How to Transition after a Diet (Successfully)

We are about 6 weeks into 2018 which means many diets and nutrition challenges are close to or have already ended.  I will be very clear with you and tell you I am NOT a fan of diets, the diet industry, fad diets, how society tells us we need to look a certain way or be a certain weight etc etc.  BUT of course, I have dieted before, participated in nutrition challenges, restricted and deprived myself of various foods leading me to binge and then feel guilty of my food choices and behavior.  This is not to shame you for trying a diet or challenge but to HELP YOU transition from a temporary “solution” to lifelong habits and lifelong health.

 

Reflect

I already told you dieting isn’t my thing, however, one thing I DO like is the knowledge and experience one can receive from them.  Although, to make it a worthwhile experience we need to reflect on the experience.  What did you learn, what did you like, love, hate about the diet/challenge? For example, did cutting out dairy make your feel less bloated? Maybe you realized the amount of access sugar you consume or that you really do not need that drink every night to destress?

I remember when I did my first paleo challenge.  I thought the amount of allowed food was super tiny.  No dairy, grains or processed foods?! 😮  What I took away from the challenge was the amount of (refined) grains I ate: cereal, bread, chips, crackers, pasta etc.  After the challenge did I continue to deprive myself of grains, heck no! BUT I did realize that I didn’t need a large amount of grains, which ultimately led to me to decrease the amount I bought and consumed. At breakfast, I chose eggs over cereal, opted for open-face sandwiches for lunch, and added more vegetables then rice for dinner.

Moreover, in order to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to challenges and diets reflect on it.  Write it down, talk about it with a friend or spouse.  Not Reflecting means not progressing.

 

Limit the Post-Diet Binge: RESPECT your body and self

We’ve all been there, following a challenge/diet you go eat an entire pizza, a half-dozen donuts, a package of cookies, anything and everything you were not “allowed” to eat to past few weeks.  Then the guilt sets in and you think all is lost from what you may or may not have accomplished.  STOP right there.  Of course, we are going to get excited to eat the foods we deprived ourselves of so X number of weeks or day HOWEVER we NEED TO REMEMBER to have respect for our self and our body.  Enjoy a vanilla long John donut, savor a piece of Portillo’s chocolate cake, OR a slice of Lou’s deep-dish pizza.  All foods have their place in the world.  It’s a balance of 1) knowing we have freedom to have whatever food WHENEVER we want and 2) respecting our body and self.  We know how certain foods can cause havoc on our mood, digestive track, and energy levels.  Make peace with the food, know that you can have that food again and show love to yourself through respect.

Add Foods Back in without Guilt

Many diets remove entire food groups, claiming food X is “good” while food Y is “bad.”  Do not feel guilty by adding any of their “forsaken” foods back into your routine post diet/challenge.  If you do not have an intolerance to a food there is no need to eliminate for there is a place for ALL food in our lives.  If you truly want and enjoy a food/meal yet deprive yourself of it, you’re not only taking about happiness J but most likely will end up binging on it sooner or later.  Just like children, us adults want what we can’t have, so stop restricting things short-term and rather incorporate all foods for long-term health and healthy relationship with food.

Add foods back in but in an appropriate and respectable way.  You weren’t allowed to have dairy but enjoy cheese.  I recommend choosing high quality dairy sources: Siggi’s Yogurt (5-6 ingredients and 1:1 carb to protein ratio), 4% cottage cheese, a slice of cheese on a sandwich, crackers or sprinkled on top veggies.

As for that scary macronutrient “carbohydrates,” go for whole wheat sprouted bread, brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, and beans the majority of the time.  Trying to keep these starches to take of 25% of your plate.  Of course, donuts, cookies, a pretzel bun and chips sneak their way in here and there but that is a small minority of the time.

Add foods you enjoy back in while also continuing the healthy practices the challenge taught you.  It is important to pay attention to how your body feels or reacts to certain foods.  Listening to your body is the only way to know if certain foods might have an adverse effect to your body and or mood.

 

It’s a Marathon not a Sprint: Think Long-Term

“Slow and steady wins the race” It doesn’t sound sexy but it is key to lifelong healthy habits aka a healthy lifestyle.  The busy, fast paced society we live in make us want the quick fix, the magic pill, but just life diets this is a TEMPORARY answer which can only make achieving a healthy lifestyle further out of grasp.

My relationship with food, just like any relationship is an ongoing process, working at it every day to achieve lifelong health.  With anything you omit, ask yourself if you truly want it or if your depriving yourself due to something you heard on the news, from a friend, on a blog etc?  A donut is part of a healthy lifestyle (did I just say that) when you practice respect for yourself (have it every so often) and do not feel guilty about it afterwards.

One meal, one day will not ruin you.  Just because you went out last night had a few too many drinks and pizza slices does not mean you are back at zero and throw everything you have learned about a healthy diet out the window.  Reflect and focus on PROGRESS NOT PERFECT.

Write Down Some Goals

I always like to end a session with goal setting.   After we reflect, our journey to progress is not over.  Writing down goals, whether for the next week, month, year, decade, it is important to write down your thoughts and your goals in order to move forward and onwards.  Reflecting on the challenge is a great goal brainstorming tactic.  As you write your goals, remember to make your goal realistic and attainable.  Keep the tips above top of mind as we continue on your journey of lifelong health.

Top Supplements for Cold & Flu Season

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein foods, and adequate fluids are essential for a strong immunge system, optimal performance and overall health.  However there are a few nutrients that are difficult to get in through food.  This is where supplements come in, or as I like to call them, complements, as they should be complementing our nutrition rather than supplementing it.

3 “Complements” to include in you and your Family’s Diet

  1. Vitamin D3

    If you live north of Atlanta, odds are you are Vitamin D deficient, especially in the winter months. Very few foods contain Vitamin D so during the winter months it is a great idea to add a complement to you and your child’s diet.  You want to get something with D3 as it is the active form of vitamin D.

Food Sources: Vitamin D milk, egg yolks, fatty fish (herring, sardines, cod)

Complement: NOW Vitamin D-3, 1000 IU

  1. Omega 3 Fish oil

    Stress, intense workouts, infections, and excess weight can cause inflammation in the body. Omega 3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory properties as well as brain health. The American diet provides us with many omega 6 fatty acids and very little omega 3.  Unfortunately, omega 3’s have much greater benefits. Look for a higher about of DHA over EPA on back of label.

Food Sources: Walnut, Flax meal/seed/oil, Salmon, Albacore tuna, mackerel, chia seed

Complement: ProDHA 1000mg, Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA, Smarty Pants Kids Complete

  1. Probiotics

    Hippocrates stated, “all disease begins in the gut.”Adequate probiotics or the “good” bacteria in our GI tract continues to gain importance in one’s overall health. Our digestive system is a vase ecosystem of organisms that research suggests can influence our genes in various ways from mental health to athleticism. Antibiotics, processed foods, diets high in omega 6 (low in omega 3), and alcohol can all possibly have negative effects on gut health. Adding in the probiotics or “good bacteria” into our diet helps improve gut health.

Food Sources: yogurt, kefir, pickled foods, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi

Complement: Primophilidus Kids, BioGaia ProTectis,  Klean Athlete Probiotic 

 

Questions? Please feel free to ask question, feedback, etc.  I love hearing for you guys.  Stay healthy everyone!

3 Things that Sabotage New Year’s Resolutions

Many people shoot for the moon when it comes to new year’s resolutions.  With a new year motivation is high, there is new hope, a fresh start, and everyone is pumping themselves up as they jump on the bandwagon of healthy eating and exercising.  But why do new year resolutions, the majority of the time, die within the first few months?  Why are gyms insanely busy January and February then slowly become a ghost town even before spring and good weather come?  If you already made a resolution, no worries, it can be altered or an entirely new goal can be made.  We are only 7 days of 365 and only one week of 52 for 2018… I shared three things, I believe, can sabotage the success of new year’s resolutions.  Read below and see if you might need to change, improve, add-to, omit etc. from your goals

 

  1. Unrealistic Goals (Specifically with weight loss)

Many times, unrealistic goals are set when we compare ourselves with the images we see on TV, social media, magazines etc.  The image of “healthy and happy” varies substantially and is unique to every human being.  That being said, we need to stop believing we need to look a certain way or be a certain weight.  Many women I have worked with think they need to be 125 pounds… I am not sure where this number has come from but time and time again women strive to hit a number that most likely is unrealistic and possibly unhealthy.   The majority of the population wants to lose weight and quick.  However, be forewarned, if a program says you will lose 10 pounds in a week, a 6-pack in 28 days aka if something sounds too good to be true, most likely, it is!  Hey, you might lose 10 pounds in a week but will you gain in all back plus more weeks later?

For the record, I am not a fan of the scale, as this mere number can be altered due to various reasons and does not tell us the % of water or lean body mass.  How you look and feel both physically and mentally, and how your clothes fit are better indicators then stepping on the scale every day.

Take away – Putting a number to weight loss goals (lose X number pounds per week/month) more often than end up working against the person.  Rather focus on ways you will lose weight, increasing vegetables and whole foods, eating at home more, getting at least 7 hours of sleep, how to better deal with stress etc. 

 

  1. Too Many Goals (Trying to do too much change in too short of time)

Piggy backing off unrealistic goals… many times a goal CAN BE attainable and realistic but when another goal or multiple goals are made at the same time, the likelihood of achieving any are low.

Many think they can go from 0 to 60 in just a few days (from December 31st to January 1st). Going cold turkey on sweets, drinks, and “unhealthy” foods (P.S. this is unrealistic and will only cause you to binge eat these things at a later date). In additional to food goals, many will set fitness goals, i.e. going to the gym X number of days a week (a realistic goal).  To not only revamp your diet but also your fitness and do it same time is unrealistic for long-term success.

How can we expect to go from eating not-so-healthy and not working out consistently to starting a strict diet and exercise program? In two weeks, your body and brain are going to be exhausted from this “new you” but you’ll keep pushing forward.  After missing some workouts, attending a few parties where you eat “bad” food before you know it your new year’s resolutions are out the window.

The key…….. take small steps towards our goals.  Maybe that means you start with focusing on having a healthy breakfast in week 1, increasing your water and decreasing caloric drinks in week 2, and meal prepping lunch week 3 etc.  Or maybe you decide to workout three times a week for the first month and slowly increase the amount of days or volume. Making short-term goals realistic and attainable allows you have success every day and week. Nutrition and exercise goals can be made in conjunction, if they aren’t too far-reaching and realistic i.e. take a fitness class 3 times a week and eat a healthy breakfast of 1/2c oatmeal and 2 eggs the first week.   Week one and two was a success… try getting to the gym four times in week three and four, continue with breakfast and then set another goal to bring lunch to work three of the five days.

 

I can make up goals all day but what I want to get across is, we need to make our new year’s resolutions attainable and realistic and a great way to do this is taking small steps.  Think of training for a marathon.  You don’t merely sign up and show up on race day.  Rather, the mileage begins at a fairly low and manageable rate.  Each week the mileage goal increases. The marathon trainee is taking small steps each day and week to achieve the goal of completing a 26-mile run.  So instead of going from 0 to 60 in a few days span, let’s start at 1 and work our way up.

Achieving short-term goals leads to long-term success.

 

  1. Too Broad of Goals (is this something you truly want or you think you should want?)

If you truly want change, you need to do more than simply write down a goal, especially broad goals i.e. I want to workout more, eat healthier, volunteer more.  How and why do you want to eat healthy?  Knowing and writing down your why will motivate you in times of adversity.  Making a plan on how your will reach your goal or resolution only increases your chance of success.  If this is something you truly want you will more likely want to put the time and effort in to planning how to achieve the goal. 

 

Broad vs Specific Goals

Eating healthier –> Increase vegetables by Including vegetables at each meal every day.  Didn’t get a vegetable in at breakfast, add it to a snack. 

Workout more –> Workout for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.

 

~~I love seeing other make goals in order to improve their health.  Somethings, this however can be more difficult than we may think.  Have you made a new year’s resolution? If so, would love to hear how it is going or help in anyway to achieve your health goals~~

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

 

How to Eat SMART (Not Healthy) this Thanksgiving

Can you believe Thanksgiving is here? My social media account seems to know what week it is as they are overloaded with Thanksgiving recipes.  Brie appetizers, cranberry sauces, sweet potato casseroles, stuffings, turkey brines, rubs, and rolls.  Not to mention pumpkin everything, and apple and pecan pies. My mouth is already salivating just thinking about all the delicious foods ahead of me. It’s pretty obvious (to me at least) that Thanksgiving wins the “food” holiday trophy of the year.  So with a holiday revolving around food, how can you stay on track but still enjoy.

SMART vs HEALTHY Eating

I do not expect anyone to eat “healthy” on Thanksgiving nor do I believe anyone should.  It’s a holiday, you are supposed to enjoy yourself and enjoy your family, friends, and of course food.  Healthy eating is a broad term I agree.  Does healthy eating mean no grains or sweets, or just a bite this Thursday?  Does healthy eating mean I will pass on the potatoes, pumpkin pie, crescent rolls, or red wine?  Does it mean I am going to bring my own food to the meal so I know I am “eating healthy” and stop the food guilt from coming later that evening or next day?  If you answered yes to any of these, I hope what your about to read will give you some other ideas to try.  Let’s remember a holiDAY is just that, ONE day.  So let’s ditch the idea of eating healthy, restricting yourself of foods, and for heaven’s sake ELIMINATE FOOD GUILT that might be lurking behind enemy lines. Let’s instead EAT SMART this Thursday.

SMART EATING = NOT depriving or restricting yourself, listening to your body’s hunger and full cues, savoring the food, and focusing on the true meaning of the holiday, FAMILY and FRIENDS.

Tips to SMART Eating… not only this Thanksgiving but for many more days & holidays to come

  1. Eat Breakfast

Seems simple right?  Many clients I have worked with have similar thinking, “I will save up my calories today for X.” X being Thanksgiving dinner for our purposes.

Why this is a bad idea: Going most of the day without eating will leave you starving and in feast and binge mode by the time you get to Thanksgiving dinner.  Simply put, if you do not eat breakfast and even a small lunch on Thanksgiving you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Get the metabolism going in the AM, start your day with water and eat something.  Pretend it is like any other day.

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  1. FORGET (now and forever) the “last supper” mindset

I am guilty of doing this in the past… “I better eat as much of that sweet potato casserole as I can because it will be a whole year before I get them again”…. Whether it’s the sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, stuffing, or every dish on the table its not like you can’t enjoy the same dish another day, week, meal. The typical Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to only be one day of the year.  I can make sweet potato casserole, roasted turkey breast, green beans and cranberries for Sunday, Monday or even Thursday dinner in January, March, or even July.  You will have these foods again so please hide the “last supper” mindset deep inside so it will never come out again J if it comes out you most definitely will be binging and feel disgustingly full.

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  1. Don’t fill up on Appetizers

Alright so you succeed in tip number one, you ate some breakfast, maybe a snack and small lunch.  You listened to your body, ate when you were hungry and ate just enough to feel satisfied.  Thanksgiving dinner is only an hour or so away and you hit the appetizer table.  Hey, I love appetizers so don’t restrict yourself, go for some of your favorites BUT again this is a preview to dinner so don’t go crazy.  Have a small plate, pick two or three favorite apps then put your plate down.

 

  1. Remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving Holiday is the perfect illustration of the power of food and how it brings people together.  With food we make friends, possible lovers, and celebrate countless events small and large with those we love.  One of the most well-known bible verses “to bread bread together” shows us the power of food in building relationships.   In my eyes, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is gathering with your family and friends to enjoy not only that day but to enjoy and give thanks to the love and support their lives give.  It is a day to give thanks to God, to various people in your life and to the achievements that wouldn’t have been possible without those people.  The food is a plus and a way to celebrate nad give thanks BUT let’s not make it a focus.  The focus is the people we are lucky to share the delicious meal with.

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  1. Slow down and smell the turkey: Savor the food and drinks

You have dominated Smart eating, you ate breakfast, didn’t go crazy on appetizers or drinks and just sat down for Thanksgiving dinner.  “Last supper” mindset is nowhere to be found and the true meaning of Thanksgiving is loud and clear with the blessed family and friends that surround you. With your delicious plate of food in front of you, my last tip for SMART eating is TO ENJOY IT!  Food is an enjoyment.  Use every sense to enjoy the food. Smell the deliciousness (is that a word) of the food.  Take your time while you eat.  Truly taste the food rather than shoveling it in.  Sit back, laugh, tell a story, share with the table what you are thankful for.  Enjoy the food and every single food dish that you want to enjoy!

Happy Turkey day everyone, hope you have a blessed day full of laughter, love and lots of wonderful food! GOBBLE GOBBLE

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