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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

NIFS Heart Throbs: 5 Healthy Habits for Weight-Loss Success

team.jpgThe Slim It to Win It* (SITWI) program is off and running again for another year of life-changing results and lifestyle modifications to maintain those changes. SITWI, in its fifth year, is NIFS’ equivalent to the NBC show The Biggest Loser. But unlike that show, the highly trained coaches at NIFS work in and around the real-world challenges that face the participants in the program to get true and long-lasting results. I am honored and very excited to be part of this great program again after a few years away, and look forward to witnessing all of the successes had by all those working hard in the program!

I am coach of “The Heart Throbs” this year, a group of 10 individuals who come to the program with a common goal of reducing body fat and learning to practice habits and behaviors that will keep them healthy and fit throughout their lifetimes. They came to the right place! But why the name Heart Throbs, you ask? Other than being a pretty good-looking group, over half of the people in the group have dealt with or are dealing with a heart issue and have overcome that obstacle to continue to fight and become the individual they want to be.

Stories from the Team

Take Amy Anderyck (Year One overall champion, by the way). Here is a snippet of her story:

I was born with an ASD heart defect. It was a hole the size of a quarter. It's not uncommon for babies to have them at birth, but they usually close up themselves after a bit. Mine never closed. So when I was 5 years old my parents took me to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet Dr. Albert Pacifico, who was the best pediatric vascular surgeon in the country at the time. He did a great job with my repair and I am able to lead a happy, healthy life without any restrictions. I am thankful for my parents and the doctor. 

Slimit16pic2.jpegOr Haley Pratt:

I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome as an infant, but my structures were too small to take care of anything as a baby. I had my first ablation at age 4, which was still very young to operate, but there was no choice. I went on living life normally as an active child. The doctors told me I would never be able to play organized sports, have life insurance, or pilot a plane. I am here to say that I conquered the first two (even got a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at Lynn University) and someday would love to get my pilot's license.

Two years ago, I did have another scare where I had a tachycardia episode that felt exactly like what I was used to growing up. I wondered how this could happen after 15 years. It ended up being inappropriate sinus tachycardia, which sometimes comes and goes on its own. I am on a beta blocker and have a looping monitor implanted for the time being, but I will be able to quit both soon. I have a healthy heart and nothing can stop me from achieving my goals!

The team’s inspirational stories are too many to list in one blog post, but I assure you that they rival the two stories shared above. It takes a lot of courage and strength to look something like that in the face and overcome it. I am so proud of Haley, Amy, and the rest of the Heart Throbs, and I am humbled that they chose me to lead them to a healthier and better life!

Five Questions About Your Eating Habits

At our first meeting, we spoke about what it took to get results in reducing body fat and body weight, or eliminating medications or staving off type 2 diabetes. I suggested that of the top three things that can lead you down the path to success—mental health, nutrition, and exercise—exercise was a distant third. Exercise should be the fun stuff; it’s the first two that are the tough ones. The Heart Throbs would like to ask you 5 questions about how you are eating that could help you develop those important habits that will lead to success:

  • Are you eating slowly? It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to signal to the stomach and the rest of the body that you are full. If you eat fast, you usually eat more.
  • Where are the protein-dense foods? Eating protein with every meal will help with recovery, building muscle, and feeling full. Protein consumption soon after a training session is a great habit that will help in all facets of your fitness. Some examples are meat, fish, eggs, plant protein, and yogurt.
  • Are you eating veggies with every meal? Prepare them any way you like, and shoot for few portions each meal. Veggies should account for the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for the day.
  • Where are the carbohydrates? Carbohydrates (grains, beans, starches, fruit) have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to the increased intake of highly processed and unnatural carbohydrate sources. Carbs are important, especially after a training session, 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), as well as timing (after training) to get the most out of your carbohydrates.
  • Are you eating fat? Fat in your diet is important, and although the discussion would be too extensive for this piece, this idea does come with a bit of blowback. So let me put it like this: In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the “experts” labeled fat as the enemy and worked hard to eliminate it from the American diet (remember the SnackWell’s aisles?). What happened to America? It got fat. Choose healthy fats (oils, butter, nut butters, nuts, and seeds) and spread them out through the day.

Bonus Takeaways

 The Heart Throbs have some bonus takeaways for you:

  • Experiment to find what works for you. It has to work for you to be sustainable!
  • Don't try to overhaul; add one habit every couple of weeks.
  • Identify any nutritional deficiencies that can be found through a blood test and work to correct them.
  • You can't change your life unless you change something you do every day.

*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating Slim It to Win It carbs

Top 10 Must-Have Pantry Items for Healthy Eating

I get asked all the time, “What should I eat?” This is not an easy question to answer. There are foods that should definitely be eaten more often than others, and foods that are better to just have every once in a while, but it’s hard to pick certain foods that are a MUST HAVE in your diet for best nutrition. However, if you are looking for a list of items that you can purchase to have in your pantry for quick, healthy, and easy meal or snack ideas, start with this list.

ThinkstockPhotos-493279620n.jpg
  • Pouches or cans of tuna: This shelf-stable protein source is packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It is also an inexpensive protein, which is nice since meat adds the most to your grocery bill. Add it to salads, or mix with plain Greek yogurt and enjoy a tasty tuna salad. White albacore tuna is the best, but any variety that is water packed is a great choice.
  • Canned beans: These protein- and fiber-filled gems are also very inexpensive. All varieties are great and can easily be tossed into pastas, salads, or salsas for a filling meal or snack. Be sure to drain and rinse them to rid the beans of the high sodium liquid.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: A staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, this flavor-packed oil is versatile; you can use it to cook meats and veggies, or drizzle it on a salad for a quick homemade dressing.
  • Oats: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with oats you can start your day in a variety of ways! Add fruit, nuts, nut butters, pumpkin, or flax for a different bowl of goodness each day. These are also good to use in meatloaf or other recipes that call for breadcrumbs, to up the fiber amount.
  • Nuts: Nuts are loaded with fiber and protein (three times more than potato chips!). These should be a regular part of your diet. Whether you love cashews, almonds, pistachios, or another nut, grab an unsalted or lightly salted variety to get the benefits of the good-for-you fat in all nuts.
  • Quinoa/brown rice/whole-wheat pasta: To fill 25% of your plate with whole grains, it’s a good idea to keep some high-fiber options stocked in the pantry. One-half to 1 cup (cooked) of any of these grains will add staying power and tastiness to any meal.
  • Sweet potatoes: Want an alternative to a white potato? Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and vitamin A. Since they are naturally flavorful, they won’t need much added to them. Baked, roasted, or spiralized into noodles, a sweet potato is a great addition to any meal.
  • Salsa: A dip that is also a veggie is a must to keep in your pantry. Choose a chunky salsa where the majority of ingredients are just veggies and not a lot of additives. Then use this to top baked potatoes or eggs, or as a dip for veggies. Chips aren’t the only way to get salsa in your diet!
  • Nut butters: Another inexpensive but great protein option is nut butters. You can do the traditional peanut butter, or try new varieties like almond-nut butter or soy-nut butter. All are perfect for adding to whole-wheat toast, oatmeal, celery, or smoothies.
  • Green tea bags: If you need something more flavorful than just water to drink, add some green tea to your routine. It is loaded with antioxidants to keep you healthy, is a great way to get in your fluid intake, is naturally very low in caffeine, and has been shown to speed up your metabolism! All of these are great reasons to reach for this beverage any time of day.

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What did you eat today? Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. Contact Angie Scheetz ascheetz@nifs.org or click below to learn more about the My Nutrition Coach app

 Learn More

 

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating protein fiber pantry

Reducing Your Added Sugar Intake for Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-185151583.jpgIf you have read the news lately, I’m sure you have seen that the world’s obesity epidemic is most recently being blamed on sugar. This is with good reason, too. In 1922 the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one 12-ounce soda every five days. Now, that amount is consumed every seven hours. Sugar is in everything—not just baked goods and sodas, but also bread, peanut butter, soy sauce, and even hot dogs.

So how much should you be eating, and how do you spot what is naturally occurring, like the sugar in milk and fruit versus added sugar?

Naturally Occurring Versus Added Sugars

For the first time, the FDA is putting a number on the amount of sugar that is recommended for Americans. The goal is to keep the added sugar to no more than 10 percent of their diet. For anyone over the age of 3, that means no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams per day.

However, if you flip over the carton of your daily Greek yogurt and see 15 grams of sugar, how much of that is added for sweetness and flavor and how much is from the lactose or milk sugar that is good for you?

Use this handy list to know how many grams are naturally occurring from either fruit sugar (fructose) in your fresh fruit, or milk sugar (lactose):

  • 1 cup milk: 13 grams
  • 6 oz. plain yogurt: 8 grams
  • Cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs: less than 2 grams
  • 1 cup fruit: 7 grams (berries) up to 17 grams (orange)
This can be confusing when just glancing at a label. In March 2014, the FDA proposed including added sugar, in grams, on food labels. The new layout is currently being tested, and hopefully we will see the new changes on labels in the near future.

How to Reduce Added Sugar in Your Diet

The easiest way to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet is to choose more fresh foods that have not been processed or packaged. Swap the pre-made snack for a piece of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts. Take a look at your overall food consumption and find other easy swaps to help with weight loss and overall health!

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If you are one of the 1 billion people trying to lose weight, don’t do it alone. NIFS has many options to help you reach your goals. Check out the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program and personal nutrition coaching sessions for more information.

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating snacks artificial ingredients sugar dietitian My Nutrition Coach

Choose Foods That Naturally Detox for Healthy Eating

I’m sure you have seen or read about celebrities doing detox diets and cleanses before awards shows. Maybe you have thought about trying one of these crazy and wacky things yourself. Most of these diets are very low-calorie and can be dangerous if followed for an extended period of time.

Some foods that you probably already have at home, however, can help to naturally detox your body. These foods, along with a balanced-nutrition diet and exercise, can help you feel energized and refreshed again!

Lemon water: Lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps the body detox and burn fat. Also, citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant d-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kickstart.

Cruciferous veggies like cabbage and Brussels sprouts: Due to the high amounts of fiber in these veggies, they help with gut health, kidney health, and liver health by keeping the body regular and removing toxins and waste. These foods also contain the phytochemical sulforaphane, which studies suggest may keep pre-carcinogenic cells from negatively affecting other cells in the body, so it supports healthy functions of all of your organs.

Artichokes: These green guys are high in inulin, which is a prebiotic that helps to form the probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut. This allows more nutrients to be metabolized and takes some of the work off of the liver. They are also high in cynarin, an acid that helps the liver to break down fatty foods.

Beets: This red root veggie is full of betacyanin, which has cancer-fighting properties, along with magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium to help flush out toxins. This antioxidant also helps the liver and gallbladder eliminate bile from the body.

Ginger: Ginger is great for the liver because it helps to get rid of free radicals that have built up in the body. It also has been found to spike your metabolism and keeps your appetite in check.   

Green tea: Drinking liquids is always a wonderful and natural detox, and adding green tea to your water is extra helpful. It is high in catechin, a flavonoid, which speeds up liver activity and increases the production of detoxification enzymes.

Whole grains such as oats: Anytime you choose whole grains over refined grains you are certain to increase your amount of fiber, and oats are loaded with soluble fiber, which slows the rate of food absorption. This helps to promote healthy gut functioning and stimulates bile excretion by the liver. Also, the insoluble fiber helps to keep you regular, and which can then help you avoid bloating or constipation.

Skip the starvation detox diets and try some of these options the next time you feel like your body needs a cleanse!

What did you eat today? Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. Contact Angie Scheetz ascheetz@nifs.org or click below to learn more about the My Nutrition Coach app

Learn More

 

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating digestion clean eating fiber gut health

NIFS’s New Healthy Eating App: My Nutrition Coach

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-back-1Choosing the right foods for healthy eating can be a challenge. Life is busy and sometimes the thing that gets left behind is a well-balanced meal or snack. We want to help you change that! Studies show that individuals who have to be accountable for their food choices lose more weight and keep it off than those who attempt to do it alone.

Often when you are motivated to make a weight loss change, the first thought is to cut out your favorite foods that you are worried you eat too much of. Or you start eating salads every day for lunch and dinner. 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back. The successful 5% of people learn how to eat a balanced diet that includes ALL foods!

My Nutrition Coach is a new app specifically created to help our members develop a healthy plan for food choices, while also providing consistent support to help educate and develop good lifelong habits. 

How to Use the App

When you sit down to eat, just snap a picture of your meal. You can also add your beverage, your mood, and your hunger level. At midnight your entries will be uploaded, and the next day you will get feedback and suggestions from me, NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz. Videos, handouts, and suggestions for how to reach your personal wellness goals will also be sent your way, giving you more resources to achieve your nutrition and fitness goals. nutrition-screen

Quick and Effective Nutrition Feedback

This program is quick and easy, and on average should take only 5 minutes per day, but the support, feedback, and resources you will receive throughout the program are equal to a personal, weekly nutrition consultation in traditional programs.

Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. If you are interested in signing up for this program or want more information, please email me at ascheetz@nifs.org or call me at 274-3432, ext. 239. I look forward to working with you!

 Learn More

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

 

Topics: nutrition weight loss healthy eating NIFS programs weight management

Tips for Healthy Eating at Summer Barbecues

Summer is perfect for being active outdoors and grilling some healthy items for cookouts. Getting together with family and friends is a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, some barbecues can turn into really unhealthy meals quickly. Here are some simple tips to ensure you keep up healthy eating while enjoying a cookout. ThinkstockPhotos-475200404

  • Better your burger. Consider topping your burger with fresh and flavorful veggies such as onions and tomatoes versus higher-fat options like mayonnaise and cheese. Also, grab a whole-wheat bun to increase the fiber, or a sandwich thin to keep calories lower. Seek out lower-fat ground beef to make your burgers, such as Laura’s Lean Beef, or grab a turkey burger to grill. 
  • Select sides wisely. Coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad are typical staples of most cookouts. However, these mayonnaise-based options are loaded with fat and calories that aren’t necessarily the best for a balanced plate. Choose a serving the size of a tennis ball to keep portions in check, or choose oil-and-vinegar or yogurt-based dishes if available. 
  • Fill up on fruit. This time of year is full of almost every fruit in its peak season. Load up on filling berries, cherries, and melons. Make a giant fruit salad or kabobs, or toss some peaches or pineapple on the grill and top with nonfat vanilla yogurt. If fruit pies are on the menu for dessert, choose the option with a bottom crust only and stick to one slice!
  • Don’t forget the veggies. A lot of times veggies are completely forgotten at a barbecue, but these can be super tasty and easy to fix when done on the grill. Zucchini, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers are great on the grill and can easily be made into fun kabobs. Corn on the cob is technically a starchy vegetable, but it’s still a vegetable! Just be cautious with the amount of butter and salt that you load on top of it. Instead, try grilling it in foil with a touch of olive oil and squeeze a lime on it before eating. You won’t even miss the butter and salt!
  • Be careful not to burn your meat. Two compounds found in charred and overcooked meats are known carcinogens. Always make sure to clean your grill to get rid of preexisting charred food bits before you start grilling, or grill on top of foil or a grill mat. Another great idea is to marinate your meats before throwing them on the grill. Not only will it increase the flavor, but it can reduce the presence of the carcinogens. Grab a meat thermometer and make sure beef, pork, fish, veal, and lamb reach 145 degrees and poultry reaches 165 degrees.
  • When you are finished, go play. Challenge the kids to a game of cornhole or horseshoes. Start tossing the ball around or choose another outdoor game. The point is to not just to jump around and “burn off” dinner, but to get up and moving and away from the tempting chips and other snacks!

My-Nutrition-Coach-outline-no-backLooking for a simple way to keep track of your diet? Want more immediate help and feedback on food choices and portions? My Nutrition Coach is a new app that gives you the ability to track your nutrition and receive daily feedback, suggestions and information from NIFS dietitian, Angie Scheetz.

Learn More

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating calories summer disease prevention paleo

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-460495043One of my favorite things to do once it is summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. 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.

Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmers’ market is a must.

  1. Support for 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. 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. Check out the downtown City Market website for which products are available during the months the market is open.
  3. Healthy eating is good for you: The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as opposed to the current recommendations of 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 requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals, also. 
  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 City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sample the hot, fresh kettle corn; pick up sweet corn; and get homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase a walking waffle, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week. To find out the location of a farmers’ market close to you, check out the USDA website.

Whether you are picking up items for 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 that it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods

Are Recent Changes to Restaurant Menu Ingredients Good for You?

ThinkstockPhotos-200325352-001Have you heard the news about Panera? How about Chipotle? It has been in the news a lot recently that these chains are making dramatic changes to their menus. So, what are the changes and will they make for more healthy eating?

Panera Drops Artificial Ingredients

Panera has decided to drop all artificial ingredients from its menu. This list of 150 ingredients is called the No-No List. This list includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavors, and these ingredients will all be removed by the end of 2016. 

Even though the debate is still ongoing as to whether these ingredients can cause harm to consumers, Panera decided to not take the risk. It was reported that reconfiguring the salad dressing to meet the standards was the toughest menu item change. As of now there are no plans to increase the cost of the menu items to offset these changes. 

Chipotle Gets Away from GMOs

Chipotle has also decided to clean up its menu recently. The chain announced that it would be serving only food that is free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. In 2013 Chipotle was the first restaurant to show which menu items contained GMOs, and now it is the first chain restaurant to remove them. As with artificial ingredients, GMOs have not been found to be harmful to humans, but environmental working groups are concerned about the effect they might have on the food chain and environment. 

Are These Changes Better for You?

It is great that these companies are making an effort to provide safe food choices; however, these changes do not mean that the food is necessarily better for you. Most calorie contents won’t be affected by these changes; and in foods where artificial sweeteners are removed the calories may actually increase. 

So, if you are watching calories or wanting to lose weight, don’t be fooled into thinking the giant blueberry muffin will be the best option to help you get to your goal. That will still have 460 calories and 18 grams of fat! With any change in a nutrition announcement, the rule of thumb is not more is better. The goal is to stick to the basics. Incorporate as many fresh and unprocessed foods as possible into your diet. This includes reaching for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day!

Be on the lookout for more companies to make similar announcements soon. Kraft has decided to remove artificial coloring from its Mac & Cheese, and Pepsi is removing aspartame from its diet drinks. Each announcement can be a positive for consumers, as long as they remember to get in a balanced and fresh diet the majority of the time. 

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

Topics: healthy eating calories lunch artificial ingredients

Healthy Eating While Traveling

ThinkstockPhotos-494262007Whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure, it typically means you eat most meals out or on the go. It can be challenging to make the most balanced choices and keep your eating on the right track. You want to try foods that are special to that region, you are busy and grabbing the first thing that sounds good, and you don’t have access to a grocery store for more fresh foods; these can all be challenges while traveling.

Tips for Healthy Eating on Vacation

Following these tips will help you enjoy your food choices and not derail all of your hard work!

  • Drink plenty of good-for-you fluid. This includes water, tea, decaf coffee, 100% juice, and milk. Staying hydrated will help to keep your metabolism working efficiently, flush out the sodium from restaurant meals, and keep you hydrated when traveling can zap that from you. 
  • If you are splurging, keep it to one per meal. There is nothing wrong with trying foods that you might only get on vacation. However, if every meal is a splurge without any of the good-for-you foods that your body requires, this can be a problem! Allow yourself the ice cream cone, but one scoop will do! Enjoy the bacon cheeseburger, but pair it with a side salad. Always try to scour the menu and choose the one thing you really want and then balance your plate to fit the 3-food-group-per-meal rule.
  • Pack snacks from home. This can help keep you satisfied between meals so you are more in control when sitting down to a meal. Make sure to eat every 3 to 5 hours and choose snacks that have fiber and/or protein to help keep you full. Easy and portable snacks to pack include nuts, trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, snack-size protein bars, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Plan Ahead for Better Nutrition While Traveling

Here are some final tips to keep in mind while traveling:

  • Request a refrigerator in your room to keep healthy perishable snacks and meals.
  • Bring a water bottle with you to fill up at rest stops or after security at the airport.
  • Keep alcohol in moderation. 
  • Avoid minibars in hotel rooms. 
  • Visit the local grocery store once you’ve arrived at your destination. Stock up on healthy snacks and convenient meals. (This is better for your budget, too!)
  • Research menus ahead of time. 

However, the most important tip is everything in moderation! Enjoy your travels, try something new, and get out there and explore the new city!

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

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks hydration traveling

Should You Be Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables?

ThinkstockPhotos-86533186This is always a hot topic and a debate that many people have strong opinions about: should I be buying organic produce? Unfortunately, I don’t have the definite answer for you, either. What I can do is give you some facts and let you decide whether buying organic foods is right for you and your family.

  • Organic produce does not have more vitamins and minerals than non-organic produce. 
  • Organics have a 30% lower risk of pesticide residue than non-organic produce.
  • Organic produce typically costs three times the amount that conventional produce costs.
  • Purchasing fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market is an option for getting more cost-effective organic foods.
  • Small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during fetal development and childhood. 
Pesticide Residue Rankings

Still confused? Each year the Environmental Working Group identifies foods that have the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Here is a list in order, starting with the highest level of pesticide from 2015:

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Imported sugar snap peas
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

Here is a list of foods that are least likely to contain contaminants:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

When glancing at these two lists, you can see that items on the first list all have edible skins, whereas the skins of the majority of foods on the second list are discarded. 

Ways to Reduce Pesticide Residues

Thoroughly washing produce is one way to guarantee you are washing away remaining pesticide residues (pesticides absorbed through roots can’t be washed off, however). Peeling the skins off fruit is another way to decrease the amount of residue; however, you lose nutrients when you throw out the skin. 

Take all of this information into account when deciding between organics and non-organics, and then make the choice that best fits your beliefs and budget!

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

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: healthy eating disease prevention clean eating organic foods