Posts Tagged ‘food’

So you know you need to watch your calories, but beyond that, what else is listed on a nutritional label? Here is a breakdown of a typical label. All packaged items in the US are required to have a label that covers the following information.

– Serving Size: This indicates how much of the product the figures relate to; it is followed by total grams.
Servings Per Container: This indicates how many servings of the above size are in the box or package.

– Amount Per Serving: This indicates the number of calories per serving. These samples also list how many of those calories are from fat.

– Listing of the food nutrients with their respective gram amount. Notice the % Daily Value* amounts. These percentages represent how much is in the serving of the total daily amount of the item that a person on a 2,000-calorie diet should consume. This may be different for your caloric needs. I for instance, do not require a 2,000 calorie diet so I must adjust the percentages to work for me. You will need to do the same.

– Observe the fats section. It is broken down into several types. As of January 2005, manufactures were required to list the amount of trans fat in their product, because it has been shown to have a direct relationship with elevated LDL cholesterol and heart disease. Some physicians believe that any margarine, vegetable shortening, or partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided. They are typically found in baked goods and packaged and fast foods. I try to avoid purchasing packaged items at all costs, especially if they are not organic. I absolutely will not purchase anything that contains Trans Fats or any partially hydrogenated oils. This does eliminate a lot of cereals, snack products, and pretty much all “ready meals” (i.e. Tuna Helper, Mac n Cheese, etc). You will need to figure out what your thoughts are in regards to these fats. Everyone and every family is different. Make the decision that will best work for your family’s health and situation and stick with it. Read more about Trans Fats HERE.
Other items are also listed that people should be aware of. Continuously keep in mind the amount of cholesterol, sodium, and sugars in each product.

– A list of vitamins and minerals in the serving are included next. Manufacturers add them to “fortify” their products. Personally, I believe that food, REAL food that grows or makes a sound, contains its own naturally occurring vitamins and minerals… if you have to add in “good stuff”, it isn’t real food, and it isn’t for me or my family.
The list of ingredients follows the nutritional information and should include everything in the product. You will note many chemical additives: some enhance taste or color, while others prolong the shelf life of the product. The ingredient with the highest content is listed first, while the smallest is listed last. Pay careful attention to the ingredients if you have food allergies. Many common allergies are related to the additives that are present in packaged foods.

A few extra tips:
*Read the food labels at the grocery store prior to making any purchases.
*Some food labels claim to be low in fat or salt or to contain no (zero) cholesterol, but then they are generally high in sugar and calorie content.
*Prepared foods and many of the fast foods we choose to eat usually contain more fat, sugar, and salt than those foods that we cook for ourselves.
*Manufacturers add increased amounts of salt and other flavor enhancers in order to make the lower-calorie food item taste better. This is why a prepackaged cookie can last for months in your pantry but a fresh baked one from your kitchen will last only days.
**Information taken from Medical Assisting Administrative And Clinical Competencies 6th Edition


Whether you are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues—and which do not—the following guide from the Environmental Working Group will help.

I am not a diehard organic girl, however, when it comes to “The Dirty Dozen” I do my best to buy these items organic. A basic rule of thumb to live by is buy organic thin skinned fruits and vegetables and if they have thick skin save your money and buy non-organic.

Simple Rules to Buying and Eating Organic Foods

1. Back to my simple rule: thin skin must be organic, thick skin can be non-organic. Watermelon? Non-organic. Grapes? Organic. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can wash pesticides off grapes, tomatoes and other thin-skinned produce. The pesticides soak into the skin!
2. You should still wash organic foods. While some farmers make every effort to grow their foods chemical free, their farm could still be located near a farmer that doesn’t. Chances are they share a water supply that can get contaminated from other sources.
3. Buy local by visiting your local Farmers’ Markets. Develop a relationship with the farmers that make the effort to produce organic produce.

Organic is EXPENSIVE. I know, it kills me when I go to the grocery store each week to buy fruit and veggies to feed my bottomless pits (my kids…). But, in the long run, I know that in certain cases, organic is not only something to consider, it is imperative for my family. Do what you can, when you can. 🙂

I hate diets. And really the word “diet” itself has this negative connotation associated with it due to pop culture and the focus on “thin” being “in”. Ick. Diets are a temporary solution to permanent challenge. Here is a secret that the weightloss industry does not want you to know: Diets don’t work. The latest diet fad out there may produce dramatic results in the short term, but the stark reality is that the majority of dieters are going to gain back their loss and in many cases will gain more pounds than they initially lost. There are many reasons why this happens and I think it is important for you to know what is happening to your body when you “diet”. You need to know what you are doing to yourself so you can then make better choices based on knowledge, and not on fear of gaining weight.

First, there has been much research lately on body chemistry when dieting. Recent studies find that dieting—especially the kind of dieting that produces rapid weight loss—messes with your body chemistry in ways that make it extremely difficult to maintain that hard-won weight loss. Abrupt changes in diet trigger an almost immediate surge in appetite, which of course is the exact opposite of what is wanted. That is strike one. Strike two, it’s been confirmed that sustained calorie restriction lowers your metabolism so that you burn fewer calories as you go about your daily activities. This lowered metabolism can continue for a year–or even longer–after the dieting stops. And, most of you have probably heard once or twice before that water loss accounts for the first few pounds of weightloss, which is true. But, how many of you have heard that the next pounds that will be lost next will be from your muscles. BIG frowny face!!!!

Think of muscles as being our own personal, built-in, calorie incinerators. The more we have, the more muscles we have, the more potential we have to burn the calories we consume. This is why I think it is very important for me personally to build muscle. Since I have started really focusing on that, I truly feel like my body has changed for the better.

Getting back to dieting. Most dieters start out strong. They’ve just read the latest celebrity diet book or seen the latest and they’re convinced that this diet—this latest combination of foods, or a certain prescribed eating schedule, , or the strict avoidance of meat, wheat, sugar, white foods, blue foods, or foods beginning with the letter “g”–is going to be the breakthrough that releases the lean, mean physique they know is lurking in there somewhere. This is what the marketers want you to believe. Sadly, their success is solely based on the fact that over 90% of diets fail. And, you better believe that if you are a part of the majority in this statistic, and you find yourself back at squareone, those marketing gurus will be ready to sell you another bigger and better solution to your same problem. I can’t tell you how angry and frustrated this make me. I know people who have cut out entire food groups because they heard that Dr. So-and-So says that this is the root of the problem. Dr. So-and-So is only looking out for Mrs. Dr. So-and-So, and all the Little So-and-So’s that are running around LA somewhere…. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Don’t be a victim! Empower yourself, read REAL scientific studies and talk to your doctor (your REAL doctor, not one found on afternoon TV).

Here are a few real tips that I have gathered from REAL studies and articles.

1. Losing weight is easy (on paper). Calories in must be less than calories burned. Plain and simple math. This is why “food diaries” are so valuable to real weight loss. Here you are able to track the calories you consume and compensate them with workouts/activities – with the ultimate goal of achieving a calorie deficit at the end of the day. If you have a Smart Phone there are many FREE apps out there that can do this for you. My favorite is Lose It!. And if you do not have a Smart Phone, you can use this program on the Lose It! website on a computer.

2. Follow the 80/20 rule. Limit your intake of sweets, refined carbohydrates, and fried foods. It is not necessary, and actually may be detrimental, to completely eliminate these from your diet. There is no one out there that can be 100% good, 100% of the time. You can start off with the best intentions but more often than not, this plan backfires in a big way.

3. Don’t eat in front of the computer or television. This leads to “mindless eating”.

4. Eat fruits and veggies!!!! A lot of them! It is my personal philosophy that I can eat any veggie and any fruit whenever I want. We go through bunches and bunches of bananas and barrels of apples in my house. If I could have these fruits shipped to my door weekly by the truckload I would, and not a piece would go to waste. Cauliflower and broccoli are always cut up in my fridge with a Greek yogurt dip. Fruits and vegetables are full of water and fiber which fill you up and calm hunger pangs, not to mention all of the awesome minerals and vitamins that they pack!

5. Eat smaller portions, always. More often than not we take more than our body needs. Stop when you are full and don’t feel guilty when you don’t finish your plate. I don’t. This is why I have a dog 🙂

6. No soda or fruit juice! Cutting soda and calorie loaded fruit juices out of your diet can produce a dramatic weight loss in and of itself.

7. Don’t eat out. In my opinion, I don’t see the time saver here. You go and wait to be seated, wait to be fed, wait for the check…. and ultimately end up with who-knows-what in the food that you end up eating. I just assume grill me up a chicken breast on my handy-dandy Foreman Grill and open a bag of chopped lettuce and call it a night!

8. Start up a workout routine that you like. There are so many options out there right now – establishments that exist just to motivate you and get you moving. Join a class. Buy or rent a DVD. Start a run/walk group within your work. The point is to DO something instead of EATING something.

9. My least favorite “rule” – stop at one glass of wine or cocktail…. whatever….. 😉

10. This one is interesting, and I think could be the most important of them all – “Think like the person you want to be”. Simply, picture yourself as you ultimately want to be. What activities do you think this person does on a regular basis? What foods does this person eat? What does a typical day in this person’s life look like? Skip the dieting all together and go right to living the life that you envision. The very same things that you’d need to do to maintain that healthy weight are the things you need to do to get there in the first place.

With the holidays coming up there is sure to be some partying, dining and holiday cheer pressing into your normally scheduled workout routines. On any given day throughout the year it is easy to get lost in schedules and family priorities, and as a result it can feel as if there is no time to get a good workout in. If it is easy to fall off of the proverbial fitness wagon on a “normal” day, during the holidays we barely stand a chance.

My answer to the question, “How can I stay fit during the holiday season?” is quite simple – make smart choices and above all…. WORK OUT! Do some sort of physical activity during the holidays. Go for a walk if the weather is cooperative. Pop on the treadmill for a few minutes when you can find the time. Try out that new workout DVD you got last January 🙂 Do what you can when time is on your side…

Aside from this, I encourage you to take a break from your calorie counting and enjoy the holiday season. I for one, intend to eat, drink and be merry! I do not encourage a “diet” mentality at any time of the year. Recently I heard the saying, “You don’t get fat between Christmas and New Years. You get fat between New Years and Christmas.” This really rings true to how I feel about the holidays and just enjoying life in general. Why do we work out and eat healthy? Well, for me, I work out because when I don’t work out I feel sluggish and it makes me feel good about myself. I like that I can do pushups and lift heavy weights. I watch what I eat so I can live a long and healthy life. I want to see my kids, kids get married. I want to be able to do these things wearing clothes that I like and I want to show my kids that when they grow up they can choose to live a healthy life and have fun. I want to be their example. All of this makes me happy.

What does not make me happy though is “watching what I eat” at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I literally work my ass off all year round. I do this and I think I deserve the opportunity to kick my feet up, sit on my keester and eat and drink my face off, a few nights a year. I can tell you, I eat an average of 1500 calories a day of whole foods, lean meats, and lots and lots of fruits and veggies. I stay away from dairy as much as possible, though my love for yogurt and cheese really makes that difficult 😉 I also eat very little sweets or desserts. Luckily, I wasn’t really born with an overpowering sweet tooth. And I rarely go out to eat. Let me tell you though, come Thanksgiving I will more than likely double my calorie intake for the day. I will eat gobs of dark turkey meat (because really, it just tastes better), loads of buttery mashed potatoes, and in all honesty, I will probably lose count of the drinks I drink. I am going to enjoy my family and the season and I think you all should too. Be happy. Life is too short to worry about falling off of any proverbial wagons. Starting Monday after the holidays, lace those sneakers back up, and be ready to get back to work and get back to your fitness routine.


Homemade Yogurt

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Nutrition, Recipes
Tags: , , , ,

So, I am always looking for little ways to keep my family eating heathy foods without having to pin them down and shovel vegetables in their mouths (this is mostly in regards to my youngest, and most headstrong son). This week I am going to try to make me some homemade yogurt! We go through a LOT of yogurt in my house and yogurt can be expensive, especially when you want to purchase organic brands that aren’t all hopped up with sugar.

As I was searching, I came across a site that has a wonderful variety of organically based, delicious recipes. The site is called Keeper of the Home and I encourage you to check it out!

Here is the recipe I will be attempting to make this week:
Homemade Yogurt Recipe
I will let you know how it turns out!