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Bedtime Routine: Tips for Better Sleep

Bedtime routines are not just for kids. 

Over a third of American adults report sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours per night. Individuals sleeping less than 7 hours per 24 hour period report a higher incidence of chronic issues such as obesity, heart disease, depression, kidney disease, and diabetes per CDC statistics. 

Sleep can be improved by creating a healthy bedtime routine that relaxes the mind and body. Below are some ideas for creating a routine to improve sleep. 

5 Steps for Bedtime Routine Success

1. Set a bedtime and stick close to it at night. 

Keeping a bedtime lets your mind acclimate to your timing of sleep.

2. Avoid eating meals within 1-2 hours before bed.

Sleep can be hindered by reflux and stomach pain, to prevent these symptoms avoid eating within 1-2 hours of bed.

3. Replace screen time in the evening with a book, bath, craft, or other relaxing activity. 

Light from phones, tablets, computers, and TVs, has been shown to be disruptive to the body’s natural sleep cycle, so try replacing these with a different activity as bedtime approaches.

4. Try journaling or a simple to-do list before bed. 

Take time to sort through thoughts and feelings before bed to improve sleep.

5. Add stretching, yoga, and/or meditation.

Relieve stress through the above activities to relax the mind and body in preparation for bedtime.

AH

 

Food Hiding – Helpful or Harmful?

We Were All Born As Intuitive Eaters

Did you know the “non-dieting” approach has been around since 1995? Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch MS, RD, CEDRD, FADA were the first to develop and publish this concept in their book, Intuitive Eating: The Revolutionary Program that Works. Intuitive eating is not a diet, but an approach to improve your relationship with food, exercise, and body image. Through this, studies have shown this method can additionally help improve blood pressure, cholesterol, decrease depression, enhance self-esteem and often result in weight loss for chronic dieters. Information below is a highlight of each principle and directly from the Intuitive Eating book:

PRINCIPLE 1:

REJECT THE DIET MENTALITY

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

 

PRINCIPLE 2:

HONOR YOUR HUNGER

Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise, you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself and food.

 

PRINCIPLE 3:

MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD

Call a truce; stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give in” to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt.

 

PRINCIPLE 4:

CHALLENGE THE FOOD POLICE

Scream a loud “no” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under a thousand calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the food police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

 

PRINCIPLE 5:

FEEL YOUR FULLNESS

Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or snack and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current fullness level is.

 

PRINCIPLE 6:

DISCOVER THE SATISFACTION FACTOR

The Japanese have the wisdom to keep pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence – the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough.”

 

PRINCIPLE 7:

COPE WITH YOUR EMOTIONS WITHOUT USING FOOD

Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your emotional issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may provide comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

 

PRINCIPLE 8:

RESPECT YOUR BODY

Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect realistically to squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size. Respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical of your body shape.

 

PRINCIPLE 9:

EXERCISE – FEEL THE DIFFERENCE

Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, like being energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the booze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

 

PRINCIPLE 10:

HONOR YOUR HEALTH – GENTLE NUTRITION

Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency, or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.

This book is a great read! If you are wanting to implement these principles in your life, and would like guidance/one-on-one counseling, the “BN” Dietitians are in your corner. We understand the role diet culture has played on one’s mind and body. Get back to the basics and learn to listen to YOU! LN

Keeping Produce Fresher Longer

Keeping fresh produce “fresh” can be tricky. In recent months, I have backed off on how many times I grocery shop each month. Keeping fresh produce around for longer than a week can be challenging, but I have started using some of these strategies to keep produce looking and tasting great for weeks!

Storing Produce Properly

Let’s start with how to store your produce! Avoid storing produce at the top of the refrigerator where it is more likely to freeze. Instead, keep fresh produce in the center of the refrigerator to prevent freezing or thawing. Let’s dive into storing techniques for common grocery buys: 

  • Asparagus: Place in a glass of water (like flowers) and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Carrots: Store in a covered container of water in the refrigerator to keep firm until ready to use. Replace the water every 2 to 3 days.
  • Celery: Wrap in aluminum foil to maintain freshness and crunch and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Cucumbers: Store on the countertop at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Lettuce/herbs: Place a dry paper towel around to soak up excess moisture that can cause mushiness, molding, or browning. Change towels every 2 to 3 days. 
  • Mushrooms: Keep in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator to prevent excess moisture causing mushiness, molding, or browning.
  • Tomatoes: Store on the countertop at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Winter squash/pumpkin/onions/potatoes: keep in a dry, cool space like the pantry or garage. Ensure these foods are not overcrowded and have adequate air circulation to prevent breakdown.

 

Washing Produce

It is recommended to wait and wash produce prior to using it to prevent excess moisture during the storing process. Berries are a bit different. Try soaking them in a vinegar solution (3 parts water to 1 part vinegar) for 5 to 10 minutes. Fight the urge to rinse the vinegar off. The vinegar helps fight off molding. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar on your sweet berries. Let berries dry completely. Then, return to a breathable container prior to storing in the refrigerator.

 

Isolation to Prevent Ripening

Some fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, pears, and potatoes produce a gas called ethylene. When this gas is released it can cause any produce near it to ripen faster. Prevent this by storing these foods separately in the refrigerator or on the countertop. Alternatively, you can even place these items near avocados if you are impatient like me and ready to devour the avocados before they’re ripened!

 

Slow Down The Ripening Process

The cold environment of the refrigerator or freezer can allow you to store produce for much longer. Always allow fresh produce like pears, avocados, melons, bananas, peaches to ripen at room temperature first. When at ideal ripeness, transition the produce to the refrigerator until ready to use. Before any produce goes bad, use the freezer to keep it “fresh” until ready to use. Most vegetables need to be blanched before storing in the freezer. Blanching helps halt enzyme activity that impacts flavor and texture; it also helps to clean the produce prior to storing. Put herbs in ice cube molds with olive oil. Chop up green onions and place in a plastic bottle for easy dispensing. Place all produce in an airtight container and use within 6 months.

 

I hope these strategies are as helpful for you as they have been for my family! LN

Meal Prepping Made Easy

I don’t know about you, but sometimes 24 hours a day is just not enough. With school and work, some days I struggle to find the time to eat nourishing meals because I don’t have the time to make a meal and any prepared options are usually not the best choices. I started meal prepping can help free up some time during the week by cooking meals ahead of time!

Set a Day for Meal Prepping

First, set a designated day to cook your meals. I like to cook on Sundays and Wednesdays making meals for three to four days so I don’t get tired of the same meals every day. Also, most of the time food only says good for about three to five days or so. This is also a great way to get the family into the kitchen. Getting kids to help out can spark their interest in healthy food and cooking. Plus, they are more likely to eat the food that they helped cook.

Plan Your Meals

Once you have set a day to make your meals, plan what you are going to make and write a list of food you need to get at the grocery store. Planning your meals in advance can help make grocery shopping much easier as you already know what to get. This way you only need to go to the grocery store once a week. When planning your meals, think about ingredients that could be cooked in multiple ways. For example, you can make spinach into a salad, put it in some soup, or sautee it with other veggies!

Don’t limit your meal prepping to just lunch and dinner. You can save time in the morning by portioning out your smoothie ingredients in mason jars or pre-making pancakes and cut fruit for an easy breakfast for the kids.

Having pre-made snacks make it easy for you to grab and go. Cut up and portion fruits and veggies! Portion out cheese, lunchmeat, and crackers for homemade Lunchables! Pre-package trail mix or cereals! The combinations are endless.

Be Efficient

Utilize your kitchen to the max!

  • Make sheet pan meals by roasting multiple items on the same sheet pan. That’s one less dish to wash at the end of the night!
  • Multi-task. Whether that be boiling some pasta while sauteeing some greens or baking chicken and roasting potatoes, make use of your time cooking.

Portion Out Your Meals

After making all your meals, portion out your meals. This makes it quick and easy to grab your lunch when you are on your way out the door! If you don’t have enough room in your refrigerator, pack your lunch and dinner the night before so you have it ready to go in the morning.

Mason jars are a great way to put salads in. Place your dressing in first and then put hardier vegetables like chickpeas or tomatoes or protein. That way your salad is not soggy when you eat it. It’s also great to use if you want instant noodle soups. Just cook your favorite noodles and shock them in ice water before adding it to the mason jar with other ingredients you want. Add miso, tum yum paste, a bouillon cube, or any other soup flavoring. When you are ready to eat, just add hot water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. And voila you have soup!

Freeze It

If you want to meal prep way far in advance, you can freeze the extra meals you made. You can marinate meat, cook vegetables,  or make soup and freeze it! Making and freezing family meals can be a huge time saver when you are running short on time to make dinner. You can make lasagna, oven bakes, or casseroles in a disposable pan and freeze them until you need them.

Fast food can be healthy. Meal prepping may require taking some time out of your week, but you can have ready to eat meals that you know are nutritious! You can make it as easy as you want it by simply putting everything in the oven or have fun making different meals. Not only does it save time during the weekdays, but it can save you money and unnecessary stress. Try meal prepping this week and comment below how you did it!

AN

Which Came First? Lack of Sleep or Nutritient Shortfalls?

How are you taking care of yourself? Taking care of yourself directly impacts your ability to care for others. Think – are you getting the sleep you need, managing stress in a positive way, meeting your nutritional needs, getting in physical exercise? 

 

Which came first? Are nutrient shortfalls secondary to lack of sleep or lack of sleep secondary to nutrient shortfalls?

The answer – either one can cause an impact on the other. There are some common nutritional deficiencies that may prevent us from getting adequate sleep and/or caused by lack of sleep. Ideally, we should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night.  However, less than 1% of the population falls into the “exception” category of needing less or more than this. If you are not meeting this guideline, you are likely putting yourself at risk for nutrient deficiencies and causing your sleep to be worse. 

 

Adults with less than 7 hours of sleep at night have been found to have nutrient shortfalls in vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, potassium and omega 3s. 

  • Did you know 96% of Americans don’t eat enough vitamin D?
    • Vitamin D plays an important role in lung health, insulin secretion, bone health, brain health, heart health, inflammation, muscle health, and our immune system. 
  • Did you know 55% of Americans don’t eat enough magnesium?
    • Magnesium plays an important role in our bones/teeth, regulation of heartbeat, muscles, nervous system, metabolism, and cellular energy. 
  • Did you know 95% of Americans don’t eat enough omega 3s?
    • Omega 3s play an important role in eye health, maintaining healthy triglycerides, healthy blood pressure, brain health, heart health, and inflammation. 

Having a balanced diet with a variety of produce and protein sources can help prevent nutritional deficiencies. Nutrient-dense food sources include:

  • Vitamin D: Egg yolk, mushroom, fatty fish, cod liver oil, fortified foods/beverages (cereal/orange juice/milk)
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, avocado, fatty fish, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, butternut squash, olive oil, kiwi
  • Vitamin C: Kale, broccoli, green chili pepper, bell pepper, coriander, kiwi, strawberry, lemon, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, papaya, tomato
  • Vitamin A: Liver, cod liver oil, spinach, butternut squash, mustard greens, tomato, fatty fish, carrot, sweet potato, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, parsley
  • Vitamin K: Kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, asparagus, kiwi, avocado, cheese, eggs, chicken, butter
  • Magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, quinoa, beans, dark chocolate, peanuts, edamame, cashews, cacao powder, oatmeal, avocado, broccoli, banana
  • Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, fish, spinach, kale, collard greens, beans, lentils, walnuts, edamame, fortified drinks (almond milk/orange juice), chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli, tofu
  • Potassium: Pistachios, beet greens, salmon, white beans, potatoes, milk, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, peanuts, almonds, banana, acorn squash, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, watermelon
  • Omega 3s: Fatty fish (anchovies, sardines, herring, trout, salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna), basil, chia seeds, flax seeds, spinach, walnuts, edamame, brussels sprouts, avocado

Whether lack of sleep causes nutrient abnormalities or nutrient abnormalities causes a lack of sleep, it is important to make both a priority to help the body function properly. They both play a key role in overall health. Speak with your Dietitian about ways you can improve stress, sleep, and nutrition. LN

Buying Healthy on a Budget

Is grocery shopping for a healthy lifestyle more expensive? The answer is absolutely not, but it can be if you let it. As a student studying nutrition I hear this all the time from friends, family, and random people I meet, “I would love to start eating healthy but it’s so expensive”. I am going to show you how it can be way cheaper to buy fresh, real food versus the pre-packaged, convenience foods at the grocery store and share some tips on how to find the healthier products!

I have listed a few items that I feel are commonly bought at the grocery store (Walmart Grocery prices).

Shopper 1

  • Maple & brown sugar instant oatmeal packs (160 calories/serving) > $2.50
  • Welch’s fruit snacks (80 calories/serving) > $6.98
  • Bag of Doritos (140 calories/serving) > $3.98
    • Totals = $13.46, 380 calories

Shopper 2

  • 100% Whole Grain quick oats (150 calories/serving) > $1.76
  • 2 lbs of grapes (30 calories/ 15 grapes) > $5.76
  • 1 bag of string cheese 12ct (70 calories/serving) > $2.18
    • Totals = $9.70, 250 calories

As you can tell, shopper 1 bought the processed, pre-packaged items while shopper 2 chose a healthier and less processed version of shopper 1’s items. The healthier options not only cost less and are lower in calories, but the health benefits they provide are going to save you money in the future as well due to less medical bills and visits to the doctor.

I also have some tips to help you make healthier decisions while you are at the grocery store. I know you have probably heard some of these before but that just means that they are working for people!

  1. Make a list. This doesn’t mean throw together a list in the car on the way there, this means plan your meals and snacks for the week and write it all down.
  2. Eat a snack. We all know you aren’t supposed to go to the grocery store hungry, so if you know you’re one to buy impulsively from cravings, then have a snack before you go or even take one with you.
  3. Shop on the perimeter. Have you ever noticed that the fresh produce, meat, and dairy are all on the perimeter of the grocery stores? The processed foods tend to be in the aisles in the middle of the store, so after shopping for all your wonderful, fresh foods venture over to get necessities from the aisles such as brown rice or whole grain bread.
  4. I hope this blog has opened your eyes to the world of grocery shopping for a healthier lifestyle. Reminder: this does not mean you have to give up your favorite cookies or ice cream… Everything can fit onto your plate in moderation. In the long-run, your body and mind will thank you for eating fruits and vegetables as well as a cookie now and then! KM

Teaching Your Children Healthy Habits

Food, nutrition and eating skills are among the most important things you can share with children that will be with them forever. Learning these healthy habits at a young age will help children make better choices as an adult. Food to fuel busy, successful lives, nutrition to nourish strong bodies and smart brains, and eating skills to enjoy the social aspect of meals with family and friends.

Here are a few tips to teach your children how to start living healthy lives from a young age:

  • Serve regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Provide calm, pleasant meal times where adults and children can talk together.
  • Allow children to use their internal signals to decide how much and what to eat.
  • Explore a variety of flavors and foods from different cultures and cuisines.
  • Make food safety, including washing hands, a part of every eating occasion.
  • Teach basic skills for making positive food choices away from home.
  • Allow children to help in the kitchen.

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