Many of my clients deal with eating when bored, stressed, or feeling emotional on some level. Your first step should not be “stop emotional eating” (LOL!) If you knew how to do it, you would already be there. But the first step may be. Spend 30 seconds thinking about the choice, asking if I am hungry, bored, or just interested in eating. Asking would I eat this at a table with no TV or other distractions. Then, decide. Taking that crucial “pause” can be short – just 30 seconds – and even if you still want to eat something, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. But the point is, you started asking question. See what I mean?

(6)  Anchor your first step. Instead of creating a whole new schedule for your first step, try anchoring that step into an existing routine. Dr. Carter uses the example of flossing. If you’re already in the habit of brushing your teeth, maybe that teeny tiny first step is getting the floss out with your toothpaste.

I love that idea… again with the emotional eating example, you could start brushing your teeth immediately after dinner and getting water or herbal tea to give your hands something to do while you watch TV – and hey, it’s hydrating! Two-for-one. Another idea is to anchor getting a drink to walking into the kitchen and then taking your 30 second pause to figure out why you are there — physical hunger or emotional hunger?

(7) Visualize success. This might sound unnecessary, but believe me…it’s critical; the whole point of these steps is to rewire your brain into recognizing a new habit. So spend just a few minutes actually thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll feel once you reach your goal. It’s okay, you can revel a bit. :)

Also important in this step is thinking about what some potential obstacles are and how you’ll overcome them if they actually happen. For example, let’s say your goal is meditation. What will you do if the phone rings in the middle of your meditation time?

Obstacles are a big thing with emotional eating, I suggest anticipating the types of obstacles you face and plan a healthy and sustainable work around. (If you need help, see a therapist or RD like me who specializes in Intuitive Eating and/or disordered eating patterns.)

(8) Celebrate! Every single time you do this super-easy first step, it’s time to celebrate! You don’t literally need to throw yourself a party everyday, but giving yourself a mental high-five is a good practice to have; it reinforces your habit and goshdarnit, it feels good.

You can do it challenge: Decide what that teeny tiny first step will be. (and let me know about it in the comments)

So, it’s cold. You hate the gym. You’re busy. But you want to incorporate exercise into your life. Somehow. How do you get started? Well, what’s the tiniest step you can think of? Maybe that step is putting sneakers by the front door with your work shoes. Or maybe on your walk to lunch you add another 30 seconds by taking a slightly different route. Or maybe instead of changing into the usual casual outfit after work, you change into workout clothes instead. Or maybe it’s something else. But whatever it is, make sure it’s small, easily achievable, and something you can celebrate once it’s done (because let’s be honest, you’ve got this!).

Anyone can do something for 30 seconds, right? So, let’s start there. The only thing you have to remember is to start small and practice that ridiculously small step over and over again. After all, practice makes…perfect-ly healthy habits. :) If you follow these steps mindfully, your brain will join you in partnership…I promise!

You can do this!

What’s your habit goal and first step? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Creating New Healthy Habits (With all the spare time you have)

“I’ll take time for myself… As soon as I finish my endless list of other To Dos.”

dali-clockSound like you? Well, it sure sounds like me and pretty much all of my clients! We have all the right intentions to make healthy change in our lives, but feel we just don’t have the time to do it. I wanted to figure out how we can “crack the code” on what it takes to build a healthy habit and if there was any way to make it feel effortless (or at least not difficult) in as little time as possible. Five minutes is a good place to start, I thought.

As it turns out, habits are really subconsciously controlled by your brain so they really are effortless once they are true habits. Until then, you have to think about it.

Getting in Good Habits

I found this podcast with Rona Renner, R.N. and Dr. Christine Carter discuss the benefits of taking just five minutes of time for yourself – whether it be for making a healthy meal, stretching, meditation, getting a glass of water or another healthy activity you can do in 5 minutes.

In it, they share eight steps to make healthy activities, habits. Here are the first four steps found in Part I of the podcast, Getting in Good Habits.

(1)  Contemplation. Think about what you want to change. It sounds simple enough, but not enough of us take the time to think about what will truly make a healthy difference in our lives.

(2)  Do your homework. How are you going to do this? Do you need new supplies to do this change. Taking time to prepare yourself for change. If you take a little bit of time to research what it takes to actually make this change, you’ll be more prepared to make long-lasting change. Make a list of all the things that will get in your way.

(3)  Set your goal, and make it public. No one can make real change alone; everyone needs some sort of support, right? So tell your spouse, children, friends, and coworkers. Not only will it hold you more accountable to yourself, but you’ll also get the added benefit of having a support system all along the way.

(4)  Make a list of what will help you succeed. By breaking down your change into small steps, you’ll increase your odds of success. Start small, and build up, as they say. So if you have a goal of taking time for yourself for meditation, maybe start with 30 seconds to a minute.

You can do it challenge: Start today. Pick just one thing that you want to change to make your life healthier and happier. (and let me know about it in the comments)

Remember, change starts in tiny, tiny steps. Imagine the absolute LEAST you can do. That’s your starting point. Anyone can make a small change for the better. Even those of us who put our pants on inside out, skip flossing most days, and can’t seem to get laundry done. (I know I’m not alone in this.) dead_last_not_start

Just with any skill, forming habits takes practice.  No one wakes up, decides they want to run a marathon for the first time, and goes outside and does it. My first race was a 5K, not a marathon. That race started with a work “bootcamp” class with some jogging thrown in.

Your exercise starting point might be walking – even if “just” around the block. Then you might run around the block.  You’ll continue to move towards your goal in achievable, realistic steps until you’re comfortable with the idea of running an entire marathon…and then one day, you’ll do it!

This habit is just like any other one you want to change in your life. Start small…teeny tiny, in fact! Then make those small changes habit by practicing them over and over again. And then move to the next small change.

Let’s Do This!!!!


Want to listen to the whole podcast and get all eight steps? Here it is: Getting in Good Habits Part One, Part Two

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: The Big “O”…Overeating.

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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The Big “O”…Overeating.

“I shouldn’t have that!” “There are way too many calories in this!” “I’m going to regret this later.” There is a LOT of opportunity for negative food-related emotions during the holidays. So how do we deal with these moments and get on with enjoying the important part of the holidays: Enjoying time with family and friends?

Accept that You’re Going to Overeat During the Holidays

Last week I talked about guilt related to labeling a food as “good” or “bad”. What about guilt from an even more common occurrence: Overeating. Overeating is one of the biggest food-related concerns of the holidays. It’s basically a given that overeating, to some degree, is going to happen. So how do we eliminate overeating during the holidays? …We don’t! It’s unrealistic, and honestly, unnecessary. Overeating is part of the holiday experience, and as part of human nature, something we enjoy. What we can do, is ensure this occurs in a healthy way.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make a truce with yourself right now that you are going to overeat and you are going to savor every bite you choose to take with awareness and gratitude.

Use Mindful Eating to Enjoy Food During the Holidays

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Mindful eating is being fully present with your food. No matter how much you have.

Here are my tips for mindful eating:

  • Use all your senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch (texture on your tongue).
  • When making your plate, ask what do I really want (not necessarily what is healthiest/you should eat).
  • Make a plate that looks appealing and looks like it will be enough to satisfy you.
  • Enjoy the food by noticing the smell and taste. Comment on what you are enjoying. Ask the chef who prepared the delicious food about anything you might be curious about – how easy or hard was this, what spice do I taste, etc?
  • Chew the food well to break it down for good digestion and to get enough time with the texture of it in your mouth.
  • Enjoy the conversation at the table and the food.
  • Be grateful for ALL the gifts in your life, including the privilege of enjoying the food with the people around you.

Some of the basic principles of intuitive eating are honoring hunger and respecting fullness. When you are paying attention, you will notice those signals your body sends that you are full or still hungry.

But what if I know I’m full, and I still REALLY want that piece of cheesecake I’ve been staring at since dinner started? Go ahead! But use this time to really enjoy that piece of cheesecake, and pay attention to what you’re feeling. The moment you take a bite and it’s not as enjoyable, put your fork down and leave the rest. See [link for mindful eating blog] for more mindful eating tips.

Eat for Yourself, And Nobody Else

Understand you always have choices. Make the ones that feel right to you. Just because Aunt Bea is waving her famous apple pie under your nose, coaxing you to have a piece, doesn’t mean you have to take it if you’re not hungry or you don’t want it right now. Get comfortable with politely saying, some version of “No, Thank you.”

Chances are, they are just trying to be a gracious host, or take care of you. But if that’s not how you feel, if you feel “pressured” to eat to make them happy, sit with that feeling and try one of my techniques.

The goal is to get the other person focused on something other than taking responsibility for your need/desire to eat (which is not their job).

Here are a few of my favorite “polite declines”

  • looks delicious… I’m not hungry now, but I’ll look for it later
  • smells so good… I need to digest a little bit and then I’ll get some
  • wow that looks great! Is it good? I’m full right now, but I’ll try it in a little bit
  • thank you so much… I’m not sure if I want ______ or _____

While this is just my opinion, I believe everyone who tries to respect their body (and fullness) at the present moment and who does not eat for “show” or to make others happy, is actually a happier person.

I promise, at the end of the day, no one is going to get offended you didn’t eat yourself sick. (And if they do, trust me, there is a reason behind it.)

Try these tips for healthfully enjoying overeating during the holidays, and make the choice to leave guilt-ridden eating behind.

Enter to Win

Psst… I’m running a contest on THIS post for healthy meal prep around holiday time. If you like cooking tools, check it out and leave a comment on the post to win.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallege : Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Happy HolidaysHello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Turkey sandwich. Turkey salad. Turkey casserole. Turkey loaf. Thanksgiving is in a few days, and Forest Gump’s friend Bubba is moving in for the next couple weeks as you work through your leftovers!

With Thanksgiving meal prep looming, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to have healthy food ready during the days leading up to it.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make life easier on yourself on these days leading up to Turkey Day!

Make Your Efforts Last

One great way to minimize your prep time is to cook a large batch of food at once that can either stretch across several meals, or be used in a variety of ways.

Try this on for size. Put 3-4 chicken breasts and any desired seasoning (I love to use a barbeque rub) into your slow cooker – what’s easier than not having to cook? Add some canned tomatoes (or any of your favorite veggies). Set to medium, and let cook for 3-4 hours. Using a fork or tongs, try to pull the chicken apart. It’s ready when it shreds easily. Shred well, throw it in a Tupperware and refrigerate.

You can now use that chicken for the following:

Breakfast: Omelet. Throw about ¼ cup of the shredded chicken, a couple handfuls of spinach, and a handful of halved grape tomatoes into an oiled skillet and lightly sautee. Scramble 2 eggs and pour over sautéed ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Flip when underside is cooked, and cook until solid. Serve with a bowl of berries and a piece of whole grain toast with a bit of butter to balance your plate.

Lunch: Chicken wrap. Using a whole grain wrap, add about a ½ cup of the shredded chicken, your favorite lettuce or greens, a chopped slice of tomato, a couple tablespoons of feta cheese, and a tablespoon of hummus. Up the vegetable content by making a Southwest variety with added canned corn (you know you bought some for Thursday), a ¼ sliced avocado, sprinkle of shredded Jack cheese instead of feta, and a tablespoon of salsa instead of the hummus. Serve with a side of fruit.

Dinner: Stir fry. Slice peppers, onions, and mushrooms for sautéing. (If you’re really pressed for time, snag a frozen bag of stir-fry veggies from the store.) Heat your cooking oil and add desired amount minced garlic to flavor it. Toss veggies into a hot skillet. Once veggies are almost cooked through, add desired amount of chicken to pan and mix to heat. Salt, pepper, and more garlic (if desired) to taste. If you want to keep the Asian flavor profile, replace the salt with a few dashes of soy sauce, and add about a teaspoon of powdered ginger. Serve with a side of brown rice.

Do the Grab and Go Thing

The store can help you save time. Stock up on your favorite grab-and-go of these foods and add them to meals and snacks this week:

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • seeds and nuts
  • oatmeal
  • canned soups (I like lentil, black bean and minestrone and I add veggies and brown rice)
  • yogurt
  • canned tuna or salmon

Stop By The Freezer Section

If your freezer is full, use up what you have in there. Combine any vegetable with any protein food and any whole grain food. If you don’t have a huge stockpile to work through, consider picking up a few items at your grocer freezer section.

I have seen many more options of frozen veggies lately. It’s a food trend. (see my quote and others from RDs at FNCE)

  • frozen lightly creamed spinach – nutrition bump up: I add my own fresh spinach, kale, and already shredded carrot (whatever I have on hand)
  • frozen brown rice quinoa and kale – yes, it exists and it microwaves in only 3 minutes. I use this in soups or mix with two scrambled eggs for a super quick and easy meal
  • frozen broccoli – already prepped for you all you need to do is roast in olive oil and salt at 400 for 20 minutes or so. Roasting adds a ton of flavor

You can’t mess it up!

This is probably my favorite saying. If you like it and you know it’s easy and satisfying then it works. Sure, it’s great when it’s good-for-you too.  Use what you have on hand, do a quick pit stop. Make it easy on yourself. You don’t have to put tons of “work” into meals this week. Save that for the “Big Day” coming up.

Adjustable to feed any number of people, or just yourself, the idea here is to take the stress out of cooking so you can focus on the important parts of the holidays!

Don’t mind eating the same thing several meals in a row? Try cooking up a pot of this Quick Slow Cooker Chili. It’s loaded with protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Add some canned corn, or diced peppers and onions to boost your veggie intake, and you can get your whole balanced plate in a bowl. The easier, the better.

Here’s to a fun and stress-free (Okay, LOW-stress) Thanksgiving!

Enter to Win a Prize Pack

cans get U cookingYou might have noticed that in several of my suggestions canned foods kept coming up. That’s because they are easy, convenient, and nutritious. Who doesn’t love that. You CAN win your own prize pack courtesy of Cans Get You Cooking (thanks for the donation) by leaving a comment below on your favorite time-saving food technique. While you are at it, check out their awesome recipes on Pinterest and Facebook. The prize pack includes fun cooking related items from an apron to measuring cups, utensils, and coupons for freebie canned foods. (Note: you have to be subscribed to the challenge to win. Sign ups on this page.)

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

 

Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c