Nutrition Do & Don’ts this Holiday Season 

Only two weeks until the New Year’s (I cannot believe it either!) but that does not mean we have to put our health to the wayside. Here are nine do and don’ts to help from digging yourself a hole for 2018.

DO NOT…

 

  1. Wait Until the New Year to Live Healthy

Two weeks can do more damage then you might think. A consistent balance is the name of the game. A day, a few meals spread throughout the two weeks will do little if no damage, however if we “give up” on living healthy the next two weeks, I promise the holiday season will not be as enjoyable nor will the start of 2018. Continue with your healthy practices, this and next week through the celebration, your energy levels, health, and self January 1st will be thanking you.

 

  1. Save Calories for that Evenings Holiday Party, Dinner, Drinks etc.

I see this a lot when working with clients. They have a holiday party or event that evening, so decide to eat very little throughout the day, hoping to save up calories for the party. This tactic is actually setting yourself up for FAILURE. I cannot think of a time that “saving calories” would be a good idea…. Our bodies do not work in this way so our mindset should not either. Fasting all day will only increase the odds of your stuffing your face with the unhealthy options (most likely) and eating too much for your body to comfortable handle. Rather, if you know you have a holiday party that night, make sure to eat how you normally do or even better. Start your day with a healthy breakfast (2 eggs and ¼ cup oatmeal with ½ banana and cinnamon anyone?), make sure you pack some power snacks for the day (raw veggies with hummus, and some nuts), grab a salad topped with grilled chicken, quinoa, and cottage cheese with an apple. You are setting yourself and your body up for success going into that party. 

 

  1. Push Exercise to the New Years 

It is all to easy to find excuses to not workout and stay active. And, during the holidays, there are even more excuses… I need to shop for presents, wrap presents, its cold outside, I’ll start in 2018 (look at #1), I’m too busy etc etc etc. Missing a workout on a few occasions will not negatively effect you, however it is important to find time to move our bodies. Again, consistency is the name of the game.  This does not even have to mean going to the gym.  Start a dance party with the kids, go for a 30 minute walk/jog, or do a 10 minute workout in your bedroom (5 burpees, 5 air squats, 5 pushups, 5 lunges each leg, 10 sits up repeatedly). Get moving, it will help keep you healthy, energized and happy (get those endorphins ladies and gents).

 

  1. Skimp on the Vegetables

If you know me, you know I am the BIGGEST fan of vegetables. And for good reason, they are nutrient dense while at the same time low in calorie. Vegetables help keep your immune system strong, inflammation low, and energy levels high. It is even more important to load up on vegetables (and fruit) during this time of year when everyone is getting colds, coughs etc. At a party check out the veggie tray or bring one yourself. Frozen vegetables or steam veggie bags are a quick and nutritious option when in a pinch at home.

 

  1. Skip Meals 

This somewhat goes along with #2 but thought it was important enough to have its own number 🙂 It is easy to skip meals during this busy time of the year. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or even snacks. Not fueling yourself throughout the day will only leave you extremely hungry, tired and probably grumpy… moreover leading to grabbing anything and everything you can get your hands on (processed fatty foods). Do yourself a favor, eat three square meals, do not go more then four hours without eating something, and always start your day with breakfast (even if its just a piece of peanut butter toast).

 

  1. Eating Mindlessly

It is easier then we might think to eat mindlessly, especially during the holidays. This time a year sweet, processed, and fatty foods seem to be all around us.  You open your pantry/fridge, visit your friend’s house or walk by a colleagues desk in the office and those homemade cookies will not stop staring at you. Many times we see these foods, and since it’s the holidays, we think its necessary to eat them EVEN when we are full or not hungry. Honor your hunger and know your hunger cues and trigger. Have the discipline to shut the pantry, take a cookie for later or come back for a cookie in a few hours. Just as it is never a good idea to have a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or plate of cookies in front of you while watching TV on the couch, don’t continue to reach for holiday goodies time and time again just because.

 

  1. Forget to Hydrate 

Colder weather seems to cause us to drink less water. But with more than 60% of our body being water, it is essential to continue to keep that water bottle with us throughout the winter and Holiday parties are not an exception. Many times we forget to drink water when out to dinner or at a party. Your body will make you pay for this the next day.  Start the party or dinner with water and follow every beverage with another glass of water. Start your day with a glass of water (have it ready on your night stand) and hydrate throughout the day by bringing your water bottle everywhere your cell phone goes.

 

  1. Not Have a Plan

Not having a plan is setting yourself up for failure.  Have a plan for the party, the day, the week etc. The more we plan the better off we will be just like an interview, big meeting or presentation. Plan for tomorrow by going through your day and include what and when you are going to eat. Planning for the week may include building your grocery-shopping list, planning out dinners at home or out etc. Last but not least, how do we plan for a party? Do you know there’s going to be lots of sweet treats at the party? Have a plan to pick 2-3 of your favorite cookies or ½ a slice of pie and a cookie. Know there’s going to be a lot of alcoholic beverages? (Look at #7) start the party with water, and drink water between each beverage. Planning your day with good fuel is also planing for the party as well (#2).  

 

  1. Have Food Guilt 

Ate Christmas cookies last night, had a eggnog latte this morning or got food sweats from a delicious dinner night out with friends? DO NOT, I repeat, do not have guilt for that cookie, eggnog latte, prime rib etc. Rather enjoy the homemade cookies you rarely make, take pleasure in your company at dinner and savor each sip of the eggnog latte. A component of food is enjoyment so enjoy and do not think you do not have the right to enjoy  Just do not over enjoy all the time 😉

 

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Why to Think of a Dietitian like a Dentist…

Think of a Dietitian like a Dentist…

Every 6 months we head to the tooth expert, the dentist, to give our mouth and teeth a check-up and cleaning.
Why not give your nutrition a check up with a nutrition expert, a registered dietitian?

We go to the dentist to prevent or treat cavities and other possible teeth issues.
Meeting with a dietitian you can possibly prevent illness, current GI or sleep issues, future chronic disease, and also enhance energy, immunity or athletic performance.

Unfortunately, the dentist sometimes finds an area that needs some care, so we come back for a follow up to fix it.
Dietitian’s may find areas that are in need of improvements after the first consult. This is why follow up meeting are key to clients success.

Everyone knows how to brush and floss their teeth but we still go to the dentist for a check up and cleaning.
We may know (or think we know) how to eat as well, but few of us get a check up or a cleaning of our nutrition. Also important to note, dietitians do much more then simply tell you what to eat 😊

New life events (pre-post natal, new baby, food allergy, food intolerance, high/lost test results, athletics, children starting school, new job etc) may cause you to alter your current nutrition. Whether that be for you, a family member or the entire family. Getting guidance from a Dietitian can not only allow for an easier transition but set you up for success.

So just as we head to the dentist twice a year to stay healthy, think of doing the same with a dietitian. There are more similarities with the two than you may think.  If you think you need a check up, visit Fit Plate Nutrition for a free 15 minute intro call.

-Michele Fumagalli, RD

Sports Nutrition for the Teen Athlete: finding the best approach

Children should never be put on a diet.  Currently, I am not aware of a diet plan for children that is safe, effective, and sustainable nor do I perceive any “diet” like this  evolving anytime soon. If it is hard for a fully grown, educated, mature adult to follow a “diet” plan how do we expect innocent immature youth to?

It is common for me to hear friends and clients trace their struggle of food from something a parent, family member or coach said to them in their youth.  Putting a child on weight watchers, sending a child to a personal trainer for the purpose of weight loss, and coaches telling athletes they need to lose weight, eat less, or look more like other “skinnier” athletes on the team are all things I have heard or witnessed.  These examples, unfortunately happen more often than you would like to think.  So what is the best approach for Sport Nutrition in youth athletes if they can’t or shouldn’t be put on a diet or hinder their relationship and confidence with food?

BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION

It is not a coincidence that Fit Plate Nutrition is a Sports AND Family Nutrition Counseling Service.  How do you expect a teen athlete to cultivate healthy

living behaviors if his or her family is not doing the same?  Athlete’s usually need a more detail oriented nutrition plan when it comes to nutrition, in order to achieve optimal performance.  However, their foundation is the first area of importance.  If a house is built on quick sand, no matter how strong and beautiful the house is, with a weak  foundation, it will not stand.  And so, we first need to analyze each athletes foundation of nutrition before building upon it, and most often than not, this is found within the family and household.     

Building a s strong foundation includes covering the basics, educating the athlete and family on ways to enhance their healthy lifestyle in a realistic and affordable way. Discussing sleep, meal and snack make up, routine, increasing fruit and vegetables to decrease inflammation, and eating at home vs out etc. 

  1. How many hours does the athlete sleep
  2. How many meals are eaten at home verse fast food / at a restaurant
  3. Popular snacks and how often
  4. Does the athlete eat breakfast, does he/she skip meals?
  5. Daily Athlete’s Beverage makeup (juice, soda, water, energy drinks?)
  6. Who does the cooking, does the athlete know how to cook anything,how to prepare any food for him/herself?
  7. Does nutrition change depending on: game day, training day, rest day, in season, out of season, multiple game day etc?

Fueling before, during and after a training or competition is essential to optimal performance, however even if fueling around the athletic occasion in perfect it will only do so much unless the athlete has a good foundation.

FOOD IS FUEL

In a perfect world we would treat our bodies like the most expensive car you can think of, putting only the best fuel and accessories into it.  My Sports Nutrition approach for youth athletes is to speak of food and nutrition as fuel for athletes.  Playing collegiate and professional soccer, I did not have the best relationship with food and unfortunately, saw many teammates struggle with some sort of disordered eating behavior.  Studies show females are more sensitive to food insecurity but we cannot leave out the males on this as well.  Using FUEL as a key word helps athletes better understand the effects on food on their body and performance.  Fueling is not only for an athlete’s trainings, competitions and success in school but for health and growth as well.

Athletes need to be able to answer and know “did I fuel myself properly for my game, for my training?” and have the confidence in making the correct food choices

Athletes need improvement on the connecting how they feel with what he or she did or did not eat/drink that day

Athletes need to be able to prepare food for themselves, even if that is oatmeal, scrambled eggs, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or yogurt parfait.

USE ROLE MODELS TO BUILD THE IMPORTANCE OF FUEL

Another dynamic to sport nutrition in teens is having athletes actually believe in the importance of sports nutrition.  Working with the family to integrate healthy behaviors is essential however the athlete will get the most reward  if and when he or she believes that proper fueling with improve their game.  Just as Nike, Gatorade, Under Armor spend millions of dollars on professional athlete endorsements to get youth to buy their products we can use this same tactic in sports nutrition.  It is rare to find a professional athlete who is not working with a nutritionist or dietitian, whether it be on their own dime or the team’s.  Just as professional teams and top college athletic departments invest in coaches, strength & conditioning coordinators, trainers, physical therapists, and sports psychologists, Dietitians are also now very much in the mix.  These teams and coaches know that they game can be won and lost due to nutrition or lack of fueling.  If a young athlete knows his/her favorite, role model athletes are fueling themselves properly and taking nutrition seriously, he/she will be more likely to buy-in to healthy eating for better performance.

SIMPLIFYING & MAKING IT REALISTIC

I do not expect teenage athletes to give up fast food, eating out, snacking, enjoying pizza, burgers, and ice cream.  If you tell any person he/she cannot have something, in turn he/she will only want that thing more.  This ESPECIALLY goes for teenagers (as all parents nod their heads in unison ha).  All food has its place in life.  My job is to help athletes choose BETTER options for fuel at fast food/sit down restaurants, when they are starving and only have the vending machine or gas station available or when the right time would be to splurge on a food (aka not before a game/training). Simplifying and making proper fueling realistic in a teenagers world is essential if 1) we want them to buy-in to eating healthy and 2) optimize performance, recovery and decrease risk of injury.

 

Youth athletes should not need to count calories, weigh their food, think what they are eating will make them fat, try to go low carb, high protein, not eat after 7pm, restrict calories etc.  Rather they need to be informed, gain a strong nutrition foundation, recognize better food fueling alternatives, know what to eat around the athletic occasion and to continue to connect their performance and how they feel with what food and beverages they put or do not put into their bodies. My approach to sports nutrition in youth continues to evolve but the end goal will always be not only improved performance but moreover, a healthier life.

Traditional Breakfast MAKEOVER: how to up your Oatmeal game

Oatmeal is a breakfast staple in the Fumo Household, we eat it 2-3 times a week.  It's a warm treat that can be packed with nutrient dense foods.  I love knowing Gwen will scarf down oatmeal and the various nutrients I add in or more so "hide in." Oatmeal is a grain, carbohydrate, contains natural sugar, fiber, protein, and is whole-grain making it a great foundation to breakfast.
Oatmeal, however, is not made equally.  There are MANY oatmeal options at the grocery store, pre-flavored, easy-on-the-go, packets, organic, steel-cut, rolled-oats, gluten-free…it can get quite confusing.   The majority of oatmeal is laced with added sugar so even though it says it is “All Natural” or “Organic” this does not necessarily mean it is a healthier choice. 
So What Oatmeal is Best?   What Should you Look For?
  1. ONE Ingredient: rolled oats, whole-grain oats, organic oats etc.
  2. Plain, No Sugar Added
  • This goes along with the one ingredient but I think it is important to mention.
  • As I mentioned oats are a great foundation for breakfast, we are looking for the most natural, pure product
  1. Steel-cut vs. Rolled oats: We have both steel cut and rolled oats in the house but 9 times out of 10 we grab the rolled oats out of pure convenience.
  • Steel-cut oats take longer to cook and even the “quick and easy” steel cut outs seem to explode in my microwave and still have a gritty/uncooked texture.
  • Steel-cut has the SAME nutritional value as rolled oats

  1. Organic vs. Traditional:
  • My go-to is Organic Quick Rolled Oats. I buy Meijer’s organic store brand True Goodness.  The price difference is only $1.69 for the entire 18oz package. For the amount you get out of it I am happy to swap regular for organic. 
  1. Ready to go packets vs. Bulk: Bulk will be the cheapest, most bang for your buck choice and possibly less waste.
  • It is easy to have a measuring cup out when preparing oats in a bowl/plastic to-go container
  • TIP: Divide portions of oatmeal out in baggies along with various add-ins for an easy prep on busy mornings
 
NOW that we have the Foundation of this staple breakfast figured out, let’s get to the creative and fun part, what to add to oatmeal to make it your own

 

My Favorite Oatmeal Nutrient Add-ins  

Fruit (½ banana, berries, apples, mandarin oranges, mangos etc.)

  • The first and most obviously choice is fruit, a natural sweetner for oatmeal to make it easier to get the kids to eat it.No fruit is off limit but the ones above are my favorites.  Dried fruit is somewhat a popular choice, however dried fruit contacts more sugar and so I recommend fresh or frozen fruit.
  • TIP: put fruit in half way through cooking, it will much up fruit and incorporate it into oatmeal more. I will also use frozen berries  with this method (great for when berries are no longer in season)

 

Flax seed meal

  • Meal over the seed due to texture and allows body to easily digest the seed
  • Flax meal contains Omega-3, antioxidants, fiber, anti-inflammation components as well as various studies showing its fight against cancers, lowering cholesterol, and improving digestive health. 

Almond meal

  • Some people, most notably children may not like the texture difference chopped nuts add to oatmeal…. Solution,almond meal! You can make your own or buy at the store (Trader Joe’s has a great product)
  • Almonds contain good fats, are high in Vitamin E, Biotin (B7), magnesium, copper and fiber.

 

Hemp seeds

  • Another add-in that incorporates well, doesn’t change textureand a way to “hide” nutrients to food.
  • Hemps seeds are easily digested, more allergy-free, contains Omega-3 fatty acids, is a complete protein, and a good source of iron and B vitamins.

Cinnamon

  • Gives flavor, may improve blood glucose levels and improve cholesterol

Nut Butter or Powder

  • Peanut, almond, cashew you cannot go wrong and a lot of it is out of preference. For all nut butters I choose base onthe ingredient list, the less the better.  My go to is Smucker’s Organic Natural Peanut Butter.  You do need to stir it at first but well worth it as it only has 2 ingredients, peanuts and less than 1% salt. 
  • If you want to decrease the fat content, go for a powder.

 

Chia Seed

  • Did you know Chia means “strength?” This makes sense, as these little black balls are full of energy and health.  Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, fiber, and protein. 
  • They do add some texture to oatmeal
  • TIP: make overnight oats with chia seeds, absolutely delicious make-ahead the night before to an easy to-go breakfast option. (Recipe: In a glass mason jar add 1/4c oats, 1 tbs chia seed, ½ scoop protein powder, 1/2 cup liquid + any other add-ins cover and refrigerate overnight)

 

So give these tips a try, tag me so I can see you delicious healthy creation and feel free to email me any questions about the post at Michele@FitPlateNutrition.com