NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Is Chocolate REALLY Good for You? The Nutrition Behind the Treat

ThinkstockPhotos-71264413.jpegYou’ve seen it on the news and read articles in magazines, but is it really true? Can chocolate actually be good for you? Isn’t it too delicious and forbidden to be a food that can help with heart disease? Of course nutrition is confusing and things change all the time about what is good and isn’t so good for you, so what is the deal with chocolate?

The good news is that yes, chocolate is good for you; there have been plenty of studies proving that there are health benefits to chocolate. It does matter, however, how much and what type of chocolate you are consuming. So before you grab that king-size Hershey bar, read below to learn what to do and understand the benefits when it comes to eating chocolate in the appropriate amounts.

The Nutrition Science of Chocolate

The cacao bean, which is the base of chocolate candy, is loaded with nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect from environmental toxins and repair damage to the body. They provide antioxidants that help the body resist cell damage from free radicals. The main flavonoids are flavanols, which can reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow, and make blood platelets clot more easily.

ThinkstockPhotos-510580190.jpegCocoa naturally has a very strong taste, so it has to go through many steps to form your favorite type of chocolate. And through this processing many of the flavanols are lost. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed, and therefore have the lowest amount of antioxidants. However, dark chocolate that has undergone minimal processing will have the highest amount of flavonoids. As far as cocoa goes, the best choice is one that hasn’t undergone Dutch processing, which is when they treat it with an alkali to neutralize the natural acidity. (For more about how chocolate is created and how to enjoy it, check out this book.)

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose, though. Typically one that contains over 70% cocoa will give you more of the heart-healthy benefits. And watch out for the extras such as caramel, nougat, and pretzels that are added to the chocolate. Those can add a ton of extra fat and calories to the treat, and are not high in nutritional value.

How Much Chocolate Should You Eat?

There is currently no established serving size for the amount that is healthy for your heart. So the general recommendation is to stick to 1 oz. of dark chocolate per day. This is the equivalent of one square of baking chocolate, 54 chocolate chips, or 6 Hershey’s kisses.

Other Foods Rich in Flavonoids

Dark chocolate isn’t the only way to get in flavonoids, though. They can be found in many foods such as cranberries, apples, onions, peanuts, tea, and red wine. So make sure to enjoy chocolate a few times a week, but also incorporate other foods that have many of the same disease prevention benefits.

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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 disease prevention antioxidants chocolate

NIFS Member Profile: Cody Hunter Crushes His Fitness Goals

Cody_ today.jpgCody Hunter_Before.jpgAs the new year is here, we start forming new goals for the next. I would like to share a story of a member who has worked incredibly hard through 2015 and 2016, has crushed all of the weight loss and fitness goals that he set and then some, and who has transformed himself completely in front of everyone who has seen him.

Cody Hunter joined NIFS two years ago in 2014, with overall goals of losing some weight, being healthier, looking more fit, and feeling better about himself. When Cody started working out at NIFS, he weighed close to 290 pounds. His current weight is in the 190s, and his most recent BOD POD has shown him down to 7% body fat*! Cody has proven to all of us how goal-setting and turning fitness into a lifestyle, rather than a chore, can be not only attainable, but also rewarding! Read below for Cody’s thoughts on his own journey, as well as tips if you are just starting out or need some motivation for your own.
 *individual results vary, and are not guaranteed.

How did you get started on your fitness journey?

When I was in high school and during my youth I was always on the bigger side. I played offensive and defensive line in football and that meant that I was a bigger player as well. Throughout the first part of my college career I ballooned to my biggest point. I just got to a point where enough was enough and decided to start my journey. I knew that I could be a better person if I was happier with myself in my own body.

What was your exercise regimen when you first started out?

When I started I was working out 5–7 days a week, working on my cardio and lifting. I would play a lot of basketball and then lift afterwards.

Did you make any nutritional changes? If so, what was your game plan?

When I first started working out I was stricter with my diet than in the past, but not as much as I should have been. I decided that I would drop all sweets, soda, and junk food. After making these changes and really focusing on fueling my body with the correct food and nutrients, my weight started to fall off.

How did you maintain these habits? Did you have any struggles along the way?

After going as long as I did without sweets, it was fairly easy for me to keep on a fairly regimented diet. I saw the results and knew that if I kept doing what I had been doing, I would only get better. I definitely had struggles. Everyone has the cravings for sweets, but I just knew that if I stayed strong and made the right choices, good things would happen.

Did you have any help with accountability (family, friends, etc.)?

My family, friends, and coworkers were all very helpful with keeping me in line with my regimen. At family get-togethers my mom would always make sure that the sweet was something that I didn’t really care for, so there was no temptation for me to have any. My friends and coworkers would do their best not to eat anything bad around me, to not make me feel left out or tempted to break my diet.

Have you conquered any specific goals since you started your fitness journey?

My first goal was to run a 5K. I accomplished that, and then I was talked into signing up for the Mini-Marathon. I trained a lot for that and was able to complete that as well. Over time I have done three half marathons in total and I have dropped about a half an hour on my time since my first one.

What are your current goals to help stay motivated?

I have been doing CrossFit training for about 4 months now and it has been really great. I wanted to have something that would present me with constant new goals and challenges; something that would really get me into the best shape of my life.

What advice do you have for anyone out there who might feel like they are ready to make that change?

My advice would be to just do it! I had many days where I felt that I just couldn’t keep going or that I wasn’t really seeing any real results. I just kept going and kept moving forward, trusting that hard work and sacrifice would pay off. My life has never been better and I have never felt healthier than I do now.

***

Ramp-up-logo-finalNO-SPACE.jpg

If you are looking to just do it and begin making that change in your life, make an appointment with a NIFS trainer for a free fitness assessment to help guide you in making your goals. Or, check out NIFS Ramp Up to Weight Loss Program to help you get started!

This blog was written by Rebecca Heck, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: NIFS exercise fitness nutrition fitness center weight loss member mini marathon accountability CrossFit goals 5k BODPOD new year

NIFS Slim It to Win It Weight-Loss Competition 2017: Back and Better!

Slimit16pic2.jpegNew year? Yes. Weight-loss goal? Yep. Team competition? Sign me up! It’s time to get ready for our 7th annual team weight-loss competition, Slim It to Win It! If you are looking for an opportunity to participate in team training that provides accountability, nutritional guidance, and an uplifting environment that is designed to help you succeed, this may be your thing!

Slim It to Win It Details

Slim It is an 8-week group training program geared toward seeing you be successful in fat loss. Throughout the eight weeks of training, you will experience what we hope to be a transformational period. Check out the program details:

  • 8 total weeks of group training.
  • Training dates: February 5 to April 1.
  • 16 scheduled 60-minute workout sessions per week with a NIFS coach.
  • Must attend 14 out of 16 group training sessions to be eligible for prizes, track your food in MyFitnessPal, and complete both the pre- and post-competition BodPods.
  • Nutritional guidance through tips, recipes, food tracking, and meal-planning suggestions.
  • Teams of 10 people (up to 4 of whom can be guests to NIFS).
  • Group camaraderie and motivation.
  • Pre- and post-competition BodPod assessments included.
  • Accountability through encouraging, fun, and safe team training!
  • Two participants will be randomly selected to use, at no cost, the My Nutrition Coach app.

Sign Me Up!

Slim-It-logo.jpgHere are the details of how to get registered:

  • Come to the NIFS service desk between January 14 and 28 to register, or call 317-274-3432, ext. 216.
  • Fee is $40 for NIFS members (fee will be waived if you get a nonmember to register also!) and $185 for guests—this includes full membership access for the duration of the program.
  • Upon payment you will receive a label to place your name on the signup board with your preferred coach and training times. SPACE IS LIMITED SO REGISTER EARLY.
  • Schedule your pre- BodPod with a NIFS trainer between January 29 and February 4.
  • Training begins the week of February 5 and runs through April 1.
  • Post BodPod assessment will take place April 2–8.
  • Grand finale: April 10.

Prizes! Who Doesn’t Love Prizes?

The team that loses the highest average percentage of body fat will win the Slim It to Win It competition! Winners will receive three months of free membership upon eligibility above. Also, the top male and female losers will win three months of free membership to NIFS. And lastly, runner-up male and female top losers will receive two months of free Personal Nutrition Coaching with NIFS Registered Dietician Angie Mitchell.

We look forward to walking with you on this journey for 2017!

For more information, visit nifs.org or contact Amanda Bireline or call the service desk at 317-274-3432, ext. 216.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS nutrition motivation weight loss group training accountability workout Slim It to Win It BODPOD

10 Winter Fitness and Wellness Tips

ThinkstockPhotos-619079130-1.jpgAs much as no one wants to admit it, the winter months are in front of us. Even though I grew up in a northern snow belt along the Great Lakes, cold weather is not my thing. In fact, I really don’t like anything about it. And often along with the winter blues comes a decrease in health and fitness due to the lack of motivation. To counteract that feeling, let’s look at ten tips that can help you be healthier this winter.

  1. Work out. I know it’s easy to lose motivation to keep working out when it’s cold out, it’s dark by 5, and you have to put on your snow boots and warm up the car before going to the gym. But working out actually helps to build your immune system and keep you healthy. So make sure that you build those workouts into your schedule.
  2. Eat well. It’s important to make sure that you stick to clean eating, especially through the holidays. All the additional sweets, snacks, drinks, and other goodies that come with the holidays are sometimes hard to resist; do your best to stay focused on your goals.
  3. Drink lots of water. Being sure that you have proper hydration is always important regardless of the time of year. Carry around a water bottle everywhere you go and make sure you keep drinking.
  4. Cover your head in outdoor workouts. If you do decide to work out outdoors, be sure to wear a hat or something to cover your ears. Making sure you stay warm and don’t catch a cold will be vital to your winter wellness success. (Here are some more tips for dressing warmly for winter workouts.)
  5. Get some sun if possible. Studies show that getting your vitamin D is essential. If you can dress appropriately, try to get outside on a nice day or plan that beach vacation during the cold winter months.


    Training for the Mini Marathon & 5K starts January 25th at NIFS!
    Sign up today and cross the finish line with us in May!

    Mini-logo-2017-new.jpg

  6. Wash your hands. I know this is the standard thing you see in every public bathroom or on the back of the stall doors. But for real, wash your hands to help prevent you from getting the flu or other illnesses going around. Catching something could really set you back in getting in your workouts and healthy eating.
  7. Set a goal for the spring. Have a goal in place as the winter months start so that you can keep it on the forefront as something to work toward.
  8. Get a trainer or workout buddy. There is no better time to treat yourself to some additional accountability. Hire a trainer for the winter months or find that accountability partner to keep you in check!
  9. Watch your intake. You must be mindful, especially around the holidays, of what you are taking into your body. Also, keep in mind that drinks add a lot of unwanted calories, so watch what enters the black hole!
  10. Join something. The options are endless…group exercise, HIT classes, group training, a training program of some sort, co-ed sports…the list can go on. Find something you like and sign up to keep you engaged.

Whatever emotions the winter months may bring you, use these tips to be successful with your winter fitness and wellness!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS winter fitness nutrition fitness center goal setting equipment group training accountability NIFS programs hydration HIT outdoors personal training wellness vitamin D

Nutrition with Whole Foods: Winter Vegetables to Try

ThinkstockPhotos-636370602.jpgAre you uninspired on the vegetable front once the weather turns cold and the local fresh produce is no longer available? Luckily there are some hearty winter vegetables that I challenge you to try: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. These whole foods will add some variety to your current lineup—and help you get the nutrition you need more easily. Below are recipes to try.

Brussels Sprouts, Quinoa, and Cranberry Salad
Serves 4–6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Toss the first 4 ingredients together until combined.
  2. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together to make the vinaigrette and pour over the salad.

 

Cauliflower Fried Rice
Serves 4ThinkstockPhotos-535428009.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup carrots, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat and drizzle in sesame oil. Add onion, peas, and carrots and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes; set aside.
  4. Slide veggie mixture to one side of the wok and add in the beaten eggs, scrambling until cooked through, and then incorporate with the veggies.
  5. Stir in cauliflower "rice" and pour the soy sauce over the top, mixing well.
  6. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender.

 

Turkey Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup
Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package (14 oz.) smoked turkey sausage, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 4 cups torn kale leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 32 oz. low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 cups skim milk (or alternative)
Instructions
  1. Melt butter and heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add diced onions, garlic, sliced smoked turkey sausage rounds, kale, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme; stir to combine and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in potatoes. Add chicken broth and milk; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked and tender. Remove rosemary sprig.

I hope you enjoy these winter veggie recipes and try one soon!

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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 recipes winter whole foods dietitian vegetables

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 and Fitness Accountability to Get You Through the Holiday Season

ThinkstockPhotos-524163310.jpgIt’s the time of year that no one wants to talk about. But let’s face it: Christmas decorations have been out in stores for over a month, and the holidays are just around the corner. And for many across the nation, the holidays are one of the most dreaded times for unhealthy eating and putting on unwanted excess weight. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Don’t let this time of year scare you. Instead, view it as an opportunity to meet the weight management challenge for a better you!

Tips for Finding Balance at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

The holidays are hard, and I would never deny that. Travel bogs you down with fast food on the road and in the airport; visitors come to the house to stay for a week at a time and you have to do all the cooking of holiday meals; and those delicious goodies that seem to appear only once a year are ever-present on the counter yelling, “EAT ME!” So with all this, how do you stay on track? Allow me to share a few ideas that come to mind for having a successful holiday season with your eating and exercise.

  • Find a nutrition balance. While I am not encouraging you to go out and have five of your favorite cookies every day, I am going to say it’s okay to have one. The key to being successful and not overdoing it with what you put into your mouth is balance. There are times through the holidays that the red velvet cake is staring you in the face, and if you do decide you are going to eat it, then create a balance. What are you going to say no to instead? A few tips: don’t eat the entire piece; leave some on the plate. Eat slowly and allow yourself to feel full rather than killing it in two bites. Drink water with it or milk that has some nutritional value. The more water you drink, the more you will feel full, allowing you to scale back on the cake intake.
  • Find a workout balance. You also need to find balance in the gym. You know those people who head to the gym for a three-hour workout on Thanksgiving morning? You don’t have to be that person. If you have a good balance of both exercising on a regular basis through the holidays and eating appropriately, you won’t need that 3,000-calorie burn before the big feast.
  • Have a plan. Making sure that you have a plan is essential to your holiday success. I have found when there is no plan in place ahead of time, it becomes a free-for-all, which leads to overeating. Make a plan before the holidays start and create goals that are both realistic and attainable for yourself. If you know you have travel coming up or you know that you are hosting for a week, come up with a plan that makes sense for how often and how long you will be able to work out each day, as well as what you will be eating and potentially cooking for guests.
  • Stick to the plan. Having a plan can be the easy part, but sticking to that plan is the challenge. Make sure that you commit to your goal: if you said you were going to work out three to four times a week, do it! If something comes up and you can’t get to the gym, do something at home. The biggest thing is to not allow yourself to make an excuse. You may have to get up a little bit early before the guests arise for your homemade waffles, or make sure the hotel that you are staying at has a gym. Whatever you need to do to stay on track, make it happen.
  • Have some accountability. Figure out what type of accountability works for you. Maybe it’s coming up with that plan with a friend or family member. Or maybe it’s tracking it through a fitness tracker, signing up for a personal trainer, or joining a program the gym is putting on. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and commit to doing it.

NIFS Game of Inches Can Help!

If you are looking for some accountability through the holiday season, we have just the thing for you! Whether your goal right now is to put on muscle mass or to shed some inches, this program will suit your desires! NIFS is introducing a new program called Game of Inches.Game-of-inches-logo-final.jpg

The Game of Inches will help to keep you on track as you compete in one of two challenges:

  • Challenge #1—Gain Challenge: Work to at muscle building to put on mass through the holidays.
  • Challenge #2—Loss Challenge: Work to lose inches through the holidays.

For both challenges, measurements will be taken with the Fit3D scanner and an accumulation of specific measurements will determine a winner. To accompany the scans, each program participant will receive weekly newsletters containing videos to keep you focused and working hard! Each week videos will be sent containing workouts, nutrition tips, an exercise of the week, and a warrior challenge to finish it off.

NIFS members can sign up at the NIFS track desk located in the fitness center. All signups and scan-ins must be completed between November 6–12, and a subsequent scan out will take place between January 1–7. For this program we are asking that members “pay” by donating canned food items for Paw’s Pantry. Nonmembers can also join! For a fee of only $95, nonmembers will receive the scan-in/scan-out and all videos accompanying the program. In addition to this, the fee includes full access to NIFS and everything NIFS offers during the 7 weeks of the program between the start and end dates. Nonmembers interested in signing up can stop by the NIFS service desk to register.

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Questions? Please contact Amanda Bireline (abireline@nifs.org or 317.274.3432, ext. 219).

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness nutrition fitness center holidays accountability challenge weight management workout Thanksgiving muscle building christmas

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

Helping Picky Kids Get Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-474735668.jpgHas dinnertime become the dreaded time lately? Getting picky children to eat can be very frustrating. Children of different ages may respond differently to various tactics. Here are a few ideas for how you can get your child to try (and hopefully like) new foods, and get better nutrition.

Pregnant and Lactating Women

Some research shows that the foods that a woman eats during pregnancy may “program” the fetus’ food preferences later in life. Both amniotic fluid and breast milk take on flavors and odors of the foods mom eats. When pregnant and breastfeeding, try these tactics:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods to expose your baby to an assortment of flavors and smells. This may reduce the chance that your child will be a picky eater.
  • Avoid a diet based around junk food. Your need for additional calories is not a good reason to eat food that contains no nutritional value. Doing so may increase the amount of sugar needed to experience reward in your child’s developing brain, possibly leading to loss of control and binge-eating episodes later in life.

Infants

Feed your baby variety. It often takes the introduction of a new food ten times for a young child to develop a taste for it. Most babies grimace at every new food. Keep trying a food and your baby may learn to like it.

  • Introduce vegetables before fruits so that the child does not get used to eating sweet foods all the time.
  • When eating several different foods at one meal, introduce new foods before familiar favorites. If they do not know mashed bananas are available, they may try the lima bean puree.
  • Do not avoid foods because you do not like them. Your child may learn to like different foods than you.

Toddlers and Children

As with babies, toddlers may refuse foods—not because they don’t like them, but because they begin to realize they have a choice. Let your child make other decisions, like what book to read, or what clothes to wear, but not what to eat once the food is on the table. A toddler’s growth may be slowing down, so they may eat less. If they are not eating, they may be full from snacks or juice, or they may have been served a portion that is too large. Babies and toddlers will not starve themselves!

  • Eat with your children, and eat the same things. Dad can’t avoid green vegetables, and mom can’t avoid bread or starchy vegetables; your child will pick up on that and think they can avoid certain foods, too.
  • Turn the TV off. Young children need to focus on eating, and distractions such as cartoons will keep them from eating.
  • Make foods fun! Arrange a fruit salad as a smiley face. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes.
  • Let kids play with their food, and be tolerant of messes! It helps kids experience the food’s texture and smell, and will help them eat it, too.
  • Make dips out of cottage cheese, tofu, yogurt, guacamole, peanut butter, or pureed fruits and vegetables. Your child can dip fruits and vegetables, rice cakes, toast, or other nutritious foods.
  • Find a fun character-inspired cookbook, choose a recipe, and make it together.
  • Serve one food at a time, keeping other options out of sight. Start with new foods or foods the child does not like as well first, and then add familiar foods and favorites.

More Tips for Parents

Here are some more ideas that will help make mealtimes more pleasant:

  • Don’t force your child to eat anything.
  • At most meals, try to offer mainly healthy choices.
  • Allow your children to ask for seconds.
  • Do not force your child to finish a meal, even if they want dessert.
  • Deemphasize dessert as a prize; don’t make children finish their vegetables to get it.
  • Have your children rate new foods with a pre-made “New Food Chart”: have them draw a happy face if they like it and a sad face if they don’t.
  • Finally, praise the child for trying new foods. That will encourage them to do it more often.

Hopefully by trying some of these suggestions, you can get your kids on the road to healthy eating—and start enjoying mealtimes more!

Related: Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

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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 kids pregnancy lactation

Thomas’s Corner: Turn Back the Fitness and Nutrition Clock: 2006

ThinkstockPhotos-491229984.jpgGreetings, NIFS friends. We have passed the midway point in the calendar year 2016, and I hope that you have been successful in meeting some of your yearly goals as well as making new ones. During this time of year, we find outdoor and recreational exercise more readily available and appealing, understandably, and because of this, there is time for the occasional spare moment for yours truly to ponder (by ponder, I mean BLOG!).

This series will elicit memories of fitness past, turning back the clocks to years past as fitness was evolving quickly to what it is today. We will look at the sometimes-crazy equipment trends, clothing necessities, what worked, and what did not work. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a stroll down memory lane.

2006: The Rise of Functional Training, Tai Chi, Pilates, and More

Our first stop is 2006, which seems not too long ago, but it has been 10 years already. What we do have is plenty of information on the topic thanks to the evolution of technologies of the times (the World Wide Web, for instance). The year 2006 saw many positives as well as negatives. Functional training as we know it today was still in the early adoption stages for many old-school fitness enthusiasts. But as we saw more and more benefits of this training ethos, many people jumped aboard.

Thankfully, those pioneers were able to show us that no matter how fit we think we are, there is still room for improvement. Along with tai chi, yoga, and Pilates and a byproduct of functional training ideas, BOSU became an instant fitness trend providing a new type of workout that incorporated sound body, mind, and balance. Today, we find BOSUs are still in high rotation at NIFS as well as among some of the top fitness professionals in the world.

Fad Diets of the Recent Past

Although we saw some great fitness-related breakthroughs, there were still some concerns when it came to nutrition and dieting. Fad diets, which had been all over the board for decades, brought us a couple of interesting trends that proved to work but were not without consequence and danger. The “low-carb” diet, which relies heavily on protein consumption with very little carbohydrates, showed promise when people began losing weight, but the cost ran high as individuals began experiencing an increased risk of coronary disease.

Another trend, the “grapefruit diet,” wanted us to eat a somewhat unfortunately sour piece of fruit to see our weight drop. This seemed good in principle, but time has shown that balanced nutrition is still king. Conversely, gyms adopted catchy marketing phrases to promote themselves such as, “diets don’t work.” It’s a misrepresentation of the truth, which is that we are all on diets (some are not as good as others, though).

All in all, there was little to be learned or gained from this time period in nutrition. Many people wanted the quick fix or magic pill to make all the bad stuff go away and accelerate the good stuff beyond what is considered good or normal. This seems to still be the case today, but there are always going to be those people who do not want to work for their fitness gains.

The More Things Change…

As you can see, there are many similarities between today and 2006. There is also an equal amount of topics we would like to move away from, which isn’t all bad considering we learn from our mistakes. The emergence of healthy mind and body really sticks with me as well as a movement toward functional training. Only time will tell how the new fitness trends of today will stack up and be viewed 10 years from now. 

If this blog has been a trip down memory lane for you, please share your yesteryear experience below and request a specific time/year for us to visit in a future blog so that we can continue together on this trip down memory lane. 

As always, muscleheads rejoice and evolve.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition Thomas' Corner yoga functional training Pilates fitness trends diets