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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Summer Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

GettyImages-497835938One of my favorite things to do once it’s summer in Indiana is visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian, I’m a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find. Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support for the local community. Because the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market, you are cutting out the middle man and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eating foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This Indiana Fruits and Vegetable Harvest Calendar handout shows which produce is in season so that you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government sites to see whether they have a similar calendar.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendation is 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day goal. This will guarantee you are getting good nutrition and meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, and ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break on Wednesday afternoons to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the week. To find a farmers’ market close to you check out the FDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.

Whether you are picking up items for dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy-eating alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods fruits and vegetables

Low-Calorie Cinco de Mayo Recipes

GettyImages-507532058A lot of Americans see Cinco de Mayo as a reason to celebrate with all-you-can-eat chips and salsa, margaritas as big as your head, and lots of calorie-laden Mexican foods. Instead of the high calorie, high price route try these recipes and tortilla chip alternatives.

100-Calorie Super-Skinny Margarita

3 oz. Sparkling ICE Lemon Lime flavor (or any calorie-free sparkling lemon-lime water)
1½ oz. tequila
Juice from 1 orange
Juice from 1 lime
Shake all ingredients and pour over ice. Serve with a lime wedge.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp salt
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 Tbsp lime juice
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, avocado and/or pico de gallo for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, then slice crosswise into strips.
  3. Combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Add bell peppers and onion and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Leave the pan there and turn the broiler to high. Broil until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are browning in spots, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Stir in lime juice.
  8. Serve the chicken and vegetables in warmed tortillas accompanied by lime wedges and topped with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and/or pico de gallo, if desired. One serving equals two fajitas.

Tortilla chip alternatives for salsa and guacamole dipping:

  • Cucumbers
  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Rice crackers
  • Lentil chips

If you choose tortilla chips, stick to a serving, which is 12 chips!

If you want to celebrate the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 this year, throw together these improved-nutrition recipes with fewer calories, see these other tips for healthy eating at parties, and enjoy!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating recipes calories holidays

Five Questions About Healthy Eating Habits for Your Heart

GettyImages-643764514mnew.jpgFebruary is Heart Health Month! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the most important things you can do to increase your heart health and decrease your risk for heart disease is to take a look at your diet. Are you eating the foods that are good for your heart and sparingly consuming the foods that aren’t?

Here are five questions to ask yourself about your diet.

  • How much sodium are you eating? Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. One of the best ways to decrease your blood pressure or to prevent high blood pressure is to watch the amount of sodium in your diet. It's in everything these days. However, it is not in fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. The worst foods are those that are typically processed and packaged, and food when you are dining out. When grocery shopping, try to stay on the outside aisles of the store and avoid purchasing a lot of items down the center aisles. This tends to be the area where the higher-sodium foods are located. Try to decrease how many times you eat out per week. When you do dine out, be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out the excess that is bound to be in your food.
  • Are you choosing low-fat animal protein sources? Saturated fat is the fat that is found in animal products and is directly linked to elevated cholesterol and increasing the risk for heart disease. Most individuals get their protein from meat, resulting in high saturated fat consumption. The best way to watch the amount you are taking in is to choose lower-fat protein sources such as those from fish that is grilled or baked, white-meat chicken and turkey without skin, center cuts of pork, and lean cuts of red meat such as filet or sirloin.
  • Are you eating fruits and veggies with every meal? Prepare them any way you like, and shoot for a few portions at each meal. Toss fruit into your oatmeal or yogurt and add veggies to your eggs at breakfast. At lunchtime it’s easy to grab a veggie as your side to your sandwich. Fruit is an easy and portable snack any time of day, and half of your plate should be covered with vegetables at dinner! These nutrient powerhouses are loaded with fiber. Fiber helps to decrease the cholesterol in your body, which can be very heart protective.
  • Where are the high-fiber carbohydrates? Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to the increased intake of highly processed and unnatural carbohydrate sources. Carbs are important and help supply the body with energy it needs to run various systems of the body. Portion control is key here (1 to 2 cupped-hand-sized servings) and so is choosing the kind of carbohydrate. Choose whole grains, beans, lentils, and fruits that are unprocessed the majority of the time.
  • Are you eating the right kinds of fat? Fat in your diet is important; however, the type of fat you are choosing is key. Remember that animal fat is the not-good-for-your-heart fat, along with foods that are packaged to have a long shelf life and those that are deep fried. The good fats are those from vegetable sources such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon. Choose these types of fat the majority of the time, being aware of portion sizes though, since they carry a lot of calories with them also.

If you have a family history of heart disease, you should definitely be asking yourself these five questions and working toward healthy eating habits. Take time this month to reflect on your heart health, decrease your sodium intake, and increase your fiber and good-for-you fats!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating protein heart disease fiber sodium hypertension fruits and vegetables portion control heart health eating habits

Jump-start Your January: Nutrition and Weight Loss for the New Year

GettyImages-669677488.jpgAfter the feasting season (Halloween to Christmas) comes the New Year, and for a lot of people this means a resolution. Most people make resolutions to start weight loss, work out more, eat better, and so on; but typically it is some sort of goal to start off the year on a healthier note. If you are hoping to have a healthier 2018, I have some suggestions that will help jump-start your January.

Keep Food Logs

The best and easiest thing you can do to help with changes in your diet is to start keeping track of what you are eating. It has been well researched that just writing down what you are eating helps you be more accountable to yourself, eat less, and create a more balanced diet with better nutrition.

Technology has made it much easier to keep track of what you eat. Using popular apps such as MyFitnessPal and LoseIt allows you to log millions of food choices, track your calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), and easily see where you are getting too much or not enough of the foods your body needs. But if these apps aren’t appealing to you, just jot down on paper what you had. That act of accountability alone has been found to help individuals eat 40 percent less!

Clean Out Your Fridge and Pantry

If you have a goal to eat more balanced in 2018, the first place to look to achieve this goal is your kitchen. Open your fridge, freezer, and pantry and start tossing! If items are expired, throw those in the trash so you can start with fresh foods for the year.

Next, take a look at the foods with really long ingredient lists. If you don’t know what is in your food or if you can’t pronounce it, this is typically a sign that the food is highly processed and high in preservatives and other additives. Swap these out for more fresh items or foods that have short and familiar ingredients.

Finally, stock your fridge and freezer with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Hit Up the Grocery Store or Sign Up for Meal Delivery

Chances are you finished out 2017 eating a lot of meals away from home or not being able to control your choices at parties and gatherings. Make a goal to spend more time in your kitchen in 2018. This means going to the grocery store once per week to have the foods available to prepare balanced meals and snacks. Or, consider signing up for a meal delivery service such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron to take the guesswork out of three meals per week. Check out my previous blog with my review of Hello Fresh.

Try Something New

Are you in a food rut? Are you bored with the same meals over and over again? Make an effort to get out of that rut by trying something new each week. This might be starting your day with veggie-filled egg muffins instead of your typical bowl of cereal. Or instead of running out at lunch to grab a sandwich, you start packing your lunch and include a turkey and avocado wrap with fresh-cut veggies and a Greek yogurt. Then at dinner, instead of corn and green beans as your go-to veggie, try something new like Brussels sprouts or asparagus. Make a list of new foods or food goals you want to achieve each week and enjoy new food experiences.

If you have been wanting to change some of your habits, take the New Year as an opportunity to start some fresh ones. It just takes one or two small changes to help jump-start your healthy eating in 2018.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: nutrition resolutions weight loss healthy eating accountability technology apps new year

Thanksgiving Food and Healthy Eating Myths Busted

We all know that a lot of holidays involve food: cookouts on the 4th of July, cookies for Santa at Christmas, and candy treats for Halloween. But one holiday completely revolves around food—when you think of it, you automatically think about food. Thanksgiving is all about the meal of turkey, sides, and desserts. Several food myths surround this holiday, however, and not all of them are true. Keep reading for myth busters to share at your table.

GettyImages-827599250.jpg

  • Turkey makes you sleepy. Always have a nap after your Thanksgiving meal? Have you been blaming the turkey because you heard it was high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin and then melatonin and causes you to sleep? The truth is that a lot of other foods on the dinner table have much higher levels of tryptophan, and the real reason for the nap is more likely because of the amount of carbs that you consumed (and possibly the number of glasses of wine you drank!).
  • Sweet potatoes are always better than white potatoes. It’s true that if you look at the nutritional components of a regular sweet potato compared to those of a white potato, hands down it wins for its higher levels of vitamin A and C and fiber. The typical sweet potato dish is loaded with sugar and fat, however, and not nearly as healthy as a plain baked white potato.
  • Dark meat is unhealthy. Yes, it is true that white meat is very lean and an excellent source of protein. Dark meat is not so terrible, though, that you should intentionally avoid putting it on your Thanksgiving plate. A serving of 4 oz of white meat is 158 calories vs. 183 for dark meat, and 0.5 gram of saturated fat vs. 1.6 grams of saturated fat. Dark meat is also higher in zinc and iron.
  • Canned pumpkin isn’t as healthy as fresh. I am sure you have heard multiple times how much healthier fresh fruits and vegetables are versus canned. This is typically due to processing them and then storing them in a high-sodium or high-sugar liquid. However, when it comes to canned pumpkin, that rule doesn’t apply. It’s more concentrated than a fresh pumpkin, which means more vitamin A and fiber. But be careful when grabbing a can of pumpkin and don’t accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar and salt.
  • Stuffing and dressing are the same thing. They are very similar, but not the same. Stuffing is typically stuffed inside the bird, whereas dressing is prepared in a casserole dish. A note about food safety: Be cautious when eating traditional stuffing that is cooked inside the bird. It adds mass to the turkey, which slows the cooking. This not only dries out the meat, but can create salmonella bacteria. Always be sure your turkey is cooked to 165 degrees.

Show up at the Thanksgiving holiday this year with these healthy eating myth busters to share with your family and friends (and also check out these additional Thanksgiving hacks). Then grab a plate, load it up with lots white and dark meat, and enjoy the once-a-year food fest!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating holidays sleep Thanksgiving carbs food safety fruits and vegetables turkey myth busters

Get into the Exercise and Healthy Eating Mindset Before the Holidays

fit-it-in.jpgIt’s coming…the holiday season! Many people tend to give up or have the “I’ll start fresh next year” mindset when it comes to exercise around the holidays. Don’t let that be you this year! Halloween is over and before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here. Parties will start, normal schedules will be crazy, and more food will be added to your life.

Three Tips for Staying on Track with Workouts and Food

This season, let’s go into the holidays with a different mindset. We know what’s coming—it happens every year! Here are three tips to keep you on track.

  • Schedule time for your workouts. If you know you have a party or family gathering, plan ahead. Write your exercise time on your calendar each week just like you would anything else. Scheduling time for fitness should be a priority.
  • Something is better than nothing. Gym time cut short? Don’t just blow it off! Just get into the gym and move. Getting 30 minutes of exercise is better than getting 0 minutes. Don’t let your busy holiday gatherings keep you from your exercise routine. Even if you have to do bodyweight exercises at home or portable exercises on the road, don’t just skip your workout.
  • Do a little bit better next time. You overate, you missed your workout, you have another party today. It’s okay; you didn’t lose the battle of fitness. You don’t need to overeat at the next party. Just do a little better than you did at the last. Healthy eating and exercise don’t have to be all or nothing. Just do better every day. Move a little more, and eat one less holiday treat than the day before.

Change Your Mindset—and Ask or Help!

The holidays don’t have to be a time to let it go and start over during the New Year. This year, make it different! These three tips will help you change your mindset as we enter the season of craziness and delicious goodies!

If you need help on a quick workout idea, stop by the track desk and ask a NIFS HFS to help you out!

Remember 30-minute workouts are proven to be just as beneficial as longer workouts. If your short on time or just feel 60-minutes is too long, our Small Group Training Express classes are offered on Tuesday's and Thursday's from noon-12:30p with Kaci! Try your first session free!

Try a 30-min session!

Happy Holidays!

This blog was written by Kaci Lierman, NIFS Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy eating holidays Thanksgiving bodyweight mindset christmas new year scheduling halloween

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets: Nutrition and Healthy Summer Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-492361906.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around the Indianapolis area. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

The Top 5 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Market

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your local farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar to help you make the best local eating choices.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Way to Stock Up for Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating summer Indianapolis vegetables antioxidants local eating

Food Safety and Grilling: The Fun Way to Healthy Eating!

ThinkstockPhotos-475200404-1.jpgThe weather is warming up, the flowers are coming out, and daylight is around much longer at night. All of these things mean one thing: time to start grilling again! Having a barbecue or cookout is a wonderful way to do a majority of your cooking because it is a healthy preparation method and leaves little to no cleanup in the kitchen!

However, there can be some safety concerns when it comes to grilling, so read below to make sure you are informed.

Follow Proper Meat Temperatures

One of the most common reasons for food poisoning is not cooking your meat to the proper temperature. In fact, only 23% of Americans say they use a meat thermometer. This is the easiest and best way to make sure you are cooking your meat to the proper temperature. Here are the food safety temperature guidelines for different types of meat:

  • Chicken: 165 degrees
  • Pork: 145 degrees
  • Hamburgers: 160 degrees
  • Steak: 145 degrees
  • Bratwurst: 160 degrees
  • Fish: 145 degrees
  • Leftovers: 165 degrees

Use Condiments and Marinades Safely

Another thing to be cautious about is condiment safety. Always be sure to marinate meat in the refrigerator vs. sitting out on a counter or out by the grill. If you are reusing the sauce used on raw meats, bring it to a boil before using it on cooked meats; or throw it away to prevent cross-contamination. Condiments should not be left sitting out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees).

Don’t Reuse Cutting Boards and Platters

Something that might happen if you are in a hurry (or trying to cut down on dirty dishes) is to use the same cutting board or platter that had the raw meat on it for chopping veggies, or to put the cooked meat back on it. This can definitely be a recipe for disaster, so be sure to grab a different platter or cutting board, or clean the original one thoroughly with hot soapy water before using again.

Wash Hands and Utensils

Finally, don’t forget about those tools and your hands! This is where a lot of bacteria from the raw meat can reside. Thoroughly wash your grilling utensils once they have come in contact with the raw meat instead of just hanging them up on the side of the grill. Also, be sure to wash your hands and the grill handle that you touch with your hands after handling the raw meat.

Taking these small extra steps can guarantee a spring and summer filled with delicious (and safe) foods from the grill! And here are some tips for healthy eating at your next barbecue.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: healthy eating summer food safety grilling

NIFS Dietitian Reviews Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Service

Hello Fresh Box.jpgWhen I ask people why they don’t cook more, I get a lot of answers. Typically it’s along the lines of “I don’t have time,” “I haven’t been to the grocery store,” “I don’t know what to cook,” or “I don’t know how to cook.” So I was intrigued by the meal delivery service options that are available for individuals who don’t cook as often as they’d like.

Some of the more popular services are Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, and one local to the Indianapolis area called Fresh Artistry. I had an offer for 50% off my order with Hello Fresh, so that is why I chose to try that one. Here is my experience.

Ordering and Delivery

I went to the Hello Fresh website to sign up. I was able to choose three meals to feed two people (from a selection of six meals) for $35 (originally $70). If I were getting vegetarian choices, it would be a little cheaper, and they also had an option for a family of four. After choosing a beef dish, chicken dish, and fish dish, I was able to pick my delivery date. I chose a Tuesday delivery so I could enjoy the meals during the week when time is short for meal prep.

The box arrived on my front porch with many ice packs to keep the food fresh. Each meal was nicely distributed into its individual boxes, which I appreciated, so I knew which ingredients went with which dish.

Hello Fresh Instruction Card.jpgHello Fresh Ingredients.jpgMaking the Meals

I pulled out the colorful instruction card for the first meal that it suggested I make to guarantee freshness, which was Bayou-Spiced Rockfish. It also listed the prep time, that it was gluten and nut free, the difficulty level, the ingredients I would be using, and a picture (this I really appreciated!) of the final product. When I flipped over the card, it listed the nutrition facts for the meal, what tools I would need to use, and detailed instructions with more photos! So far I was really enjoying my purchase!

I started to work on prepping the veggies and potatoes. What I really enjoyed was the fact that I had minimal dishes getting dirty in the kitchen. When I was finished, the only items I needed to clean were a knife, cutting board, and skillet. This was a plus for sure! After the veggies and potatoes were prepped and ready, I switched those out for the fish. The pan was hot so it didn’t take long at all for it to cook.

Hello Fresh Meal.jpgHello Fresh Veggies.jpgThe final thing to do was to put it all on the plate and taste it. I thought it was delicious! The portion size was ideal, the flavor was great, and the prep and cleanup were easy! From start to finish the time was around 30 minutes before eating.

The other two meals that I was shipped were also tasty. Each of those took around 35 minutes to prepare (due to a longer cooking time for the chicken and beef), and they both involved one extra piece of equipment to wash.

The Verdict: Thumbs Up!

Overall I was very happy with the service. What I really liked was the option to skip weeks easily when you don’t want a delivery. I was really delighted with the Hello Fresh process. If you have been wanting to cook balanced meals and do more healthy eating, this is the easiest way I know of to get started. Try one soon and let me know what you think!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy eating wellness cooking dietitian

Nutrition on the Go: Can Food Trucks Provide Healthy Eating?

ThinkstockPhotos-87741362.jpgThe food truck phenomenon started in 2008 in California with a truck called Kogi BBQ that served Korean-Mexican fusion on the streets of L.A. Soon many chefs followed the trend, and now you can find these mobile dining establishments in most cities across the U.S.

One great thing about this trend is that it tends to be inexpensive compared to restaurants, and a fresher fast-food option. However, since these trucks typically have an ever-changing menu, it can be challenging to know what to order—and whether you can find a healthy option.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Follow some of the tips below, and then get out there and find your new favorite truck!

  • Scan for the best. Normally if you see one food truck, there is another one close by, or as is getting popular now, you might be at an event where a bunch of food trucks have gathered at one time (such as the First Friday Food Truck Festival). Take a walk around and check out all of the menus available (burning those calories as you walk), and then you can make a more informed choice.
  • Eat with a fork. One thing food trucks are known for is their fresh ingredients, so take advantage of filling up on those. And when you load up your plate or bowl and require a fork to eat the item, it slows down the process. Allowing your brain to tell your stomach that you are full is the goal, and this typically takes around 20 minutes. By eating with a fork, you can slow down considerably versus folding over the pizza and finishing it in five bites, keeping the burrito all rolled into a nice hand-held contraption, or using both hands to wrap around the giant burger!
  • If you aren’t using a fork, look for a taco truck. Almost all food trucks that specialize in tacos have great things going for them: they are portion controlled, typically have a protein source in them, and are loaded with veggies on top! Most food truck tacos aren’t loaded with sauces and cheeses like sit-down Mexican restaurants, so you can save a lot of calories. One more plus is that most food trucks use corn tortillas instead of flour, which means less processing, fewer calories, and less sodium.
  • Burn more calories standing up. Usually there aren’t a lot of places to sit around food trucks, which a lot of people see as a drawback of the movement. However, take this opportunity to practice eating your food while standing. It is well known that standing burns more calories than sitting, and can also help prevent acid reflux.
  • Share, share alike. As I already mentioned, typically there are a lot of different food trucks in one area. So, grab a friend or a co-worker and try multiple items. You will get to try a lot of different things but in much smaller portions.

Moderation and Balance Are the Keys

As with any dining out, when it comes to food trucks the same nutrition rules apply: moderation and balance. As long as you remember to have three food groups on your plate and eat a standard amount, you can enjoy the food truck experience for lunch or snacks and not feel guilty!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks lunch acid reflux