Weighing in on Weight Loss: Inspiration

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Happy New Year! How have your first couple weeks of 2018 been besides cold?! Like many of you I’m sure, I have several clients who are working on weight-loss goals.

Here are some thoughts I’d like to share to help guide and maybe even inspire some of those on a weight-loss journey. These are mindset recommendations. I’ll go into specific food recommendations throughout

Go gradually.

If you are looking to lose weight, don’t drastically reduce your calories and limit your food choices overnight. You will drive yourself crazy. I always tell my clients, “baby steps.”

Be realistic.

A lot of people set the bar too high. Just because your friend wants to lose 50 pounds doesn’t mean you should. If you are 45 and want to achieve the weight you were when you were 24 (when you starved yourself and exercised two hours a day to fit into your wedding dress) is not realistic either. Consulting a professional like a dietitian from Kelly’s Choice can help you determine what a realistic goal for yours is.

Savor; don’t deprive.

Deprivation can lead to depression—nobody wants to experience that. So savor what you love. If you are a chocoaholic like me, allow yourself a couple of pieces of dark chocolate—it’s high in antioxidants. Take tiny bites and truly delve into the flavor!

Don’t beat yourself up.

If you slip on following your healthy habits, that’s okay! As cliché as it sounds, tomorrow is a new day. Nobody is perfect. I slip from time to time—everybody does. We are only human. Smile at yourself and ease back into those healthy habits.

Allow for occasional indulgences.

What are your favorite indulgences? A divine glass of wine and a delicious slice of pepperoni pizza are two of mine. And guess what, I have not abandoned them. I will allow myself to indulge occasionally. You should too! It’s the healthy thing to do. Remember what I said about deprivation above—it will not help you, it will depress you. So please celebrate YOU from time to time with your favorite indulgence!

Stay tuned for my next Weighing in on Weight Loss Blog—I will weigh in on healthy fats!

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Having a Happy & Healthy New Year’s (Eve)

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15927636269_9e32ac8c31_oNew Year’s Eve parties are so fun, right? NYE is a time to have one last evening of holiday indulgences (fatty appetizers and desserts and addictive cocktails to name a few). But how awful does it feel to start a New Year with your tummy aching from the mixture of sugar, fat, and who knows what else you consumed? And being hungover on January 1 is not fun at all. Ugh-it’s just terrible! I’m here to help you feel AMAZING when that ball drops and your New Year begins. Here are 5 Tips to have a blast at that NYE party and ring in the New Year with greatness!

Tip # 1: Wake up on December 31 and do at least 30-45 minutes of your favorite cardiovascular exercise.

Start your day MOVING. It can mean hitting the gym, the pool, or even taking your dog for a walk. Morning exercise is a great way to boost your metabolism.

Tip # 2: Eat a large, hearty breakfast.

I say this all the time, I know, but seriously, get yourself some complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats for breakfast—it sets the foundation for healthy eating throughout the day.

Tip # 3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate throughout the day!

It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to mindless snacking that never satiates.

To make sure you’re staying hydrated, drink half your body weight in water. So if you weigh 160 pounds, aim for 80 ounces of water over the course of the day.

Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Does it immediately fall back down? If so, that’s great—you’re hydrated! If not, then you are nearing dehydration. Not good!

Remember, fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water content so they help to hydrate you as well.

Tip # 4: Make plenty of healthy appetizers and treats and show the partiers that healthy treats can still be divine!

I love showing people that healthy appetizers and desserts can be delicious. Here are some of my secret swaps when I make dips and treats: ½ cup of applesauce can replace ½ cup of butter, 1 mashed avocado can replace 1 cup of mayonnaise, and 1 cup of Greek yogurt can replace 1 cup of sour cream.

Tip # 5: Alternate the bubbly or cocktails with sparking water.

On average most adults consume almost 100 calories a day from alcoholic beverages. This stat increases exponentially on NYE. Alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a zero-calorie sparkler can help you avoid pouring on the pounds. Plus sparkling water keeps things festive, and, bonus, you’ll avoid entering the hangover zone, a not-so-happy holiday tradition.

Try these tips, and aim to get dancing on the NYE party agenda and you will enter the New Year in a great state for sure!

 

 

 

How Not to Gain Weight this Holiday Season (Blog 2 of 2)

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In my last blog, I gave you five extremely effective tips for not letting holiday parties add to your waistline. Did you try them yet? Well, guess what? I have five more! If you apply all 10 of my tips, there’s a high likelihood that you will breeze through the holiday season without gaining a pound! How’s that for a Christmas miracle? Here are my five final tips!

Tip #1: Don’t “Save Up” Calories

Fasting before a big meal can backfire. Low blood sugar from hunger increases cortisol levels, which leads to cravings for fatty, salty, and sugary foods.

Instead of saving up for the big meal, it’s better to snack on healthy goodies like raw veggies, nuts, and fruit throughout the day to avoid a full-blown indulgence where no crumb is left behind.

Tip #2: Eat Low to High

Are you thinking, “What on earth does that mean?” I’m talking about calories here. Start with a broth-based soup or salad, then move on to lean protein, and by the time you reach the double fudge brownies, a few bites will be all you need to feel satisfied.

Tip # 3: Veg out on the Veggies

Okay, so I have some tricks for you if you are the one preparing a holiday feast! Try swapping light pureed cauliflower for carb-heavy mashed potatoes and add side dishes with more vegetables, like ratatouille, to bolster the nutritional value of the meal and keep you satiated so you don’t overeat. Bonus: All that extra fiber will help keep you regular, even if you do overindulge a bit on the cheese platter.

Tip #4: Beware of the “Health Halo”

I just advocated veggies, but even with the world’s healthiest veggies, you still need to be careful. You can gain weight even if you eat healthy. You can overdo it with the veggies and dip or creamy asparagus soup, just like you can with ice cream—except with the ice cream at least you know it’s an indulgence. So make sure you’re not eating something based solely on its health-food aura and keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Tip #5: Change your Mindset around Holiday Treats

Most people eat particular foods like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or down cups of eggnog at a Christmas party because “that’s what we do during the holidays. Do you really even like pumpkin pie or eggnog? Or if you could have any treat, would you choose your favorite ice cream or hot cocoa instead? Just because it’s limited doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

The other thing to think about is the fact that holiday treats don’t need to be restricted to the holidays. Make pumpkin pie later in the winter; make “Christmas” cookies for Mother’s Day. This tactic will help prevent some of your “last chance” eating!

Here’s to you this holiday season! You can make it through without gaining a pound! What a great way to start the New Year, but wait there’s more! In my next blog, I will give you some tips for not sabotaging your success so far at the New Year’s Eve Party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Not to Gain Weight this Holiday Season (Blog 1 of 2)

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31244465871_f343ce0d18_o.jpgPecan pie! Honey-glazed ham! Candy cane truffles! Holiday food can inspire anxiety or ecstasy—or both—depending on your mindset.

Here’s the good news: The average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. Now for the bad: While that might not sound like much, research shows we don’t lose it, and that one pound adds up year after year.

Sweet treats and rich meals can be landmines for health-conscious people, yet no one wants to feel deprived during the happiest season of all. No need to fear—there are sensible ways to navigate this territory. Here are some of my favorite tips that have helped clients (and myself) NOT gain weight during the holidays!

TIP # 1: Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast sets the stage for the entire day. If you start your day off with a doughnut or leftover pie, you can trigger a relentless sweet tooth the rest of the day.

Don’t skip breakfast either, as that will leave you dragging through your morning and more likely to overeat later because you’re starving.

Start with something that has lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and some healthy fat to give you energy and keep you satisfied until your next meal.  Think oatmeal, with nuts and dried fruit or Greek yogurt with granola, or an omelet with veggies and a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. A super easy option is almond butter on whole grain toast and this is super delicious with sliced strawberries!

Tip #2: Go to social gatherings to gather (not to eat and drink).

You go to family gatherings, work parties, and other social events to see your friends and loved ones—so see them! Use these times to socialize and be present rather than rummaging for holiday treats, wine, and cocktails.

A good idea is to “pre-eat” something with protein and vegetables to stabilize your blood sugar.

Tip # 3: Savor what you love. Stay away from what you like.

Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things that don’t really tantalize your taste buds (fruit cake, we’re looking at you!), pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment. For your food favorites, take small servings and really savor each and every bite.  If something doesn’t make you swoon, leave it on the sideline.

Tip # 4: Stick to only splurging for one event a week.

The biggest mistake people make at the holidays is making Thanksgiving a four-day feast instead of a one-day indulgence. Then the holiday parties come, and all of a sudden you’re giving yourself an excuse to have treats nearly every day. Rather than letting your holiday feast roll into pie for breakfast, limit your splurges to one event per week.

Tip # 5: Nix the guilt!

Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually allow yourself to eat can breed more unhealthy behaviors. So abandon those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and then remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine the very next day.

I hope these tips help you and be sure to check my blog on Sunday because I will be sharing five more easy-to-follow tips to help you NOT gain weight this holiday season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Holiday Frenzy Forces you to Order Fast Food

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The holiday season can be a hectic time for us between making a presence at friends, relatives, and colleagues’ holiday parties, shopping for gifts and get-together meals, and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. There are times when we are out and about and may feel ravenous. I like to carry healthy snacks in my purse, but during the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for that to slip my mind.

So what do I do when fast food seems to be my only option? Overall, I try to:

  • choose baked, boiled, or steamed instead of fried, sautéed & Au gratin.
  • keep my eye on portion size (there is no reason whatsoever to Supersize my meal).
  • pay attention to the descriptions on the menu.
  • be careful when it comes to condiments and dressings
  • always choose water for my drink.
  • pass on the French fries and try to pick semi-healthy sides.
  • skip the bacon (As if the burger alone isn’t unhealthy as it is, why make it worse)?

So let’s look at some sample fast-food places and I’ll provide you with a couple of recommendations.

If I’m at a BURGER PLACE, I stick to a single patty and say no to special sauces, bacon, cheese, etc. I skip the fries, and find out if there is yogurt or sliced apples or something like that that they give with kid meals and ask if I can buy something like that—they usually give them to me at no charge. And I ask for a cup of ice water.

At CHICKEN-THEMED PLACES, I find that they often offer grilled chicken, so that’s what I order. If they have sides, I make sure that they are just steamed and not slathered in fattening sauces or butter. And again, I ask for a cup of ice water.

At MEXICAN PLACES, I opt for brown rice. Swap sour cream for guacamole. I hold the cheese and always order the vegetarian options. And yes, I ask for a cup of ice water.

At ASIAN PLACES, I again choose brown rice and order any of their steamed dishes and ask for them to either hold the sauce or put it on the side. It’s way better to drizzle a tiny bit of sauce for flavor than to have your meal drowning in sauce. I ask for either ice water to drink or green tea, which is often offered.

At SUB SHOPS and DELIS, I always ask for whole grain bread and choose lean meats like turkey. I go easy on the condiments and have my sandwich loaded with veggies. And yes, I order ice water for my drink.

Though PIZZA is a guilty pleasure, I always go with the thinnest crust possible, and load my pizza with lots of veggie toppings.

If you are frazzled this holiday season and have no choice but to order some fast food, I hope these tips come in handy for you!

 

 

 

 

Cranberries for Breakfast

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In my last blog, I wrote about how I learned so much from cranberries last month at the Cranberry Institute. You better believe I’ve been trying to incorporate amazing, high-in-antioxidant cranberries in a lot of my meals. I came up with this recipe for breakfast! I have oatmeal most days, especially in the winter. This has the same warming effect as oatmeal and it’s absolutely delicious!

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Millet

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup millet
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)

Directions: Toast dry millet and walnuts in a pot over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add all other ingredients and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes and you have a delicious breakfast! Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for some sweetness.

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Why you should be as Obsessed with Cranberries as I am

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If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know I’m obsessed with cranberries! I even found delicious ways to enjoy cranberries in summer recipes. Last month, I had the most amazing opportunity to visit cranberry bogs in New Jersey….and now I am even MORE obsessed.

I’ve shared before the many benefits of cranberries. Bioactive compounds found in cranberries help maintain a healthy heart by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. And cranberries have been used for centuries to help prevent UTIs.

During my visit to Pine Barrens Native Fruits, hosted by The Cranberry Institute, I learned that these heart-healthy gems are one of the oldest native fruits in the United States, along with blueberries and concord grapes. In fact, because of their vitamin C content, cranberries were used to prevent scurvy in the 1600s.

Let me tell you how cranberries grow-it was so cool to see! The farm I visited was a seventh-generation farm in the pine barrens in New Jersey; this is land along the coast with sandy soil that allows cranberries to grow because unlike most plants you would use in a garden, cranberries thrive in the low-pH environment of sandy soil.

Cranberries are grown on vines in bogs by the millions. I was able to walk in these bogs, surrounded by my favorite fruit! Cranberries are perennial, surviving year after year. The farmers flood the cranberries with water during harvest, and also to protect the fruit during the harsh winter months. This makes it look like the cranberries are growing in water, but they actually grow on low-lying vines on dry land.

On some farms, the fruit is harvested with floating harvesters that literally rake up the cranberries from the water. A job that used to take 600 people to harvest is done so much more efficiently now with this technology.

Another cool fact about cranberries is that honey bees help pollinate the cranberries. This farm partners with bee farmers. The bees make honey and simultaneously help with the cranberry production!

After learning all of this about cranberries, I know I am going to be eating this fruit so much more often. It’s so healthy and grown close to home (in the U.S.!), which makes me confident that all those amazing nutrients are intact unlike many fruits that have to travel for thousands of miles to get to my local grocery store.

Do you know that 1/5 of the cranberries consumed in the United States are consumed around one day—Thanksgiving? While I love that people are consuming this healthy, disease-fighting fruit on Thanksgiving, it makes me sad that this superstar fruit isn’t consumed more often. It has so many amazing antioxidants! It’s one of the healthiest fruits you can consume!

I challenge you to find a way to incorporate cranberries in your diet every week. They truly are versatile. Try them as:

  • Cranberry salsa or jam.
  • Toss dried cranberries in your salad!
  • They go great in chilis or with other main meals (I did this with ham recently and it was so delicious!)
  • A “PB&C” – spread cranberry sauce and peanut butter for a quick, tasty sandwich

Go crazy for cranberries with me!

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN