Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thrive Thru the Festivities

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What would it look like for you to thrive through the holidays?  How would your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and mood be?  Would you feel joyful, fearless, fun, slow, sluggish, or regretful?  Sticking with healthy eating and exercise, despite the chaos festivities can bring, can contribute to a Happy Holiday season.

Is it possible to maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?  The typical American consumes an additional 17,000-42,000 calories during this festive season!  That equates to a body fat gain of 5-12 pounds in just over 1 month. 

Think it’s no big deal? 

It will feel like a big deal in January when the time comes to lose the fat weight by creating a 42,000 calorie deficit!  That takes a lot of effort!  Wouldn’t it be better to skip the whole yo-yo trip and maintain, or possibly lose weight during the winter holiday season?

If you’re wondering how to skip the weight gain this year, I’ve laid out a simple plan to help you thrive thru the holidays.  If you want the worksheet that goes with it, get it here!

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1.    Decide how you want to feel as you start the New Year.

Remember, Thanksgiving is a meal.  It’s not a month.  The same goes for Christmas.  Why not take a vacation from calorie counting at your Thanksgiving meal?  One super sized meal isn’t going to lead to significant weight gain.  But, if you make it a 4 day Thanksgiving binge weekend or a month full of indulgence, it could really impact the tightness of your belt!  

For many people, a few days of indulgence leads to more ongoing over-consumption of calories and changes the mindset from mindful eating to a no-holds-barred, eat anything anytime policy.   This is how you could end up consuming 42,000 extra calories  before the year is through.

2.    Decide what you want, and make a STRONG COMMITMENT to it.

Be very clear about your goal.  For example, if your goal is that you will weigh the same on January 1st as you weigh right now, there are a few behaviors or actions that will help you reach that goal.  What are they?  What will you do?  What won’t you do?  Here are a few ideas:

Commit to your regular exercise habits, despite the busyness, darkness, etc.  And, come up with a back up plan if your schedule does change.  If you can’t make it to the gym after work for example, maybe you commit to a walk at lunchtime.

Commit to when and how much you will enjoy the tastes of the seasons.  Is there one specific food you really enjoy more than the others? Can you go for it…with in reason?  For me, it’s my take on Aunt Judy’s sweet potato casserole and pumpkin spice coffee creamer.  Most of the other holiday foods I can skip.

3.    Visualize success.

Picture yourself ignoring the extra foods and sweets while navigating the break room at work.  Clearly see yourself sipping fizzy water at parties rather than indulging in more high calorie drinks or alcohol containing drinks.  What will you say?  How will you feel?  How will you feel afterwards?

Visualize yourself engaging in your regular physical activity.  Look at your calendar and see how you will fit it in, even when your schedule becomes full.  Make time for movement!

4.    Create time and space for nurturing and self care without junk food or extra calories.

Research clearly shows that people eat more calories when they are tired or stressed.  So, make it a priority to get adequate sleep and rest.  Protect your quiet down time.

Exercise is a key player in managing weight, and skipping exercise or movement during busy times, vacations, and when you have a runny nose can derail your good habits.  Once you get out of the routine of regular exercise, it can be very challenging to get the routine back.

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Make time for healthy food prep.  This is even more important during busy times.  Spend a couple of  hours prepping food for the week, then you don’t really have to think about it again!
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Eat Beans Daily

5  Reasons Experts Say You Should Eat Beans Every Day
Diabetes Risk Reduction
According to the best epidemiological research available, individuals consuming beans 2-3 times per week reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 40%.  That is without weight loss or exercise!

Blood Sugar Control
“Results from acute feeding trials suggest that postprandial blood glucose response is significantly attenuated by a single pulse serving of between three-quarters and 1 cup. At lower doses, pulses attenuate postprandial blood glucose response more than similar amounts of starchy foods. Long-term pulse consumption of 5 cups per week appears to result consistently in improvements in glycemic control.” Ramdath 2016

In one 2015 study, a group of patients with type 2 diabetes were asked to either consume a therapeutic lifestyle diet or the same therapeutic lifestyle diet but replace 2 servings of red meat with legumes, 3 days per week.  The group who ate more beans had significantly lower fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. 

These results indicates that in just a short period of 8 weeks, eating more beans and less meat can improve the majority of diabetes and cardiometabolic risk factors including high blood sugar.  This makes a lot of sense.  Beans contain both resistant starch and fiber, which are carbohydrates that make you feel full longer and slow the release of carbs from you meal into the bloodstream.  In other words, they have a low glycemic index.

Less Hunger for a Whole Day

Studies have been done showing that eating beans at one meal lead to a longer period of satiety after a meal and can even lead to lower caloric intake at the next meal or 2!  This is due in part to the high fiber content of beans which allows the stomach to empty more slowly, keeping a person from feeling hungry too soon.

The “Lentil Effect,” also known as the “Second Meal Effect” was discovered when researches dug deeper to find out why people ate less for 10-18 hours after a meal containing beans.  What they found is that when the bean fiber makes it to the end of the digestive tract, the colon, the healthy bacteria that live there and feast on the fiber release butyrate.  Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that gives your stomach a signal of being not empty and makes you feel not hungry!  There may be additional effects on the hunger centers of the brain too.

Healthy Gut Bacteria

Unfortunately, it seems we have an epidemic of imbalanced or unhealthy gut bacteria as a result of widespread and frequent antibiotic use and a low fiber diet. 

It is normal, and interestingly enough, quite healthy to have bacteria living in your lower intestines.  They make vitamin K, a bit of vitamin B12, and are proving to have varied and diverse health effects on things ranging from obesity to mental health.  The balance of bacteria in the gut can affect body weight, depression, immune function and possibly cancer development.

There are 2 major factors that can lead to a healthy gut Microbiome.  One is introducing healthy bacteria – also known as probiotics – which we get from foods and our environment.  The other is making sure to provide a healthy food source.  The bacteria feed upon fiber and certain starches – also known as prebiotics.  Beans are an ideal source of prebiotics.

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Non-Cancer Causing Protein   

It is pretty well established that consumption of animal – derived protein, i.e. meat and dairy, leads to increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that promote cancer growth.  Consuming plant-derived protein as part of the whole food does not lead to increased IGF-1 levels.

With all of these compelling reasons to eat beans or legumes each day, why not make sure to include them in your daily diet?  If you are worried about flatulence, start by eating just a small amount of beans or lentils each day.  Add a tablespoon of rinsed canned beans to your salad each day.  Have some hummus (made of garbanzo beans) on raw veggies.  Add a few white beans to your morning smoothie…you won’t taste them, but you will still benefit from the natural fiber and protein.

Here is a simple, yet delicious recipe to help you get more beans in your diet.
Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
This hearty chili is made with beans, vegetables, and quinoa. Meat lovers and vegetarians will love this chili!
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon broth or water
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2-3 tablespoons chili powder, depending on your taste (we used 3)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: green onions, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, chips, crackers, etc.
1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the quinoa and water. Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat a large pot, add the  tablespoon of broth and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapeƱo, carrot, celery, peppers, and zucchini. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add a bit of water or broth as needed to prevent sticking, but allow caramelization.
3. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked quinoa. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Simmer chili on low for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Note-garnish the chili with green onions, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream/Greek yogurt, chips, crackers, if desired. This chili freezes well.
 Serves 10-12.

Villegas, R. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):162-7.

Hosseinpour-Niazi S, Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;69(5):592-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.228. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Vegan vs Whole Food Plant Based: What's the difference?

November 1st is World Vegan Day, and this is World Vegan Month so the blog will be devoted to all things vegan and plant based for the month!    

And, though I don’t really classify myself as a vegan, it is true that my eating pattern is vegan 98% of the time.  Being vegan can be about much more than just an eating pattern.  Since my main motivation and goals are health-related, I prefer to use the term “whole food plant based” or “plant centric whole food diet” rather than vegan.  All of these terms do mean not eating meat, dairy, eggs, fish or any other animal derived foods.

What’s the difference? 

Usually, individuals who identify themselves as vegan are motivated primarily by animal rights.   Being vegan includes not using animals for footwear, purses, couches, or any other leather/suede products.  Many vegans don’t eat honey or even refined white sugar.  Why?  Bees make honey, and they are living things.  And, a component of the sugar refining process can be “bone ash,” definitely not in line with vegan mores.

A vegan diet does not necessarily avoid refined foods, and there are plenty of vegan junk foods at the grocery store.  For example, Oreos are vegan.  Deep fried things can be vegan.  I think you’ll agree these foods are not health promoting!

By contrast, individuals identifying themselves as following a whole food plant centric diet are probably motivated primarily by health.  This eating pattern excludes animal derived foods, but it also strives to exclude refined foods as well, such as sugar, oil, and refined grains.  This way of eating focuses more on including foods that are nutrient dense, health promoting and whole. 

People who eat WFPB may or may not be vegan for ethical reasons (animal rights).  People who are vegan may or may not be focused on health and nutrition.

Regardless of whether a person is motivated by health or animal rights, eating either vegan or WF plant based both have significant health benefits.  This month, the blog will be devoted to covering topics related to how, why and what to eat to achieve excellent health without eating animal derived foods or junk food!

If you’re interested in giving it a go, I have created a simple 1 week meal plan with recipes that you can download for free by clicking here.

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Please share your eating style in the comments below…wfpb, vegan, omnivore, carnivore, vegetarian, or flexitarian.  ALL are welcome here. 

My goal as a Registered Dietitian and blogger is simply to help people achieve better health with nutrition and without judgment.  I take a weight neutral approach and work with people regardless of where their starting point is.  If you have any questions, or if you’d like some personalized support, please contact me via email anytime at junkfoodrehabRD@gmail.com.  And, join the private junk food rehab facebook group too.

#veganmofo #vegan #wholefoodsplantbased #vegetarian #worldveganmonth