imageUnless you are a dietitian, I doubt you are aware that today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day! In fact, the entire month of March is considered National Nutrition Month (R).  I know! Who would have thought, right?  There is never any publicity except for the occasional mention of it by a blogger (like Yours Truly :) )  or on the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) website.  The theme this year is, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”  BORINNNNNNG!!

With a theme like that, it is no wonder that National Donut Day gets more recognition (plus donuts are much more tastier to bite into).  So instead of discussing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle (which I am sure you know already), I wanted to focus on what being a dietitian really means and what we actually do.

So what exactly is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, other than just being a REALLY long title? 

An RDN must graduate from an accredited four year college with at least a BS in Nutrition Sciences.  Most people think the course work consists of home economy classes but in reality it involves a lot more science including organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology.  Lots of fun stuff!  Not only are the classes challenging, but students need to receive at least a B+ if not an A in most of their classes in order to be accepted into an internship.

Now listen up because this internship stuff is crazy!  After graduating, if the student wants to become an RDN they must compete for a position in an accredited dietetic internship.  These internships provide the student with at least 1200 hrs of supervised practice and usually last for about a year.  These internships are REQUIRED to become an RDN.  Unfortunately, at this stage lots of students dreams are crushed because there is only about a 50% acceptance rate into these programs.  If a student is accepted they are only offered one program and may be required to move across the country for the coveted position.  Not only are these positions difficult to get into, but they are a huge financial commitment.  Most cost at least $5000 (Mine cost $8000 and now is $15300), which does not include cost of living.  Interns work their little butts off by putting in at least 45+ hrs/week if not 60-80 hrs depending on the internship.

Once the internship is completed, the student can qualify to take the Registered Dietitian National Exam.  And if they pass… Wha-Lah! They are an RDN!

But it doesn’t end there!  In order to keep their registration, RDN”s are required to have 75 hrs of continuing education every 5 years.  Not to mention about 50% of RDN’s have their Master’s degree.

Is a nutritionist the same thing as an RDN?

Nope. Believe it or not anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.  They do not even require a degree or any sort of certification.  This is why it is important for you to do your homework on someone who is calling themselves a nutritionist before seeing them.  There are lots of smart, well intentioned nutritionist out there, but there also a lot wackos. Take care of your health (and pocketbook) and do your research first.  If you find someone that is credentialed as an RDN then you can be assured they have had the proper training.

“What would you say you do here?” (<- Get it? Office Space, anyone?)

When you think of a dietitian’s job, what comes to mind?  Weight loss counseling, diabetes education, a glamourous blogger position?  Dietitians may perform these jobs (The blogger one probably least and far between 😉 ), but they do so much more.  In honor of Registered Dietitians Day I wanted to highlight the wide range of careers dietitians might embrace.

The most popular place for a dietitian to work is in the hospital.  You might believe that all they do is provide nutrition counseling, but this is actually a small part of their job.  They have a large role in the ICU, trauma and cancer units.  You know those TV shows where they portray people sleeping peacefully in a coma with no tubes?  Yeah… Not going to happen.  In real life many of these people require temporary tube feeding to meet their nutritional needs and this is where an RDN comes in.  An RDN will calculate their nutritional needs (calories/protein/fat/carbs) and recommend a tube feeding regimen.  If nutrition support is provided within 24-48 hrs to a critically ill patient it may improve their length of stay in the hospital and recovery time. If a patient does not have a functioning GI tract such as a with a small bowel obstruction they be required to be fed directly into their blood through an IV and bypass the GI tract altogether.  Interesting, huh? Once again, the RDN will calculate their nutritional needs and may even manage their electrolytes. I could write a whole book about what dietitians do in the hospital but for the sake of a shorter blog I will skip that!

Other dietitians may be specialized in very specific medical nutrition therapy. For instance, I know a dietitian who primarily works with children who have epilepsy.  To help prevent the onset of seizures, these children require a high fat, low carb diet .  She helps improve the quality of life of the child and their families.  Another dietitian I know worked as a oncology dietitian with stem cell transplant patients.  Talk about specialized!! Most of the time her patients GI tracts were not functional, and therefore, provided nutrition support directly into their blood vein.  It is a big responsibility. If electrolytes are managed improperly or if carbs are provided too fast then it may cause harm to the patient.

Dietitians may also work in food service such as in a school district.  They are given the challenge of providing healthful foods to our kids while balancing a strict budget.  It is a tough job!   You are the slave to two hands, the parents of the children demanding healthy food and the money gods of the government.

I am getting towards the end of my blog and there are so many dietitian jobs I have not mentioned yet but running out of time to do so. I will list other areas that RDN’s might work in.

  • Military
  • Sports– These RDN’s work with athletes at the amateur and professional level
  • Women Infants & Children (WIC)- A government program aimed at providing nutrition education and supplemental food to low income families with children < 5 yo old
  • Renal Dietitians- This is another form of specialized medical nutrition therapy.  Those with end stage kidney require a special diet to follow to avoid toxins building up in the body
  • Corporate Wellness Programs
  • Insurance companies
  • Food companies such as General Mills and McDonalds (yes, McDonalds!)
  • Pediatrics-  Even though there is growing number of obese children, these RDN’s also work with children with disabilities requiring nutrition support
  • Gyms
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Writers/Authors
  • Food Allergies & Intolerances
  • Women’s Health/Fertility
  • GI Health 
  • Eating Disorders

As you can see there are so many different areas that a dietitian may work in and each require a unique skill set.  While I do believe that  nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, I also want to point out that nutrition can be an important part of healing.   What sets an RDN apart from a “nutritionist” or “health coach” is that we have the knowledge and experience to help improve the quality of lives of those suffering from a chronic condition. Yes, we may be able to help someone lose weight, but most importantly we can help improve someone’s nutrition status while they go through cancer treatment, or help prevent muscle loss from your aging grandmother.  We can help provide nutrition support to a loved one after a suffering from a stroke or to a cerebral palsy child who cannot feed themselves.  As dietitians we want to be part of your health journey.

If you see a dietitian today please thank them for the work that they do.  Their boss may have bought them lunch or gave them a coffee mug today, but recognition from you will mean so much more. Till next- K

 

19. February 2015 · Comments Off on Love This New Food! · Categories: Healthy Eating

Food52Lately I have been eating this food on crackers, in salads, with pasta, on top of rice and by itself.  It is high in omega 3’s, contains 30% of my calcium needs, an excellent source of vitamin B12 and selenium, a natural source of vitamin D, and packed with protein.  Not to mention it is brown bag friendly and does not require refrigeration.  Can you guess what it is?

Sardines!!

Wait Wait!  Don’t go yet. I know this salty protein may not be very popular, but it has loads of benefits and worth giving a chance.  And my philosophy is, “Don’t knock it , till you try it……maybe 10-15 times”  :)

If you are not used to eating a food it may take 10-15 times before you like it.  When trying something new your taste buds may need to acclimate to the new flavor.  The first time just take one bite, then the next time take just take two bites.  Don’t force yourself to continue eating something you do not like because you will likely develop an aversion to it.  Instead try preparing it in different ways and eventually you may develop a taste for it.

After learning about all the different health benefits of sardines and with the increasing price of wild salmon I had to give sardines a try.  My first plunge into sardines was straight out of the can.  Yep.  Hardcore.  I can’t say I would recommend this route.  They are quite fishy and visually unappealing.  But I did not give up hope.

I began searching out different brands of sardines.  Did you know they are prepared in a variety of ways?   You can find them packed in water, in virgin olive oil with lemon, in tomato sauce and even in cayenne pepper?  I am sure there are even more ways but that is how I found them.  My favorites were the ones packed in tomato sauce or in olive oil with lemon.

Next, I began looking for variety of preparation styles.  I first went back to my Italian roots and prepared it with a pasta.  It was a smart smart move.  I combined my comfort food (pasta)  with a food less familiar.  By doing this I began to enjoy the sardine flavor.  Even my husband liked it!   If you are interested I used a recipe from Food52 (The one featured in the picture).

Then I continued to try sardines in a variety of ways.  And you know what?  I eventually developed a liking for these salty little fish.  I even have a can of sardines in my desk at work (And yes, my co-workers think I am a little strange).

I have discovered my favorite way to eat  sardines is in a salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  There is something about the balsamic flavor that brings out the best flavor in sardines.  Including avocados and red onions is also a good bet.

My sister-in-law enjoys sardines best over rice.  There are just so many ways to eat them :)

Now that I have you curious about sardines I also want to let you know they have very low mercury content compared to other fish because they are low on the food chain.  Plus Pacific Sardines are a sustainable source of protein according to the Seafood Watch Program.  It is a win-win.  They are good for your body & sustainable for the planet.  Plus,  if you are eliminating dairy from your diet, sardines are an great way to get your calcium and vitamin D in.   The next time you are in the grocery store give these little fish a try.  As a bonus they are also good on the pocket book :)

 

 

 

12. February 2015 · Comments Off on How My Habits Have Changed Since Becoming A Dietitian · Categories: About me, Healthy Eating, Intuitive Eating, Nutrition

DSC_1042In senior year of college, while pursuing a business degree, I enjoyed reading fitness magazines, juicing, working out, and counting calories (Yes, I liked counting calories). I began to shed an extra layer of fat and became fascinated with nutrition.  In fact, I loved nutrition so much that I decided to pursue a second degree in it and added 3 1/2 more years of school (not to mention school debt $$$) to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).  Over the years I have continued my love affair with nutrition and I am always on the hunt for the latest nutrition research.  As I gather new information I have noticed that my health habits have changed over the years.  Here is how being a dietitian has changed my health habits.

1. I No Longer Count Calories-  When I first started my nutrition endeavor I thought counting calories was a must.  How could you keep your weight under control if you did not know how many calories you were eating?  Well it is actually easier than I thought.  I realized that calorie counting did not always equate to good nutrition.  For instance, I would buy protein bars and packaged foods because there was a nutrition label on them.  I could easily add these foods towards my total daily calorie intake.  However, when I prepared my own foods from scratch it was much more difficult to count calories.   With apps such as myfitnesspal.com  it is possible to compute these equations but truly a pain in butt.  I stopped counting calories because it was not a way to live and I was discouraged from eating homemade real food.

2. I Buy Organic Whole Milk Products- I used to buy skim milk.  Why?  Because it is lower in calories.  Once again, calories were governing my food choices.  I have since switched to organic whole milk dairy products.  I know this is a debatable topic because there is lots of conflicting evidence out there on whole milk versus low-fat dairy.  We all tend to find evidence that supports what we want to believe.  For me, I believe in organic whole milk products! I tend to favor foods that come in their more natural form.  Some studies show that whole milk helps keep you lean  while other studies have suggested that low-fat dairy may affect a woman’s hormone levels (and not in a good way!).   Overall, I keep my dairy intake to 1-2 servings/day and I do not feel that the extra saturated fat and calories are harming my health.

3.  I Eat Local Eggs-  In college I used to shy away from eggs.  Why you ask? You guessed it!  Because of the extra calories and fat.  I would eat an egg white omelet to avoid all the extra fat and calories.  But the yolk is where is where all nutrients are like Vitamin E, Vitamin A and choline! Local eggs tend to be from chickens that graze on pasture as opposed to being grain feed.  These eggs have higher vitamin content and twice the amount of omega 3’s than store bought eggs.  I am fortunate enough to have 3 hens of my own and my sister-in-law gives us extra eggs when she can.  We are so egg-cited to have farm fresh eggs! 😉

4. I No Longer Juice-   While I was growing up my dad would pay me an allowance to juice for him in the morning.  I would put carrots, apples, celery and beets into the Champion Juicer and create delicious concoctions.   As I began focusing on my health during college I bought a Jack LaLanne Juicer.  I was stoked!  I put everything in it and loved the fresh tasting juice in the morning.  I thought it was a healthy option.  Then I realized I was putting a lot of apples and beets in it, which was essentially sugar without the fiber to fill me up.  Yes, it had vitamins and minerals in it, but I was missing a key opportunity to get more fiber into my diet.  Plus, juicing gets really expensive!  I chose to start eating my veggies more and when I did want to drink them I placed them into a Vitamix to help keep the fiber. To learn more about the benefits of fiber click here. Including vegetables at meal times also made me more satisfied with my meals and lowered the glycemic load.

5. I Eat Fish at Least Twice Weekly–  Other than the occasional tuna sandwich I never ate fish.  It was not because I didn’t like, it was because I did not think about it.  Then over the years I became aware of how important omega 3 fatty acids are for the body.  Our body does not produce its own omega 3’s and we must get them from our food sources. The best way to get these fatty acids is through cold water fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and sardines.  Albacore tuna contains higher levels of mercury so I tend to choose this option less frequently.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on sardines :)

6. I Listen to My Body-  After reading books, such as Intuitive Eating and Am I Hungry?, I began developing a relationship with my body.  I ate when I was hungry and became more in tuned when I was full.  I  no longer feel the need to eat everything on my plate.  When I was counting calories, sometimes I would be starving but felt guilty about eating more because I was already at my maximum amount for the day.  On other days I would eat more even though I was not hungry because I had 200 more calories left that I could eat.  Our bodies need more calories some days than others. Listening to my body helps me regulate what I need when I need it.

7. I Don’t Exercise to Punish Myself-  This is a big one!  When I ate something that was not considered healthy, like a piece of cake, I would estimate how many calories were in it. Then I would tell myself that I was going to burn it off at the gym.  This way of thinking made exercise a chore!  Now I exercise for the many benefits including STRESS RELIEF!! Exercise has become a positive outlet for my well-being, instead of something “I have to do”  because I ate chocolate cake.  Moving my body has become a pleasant experience.

8. I Aim for Balance- As I am sure you can tell from my blog, I believe balance is key!  Each meal I aim to include a protein, a starchy food (carbs), vegetables and some healthy fat.  Including a variety of different foods makes it more likely I will meet my nutritional quota for the day.  The plate method is a useful tool to include balance and variety.  I also feel that nutrition is only one part of the health puzzle.  It is important to strive for balance in all areas of my life including relationships, work, and play time :) Developing balance in my life helps me fight off any unnecessary stress (which is terrible for my health).

9.  I Don’t Expect Perfection- It is easy for me to get caught up with rules and goals.  But I have realized there is no perfect diet and there is no perfect life.  I will continue to seek for balance, but I understand that sometimes it is okay to be off kilter.  This dance is what makes my life perfectly imperfectly balanced :)

There are actually many more habits I have changed over the years, but it is difficult to include them all.  Maybe in another blog :) Comment below on changes you have made in your life.  Till next time, K

11. December 2014 · Comments Off on The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself: Be Present · Categories: Healthy Eating, Intuitive Eating

Be present this Holiday Season!

 

With the holiday season in full effect it can become easy to wish yourself into the New Year.  The stress of buying gifts, preparing holiday meals and being in constant contact with endless arrays of cookies can leave some us feeling uneasy.  We often feel guilty and unable to enjoy the pleasures the holiday season brings.  This season give yourself the gift of being present (pun intended  😉 ).

The Situation: The Cocktail Party

You know how this goes.  You walk into the room and see a beautiful spread of appetizers and delicious desserts.  Your heart begins to flutter and anxiety begins to creep in.  How are you going to refuse all this yummy food?  You start with the veggies and dip, then dabble in some shrimp cocktail, and then grab a handful of nuts.  You are being good, right?  Then as you mingle with the guests you keep thinking about the cookie dough cheesecake.  In fact, you are not even paying attention to the conversation because you are thinking about the cheesecake.  Later in the evening you become tired of refusing and you decide to have  just a bite of cheesecake.  Then a bite turns into the whole thing, and now what?  That’s right! You figure you might as well eat more because you have already fallen of your diet. At the end of the night you feel stuffed and regretful.  Who wants that?  I have another method for you.

Be Present

Before you arrive to the party check in with yourself.  Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”

How hungry are you?

What do you feel like eating?

Sweet? Salty?  Savory?

What do you want feel like when the party is over?

As you begin to scout the spread of food, pick out your favorite food items and place them on your plate.  It might be tempting to try everything at once but focus on your favorite ones.  Remember the rest will still be there later.

As you begin to eat your food, begin to savor the flavors.  What do the textures feel like?  Being present allows you to appreciate those salted caramel shortbread cookies.  Often times we rush through eating these “sinful” foods and don’t enjoy the experience.   What’s the fun in that?

Allowing yourself to enjoy the pleasure of the food will leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to over indulge.  Check in with your hunger scale as you are eating.  Do you still feel hungry?  If you are beginning to feel your stomach, then you have likely filled your biological hunger cues.   If you are continuing to feel hungry then honor your hunger and if you feel satisfied then respect your fullness.   By you using this approach you will not feel deprived or sick from over eating.

I know this method may be much easier said than done, but as with everything it becomes easier with practice.  I encourage you to try being more present at your next party and see what happens.

The Situation: All the Extra Sweets in the House

Cookies.  Brownies. Cupcakes. Oh my!  It seems like everyone is giving you gifts of food during the holidays.  You know they are well-intentioned, but it makes you uncomfortable having so many “decadent” foods around the house.  You end up eating the cookies on the counter as you pass through the kitchen without even noticing, or grab the bag of caramel popcorn as you watch your favorite Christmas movie (Home Alone anyone? :) ).  Sound familiar? You don’t even like sugar cookies but some how they disappear…. So what is the solution?

You guessed it!  Be Present!

Okay, so you have all this extra food in your house.  Once again pick out your favorite items.  You love the chocolate peanut butter balls, but those chocolate chip cookies are little on the too crunchy and flat side for your taste.   Keep what you love and get rid of what you don’t.  Maybe you could bring the cookies to work (Of course if a co-worker gave them to you it could be a little awkward :) ) or place them on the dessert table during a holiday party.  The point is you are not obligated to eat the food you do not love.

Next place all the food you love into a designated area.  It might help to put it out of view because we all know how the See Food Diet works.  This helps to prevent you from mindlessly eating, because you want to enjoy the food you love, right?  Then when the moment is right and you desire to have that homemade toffee you will be present to enjoy it.

It helps to turn off distractions while you enjoy the foods you love.  When the TV is on or you are playing on the computer it becomes much easier to not be present to the food you enjoy.   Once you become present you will begin to notice you may not eat as much as you usually do.  And of course periodically check in with your hunger scale to help be your guide.

Being present not only allows you eat the foods you love, but it also provides you with the opportunity to savor and remember this holiday season.  Really listen to the conversations you have, feel the music you hear, and embrace the ones you love.  Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Viral MarketingAre you confused about nutrition?  I understand why.  Every day it seems like there is a breaking news story telling you what you should or should not be eating.  It is so frustrating! They use a catchy title (like the one I used :) ) to get your attention and then they unload information that may or may not be true.  The media is sabotaging your diet because they tend to take one study about a food item or diet and promote it like it is the holy grail.

Take for instance the debate between low-fat/high carb versus low carb/high fat.  At one time low fat/high carb diets were all the craze and now low carb/high fat diets are the new thing.  The media is constantly vilifying one food item and glorifying another.  Living in these extremes can create a poor relationship with food.

Food is not the enemy!

Carbs are not the enemy!

Fat is not the enemy!

Even calories are not the enemy!

So what is the enemy?  Would I be too “Zen-like” if I said there is no enemy?  :)

A healthy, nourishing diet includes all the macronutrients- carbs, protein and fat.  Is there an optimum amount of each? Maybe.  It depends on activity level, individual metabolism and genetics. I encourage my clients to include a little fat, protein and carbs at each meal.  This will help prevent blood sugars from spiking and provide sustained energy throughout the day.

So what is important in a healthful diet?

Quality

Focusing on the quality of the diet will help you maintain your health and avoid unwanted weight gain.  Including more whole foods and eliminating processed foods tends to be a good bet.  For instance include lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and lean cuts of beef instead of more processed proteins such as sausage or pepperoni.  Include complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, and quinoa instead of refined carbs like white rice, white bread, pastries.  Focus on including more healthful fats such as olive oil, avocado or even butter instead of margarine or vegetable oil.  And of course make sure to include  fruits and veggies :) Even though the media likes to single out some of these as being a “superfood,” all fruits and vegetables carry some benefit.

Focusing only on macronutrients such as carbs, protein and fat can get you into trouble.   For instance, if you are on a low fat diet and replacing the fat calories with refined carbohydrates such as pretzels, crackers and sherbet then this might be detrimental your health in the long run.  If you are on a low carb diet and replacing the carbs with sausage, lard, and T-bone steaks then this could also have long-term consequences.

Focus on the quality of the diet and not the latest news story.<—Tweet this

There is always going to be the next superfood or new diet to try. But remember, sticking with whole foods and eating a variety of different nutrients never gets to be old news :)

 

 

 

 

06. November 2014 · Comments Off on Could you have PCOS and not know it? · Categories: Healthy Eating, Supplements

Interracial Group of Three Beautiful Women Friends SmilingThe answer is yes!  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder that affects 6-10% of women in the US and can often go undiagnosed or untreated.  If left unmanaged it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, endometrial cancer and/or reproductive issues such as irregular periods, infertility, and pregnancy loss.  Some bad stuff, huh?

So what exactly is it?

The exact mechanism is unknown but PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects your hormones. Typically your ovaries produce a small amount of testosterone and other androgens, but with PCOS they produce more than a normal amount and can cause extra hair on your body or acne. Due to the hormone imbalance many women with PCOS develop small cysts on their ovaries, hence the name “Polycystic” meaning “many cysts.”  Women with PCOS are also typically insulin resistant and do not metabolize carbohydrates efficiently .  Their blood sugars tend to be high and they crave carbohydrates.   Since about 50% of women with PCOS are obese, those women who are lean are often overlooked at having PCOS.

How do you know if you have it?

As with any diagnosis it requires a doctor to make the final confirmation.  However, if you have the following symptoms I encourage you to let your doctor know so he/she can run the proper tests.

  • Irregular (more than 40 days) or absent periods
  • Excess hair growth on face, chest, stomach
  • Acne
  • Infertility
  • Excessive abdominal weight
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Hair loss from head
  • Dark, dry patches of skin
  • Intense carbohydrate cravings

Is it treatable?

Yes, but first it must be diagnosed. The good news is PCOS can be managed with drugs and lifestyle changes. Many women are placed on Metformin or thiazolidinediones to help manage their insulin levels.  Diet and lifestyle changes can also have a big impact on blood sugar levels, heart health, weight loss and fertility.  Here are some ways to to help mange PCOS with diet and lifestyle:

  • Weight loss of 5-10% can improve fertility and blood sugar levels in those that are overweight/obese
  • Participate in 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week
  • Eat less refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, candy, cookies, and pastries
  • Eat more fiber containing carbohydrates such as 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice rice, whole grain pasta and fruit
  • Include lean proteins such as chicken, fish and turkey in your meals
  • Include healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil and peanut butter
  • Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn about portion sizes
  • Certain supplements such as cinnamon may help manage blood sugars

Diet and lifestyle changes can be in integral part in managing PCOS. Such changes may be easier said than done. Working with a dietitian can help make the journey easier and provide you with the skills you need to succeed.  If you would like to learn more on your own I would recommend the PCOS Workbook by Angela Grassi.  Most importantly, if you feel you may have PCOS please see your doctor soon.

16. September 2014 · Comments Off on The Low FODMAP Diet: Why it may help IBS · Categories: Healthy Eating
IBS can be a debilitating condition. A Low FODMAP diet may help.

IBS can be a debilitating condition. A Low FODMAP diet may help.

During the past few years the Low FODMAP diet has gained international attention and has recently been making its way to the United States. “The FOD what?” you may ask. The Low FODMAP diet is intended for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). FODMAP’s, otherwise known as Fermentable Oligo Di-, and Monosaccharides & Polyls, are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the gut. FODMAP’s occur in many of our everyday foods, even “healthy” foods. Unlike many diets, the Low FODMAP diet is not intended for weight loss, but rather for improved bowel function and to relieve abdominal pain.

Does this mean you should try it?

If you are one of the 10-15% IBS sufferers in the United States, then yes the low FODMAP diet may help. Common symptoms of IBS, according to the Mayo Clinic include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A bloated feeling
  • Gas (more than normal)
  • Diarrhea or constipation: Sometimes alternating
  • Mucus in stool

These symptoms are usually an ongoing issue before being considered IBS.

Normally carbohydrates are absorbed in your small intestines. However, FODMAP’s are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and then make their way down to the large intestine. The bacteria in the large intestine then begin to feed on these FODMAP’s. This fermentation process increases water delivery to the bowel and hence bloating and GI issues can occur. Everyone absorbs FODMAP’s poorly, and this is normally a good thing because you want to feed the good bacteria in your gut. But for unclear reasons it exacerbates GI issues in the IBS sufferer.

FODMAP’s include a variety of short chain carbohydrates including fructose, lactose, fructans, mannitol and sorbital. Fructans include barley, rye and wheat based products. People who believe they have a gluten sensitivity may actually be having a reaction to the fructans instead, which is why they have relief when they remove gluten products. Interesting, huh?

What other foods contain high amounts of FODMAP’s

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Artichokes
  • Milk
  • Cashews
  • Chickpeas
  • Cauliflower
  • Wheat products

All high FODMAP foods are not included here and new ones are coming out all the time. I highly encourage anyone who wants to begin this diet to meet with a Regisitered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to make sure their diet is not lacking in any nutrients because many foods are eliminated on the diet.  If you would like more information regarding the Low FODMAP diet then click here for a more comprehensive food list from Stanford University. Not all foods need to be eliminated forever, but it is helpful to remove all high FODMAP’s at first from your diet and then add them back in slowly to see which ones cause you to react.  You might be reactive to gluctans but not those high in fructose. Everyone is different. With patience your gut may be back onto the road of recovery soon!

On a side note, please consult your doctor if you are concerned you have IBS :)

04. September 2014 · Comments Off on How to Use the See Food Diet To Your Advantage · Categories: Healthy Eating, Intuitive Eating, Self Growth · Tags: , ,

The See Food dietRemember that bad joke we used to say in the 90’s?  “I am on the see food diet.  I see food and I eat it. Haha!”  Well it turns out there is some truth to that statement.  We tend to eat the food we see.  You know what I am talking about!  How about those brownies in the break room? Can’t resist.  Or the Costco freebies?  Consider it a meal! Or the times when you are not hungry but you find your hand in the candy bowl?  It happens. Why?

Because you think about the food more. The moment you see the food you are hardwired to want it.  Your mouth begins to salivate and you begin to think about what it would be like to take a bite.  Even your digestive enzymes begin to increase.  At first you may say no, but every time you see those brownies again it becomes harder to resist.  In fact it can be exhausting.  If you are hungry then it becomes even more difficult to refuse the food item.

In Mindless Eating, the author discusses an experiment he performed with a group of secretaries.  One group was given clear glass bowls with lids on them containing 30 Hershey Kisses inside.  The other group was given a solid color glass bowl with a lid containing 30 Hershey Kisses inside. Every night the researchers would replenish the bowl of chocolate.  The researchers reported that the group with the clear glass bowl had their hand in the bowl 71% more often, and ate an average of 77 more calories.  This just goes to show that we tend to eat what we see.

But how can you use the see food diet  to your advantage?

You got it! Showcase more foods that are good for you.

Instead of putting your fruits and vegetables in the drawers of your your fridge, put them on the shelves where you can SEE them! Place your cheeses, meat or condiments in the drawers instead. This way when you open the fridge you see fruits and veggies first. In sight in mind! This might also help reduce the amount of produce you throw out.

Instead of a bowl of candy  or cookies on the kitchen table, place a bowl of cherry tomatoes or plums.

Rearrange your cupboards. Try to move chips, soda, and candy to areas you will not see them as much.  That could even mean placing them in a cupboard in the garage.  Out of sight out of mind! Instead place whole grains, nuts, dried fruits, and homemade snacks in sight. In sight, in mind!

Can’t refuse stopping for doughnuts in the morning?  Try taking a new route to work.  Changing up your routine may help stop you from having to make a decision in the first place.

But are these suggestions going to stop you from seeing food that is not good for you?  Of course not!  During the moments of brownies in the break room, or cookies on the kitchen table, just stop and be aware.  Become aware of what is happening and how you are feeling.  Know that you are programmed to want the food.  You may choose to eat it or not.  To be honest it does not matter.  But being aware of what is happening is the first step toward mindful eating.

21. August 2014 · Comments Off on How to Manage Heartburn · Categories: Healthy Eating, Supplements

Stomach Ache RefluxMost people have experienced heartburn at some point in their life.  A few of us may have it every once in a while, but for others it is a daily occurrence.  During normal digestion food enters your stomach after chewing and is prevented from coming back up your esophagus by your lower esophageal sphincter (LES).  When heartburn occurs your LES is weak and allows your acidic stomach juices to flow back up into your esophagus.  This can be very painful and limiting, especially for those who experience it on a daily occurrence. Overtime the acidic stomach juices can irritate the esophageal lining and may even cause esophageal cancer.  The chronic condition of heartburn is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Luckily,  I have some tips on how to manage heartburn with diet and lifestyle changes

1.  Limit/Avoid Trigger Foods- The most common trigger foods are mint, chocolate, and caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda.  These can cause the LES to have reduced pressure and therefore allow the stomach juices to flow back up into the esophagus. The key is to to make sure the LES is tight so nothing can get back into your esophagus.  Even if you eat acidic foods such as, tomatoes or oranges, this should not bother you because when the LES is working properly it should not allow stomach contents back up into the esophagus.  However, citrus, raw onions, tomatoes and spicy foods may aggravate symptoms even further.  It may help to keep a food diary to know which foods bother you the most.

2.  Limit/Avoid Alcohol & Smoking- Alcohol and smoking are notorious for lowering the pressure of the LES.  Everyone is a little bit different in their tolerance level.  Some people may be able to tolerate 1-2 drinks but other people may not be able to tolerate any drinks.

3.  Eat Until Your Satisfied-  Overeating will most likely will  cause extra pressure on the stomach resulting in heartburn.  Your stomach is a reservoir for food items you eat.  Its purpose is to mix and breakdown the food and pass it into the small intestine.  If the stomach is overfull then it will not do as good of a job of breaking down the food.  Think about it.  When you want to clean a jar of peanut butter, do you fill the water to the top or do you fill it half way and then shake?  You fill it half way, right?  This gives the liquid more room to break down the food.  Your stomach is the same way.  By not overeating you are giving your stomach more room to help break down your food and

4.  Avoid Laying Down After Eating– After a long day at work it may be tempting to lay down and watch TV on the couch.  But this can increase your risk for heartburn.  Why? Because you are not using gravity to your advantage.  When you sit straight up gravity can help keep food contents in the stomach where it should be, but if you lay down then gravity may pull the stomach contents back up your esophagus.

5. Avoid High Fat Meals-  Fat is good in moderation, but when you eat a high fat meal this can delay your stomach contents from emptying into your intestines.  So you are left with a very full stomach and increased pressure in the abdomen area.  This will likely lead to heartburn if your LES is dysfunctional.  Aim for 20-35% of your calories to come from fat at each meal.

6.  Go for a Walk After Meals- Walking after meals can help with digestion. Physical activity stimulates the GI tract to start working, otherwise known as peristalsis.  This will help empty the stomach contents sooner into the small intestines.   Even a five minute walk can help!

7.  Supplements-  Some supplements have been shown to help with heartburn symptoms.  There is not a lot of clinical research but the studies that have been done are promising.  According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database caraway oil, artichoke leaf extract and angelica may be used to help in treatment of indigestion.  Please speak with a health care professional before starting any supplements.

8. Weight Loss-  If you are overweight, weight loss may alleviate your heartburn.  It is believed that excess weight can cause extra pressure on the stomach which pushes the stomach contents into the esophagus.  A small,  1-2 lb/week weight loss might give you dramatic relief.

If none of the above methods work for you, then I encourage you to see your doctor.  He/She may be able to provide you with medication to help give you with some relief.  You might also want to ask if any medications you are currently on have a side effect of heartburn such as blood pressure medications.

Heartburn can be a very painful condition.  I hope the strategies I provided you with today give you the relief you deserve.  If there were any strategies that helped you that I did not mention, please comment below.

 

10. August 2014 · Comments Off on 5 Ways To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone · Categories: Healthy Eating, Self Growth, Stress Management · Tags: , , ,

20140810-133859.jpgWe have all been there. You want to try a new activity or goal in life but you are not quite sure how to get there. Daydreaming about it can be fun, but starting it can be challenging and overwhelming. So you think maybe some other time. Today I want to share with you how I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and how you can too!

For years I have been wanting to use a pressure cooker. I always heard about the fun things you could do with it like canning and reducing your time in the kitchen. You can cook dried beans within 6-8 minutes without pre-soaking! Truly an amazing accomplishment when it normally takes 3-12 hrs depending on the type of bean. As you might expect, I was thrilled when we received a pressure cooker as a wedding present three years ago.

The only problem was I did not use it. It just sat in my cupboard and collected dust. Why?

Because I was scared. I was scared of trying something new. I blamed the fact that I had no one to teach me. I heard so many horror stories about how dangerous a pressure cooker could be that I did not try. Despite articles I read about how much safer they are, I still did not pursue it. But the truth was I was scared to try something unknown to me.

20140810-133910.jpgAbout six months ago I bought a pressure cooker magazine to help inspire me to cook something. Still nothing…

Then last weekend my husband said, “I think we should start using the pressure cooker.” Apparently that was all I needed as a catalyst to try to use it.

The next day I picked out a recipe while Eric put together the pressure cooker parts. We decided to choose something easy for our first experiment…beets! A friend of mine gave me a bunch from her garden so we wanted to put them to good use. Then the fun started.

I was gritting my teeth when the steam began rising out of the pressure control due to my nervousness. But guess what? Nothing scary. No eyes went missing. No faces were burned off.The only thing that happened was delicious beets in a quarter of the time. I am now very eager to try other recipes. It was super easy and a great time saver. Now I know what to expect and I am no longer afraid to use it.

20140810-133922.jpgWe all tend to have things we are nervous about trying, whether it be trying a new class at the gym or presenting a new idea at work. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be a scary process, but that is where the magic happens. You begin to feel more confident in your abilities to do other things as well. Here are 5 ways you can learn to step out of your comfort zone:

 

 

 

20140810-133930.jpg1. Focus on the Excitement– When you try something new there tends to be two feelings: nervousness and excitement. I encourage you to focus more on the excitement. Excitement is going to give you the energy and confidence to complete the task at hand.

2. Share the Experience– It can be overwhelming learning something new. By sharing the experience with someone else it can be make the activity less daunting. If it wasn’t for my husband wanting to use the pressure cooker, I don’t know how long I would have put off using it. By sharing the experience it can also make you more accountable for your actions. You don’t want to disappoint others when you don’t follow through.

3. Get Inspired– Watching your favorite chef on TV or picking up the latest fitness magazine can be motivation to get you started on your goals. Who or what inspires you? It might be a biography of someone you admire, or maybe you like to create inspiration boards to achieve your goals or dreams. Whatever inspires you, start doing more of it :)

4. Start with Baby Steps– Sometimes it is easier to focus on individual steps than the whole activity. When you focus on the whole activity it can seem overwhelming and easy to back away from. First, focus on looking up what time the gym class is. Second, write the class into your schedule. Third, put on your gym clothes and so on. You get the idea :) With this approach you can focus on the barriers as they come instead of focusing on them all at once.

5. Enjoy the Journey– I know. I know. This sounds corny, but it is so true. Learning and appreciating the process is all part of stepping out of your comfort zone. Making mistakes is expected. Learning from mistakes is what is important. I have made raviolis from scratch many times. Each batch is a little different and I improve each time. Sometimes I take a couple steps back and they are less than edible, but that is okay. I am learning and it is about enjoying the process.

Everyone has different personal goals or dreams. Some are easier than others, but for most goals it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone to get there. Good luck :)