Seeking motivation to live a healthy lifestyle? Is eating healthy and exercising worth the trouble? To answer these questions consider the short and long-term benefits and outcomes of both. Unhealthy foods tend to be cheap, quick and bring about momentary satisfaction; however, it is likely these unhealthy eating habits paired with physical inactivity will lead to excess body fat and increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and some cancers to name a few. Eating healthy may cost more but will likely lead to lower health care costs and improved quality of life in the short and long term. When purchasing healthy foods it is important to note these foods can cost more because they provide more value, meaning they are nutrient dense (more nutrients with less calories). Cheap foods tend to have additives such as salt, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup; ingredients that have no nutritional value. Long-term benefits of living a healthy lifestyle include having a more youthful appearance, improved quality of life, and weight loss/maintenance. Furthermore, exercise improves heart and lung function, burns calories, and increased release of endorphins, “happy” hormones to decrease stress. I am sure you’ve heard the exercise slogan “No Pain, No Gain.” Those who live a healthy lifestyle tend to have fewer health problems, while those who do not are more likely to suffer from health complications. Unfortunately, we witness these phenomena in our own lives and those around us. The good news is that many health conditions are preventable with adequate physical activity and healthy eating habits. If this does not describe your lifestyle, take comfort in the fact that it is never too late to start on a healthier course. Even if you get bad news such being told by your doctor you have pre-diabetes; take advantage of this emotional trigger to start living a healthy lifestyle rather than wait until you are diagnosed with diabetes. There is no better day to start than today! Overweight does not have to lead to Obesity Overweight can simply be thought of as excess fat accumulation due to more calories being consumed than burned. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. World Health Organization defines a BMI greater than 25 as overweight. BMI Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)] 2 x 703 Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5'5" (65") Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96 Obesity (defined as a BMI greater than 30) is not only a personal problem for many; it has now become a societal issue. In our society as a whole there has been a decrease in physical activity due to the increasing sedentary natured jobs, usage of cars, and urbanization. Overall, less physical activity is required to live in our society. For example, instead of hand washing dishes we frequently use dishwashers or ride a lawnmower instead of pushing it. In addition, our society has increased exposure and intake of high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods, which tend to be lower in cost but also lower in nutrient quality. However, there is hope! By focusing on Diet + Exercise + Behavior Change a healthy lifestyle can be achieved. Focusing on all three will provide more success than using only one intervention. Supportive environments are essential to sustain people’s choices to purchase healthier foods and to encourage regular physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. Dietary guidelines can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov, which encourage increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, legumes, low fat diary, and whole grains and limited energy intake from fats and sugars. These guidelines can be applied when dining out by choosing whole foods instead of processed foods. For example, choosing a grilled chicken sandwich versus a $1 burger or choosing apple slices instead of fries. Small gradual changes bring about lasting results. Stay Active, Be healthy! Eat to live, not live to eat! By Rachel Cutts, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Dietetic Intern; Reviewed by Meghan Windham, MPH, RD, LD
The Paleo Diet, also referred to as the Caveman diet, is based on the presumed ancient diet that humans consumed during the Paleolithic era, a period from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. This typically means foods that can be hunted, fished, or gathered. Foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on. This includes leans meats, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, veggies, roots, fruits, and berries. No grains, no dairy, no legumes (beans or peas), no sugar, no salt. Supporters of the Paleo diet hold the agricultural revolution and the introduction of grains, legumes, and dairy responsible for the onset of many of the chronic diseases that exist today in our society. It is based on the premise that our bodies have never actually adapted to these foods which are claimed to cause inflammation and promote disease. Some experts will say that eating Paleo is simply how our bodies were designed to eat so why change it? The recent and widespread popularity of the Paleo diet can be attributed to professor and researcher Loren Cordain, PhD who has published many studies on the physiological effects of a paleolithic lifestyle. He has shown through clinical trials that the Paleo diet can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, inflammation, promote weight loss and optimal health. The Paleo diet however is not without controversy. On one hand, this way of eating promotes consumption of many fruits and vegetables, omits processed foods and added sugars but on the other hand, it surpasses the Dietary Guideline’s recommendations for daily fat and protein and falls short on carbohydrate recommendations. In this article I will attempt to explain the potential positives of the Paleo diet as well as potential concerns in hopes to figure out the best way to implement a Paleo lifestyle if one so chooses. Positives of Paleo Perhaps the most positive aspect of the diet is it’s focus on whole and natural foods. It attempts to eliminate highly processed foods that contain additives, preservatives, and chemicals that can affect our health. The idea of a cleaner diet based on whole foods, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, less sugar and sodium is what registered dietitians and nutrition professionals have been recommending since the overabundance of processed and fast foods became available and obesity rates began to rise. They are the basis of any healthy diet that is recommended and aligns with the current 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Because most Americans tend to overeat in carbohydrates and fats, carbohydrate options are limited to fruits and vegetables in the Paleo diet. With just these options, it makes it fairly easy to prevent carb overload. This also promotes a diet higher than the average in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients which can all have positive health benefits. Trans fats, higher fat, and heavily processed meats are also generally avoided which promotes a diet that is reasonable low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats. Alcohol consumption is also limited. There is some evidence to suggest that the Paleo diet can provide some weight control benefits which has driven its popularity recently. There have been a number of studies to show that the high protein and low carbohydrate restrictions have shown to effectively lead to fat loss. Although some would debate that restricting foods such as carbohydrates, high fat foods, and highly processed foods will naturally lead to an overall decrease in calories thus contributing to weight loss. Also, since the diet typically provides about twice the amount of protein of a typical diet, the extra protein may help to keep hunger at bay. Paleo concerns There are also many concerns when it come to the Paleo diet. Some question the presumption that our bodies have not physiologically adapted over time. Some argue that our societies health began to decline only about 25 years ago, with the introduction of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods. Not 10,000 years ago when we started eating grains, dairy, and legumes. Some who begin to follow a Paleo diet may remove these foods from their diet but don’t replace those nutrients with other foods substitutes. When you remove an entire food group or overly restrict one, you run a very high risk of missing some vital nutrients. When eliminating or restricting dairy products and grains you may not be consuming enough amounts of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, fiber, and some B-vitamins all needed for optimal health. The Paleo diet exceeds the Dietary Guideline’s recommendations for protein. Diets high in animal protein have been shown to cause inflammation due to arachidonic acid that is present in meat. This can lead to an increased acid load. This coupled with inadequate calcium intake, since dairy is a major source of calcium in the United States, can lead to calcium being leached from the bones putting someone at risk for osteoporosis and stress fractures. On the flip side, some studies are showing that cultures that consume a lot dairy, such as the United States, actually develop more osteoporosis rather than less.Therefore an adequate intake of calcium through other sources or even supplementation is important. Vitamin D is also a legitimate concern. Since most diary is fortified with vitamin D, if you do not consume enough dairy, you will likely not be consuming enough vitamin D. An adequate vitamin D level is imperative for calcium uptake. An inadequate level of vitamin D has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic fatigue to name a few. You can get some vitamin D through fatty fish and even through the sun however because most of us live and work indoors and wear sunblock you are likely not getting the recommended amounts. Consider getting your vitamin D level checked to assess the need for extra supplementation. The overall lower carbohydrate content of the diet can also mean an inadequate supply. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discuss that eliminating whole grains is not the answer to ending chronic disease and promoting weight loss. Not only does this limit important vitamins and minerals needed but can also cause depleted glycogen stores. This can particularly concerning for athletes that want to follow a Paleo diet as it can lead to overall lower energy levels and less than optimal performances. A true Paleo diet is going to be very hard to sustain. We live in a society where it is just not possible for us to eat exactly like our ancestors ate. Meats like wild game are not as readily available to us as most of our meat consumption has been domesticated. Our plant food has been processed rather than grown in the wild, and purchasing wild caught fish, grass fed meat and organic fruits and vegetables can become very costly. At best, one can only follow a modified version of the original “caveman” diet. Another concern is, could we have it all wrong? Some experts that have studied our ancestor’s hunter-gather diets are now saying that they actually followed a more plant-based diet rather than animal based. Meat was a rare treat therefore they thrived mostly on fruit, vegetables, nuts, and berries. While the Paleo diet has some great aspects, it also has some concerning limitations that make it yet another diet that make it hard to sustain as well as can lead to a risk of several nutrient deficiencies if not properly and adequately supplemented. By Alyssa Werner, MS, RD, CDE, LD
You already know that "breakfast" is the most important meal of the day. There is no excuse for not having enough time for this "PowerHouse Breakfast Smoothie" that is sure to energize you and keep you "powered" until lunch-time. It's loaded with antioxidants, fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, healthy whey protein, and would you believe it has two servings of your daily vegetables? Yes, vegetables for breakfast----sneaky, and oh so good! Even though this smoothie only has 300 calories, the protein from the whey powder, yogurt, soy milk, and the healthy omega-3 fats from the flaxseed keep you feeling full, all morning long! This is unlike a smoothie that only has fruit and juice, which will soon leave you hungry, and your blood glucose rapidly rising ----eventually causing a sugar-crash way before lunch-time arrives. This smoothie is also diabetes-friendly, unlike many smoothie-shop over-the-counter creations. Not only will this be a fast-food breakfast, it will be easy on the pocket-book! Keeping "frozen" fruits available in your freezer is not only a time-saver, but also saves money since there is less risk of spoiling before you eat it. All the other ingredients are affordable and versatile to use in your other healthy meal planning dishes throughout the week. If you are fitting this smoothie into your diabetes meal plan, there is only 37 grams of carbohydrates, and all healthy carbs, so rev up your blender and get into the fast food lane with this quick and delicious “PowerHouse Breakfast Smoothie!” Ingredients: 4 ounces fat-free vanilla yogurt ½ cup soy milk ¾ cup frozen fruit 2 cups fresh spinach 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed 1 scoop (3-4 tablespoons) 100% whey protein powder (equivalent to 10 grams protein) Preparation Directions: 1) Pour ½ cup soy milk into blender along with 4 ounces vanilla non-fat yogurt 2) Defrost frozen fruit in microwave just slightly enough for blender to mix with ease. You can use a mixture of desired fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, blackberries. You can also freeze a portion of a banana and add it. By using mostly frozen fruit, there is no need to add ice. But do limit the total amount of fruit to ¾ cup. 3) Add slightly defrosted frozen fruit to yogurt/soy milk that is in the blender, and mix thoroughly. 4) Add spinach and mix thoroughly. 5) Add ground flaxseed and mix thoroughly. 6) Add whey protein powder and mix thoroughly. 7) Serve as is, or further add other flavorings, such as vanilla or almond extract. 8) Pour into cup and drink on the go for a fast, nutritious and delicious breakfast to keep you satisfied until lunch-time. Enjoy & Be Energized! by Cheryl Winter, MS RD, MS APRN, CDE, BC-ADM, FNP-BC
Oh my goodness! These tacos are OUT of this world! Personally, I think the chipotle peppers in the adobo sauce are what made this taco meat so flavorful, but I’m probably a little biased since I made that addition to the original recipe. There is plenty of liquid to let this cook as long as you need to without drying out, and the meat just flakes apart with the touch of a fork. Reheats beautifully, too! Homemade Taco Seasoning 3 Tbsp chili powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1/2 tsp dried onion flakes 3/4 tsp garlic powder 3/4 tsp oregano 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp paprika 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin 2 tsp kosher salt 1 Tbsp black pepper Directions: Mix it all together! The mix can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year! 2 1/2 tablespoons = 1 store-bought packet. Crockpot Chicken Tacos from Sweet Life Kitchen as seen on Bean Town Baker 2 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix (recipe above) or 1 packet of store-bought 15 oz low-sodium chicken broth 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes and liquid 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each) 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce + 2 Tbsp adobo sauce Your favorite taco fixins (lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.)* Directions: In a large bowl or measuring cup pour the chicken broth in, and use a fork to whisk in the taco seasoning mixture. Spray the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Open the diced tomato can and pour all contents over the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the tomatoes and pour the broth, seasoning, and adobo peppers and sauce over that. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-10 hours. The chicken should fork apart easily in the crock pot. Serve. Yield: 5 servings (4-ounces each). Nutrition Information (per serving)*: 146 calories; 2.8 g. fat; 65 mg. sodium; 460 mg. sodium; 5.8 g. carbohydrate; 1.6 g. fiber; 24.2 g. protein *Nutrition information is for the meat only – tortilla and taco fixin’s are not accounted for. Enjoy! Question: Hard shell or soft shell tacos? I always do soft corn shells…so much flavor and healthier, too! By Nicole Chase, R.D.
This meal can easily replace a chickem parmesan with pasta and no one will feel deprived. The flavors are divine – but I do highly recommend using fresh herbs to really make the sauce what it is. You can prep this meal ahead of time and bake it later for a quick weekday meal. For those who are unsure about quinoa, this is a great first dish to try the super-food. It isn’t pretty, per se, but it tastes GREAT! And thanks to the protein-packed quinoa, this meal comes in right at 33 grams of carbohydrate with lots of fiber and protein for staying power! Ingredients: 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce 1 (15 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes basil and oregano, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup total) 1 cup quinoa, uncooked 2 cups water 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 cup (4 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided 1 oz parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano, shredded 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (optional, exclude to make gluten-free) Directions: Fill a pan with 1-1 1/2 inches water. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add chicken. Cover and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Flip over the chicken and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove from water and chop into bite-sized pieces. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a large baking dish with olive oil spray. To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it’s almost fully absorbed. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal. Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer, and rinse with cold water for about 1-2 minutes. Add the quinoa and water (and a dash of salt) to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20-25 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and chicken with the sauce and mix thoroughly. Place half the mixture in the baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and the parmigiano/pecorino. Add the breadcrumbs. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 more minutes. Yield: 6 servings (about 1 1/3 cups each) Nutrition Information (per serving): 336 calories; 9.3 g. fat; 51 mg. cholesterol; 539 mg. sodium; 33.3 g. carbohydrate; 5 g. fiber; 29.7 g. protein Money Matters: Chicken ($4/lb) and fresh mozzarella ($0.50/oz or $8/lb) are the most expensive ingredients. Quinoa can be found for anywhere between $3 and $9 per pound. The cheapest places I’ve found are the bulk bins at Whole Foods or CostCo for around $4/lb (~$2/cup). The herbs can be expensive (start an herb garden to save!), and I estimated $1 in this recipe. Onion ($0.60), olive oil ($0.15), canned tomatoes/tomato sauce ($0.90/can), vinegar ($0.10), garlic ($0.10), and cheese ($0.20) comprise the rest of the cost. The total cost of the recipe comes to ~$11.45, making the cost per serving $1.91! By Nicole Morrissey, R.D.
Recipe makes~4 servings Ingredients ½ c farro (uncooked) 8 oz pre-cooked cocktail shrimp, frozen 1-2 Tbsp olive oil 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced ½ c onion, raw chopped 2 Tbsp Mexican chili powder ½ c low sodium chicken broth 1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 1 tsp garlic powder 1 c alfredo (Bertoli Garlic Alfredo with Aged Parmesan Cheese Sauce) Directions Follow directions for preparation of farro per package. In general, combine water and 1c farro in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, then drain/rinse. While farro is cooking, thaw shrimp under cold running water. Remove tails if needed. In a deep fry-pan, add garlic and olive oil, and then add onions. Once onions are translucent, add chili powder and fiesta lime seasoning. Add cooked farro and shrimp to fry-pan and stir to combine. Then add remainder of seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder) and broth to pan; simmer until broth has reduced almost completely. Finally, mix in alfredo sauce. Heat mixture thoroughly, and then remove from heat. Allow mixture to sit 5 minutes to thicken. Toasted Bun 4 hot dog buns (or whatever is on hand) 2 Tbsp Country Crock margarine OR cooking spray 1 c Romaine lettuce Spread thin layer of Country Crock on hot dog bun OR spray thoroughly with cooking spray. Grill buns open faced in a hot pan until golden brown. Top 1 grilled bun with lettuce and 1 serving shrimp salad. Nutrition Facts* Per Serving (Shrimp Salad only): Calories: 260, Carbs: 21g, Fat 15g, Protein: 13g Per Serving on Toasted Bun: Calories: 400, Carbs: 42g, Fat 21g, Protein: 16g Hot dog bun adds ~110 calories Margarine adds ~30 calories Cooking spray adds ~0 calories *Approximate values obtained from MyFitnessPal Recipe developed by: Amanda E Kruse RD, CD & Spencer D Hotz