Week 6: Weight Management For Life

I wish I could say that there was a quick and easy way to lose weight and keep it off for life. I wish I could say there is a magic pill/shake/video/program/diet plan/words of wisdom to make you lose weight or keep it off. I would be a liar if I didn’t tell you that it takes hard work. The weight didn’t come on overnight (although sometimes it feels that way) so it’s not going to go away overnight. It takes making smart food and drink choices every day. It takes being active and moving your body. It takes valuing yourself more than you do.

I’m paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 but it goes something like this: Don’t forget that your body is the place where the Holy Spirit lives. It’s not your body. You’re loaning it from God while you’re here on this earth. You have been bought with a great price…Jesus’ death and resurection…treat your body as if you are glorifying God, not punishing yourself.

It’s up to you. The reason you want/need to lose weight is what is important to you. Your goal is not to lose weight. Weight loss is a means to the goal, a stepping stone. Figure out what you want and go for it. Life is so precious and so sweet. Treat it as such. You are worth it.

We didn’t discuss some of these things but I think these may help. I’m being brutally honest but it’s coming from a place of love, not judgement.

  1. The amount of sugar in drinks is ridiculous…soda, tea, coffee with flavored creamer, energy drinks, juice like drinks, juice, etc.
  2. You don’t need dessert, or appetizers, or slushies, or chocolate, or candy, or whatever your “thing” is…you don’t need it
  3. You’re not a picky eater, you’re just not giving vegetables (or other foods) a chance
  4. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, hunger is a healthy feeling but don’t let it go too long
  5. One meal a day isn’t gonna cut it…at all
  6. Crash dieting is ridiculous…stop hurting your body
  7. You don’t need shakes…seriously save your money and buy real food
  8. You don’t need diet pills…your liver hates them
  9. Diet plans DON’T WORK…put the money that you’d spend on a diet plan into seeing a dietitian (and please for heavens sake do not say “dietitians are too expensive”…you’d spend hundreds of dollars on diet plans or shakes but not to see the experts? Think about it)
  10. Remember: Mindset > What You Eat > Exercise…all the time, every day, no question

You can do this. You can make better food choices. You can move your body more. You can.

Weight for the Holidays

During my nutrition counseling days I used to be busy seeing people…right after the holidays. My dietitian friends and I used to joke around that no one goes to a priest right before Vegas, they obviously wait until after. Same for us…after the “holiday binge” people want to lose weight as their top New Years resolution. Here’s the thing…if weight loss is your resolution every year then whatever you’ve been doing isn’t working. I’ll be doing a series on weight loss for the New Years so stay tuned. Right now we aren’t talking about resolutions we are talking about managing your weight during the holidays.

Do you get nervous that you’ll gain weight during the holidays? Do you know you’ll gain weight during the holidays and just go “all out”? Have you ever thought that you weren’t in control of what you eat, especially around the holidays? Do you feel guilty about what you eat during the holidays because it may affect your weight loss/management goals?

If you answered YES to any of these question, this blog post is for you!

I consider the nutrition-holiday season, the time period from right before Halloween (when all the candy comes out) until New Years Day. You buy Halloween candy starting in September but you eat a few bags before trick-or-treat night. The Halloween candy that you have leftover after trick-or-treat lasts until Thanksgiving and then right after the Thanksgiving feast we move right on in to Christmas parties, cookies, candies, cakes, pies, snacks, drinks, celebrations, etc, etc, etc. See where I’m coming from? From September to January many people eat more calories than they do the other months of the year leading to weight gain.

On the other hand, what does a little Halloween candy hurt, why can’t I enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, who doesn’t eat a lot at Christmas parties? Sure…enjoying this time of year is great but over-indulging for a few months or weeks at a time can lead to unwanted weight gain. What steps can you take in order to feel good about what you’ve been eating but also enjoy these foods that come out once a year? Read on my friends…

Halloween is long gone and Thanksgiving is behind us, let’s focus on what you can do now until Christmas to manage weight.

  1. Eat regularly. Have a balanced breakfast in the morning, eat lunch, have nutrient rich snacks throughout the day, and a dinner with grains, lean proteins, and veggies. When it’s time to celebrate, you’ve eaten well all day so enjoy the party.
  2. Limit liquid calories. Calories from alcohol add up quickly and they do not fill up your stomach and satisfy hunger. The recommendation for healthy alcohol consumption is 1 drink for women and 2 drink for men per day. Keep in mind that other beverages have calories too. Eggnog, sodas, fruit punch, flavored coffee drinks, and many others are loaded with sugar and some even have fat.
  3. Give yourself limits that are set before all hell breaks loose. I love Christmas cookies. Like I would rather eat Christmas cookies with milk all day long than eat anything else. Because  I dream about doing that (perhaps someday when I’m 80), I set a limit for how many cookies I can have in a day during the season and keep to that. It allows me to have cookies but not an entire dozen 🙂
  4. Remember your vegetables. Instead of filling your plate with tons of carbohydrates (cookies, pies, cakes, potatoes, stuffing, corn…) and proteins (ham, turkey, cheese, meats…) fill up half of your plate with veggies (salad, green beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower…). If you going to a potluck bring a veggie tray or a big salad. The party guests will love it!
  5. Instead of the holiday season revolving around food remember what it is really about! The birth of the Savior, showing the love of God by being kind, and gathering with friends and family. Our family LOVES games and we enjoy gathering around the tables after dinner to play, laugh, enjoy each other, and have a great time together.

Look, focus on managing not losing weight during the holidays. Keeping your weight the same is just as successful as losing weight when you are surrounded by tempting foods. You’ve got this! You can have control of what you eat. Knowing what you ultimately want and keeping your mind focused on that goal is the key. During the holiday season what is your goal?

Remember to stay tuned in January for the New Years Weight Loss Challenge! I’m so excited for it and I hope you will be too!

Season of Thankfulness: Snacking

Snacking throughout the day can be one of the most important things you do for your health. If you are trying to lose weight or have diabetes, snacking can help you control your appetite and your blood sugars.

Finding the right snacks; however, can be a challenge. If a vending machine is close by, you know that perhaps snacking isn’t your best move of day. Packing or having nutrient rich snacks on hand is going to be the secret to snack-cess (yep, see what I just did there?).

Eating every 3-4 hours is quite important. Your body actually expects you fuel it because your stomach empties every 2 hours (give or take) so by the time 3-4 hours rolls around your body is looking for more fuel. This doesn’t mean you have to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! Unless you do then by all means, proceed! It does mean keeping small snacks (about 100-200 calories) with you so that when your next meal rolls around you are not ravenous and making poor food choices.

“Good” snacks:

  • Give your body something it needs (not something it wants)
  • Give your body something it is missing (not something it is craving)
  • Give your body fulfillment (not an empty feeling in a few minutes)
  • Give your body energy (not a sugar/caffeine high)

What falls into those categories? Here’s a list of 25 awesome snacks (not just boring ones) for you to “chew on”:

  1. Fresh fruits. They’re already packed and ready to go! (apples, bananas, oranges, clementines, peaches, pears)
  2. Dried fruits. 100 calorie packs of raisins, cranberries, prunes, or other dried (not fried) fruits are great pick me ups!
  3. Fresh veggies. This requires more planning ahead but carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, etc are wonderful crunchy additions to your day.
  4. Steamed veggies. Sounds weird but they make single serving steamed veggies that, if you have a microwave and enjoy the cooked veggie variety, can be a great mid-afternoon nosh!
  5. String cheese. Let’s face it, 90% of the population loves cheese (I totally made that up). String cheese is super lean and provides your body protein and calcium!
  6. Other portion controlled cheeses. Besides the string variety, many companies are making 90 calorie packs of your favorite variety of cheese. Again providing your body protein and calcium.
  7. Nuts. These nutrient rich poppable palate pleasers come in a variety of types and even some awesome flavors. The 100 calorie packs make them portion controlled and easy to carry around.
  8. Yogurt. Preferably Greek yogurt because it will give your body more protein. Other yogurts are good too because of the live bacteria that will help your gut. Remember that yogurt naturally has sugar so don’t be alarmed when you see the amount of sugar on the food label. In a typical 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt you are looking at around 6 grams of natural sugar in the product. If it has real fruit, there’s more natural sugar.
  9. Cottage cheese. Packed with protein and calcium this wonderful little snack pairs really well with fruit. Watch the sodium content though! If you are salt sensitive try to choose a brand that has less salt added. Go for 2% cottage cheese instead of full fat or fat free.
  10. Hard boiled eggs. These egg-tastic snacks are full of protein, vitamin D, lutein, and zeaxanthin (antioxidants found in the yolk). The whites are 100% protein but do miss out on some of those key vitamins and antioxidants found in the yolk.
  11. Deviled eggs. They are for more than just summer picnics! This spices up the hard boiled egg. Try mixing the yolk with 1/2 the amount of mayonnaise and use plain Greek yogurt or a mashed avocado for added volume. Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard adds a kick and instead of plain paprika to make it pretty try adding smoked paprika.
  12. Hummus and veggies. If you haven’t tried hummus yet, go for it! If you don’t like regular hummus try a flavored one. My favorite is roasted red pepper. Hummus is pureed chickpeas so it is loaded with protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
  13. String cheese and pickles. One of my favorites! This is not for the salt sensitive person. Mix that with a little dijon mustard and you’ve got yourself one gourmet snack!
  14. Cheese and apples or pears. Delicious! This salty and sweet snack hits just about every taste bud. Keep the cheese to around 1 oz portion (size of string cheese or 4 dice put together)
  15. Peanut butter (or other nut butters) and apples. This all time favorite can be taken one step further by melting the peanut butter ever so slightly and sprinkling in a little cinnamon in it…then dip the apple. Get a napkin, you’re drooling.
  16. Peanut butter and bananas. Sure this Elvis favorite is a classic but let’s take this one a step further too. Instead of ants on a log with celery, peanut butter, and raisins, lets do ants on a log with a banana cut in half long ways peanut butter on the flat part and raisins.
  17. Celery and peanut butter. Kids and adults both rave over this one! You can even try celery with plain Greek yogurt (mix in a little dry ranch dressing mix to the yogurt and BAM one amazing snack).
  18. Rolled up turkey lunch meat. I like this one because it’s easy, packed with protein, and I like to “dip”. Dip this in yellow mustard, dijon mustard, or grain mustard and it becomes fancier than you’d think.
  19.  Popcorn. They make 100 calorie bags which are great to control portions. Plain air popped popcorn is 3 cups for 1 serving. If you like a little flavor to your popcorn think about adding Old Bay, parmesan cheese, or if you are a fancy foodie – dehydrated vinegar.
  20. Granola bars. But not just any old granola bars. Look for ones with at least 3 grams of fiber for about 100 calories, lowest amount of sugar, and whole food ingredients. My favorite are Kind and Kashi. Remember this is a snack, not a meal replacement. I’m not a big fan of meal replacement bars (100-200 calories).
  21. Trail mix. Make your own! Think energy, protein, and fun. Energy can come from dried whole grain cereal, dried fruit, popcorn, or a mix of all 3. Protein can come from nuts or seeds. Fun comes in all shapes and sizes but personally I prefer dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate mini-chips. My favorite trail mix recipe is: Cheerios (1 cup), dried cranberries (1/2 cup), walnuts pieces (1/4 cup), and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (1/8 cup). Makes about 2-4 servings (2 servings 200 calories each or 4 servings 100 calories each).
  22. Veggies and Greek yogurt dip. Grab a 5.3 oz plain Greek yogurt container and add your favorite dried ranch dressing or dip mix (you can make your own too). Add enough dip mix to get flavor into that yogurt and go to town on your favorite dip-able veggies! Broaden your horizons and try jicama (hee-kama), kohlrabi, parsnips, and turnips in your dip! They are crunchy, delicious, and have more nutrients than potato chips.
  23. Oatmeal. I know it sounds weird but this breakfast favorite can be a great, warm, soothing snack on a cold day. Watch the sugar on some of the packaged ones. Make your own by adding some walnuts, cranberries, and cinnamon with a splash of honey!
  24. Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower). These gems are easy to make at home or on the shelves year round to buy. Great for munching or pairing with raisins like a trail mix.
  25. Frozen yogurt. Not like you’re thinking. Take your favorite Greek yogurt, throw it in the freezer and in a few hours you’ve got an incredible, creamy, flavorful frozen treat!

Let us know, what are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Anticancer Eating

For many years I practiced oncology nutrition (nutrition for people with cancer). To say that it was one of my most rewarding jobs would be an understatement. I loved meeting new people but more than that I loved meeting people who had the strength of titanium and hearts of gold.

I became interested in cancer prevention during that time. What could I do to help people prevent cancer from coming back and what could I do to help people never have to go through this terrible disease at all? As I began researching there were tons of research articles on diet and cancer prevention. After digging deeper, going to conferences, and reading evidence based books written by dietitians and medical doctors, I discovered that diet has a lot to do with cancer prevention…a whole lot!

In fact, a lot of lifestyle choices have to do with preventing cancer whether it is a recurrence or preventing it all together. What you eat, being active, lowering your stress, and having a healthy mindset are pillars to your well-being and help to reduce your cancer risk.

Here are the top 10 diet changes you can make to reduce your risk of cancer:

  1. Eat more plants: I mean, a lot more than you probably do right now. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends your diet should be at least 2/3 plants. Plant foods include: fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, corn, whole wheat, barley), nuts, seeds, oils, herbs, and spices.
  2. Eat a lot less animal products: that includes meats, cheeses, butter, creams…anything that comes from an animal. I didn’t say avoid them because there are some benefits to eating a moderate amount of animal products (some of which include essential vitamins and minerals that you can’t get from plants). Our society just eats way too much!
  3. Focus on getting colors from your diet: and I don’t mean from m&m’s and skittles…for real. Eating a variety of colors from plant foods, gives your body a variety of antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect your cells from the nasty changes that form cancer cells.
    • Red – tomato, watermelon, red bell pepper, red apple, sweet potato
    • Orange – Oranges, pumpkin, cantaloupe, orange bell peppers
    • Yellow – lemons, summer squash, yellow bell pepper, yellow tomatoes
    • Green – broccoli, green beans, limes, green apples, lettuces
    • Blue/purple – blueberries, purple cabbage, egg plant, purple onion, grapes
    • White/tan – banana (you don’t eat the yellow skin), mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds
  4. Do what you can to avoid processed animal meat. Processed meats have been preserved by smoking, salting, curing or adding different preservatives. Deli meats, bacon, ham, hot dogs, and smoked sausage are all examples of meats that have been processed.
  5. Drink less alcohol. Men that means 2 drinks daily and women that means one drink daily (12 oz beer, 1 oz shot, 5 oz wine). Alcohol increases the risk of many cancers including breast, colon, liver, and mouth. If you don’t drink, don’t start. The cancer risk far outweighs the heart healthy protection of red wine. There are other things you can do to keep your heart healthy.
  6. Lose weight the healthy way. Being obese increases your risk for cancer. This doesn’t mean to start losing weight in an unhealthy way. Reduce portion sizes, be smart about food choices, eat a balanced diet, and discuss your goals with a registered dietitian.
  7. Eat more fat. But not just any fat, omega-3 fats. These fantastic foods help to reduce inflammation in your body which can help decrease your risk for cancer. Fit in more walnuts, pecans, canola oil, flax seed, chia seed, salmon, and tuna to get those wonderful omega-3’s!
  8. Drink tea. Green and white tea have a phytonutrient called EGCG. This powerful antioxidant has shown to be a super cancer fighter. Using tea bags instead of buying it pre-made in the store is much more effective. A splash of lemon or lime in your tea will increase the effectiveness of EGCG!
  9. Fermented foods. Yep, you read that right! Fermented foods have amazing bacteria that our bodies need in order to keep a good balance in our gut which may help to protect our body from cancer cells. Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, kefer, sourdough bread (the real stuff), yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh are all great sources of those friendly bacteria.
  10. Incorporate herbs and spices. Especially ones like turmeric, rosemary, basil, parsley, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. These have been shown to protect cells against cancer. Try to incorporate them in your typical diet to flavor your food and added protection.

Cancer prevention is so important. Each one of you reading this have been impacted by this terrible disease. Maybe it was you who was diagnosed. Perhaps a parent or sibling. Maybe a grandparent or extended family or a close friend. Regardless, we are fighting a war against cancer. Diet change is the military that can help protect our body from an infiltration of enemy cancer cells.

I’m so deeply passionate about eating for an anticancer lifestyle because I’ve seen cancer at its worst. I have seen it take the strong and make them weak. I’ve watched as it stripped away peoples sense of self. I sat with an individual who used to love to eat and cook not be able to even look at or smell food. I’ve held the hand of people who cried because they never thought it would have been them. But you know what? I’ve seen people rise victorious from cancer. I talked with survivors who can now appreciate the small things in life. I have laughed with survivors who look forward to a brand new life with a brand new outlook. I have eaten with survivors who taste food with so much appreciation. I have been thanked by survivors who said my simple diet tips had made them look at diet as an expedition with others not a journey alone.

Let’s do this together. Let’s change our eating habits together to help fight this terrible disease. Who is with me?!?!

Stay tuned, later this month, for an anticancer eating plan and more tips on making your diet powerful in the fight against cancer!

For more information on anticancer eating check out the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Calories don’t exist on your birthday and other things I want you to know

With all the fixes and diets and guilt about food there are some things I want you to know about eating to simplify your life. These are just a few things I’ve picked out from a list a mile long, but are my favorite. Enjoy!

  1. Calories do not count on your birthday. It’s your birthday! Just celebrate another year of life that God gave you! Go out to eat, get what you want most (not what has the least amount of calories), and for the love of food, eat cake or pie or ice cream or whatever gets you going for your birthday. Celebrate! Now, the days before and the days after should be like any other day but on your day, stop worrying and seize the moment!
  2. Be picky about what you eat. Listen, if you don’t like something don’t waste your calories on it. Seriously. There’s nothing less satisfying than eating a dull rendition of food just to eat it. Yuck. I don’t care if that bran cereal has 25% of your daily fiber needs if it is gross, get your fiber from somewhere else throughout your day. Similarly if its really high in calories but tastes bad, don’t waste those calories!
  3. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If the diets you’ve been on in the past do not lead to life long weight loss THEY DON’T WORK. Sure they help you lose weight temporarily but if it is not feasible enough for you to stick with it for the rest of your life, it wasn’t a good diet and it didn’t work. An overall healthy diet, that is feasible for you to do for the rest of your life, is the secret to well-being.
  4. Choose one thing about your diet to change at a time. Instead of saying “I’m starting my healthy diet today” and doing a complete 180 revamp, just choose one change to focus on and stick with it. Once you have that down, move on to your next goal. Work on each goal for about 1 week until you feel confident that you can put something else on your plate. Having 3-4 changes in a month instead of 10 changes all at once is a lot easier to chew on. I call that the diet snowball or the nutrition snow ball. I don’t take all the credit, my husband coined the term 🙂
  5. Find what is motivating you from the inside. So you want to eat better. So what? What are you wanting from your diet? What about a better diet is important to you? It probably has nothing to do with diet and everything to do with what you find important in your life. THAT will keep you motivated. Write it down and put it in places where you will see it. Refrigerator, dashboard, computer at work, bathroom mirror, or make it the wallpaper on your phone.

A healthy diet or lifestyle isn’t about a bunch of rules, it’s about what works for you for the rest of your life. Change should be gradual. Start with what you want, make small changes to get to your goals, make sure your changes are feasible to continue for the rest of your life, don’t eat just to eat, and for the love of food just enjoy your birthday without worrying about calories!

Final thoughts: fad diets, exercise programs that “sell” nutrition, and people who claim to be experts are the quint-essential food rule makers. RED FLAGS!

Challenge – set a small goal for yourself this week. Want to drink more water? Pick an amount to strive towards. Want to eat breakfast instead of skipping it? Find something you enjoy eating (my personal favorite is hard boiled eggs!). Want to fit in more veggies? Start by having a serving for lunch and for dinner. Before you know it you’ll be a master at the change you’ve made and can start making more!