October is National Vegetarian Awareness Month!

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Vegetarian Tempeh Chili

There are several reasons people choose to not eat meat. Maybe you’d like to become a vegetarian for your own personal reasons but you’re not sure if you can take on the challenge or you’re worried you might not be getting the proper nutrition from a vegetarian diet. If you’re looking to give it a try or already are maintaining the lifestyle, here are some tips that will help you sustain a healthy lifestyle as a vegetarian.

One thing I’d like to talk about first is the label “vegetarian”. A lot of foods can be labeled as vegetarian or vegan but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be considered healthy. Oreo cookies are vegetarian for example and we’re all well aware that they are not healthy. A lot of times people hear the word “vegetarian.” “vegan”, or “gluten-free” and think that it means it’s healthy. That is not always the case, so make sure as you start or continue with your vegetarian journey that you don’t fall into this trap. It’s all too easy to become a junk food vegetarian.

A vegetarian diet can be quite healthy though if you do it the right way. The main concern when approaching a vegetarian diet is the lack of protein. However, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy products are great ways to fill that gap. Greek yogurt is also an amazing source of protein if you’re doing a meatless diet. One cup is the equivalent of a 3 oz portion of meat.

EGGS!!! This one is getting its own paragraph. I love eggs. They are a great source of protein and are so good for you! They also contain B12 which is a vitamin that you need to pay attention to if you’re going vegetarian. I could go on and on about them, but these are a great source of protein and nutrition in general for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

When creating a main dish, consider having the “meat” of your plate as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or lentils and beans. The remainder of your plate should be filled with vegetables. A lot of your favorite meals can be made vegetarian. A veggie burger for example can be delicious and packed with protein from the different grains and beans that are used to make it. Tofu is another great replacement to use for meat. It’s flavorless, so you can dress it up however you want and center your dish around it.

As I mentioned before, dairy is a great source of protein. But this can be a trap sometimes as people opt for full fat options of dairy like cheese or full fat yogurt. Always look for the lesser fat options. Fat is good for you but in moderation and in the right form. Saturated fats (present in whole milk yogurts, milks, and cheeses) should be limited as they’ve been linked to higher cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re eating lettuce for every meal. There are so many options. The main things to be sure you’re getting enough of is protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B-12. All of the sources I’ve mentioned above will supply you with these nutrients. Stick to these tips and you can live happily and healthily as a vegetarian!

Be sure to check out my website for some great vegetarian recipes.

 

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Love your bones

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dancing skeleton

October is a month of skeletons lurking about for Halloween. And it’s not a coincidence that last week was Bone and Joint Action Week! No matter how old you are, it is never too early to take care of your bones and joints.

The goal of Bone and Joint Action Week is to bring attention to arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma to increase prevention, disease management, and treatments. Did you know that more than half the American population over the age of 18 are affected by musculoskeletal conditions?! If you are a part of this statistic, you can understand how painful, debilitating, or annoying these conditions can be depending on their severity. Follow these tips to keep your bones and joints functioning at their best!

Let’s start with nutrition. Osteoporosis can be prevented by being attentive to your calcium and Vitamin D intake. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in your body is in your teeth and bones so it’s no wonder it’s so important for healthy bone function. You’ve heard all along that drinking milk will give you strong bones and it’s true! Calcium helps with bone growth, maintenance, and function. Other good sources of calcium can be found in other dairy products like low fat yogurt and cheese, as well as dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale. It can also be found in calcium-fortified foods like orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, tofu, and nuts. So make sure you incorporate some of these foods in your diet on a daily basis.

Looking for a snack? A bowl of low-fat Greek yogurt with some granola, berries, and chopped nuts is the perfect option to load you up with some calcium. Don’t forget about the kids! My parents used to make me drink a glass of milk every night with dinner and I do the same for my girls now. It’s especially important for children to get good amounts of calcium as their bodies and bones are still growing.

Vitamin D is equally as important as it’s needed for your body to absorb the calcium. Vitamin D can come from three different sources: food, supplements, and sunlight. Natural sources of Vitamin D include fish and egg yolks. Plenty of foods are fortified with vitamin D as well, including: milk, some yogurts, breakfast cereals, soy beverages, and orange juice.

Getting Vitamin D from sunlight varies from person to person. Your skin makes Vitamin D from the sunlight, but it is dependent on time of day, latitude, season, and skin pigmentation. Regardless of those variables, you should always try to get outside every day, especially on the sunny days.

This brings me right into my next topic: exercise. So, while you’re outside getting your Vitamin D, go for a brisk walk! Regular exercise is so important for optimal bone and joint function. To keep them working, you have to use them! Just 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week will do the trick. It can be anything: yoga, running, swimming, weight lifting, or even dancing! Not only is exercise good for good bone and joint function but it also helps with mental/ emotional wellness and your general well-being.

Follow these simple tips to love your bones and you will be happier and pain-free for years to come!

Enjoy Life Foods for your patients with food allergies

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FODMAP Friendly Core Family Shot

I don’t know about you, but I can say for me, that the number of clients coming to me with food allergies has increased exponentially in the past five years. In fact, did you know that over 100 million people have been diagnosed with food allergies and that one in every 13 children has a food allergy? This is alarming, and I am constantly looking for the best food products for patients with food allergies. One of the brands that I have grown to trust the most is Enjoy Life Foods—these products are one of the most allergy-friendly on the market.

Enjoy Life Foods has a wide array of products—over 70 products to be exact! They have everything from baking chocolate and mixes to snack bars and lentil chips. Since 2001, Enjoy Life Foods has offered products that are certified gluten-free and free-from 14 allergens, including: wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, casein, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, sesame, sulfites, lupin, and mustard. All their offerings are produced in a dedicated nut-free and certified gluten-free facility.

One thing that I love about Enjoy Life Foods is that they are easy to find. Their teal packaging, celebrating food-allergy awareness, stands out on the shelves. And Enjoy Life Foods products are available at over 40,000 retailers throughout the States and in major retailers throughout Canada. You can find Enjoy Life Foods at Whole Foods, Kroger, CVS, Walmart, on Amazon, Vitacost, Thrive, and more.

In addition to being   allergy-friendly, Enjoy Life Food products are clean too—they are made with all-natural ingredients, free of refined sugar and contain no artificial flavors or colors. Many of their products are Paleo or vegan friendly as well. Over 20 of their products are now Certified FODMAP Friendly (Watch for my next blog on this topic).

One of the things I appreciate so much about Enjoy Life Foods is their resources! Their Survival Guide explains the top eight allergens and the many common products that these allergens can be lurking in. The Healthcare Professionals section of their website offers tools and resources specifically for healthcare professionals to be able to distribute to their patients. And then they offer amazing recipes!

If you are going to FNCE, be sure to stop by the Enjoy Life Foods booth. They’ll have plenty of resources on hand such as handouts and booklets that you can share with your patients. I hope to see you at FNCE! I love connecting with others who share my passion for health education!

Enjoy Life Foods is a Kelly’s Choice partner.

Bond as a Family over a Meal, Here’s Why

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Mr. Mittens

Fall is an extremely busy season for me!! If you’re like me and seem like you’re always on the go, meal time is a good time to catch up on that much needed family time. October is Eat Better, Eat Together month so I’m going to be sharing some tips with you about how to do just that with your own families!

When you can do so, make an event of the meal time. Don’t just make dinner yourself, have your kids help you! If they’re too little to handle any cooking on their own, let them add ingredients to your meal or have them set the table. Just get them involved and you’ll have some nice bonding time and the kids will feel great that they helped!

And dinner doesn’t need to be complicated. Serve a platter of healthy and easy appetizers like romaine lettuce and deli-meat fold-ups with pickled veggies. Celebrate Taco Tuesday or Meatless Monday as a family. Choose recipes as a family to try!

Turn off the televisions and put the phones in another room. We’re so connected all the time that we forget to appreciate what and who we have right in front of us. Have conversations without the media in your face. Ask your kids what they’re learning in school, what the best part of their day was, how they made someone happy, anything to get a conversation going to create that family bond.

And did you know that children reap many scientifically-proven benefits? Here are just a few:

  • Children who have family meals make better food choices for life.
  • Eating as a family leads to better grades.
  • Children who have family meals are less likely to be overweight or obese.
  • There is a correlation between having family meals and overall life-satisfaction/happiness.

Don’t let the fall busyness with work, sports, school, etc. take away from valuable family time. Commit to certain meals each week that you will always share with your loved ones around the dining room table.