Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend and using some of those cookout tips from last week! The Biggest Loser Change is on to week 7 and people are shedding inches! If you haven't repeated your hip and waist measurements, now is a good time to do that and see your progress! Remember, it's not all about the scale! Sometimes you lose inches without even losing pounds, especially if you are exercising!
Making Veggies (and you) Sexy
Let’s face it. There is nothing sexy about a pile of vegetables – at least that’s what many people tell me. Kids hate them; adults force them down and try not to gag. Well, some at least. We all know veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We also know that vegetables are extremely healthy for us, are preventative for many chronic diseases, and are the foundation of every healthy diet and weight-loss plan. The American Guidelines for Americans recommend making ½ your plate non-starchy vegetables. I recommend making your plate at least half, if not ¾, non-starchy vegetables – the remaining ¼ being protein – for weight loss. What is that in terms of servings? About 10. (BUT before you stop reading, a serving = 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked). However, the last thing a busy person wants to do after working hard all day is spend hours in the kitchen making vegetables that their kids won’t even touch.
Don’t give up! Here are several tips that are sure to spice up your veggies for you and your family, while helping you stick to your spring slim down or beach body goal.
Make Nutritious Super Veggie Swaps for Popular Starches: There are many new and fun ways to sub out startches for veggies. Instead of making traditional mashed potatoes, substitute cauliflower mash (70 vs 120 calories per cup). Worried your kids might not like it? Substitute half of the potatoes for cauliflower and it’s doubtful they will notice the difference. Another favorite, even among kids, is spaghetti squash (42 calories vs 221 calories per cup for regular spaghetti!). But why stop there? Kale chipsmake a fun nutritious substitute for chips (50 vs 160 calories/cup) or collard greens/lettuce wrap for tortillas (30 vs 300 calories per 2 wraps). Although not a vegetable, pureed fruit (9 calories per 2 tbs) makes a good substitute for pancake syrup (104 calories/2 tbs). Veggie fries can be a healthier alternative to French fries and very much kid approved! Here are 5 ways to substitute vegetables for popular carbs.
Make Vegetables Fun: No one wants to eat a heap of steamed veggies dropped on a plate. So make them fun by turning an ordinary salad into a mason jar salad, substituting bland steamed or boiled vegetables for roasted vegetables, or buying or making your own “zoodles.” Spiralizing your vegetables, such as zucchini, summer squash, beets, or carrots, can be a fun, colorful, and healthier alternative to regular spaghetti. (I just made this recipe for zucchini pasta with avocado pesto & shrimp and it was sooo good!)Other ideas include ants on a log, cookie-cutter shaped vegetables, and making “Mr. Tomato Head” out of a quinoa-stuffed tomato.
Try veggies more than once in different ways: Just because your child turned up his nose once doesn’t mean you have to cross that veggie off the menu forever. Studies have shown it may take 10 or more tries before a child accepts a new food. Try cooking vegetables multiple ways, you never know what you and your kids might like.
Increase your Veggie Variety: Just because you or your kids have disliked one vegetable doesn’t mean they will hate them all. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)share to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A CSA will not only expose you to vegetables you otherwise wouldn’t think to buy, it also supports your community. Another way is to commit to buying one new vegetable per week. You may just find your new favorite vegetable and there is no better time to start with all the spring variety!
Involve your kids in the veggie shopping and eating process: Plant a garden, or visit a farm/farmer's market and have your children pick out which veggies to eat for dinner. This instills ownership and studies show that it actually makes eating those veggies later that night more likely. Similarly, cooking the vegetables with your children also exposes them to the vegetables and makes them more willing to try them.
Need more ideas? Here are 23 ways to eat greens that aren’t salads.
With Memorial Day right around the corner and the start of many summer BBQs, it’s time to start thinking about simple superswap sides to accompany the delicious burgers we'll be grilling on the barbie along with some weight loss tips to follow.
Social eating, especially during the summer does not have to be an open invitation to return to unhealthy eating habits. Every event may seem like an excuse to splurge, but the consequence just might be the worst kind of post-party affliction: a food hangover. The best cure for a food hangover is to prevent the over indulgence in the first place. Have treats and enjoy yourself, and find that happy place of moderation.
Here are a few tips on how to take with you to your next party or cookout:
1. Use a small plate
What if I told you that your plate has more control over your food than you do? Many studies by Dr. Wansink from Cornell University have shown that people are relying on environmental cues to signal fullness instead of listening to their bodies. For example, many people use visual cues from an empty plate to signify satiety. If given a larger plate, most people subconsciously put about 30% more on their plate. Depending on the food, this can be a 150 calories difference per serving. Over the course of the year, 150 calories more per day is a 15-pound weight gain all else equal. And this is just one meal a day using a larger plate. Using a small plate reduces your calories without making your feel like you are depriving yourself.
The How TO:
• Completely fill a small plate (8-10")
• Enjoy your meal!
• Do not go back for seconds
2. Healthy Start & Wait
Filling up your first plate with fruit and veggies first does two things (1) it makes you feel healthy and carries the healthy eating momentum and (2) it fills you up so that you aren’t starving and can then make healthier choices when looking down the buffet. The second part is to wait. It takes time for your brain to tell your stomach that you ate.
The How TO:
• When you first arrive at a party, locate the fruits and vegetables
• Fill one small plate (8-10”) and enjoy as you are socializing
• Wait 30 minutes before you select any other food choices
• Follow the Rule of 3’s below
3. Rule of 3’s
The more food choices you are given, the more you tend to eat. This has been shown in many experiments and you can see this with direct observation. And just think of all the people at the last buffet you went to. Everyone wants to try a little bit of everything. Those little bites add up! By purposefully giving yourself fewer options, you will naturally eat less. And because you get to pick those options, you don’t feel deprived!
The How TO:
4. Get Moving!
If you know you are going to a party and are going to be eating more, make sure you get some exercise in. Exercising not only burns calories, but it increases your metabolism so you burn more fat even when sedentary. Exercise can also be a great way to skip the distraction to eat and nibble before dinner is ready if you go for a pre-dinner walk with a friend.
The How TO:
5. Alcohol Matching
Alcoholic beverages are very calorically dense and can raise your blood sugar quite fast, leading quickly to weight gain. By alcohol matching, you can pace yourself and save a couple hundred to thousand calories while still feeling part of the party! Also by drinking more water, you ensure that you stay well hydrated (especially if out in the sun). Dehydration can also mimic hunger so make sure you water up – more on this another week.
The How TO:
• For every drink you have, match it with a water/seltzer before you other another drink
• Set a drink limit prior to each party/social gathering
6. Party’s Over & so is the Eating!
One day of overeating isn’t the cause of your weight gain. Instead, it is the day in and day out choice to overeat or to eat foods that aren’t healthy. Instead of eating party leftovers for the next week until the next party, pack up doggy bags for all your guests and return to your regular eating patter the next day.
The How TO:
• Eating "poorly" one day is not the reason you gain weight after a holiday or social gathering
• It is important to return to you usual healthy routine at your next meal
Bonus: If you are hosting the party, here are some ideas of ways to make the BBQ more healthy!
Typical burger sides: chips, fries, creamy coleslaw salad, pasta salad, buttery corn on the cob, etc.
We. can. do. better.
I've got a roundup of the BEST burger sides for your Memorial Day Cookout. The Superswap goal is to make veggies half of most meals. These sides are an easy & tasty way to meet your veggie quota...
8 simple superswap sides for your next burger:
1. Kale Chips
This is where healthy + fun meet. These chips are not only crunchy and salty, but provide skin-glowing vitamin A & energy-enhancing iron. Click >>>HERE <<< for the recipe.
2. Veggie Dippers
AKA: The superswap name for cut-up veggies. Try cut up raw zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, summer squash, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, or blanched asparagus. Pair with your favorite CRAP-free salad dressing like this cashew ranch dressing.
3. Jicama Triangles w/chili powder & lime
Jicama (pronounced: hick-a-ma) is a root veggie that is 90% water, which means it’s low cal & filling. It’s a fun cracker stand-in. Light, crisp & delicious. Love!
How to: Peel 1 jicama and trim it to the shape of a square block. Using a mandoline, cut the jicama into 1/8-inch slices and cut each diagonally into triangles. In a large bowl, toss jicama with sea salt & lime. Place on a platter and top with chili powder.
4. Zucchini Wedges
How to: Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp italian herb seasoning, sea salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, toss 2 zucchinis, quartered lengthwise, with 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture and broil for about 8 minutes, until tender & golden.
5. Crunchy Cabbage Salad
This salad drops calorie-laden mayo for vinegar.
Research suggests this superfood condiment keeps food in your stomach longer, so you'll naturally feel more satisfied. Using vinegar can help you cut 200 calories per day without thinking about it. Aim for 1 to 2 Tbs daily. Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
6. Green Bean & Carrot Fries
These veggie fries have 5x fewer calories than regular fries (70 calories per cup vs 350 calories per cup). Click >>>HERE <<< for the recipe.
7. Grilled Vegetable Salad
Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
8. Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad
Click >>>HERE<<< for the recipe.
Still looking for more memorial day recipes? Look no further! I have your whole menu planned out ;)
Have a happy Memorial Day everyone!!
Is Your Lack of Sleep Stunting your weight loss?
Cognitive impairment after just 18 hours without sleep is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, 0.10% after 24 hours (legally drunk). 71,000 non-fatal car accidents per year caused by tired drivers. The Guinness book of World Records no longer keeps a record for sleep deprivation because it is considered too dangerous. In the US, $63 BILLION is lost in productivity loses every year due to sleep deprivation! In fact, there is an organizational lost to insufficient sleep.
AND sleep deprivation may be the reason you’re not losing weight! (click HERE for more reasons why we need sleep)
There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight. The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.
Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation (getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night) produces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream known as an endocannabinoid (very similar cannabis!) that may make eating more pleasurable. So basically, our bodies produce compounds that act on the same area of the brain as marijuana (marijuana munchies anyone?). It turned out that when participants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400 more calories from snacks (that’s almost a pound a week worth of extra calories)! There have been other studies that have shown that weight loss is MUCH harder in dieters who are sleep deprived. This means that you may still not lose weight even if you are doing “everything right” in terms of restricting calories, diet and exercise.
So now that we know that sleep is SUPER IMPORTANT, let’s look at some of the things that inhibit our sleep. This biggest culprit is blue light.
Blue light is produced by our electronics (TV, iphone, ipad, etc) and it suppresses melatonin production – a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms. Instead of calming ourselves before bed, watching TV or scrolling on our iPhones before bed actually wakes us up, making it harder to fall asleep and makes our sleep less restful. SO try turning those off at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, take a bath, read a book, or talk to a significant other or friend – we need a wind-down time as much as our kids do!
Nighttime Light: It’s not only blue light, but any nighttime light expose affects our sleep. It doesn’t take prolonged or intense exposure to nighttime light in order to cause problems. Research shows even dim light can interfere with circadian function and sleep, triggering increased risks for disease. The light of a table lamp is bright enough to have a significant impact. For all you doctors and medical experts out there here are 5 Serious Medical Condition liked to Nighttime Light Exposure: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol, Caffeine, Spicy Food, and Chocolate, can keep you up at night. Try eating them earlier in the day. Limit caffeinated beverages to 1-2 cups per day and stop drinking them after noon. Similarly, for a restful sleep, any alcohol should be consumed 3 hours before bed.
There are steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of nighttime light exposure.
Avoid unnecessary and excessive exposure to evening light. This doesn’t mean you need to succumb to complete darkness at sundown. But become aware of your nighttime environment and look for ways to reduce the amount of artificial light. Taking steps to reduce and eliminate nighttime exposure to artificial light is an important step in protecting health in our modern, lights-always-on age. Some ideas: Close your curtains to block the streetlight that shines in your window and use the dimmer switches to lower levels of light throughout the house after dinner.
Block bright and blue light on screens. Increasingly, digital devices are equipped with blue-light blocking filters and timers to reduce brightness at night. There are also several apps available that perform these functions (f.lux is a good one). In addition, you can attach blue-light blocking filters directly to screens themselves, or use blue-light blocking glasses.
Power down. I recommend a Power Down Hour before bedtime. Spend the 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow away from television, phone, and other screens and electronics. Ideas: read, journal, take a bath, or talk to someone.
Get Better Bulbs. A Power Down Hour doesn’t mean you have to sit in the dark. There are now commercially available light products that will filter out the “blue spectrum” of light, which causes most of the problem, while still providing enough light for reading or other activities.
Sleep in the dark—and avoid middle-of-the-night light exposure. Take steps to ensure that you’re sleeping in the dark, including using timers on bedroom lights and devices, and covering windows to block outside light. Even a fleeting burst of exposure to light during the night can throw your circadian rhythms off track. Install dim, or specialty nightlights in bathrooms or hallways to avoid having to turn on other lights.
Get plenty of light exposure throughout the day. Light exposure during the day boosts attention and alertness, improves mood and cognitive function, strengthens circadian rhythms and can help you sleep better at night. Light can provide terrific benefits to health, when used in the right ways. Light therapy is used to treat a range of conditions, from sleep problems and jet lag to depression and dementia.
Homework: Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night this week
More Helpful Information:
For more information on sleep, check out the Sleep Doctor: https://www.thesleepdoctor.com
Other resources to help you lose weight while sleeping: Sleepy Bliss and Tuck Sleep
Checkout the below handout and infographic for other tips on improving your sleep!
It’s week 4, we are ¼ of the way done with the challenge! I think at this point we all need some motivation to get swimsuit ready! Luckily, today’s discussion is all about your willpower – or rather your lack of willpower – and how to bridge your willpower gap! But first our weekly stats
Team 1: down 4.5lbs/1.95%
Team 2: down 4.6lbs/1.28%
Team 3: down 4.4 lbs/ 3.54%
Team 4: down 9 lbs/ 3.07%
Team 3 and 4 are really taking this seriously! Time for teams 1 and 2 to step up their game!
The average person makes over 200 decisions about food each and every day! Eating right, prepping meals, avoiding all the bad (but tasty) stuff you know you shouldn’t eat, and oh yeah, staying committed to a healthy diet can be difficult—duh. Even the non-food related decisions add to decision fatigue, making it difficult to eat the healthy choice. Planning your meals ahead of time or establishing a prep day can mean the difference between good intentions and behavior change. You need to bridge that willpower gap!
BUT, most of us don’t have the time or the energy to make a healthy home cooked meal after a long day at work. Instead, use your high-willpower moments to power your low-willpower moments.This helps you stay on track and overcome diet-wrecking temptations. Enter Prep day! Take a minute or two to plan healthy meals before your stomach makes the decision for you.
A prep-day can look differently for different people.
By having a Prep day you can have dinner on the table in a flash all week long. Prep day takes the guesswork out of what’s for dinner/lunch/breakfast and allows you to make healthy choices at each meal.
More reasons for and benefits of prepping your meals ahead of time:
Preparation doesn’t have to just be about food, you can also prepare for success in other areas of wellness. For example…
Anything you do to make the healthy choice the easy choice will help you succeed. Research shows that if you surround yourself with junk food, you are more likely to eat that junk food. So hide or get rid of candy jars and replace with healthier alternatives like nuts or fruit (halos make a delicious and fun desk treat). Put the healthier foods at eye level in your refrigerator and move the less healthy food out of sight.
Lastly, I want you to depend on friend-power instead of willpower. Willpower will ultimately fail, science shows it. Share your number within your groups and text each other whenever you feel tempted by unhealthy foods or wanting to skip your exercise routine. Accountability can go a long way with getting you back on track when you have decision fatigue – or perhaps just plain physical fatigue. Another idea: make a list of 10 things you are thankful for next time you are struggling to stick to plan. This little exercise of gratitude encourages you to think positively about what is going right instead of what you don’t have and can really boost your willpower. (This is especially powerful for stress eaters).
EASY, FAST, PREP-DAY Recipes:
Fall-Off-The-Bone Whole Chicken
I love cooking a whole chicken as it’s super easy with very little prep and I have meals for the whole week! I buy the largest whole chicken I can find (2 whole chicken at BJs for $17! – cook one or both of them at the same time).
Here is an easy brine recipe and it tastes just as good as the ones with sugar, but this one is sugar-free! All you need is salt and water: This will literally make your chicken fall off the bone (no more dry chicken!). I double the recipe for 1 whole chicken or 3x if you do two chickens.
Keep chicken in brine overnight in the fridge, then drain and stick in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. I add 1 lemon juice and zest, 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, fresh rosemary and/or Italian seasoning. (Be creative and use any seasoning you like. Fresh ginger is also good). Cook on low for 8 hours while you go to work!
Come home to a delicious dinner (just make sure you sauté up some veggies)! Eat chicken and keep bones and broth for Dinner #2. Add water and any vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, celery) to bones and broth and keep in cooker overnight on low (can even cook 24plus hours while at work). Add any leafy veggies to soup and/or cooked chicken before serving.
5 Clean Eating Chicken Sheet Pan Dinners You Can Prep In Minutes! These recipes take 5 minutes to prep and you can stick them in your freezer all ready to go for whenever you need an easy meal.
Want to incorporate a prep-day, but have different meals each day? Here are some recipes that can be easily interchanged to create new ones:
Still need more ideas? Here are 30 days of mouth-watering recipes already planned by a dietitian
Also some easy lunch ideas
More Slow Cooker recipes than you can possibly make:
My apologies for the late post. I hope you are doing well on your weight loss/health goals this week! Today's topic is a sensitive topic. I find that giving up sugar can be very tricky for so many people. But, doing a sugar detox can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce cravings, improve health, and aid in weight loss - so don't tune me out quite yet ;)
Becoming a Sugar detective
An average American eats 23.5 teaspoons of sugar per day (358 calories). The average female is eating on average 37 teaspoon of sugar per day. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat about 64 pounds of sugar per year. 64 pounds! That’s the weight of an average 9-year old boy! BTW in case you were wondering, the recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons (25g) per day!
Where is all this sugar coming from you might ask.
Sugar comes from many forms and found in many sources, including dried fruit, snacks, desserts, and beverages. But it is also in a lot of things we don’t realize that really add up! Some examples include: condiments, salad dressings, cereals, breads, peanut butter, and even some frozen vegetables! Sugar is literally everywhere! One trick of the food industry is to add sugar, fat, and salt to food to make it more palatable and addictive.
It is important to look for hidden sugar because it influences our food cravings and, when we eat more than 6 teaspoons of sugar, it makes it extremely hard to get all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our body needs without going over the amount of food our bodies need to maintain a healthy weight. There is even less room for sugar for someone trying to lose weight on a calorie restricted diet. (This is why I recommend a good multivitamin for anyone trying to lose weight, also because of vitamin depleted soil).
Another reason to avoid added sugar is the gradual (or not so gradual) desensitization of sweetness.
When we add sugar to food (either by the manufacturer or in our kitchens), the food becomes unnaturally sweet and naturally sweet foods (like fruit) no longer tastes sweet. Sugar (along with salt, and fat, but to a lesser degree) increases dopamine, which excites the brain. When you eat foods with sugar (or even worse with sugar in combination with fat and salt) regularly, your brain lights up and stays that way giving you constant food cravings. These foods stimulate the brain similarly to the stimulation your brain receives from drugs or alcohol. Break this cycle of cravings by detecting hidden sugar and eating whole foods without excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Watch this to find out what sugar goes to your body: https://youtu.be/R46MnUbL6Z8
Which food item has the most sugar?
Answer: The oatmeal! Poptarts: 16g sugar/4 teaspoons; 19g sugar/4.75 teaspoons; flavored instant oatmeal: 28g sugar/7 teaspoons
Some more common foods:
Some more common foods:
But you might be thinking orange juice is better than coke, and you would be right because of the vitamins, but the sugar in juice still behaves like the sugar in the soda. It’s always better to eat the whole fruit instead of the fruit juice. The fruit is packaged in fiber, which slows down the sugar release. When you drink juice (such as orange juice), you’re taking about 4 oranges and removing all the fiber to get one cup.
SO where is all this sugar hiding?
A bit on sugar substitutes...
Diet products (i.e. diet soda, sugar substitutes) can still make people gain weight! This is because they cause people to consume more food because they cause cravings, just like sugar does. One way diet products cause weight gain in through upsetting your microflora (the good bacteria) in your gut. New research is showing how your microflora influences your cravings.
The scoop on different sweeteners:
Finding the Hidden Sugar
1. Locate the grams of sugar, protein, and fiber on the food label. Be sure to check the serving size.
2. Make sure there are at least 3 grams of fiber
3. Add the grams of protein and fiber:
4. Compare the grams of protein and fiber to the total grams of sugar
5. If the grams of protein + fiber total is greater than total grams of sugar the product is a good choice; if it is less than, it is not the best choice. For the example above, this isn’t the best choice. Try finding something that has at least 3 grams of fiber and has less sugar.
The No Added Sugar Challenge: The idea here is to help break the sugar "addiction" that prevents us from reaching lifestyle and weight loss goals. While you are not going to stop eating desserts or added sugar permanently, the purpose of this challenge is to increase your awareness of how much sugar is present in your routine and how it makes you feel. I recommend doing the challenge for 2 weeks in order to see a noticeable change in your taste pallet and to speed up weight loss. At the end of the 2 weeks, you may decide to continue it or start carefully adding in sweeter foods.
Here are the rules:
PAN-SEARED SALMON OVER TRI-COLORED SALAD WITH DIJON DRESSING
Yield 2 servings | Active Time 30 minutes | Total Time 30 minutes
In a separate bowl, combine the radicchio, endive, and arugula; set aside.
Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper and place in skillet, flesh side down; cook, until fish flakes easily with a fork, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet.
Toss the dressing with the lettuces and place on the two plates; top each with a salmon filet.