<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Angie Mitchell

Recent Posts by Angie Mitchell:

Healthy Eating Habits from Registered Dietitians

GettyImages-937435294There are so many diets out there that it can be confusing as to what you should follow and who you should listen to when it comes to healthy and balanced eating. If you aren’t sure where to begin to change your current routine, take a look at these tips that Registered Dietitians (the experts in healthy habits) recommend.

  • Eat breakfast daily. The most important meal of the day should not be missed. Aim for three food groups that combine a mixture of fiber and protein to keep you full and start your day off right. Oatmeal mixed with a nut butter and fruit, a whole-wheat English muffin with an egg and a glass of milk, a smoothie with frozen fruit and veggies and Greek yogurt, or a veggie omelet and toast are some quick, balanced, and fabulous options to have in the morning.
  • Eat mindfully. Mindful eaters will eat less than those who are distracted by their phone, television, computer, and emotions. Paying attention to whether you are hungry and then choosing foods that sound satisfying is the key to mindful eating.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes slowed metabolism, mindless eating, and feelings of false hunger. Drinking water throughout the day can help combat these. Have a reusable bottle on your desk at work as a visual reminder to keep drinking all day. (Here are tips for staying hydrated the easy way.)
  • Snack. Aim to have something to eat every four to five hours. A snack helps keep you satisfied until your next meal and prevents overeating caused by going too long without fuel. Be sure to grab a snack that has some fiber and/or protein to help you stay full and give your body the nutrients it needs. (Here are some easy smoothie recipes.)
  • Eat dessert. Believing that all foods—even dessert—can fit into a balanced diet is important. If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, it can lead to a vicious cycle of guilt eating and feeling bad about your choice. Instead, enjoy your dessert with a balanced meal and then move on.

Following this advice from Registered Dietitians is the first step in lifelong balanced eating. Try to make each one a habit, so that healthy eating becomes a lifestyle instead of a challenge. Find out more about NIFS nutrition services

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

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

Topics: healthy habits weight loss healthy eating snacks breakfast hydration mindfulness dietitian

Summer Foods: Delicious Fruits and Vegetables for Healthy Eating

GettyImages-1009597020It is important to get in the nine recommended servings of fruits and veggies each day. This can definitely be challenging. However, in the summertime when produce is readily available all over the country, this is the time to make it a priority to reach that goal! These fruits and veggies are also at their nutrient peak, which is more reason to load up and fill your plate with these colorful items!

  • Tomatoes: Filled with antioxidants and Vitamin C but most importantly the phytochemical lycopene, which is a cancer fighter.
  • Zucchini: This vegetable has a fiber called pectin, which has been linked to increasing heart health and lowering cholesterol.
  • Watermelon: This fruit is loaded with…water, which this time of year with high temperatures is important to help stay hydrated. It contains lycopene, which is useful for preventing skin cancer.
  • Oranges: Citrus fruit is loaded with potassium, which is important to replace when you lose it through sweat during the summer months. Also, since oranges are 80 percent water, they can help keep you hydrated.
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew melon: More fruit loaded with water to help keep you hydrated. These melons are high in Vitamin C and potassium, and honeydew has high levels of B vitamins.
  • Raspberries: This fruit is typically very pricey in the off season, so take advantage of the lower prices and get 8 grams of filling fiber per cup. They are also loaded with Vitamin C.
  • Peaches and nectarines: Loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and fiber, these sweet treats are nutrition powerhouses and the perfect portable snack.
  • Dark, leafy greens: Fill up on raw veggies versus steamed this time of year, especially greens, and load up on much-needed carotenoids. These convert to Vitamin A and protect your skin from sun damage.
  • Strawberries and blueberries: These sweet berries are filled with flavonoids. They increase blood flow to the skin and decrease sensitivity to light, which can improve the skin’s appearance.

Try some or all of these produce powerhouses soon when the cost is cheaper and they are more readily available. Enjoy the health benefits along with the fresh flavors of these fruits and veggies.

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

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

Topics: healthy eating summer hydration fiber whole foods vitamins fruits and vegetables

Fair Food Finds: Healthy Eating While Having Fun at the Fair

GettyImages-886128934It only comes around once a year, so why not just indulge, right? Well, some of your favorite fair foods might only be consumed once per year, but if you aren’t increasing your exercise, too, the extra weight gained can stick around for longer.

Top 6 State Fair Foods—and How to Burn Them Off

Here are some of the more popular fair food items and how far you will need to walk to burn off the calories.

  1. Elephant ear: Average is 310 calories and 15 grams of fat—3 miles
  2. Funnel cake (6”): 276 calories and 14 grams of fat—3 miles
  3. Lemon shakeup: 254 calories: 2½ miles
  4. Deep-fried everything: Fried Snickers, 444 calories and 29 grams of fat; fried Twinkie, 420 calories and 34 grams of fat—either would take 4.5 miles. One Oreo, 98 calories—1 mile
  5. Corn on the cob: 250 calories and 12 grams of fat—2½ miles
  6. Corn dog: 200 calories and 10 grams of fat—2 miles

Fair Food Fixes: Better Nutrition Choices

There are some easy ways to save some of these calories or burn them off. Try these tips:

  • Think your drink—grab bottled water, sugar-free lemon shakeups, unsweetened tea, or diet sodas to drink instead of empty calories from other beverages.
  • Don’t arrive starving, which can lead to you wanting to purchase everything in sight. Have a balanced snack before you head to the fair.
  • Share with friends and family so you can try smaller portions of more foods.
  • Sit down and eat versus walking and grazing. This can help you feel fuller faster and more satisfied.
  • Wear comfy shoes to maximize your walking! Park farther away and avoid taking the shuttles or train services.
  • Check out all booths and choose your absolute favorite…you’ll eat less and walk more.

As with holidays, vacations, and other events that come around infrequently, the goal is to enjoy the day and then get back to balanced eating at the next meal. All foods can be a part of a balanced diet as long as it is done in moderation. Be sure to plan healthier meals and snacks leading up to and surrounding the higher-fat choices that will be available at the fair!

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

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

Topics: nutrition walking healthy eating calories summer fair food

Overhydration: Is it Possible to Drink Too Much Water?

GettyImages-915780152One thing that I’m sure you have heard is the importance of drinking enough fluids. So if some is good for you, shouldn’t it make sense that more is better?

I have heard many tales of people chugging bottles of water right when they wake up to get it out of the way. Or carrying around a gallon jug of water to keep track of the amount they are getting. It’s nice to have a goal in mind of how many ounces to drink each day; unfortunately that number is different for everyone. Since individuals have different sweat rates, workout routines, diets, height, and weight, each person requires a different fluid goal. Read below to see how to know whether you are getting enough water for your body, and some of the dangers of drinking too much.

Check Your Hydration

The best way to know whether you are getting the proper amount of water or fluid per day is to check the color of your urine:

  • If it’s pale yellow, that’s a good sign.
  • If it’s dark yellow, you need to drink up.
  • If it’s clear, you are overhydrated.

Water Intake Guidelines

Thirst should always be your guide to staying hydrated. If you must count ounces, the Institute of Medicine recommends 78–100 ounces of water per day, or 9–13 cups. Obviously, this can change based on the individual, the activity, and the weather. Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of the foods that you eat are high in water content and can add to your hydration status. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with water. Milk, coffee, tea, and juices also count.

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

Overhydration can lead to water intoxication, which is when the body’s electrolytes such as salt and potassium become diluted. Hyponatremia is when the body’s sodium levels get too low. This is the main concern of overhydration. Athletes are the population most at risk of being overhydrated, especially those who participate in long or intense workouts or endurance events.

The good news is that this is extremely rare and you would need to drink many gallons of water for this to happen. The amount you drink at one time could be more of an issue. Your kidneys can process around half a liter per hour. So chugging liters and liters at a time is when the danger could occur. Symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to heatstroke and exhaustion. A headache, exhaustion, feeling lethargic, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea are all warning signs. If you don’t get help quickly, it can be serious and even deadly.

The best way to prevent hyponatremia is to make sure you aren’t drinking more than you sweat out. Use thirst and the color of urine as a guide. And for those doing endurance events, be sure to have sports drinks that have sodium and other electrolytes and not just plain water.

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

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

Topics: hydration water overhydration

Commonsense Weight Loss: Diet Personalities Gone Wrong

GettyImages-971392106There are many diet personalities out there. If you are one of these, it could be the reason you are having trouble losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

Starvin’ Marvin: Always Hungry

Starvin’ Marvin follows strict calorie guidelines. He doesn't get the calories and fuel his body needs to accomplish the routine tasks of his day. He is often tired and always hungry. When he works out, Marvin's body does not have sufficient fuel, so he isn’t able to put in as much effort as he would like.

Solution: Losing weight requires either eating fewer calories or burning off excess calories through physical activity. So one good first step for Starvin’ Marvin is to find out how many calories his body requires for weight loss. Choose My Plate is an excellent resource to help determine the correct calories for your height, weight, and activity factor. No one should ever consume less than 1,200 calories per day.

Negative Nancy: The Wrong Attitude for Weight Loss

Restriction, starvation, elimination, bland, boring…all of these are words that Nancy uses to describe her diet, yet she is constantly starting a new one. Anything that has this much dread attached to it is not something that she can or should be doing for the long haul.

Solution: Negative Nancy needs to start incorporating positive words into her healthy new eating plan: Balanced plate, Moderation with sweets and high-fat foods, Flavorful spices to jazz up vegetables, Variety with food groups, and Satisfying meals.

Rigid Ricky: Doesn’t Believe He Can Be Flexible and Still Lose Weight

Nobody’s perfect. This simple phrase is exactly why diets don’t work.

Solution: Ricky would be much happier and healthier if he took a simple approach to his eating. He should spend 80 percent of his time eating right—consuming multiple servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy—and following a safe and healthy workout plan. The other 20 percent of Rigid Ricky’s life can be filled with “extras” such as a cookie or piece of cake, a day off from exercising, and maybe even an alcoholic beverage of his choice. If he allows himself to not be as rigid with his plan, his chances of succeeding will increase dramatically.

Unsupported Ulysses: Hasn’t Discovered the Value of Accountability

Losing weight can be difficult, and making lifestyle changes is all the more difficult when those around you are not there to support and help you make changes.

Solution: Ulysses needs a support system that can help him stick to his goals and hold him accountable to them. He needs a "buddy" to give him a push when he is feeling low and to keep him from feeling alone in his journey. A support system should encourage and praise Ulysses for the hard work he is putting in and the changes he is making. Try healthy new foods and recipes and physical activities with your buddy, or even train for an event together. Having a Supportive Sally around can make his weight-loss mission much more enjoyable.

Resentful Rita: Deprives Herself and Is Unhappy About It

When we think of “diets,” we think of giving up our favorite foods. This only leads to feeling deprived and carrying negative feelings toward “healthy foods” and feeling guilty about eating “unhealthy foods.” Rita will become angry that she “can’t” have the foods she wants, which then leads to resentment. Deprivation of her favorite foods may lead to overeating or yo-yo dieting.

Solution: Rita needs to RELAX! No food is off limits; all foods can fit.

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

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

Topics: NIFS weight loss attitude weight management wellness diets

How to Eat Red, White, and Blue on the Fourth of July

GettyImages-181065096Here are some recipes for patriotic healthy eating. Bring one of these red, white, and blue creations to your Fourth of July holiday barbecue so that you will have the most patriotic dish to celebrate Independence Day!

Patriotic Veggie Platter

Arrange the following veggies in the shape of a flag with rows of red and white veggies on a large baking sheet. Place a yogurt-based dill or ranch dip in a blue bowl in the corner.

  • Red veggies: Red peppers, grape tomatoes, radishes
  • White veggies: Cucumbers, cauliflower

Independence Fruit Bowl

Toss strawberries, blueberries, starfruit, and watermelon in a bowl and sprinkle with unsweetened coconut flakes.

Red, White, and Blue Popsicles

1½ cups blueberries
1 cup raspberries
2 cups limeade

Divide blueberries and raspberries among freezer-pop molds. Pour limeade over the berries. Insert sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Makes 10 popsicles.

45 calories, 0g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 0g protein.

Fruity Fourth Quinoa Salad

¾ cup wild rice
½ cup quinoa (red if available)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup halved, pitted fresh sweet cherries
1 cup blueberries
2 stalks celery, diced
¾ cup diced goat cheese
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add wild rice and cook for 30 minutes. Add quinoa and cook until the rice and quinoa are tender, about 15 minutes more. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch; drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the rice and quinoa, cherries, blueberries, celery, cheese, and pecans and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold.

I hope you have a happy, healthy, and delicious Fourth of July!

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

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 holidays grilling

How Many Calories You Are Consuming When Dining Out?

GettyImages-523697434In 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, it was required that all chain restaurants, groceries, and convenience stores post their calories for customers to see. Some started right away, and you might have noticed them pop up at Starbucks or McDonalds over the years. However, on May 7, 2018, it finally took effect that all food sellers with more than 20 locations now must have the calorie postings visible, with access to all nutrition information available upon request.

Why This Change Is Such a Good Thing

Americans currently eat and drink a third of their calories away from home. The purpose of putting the calorie count on the menus, display boards, and digital screens was to help Americans make more informed choices and hopefully choose healthier options that are available. The FDA has shown that since menu labeling began, consumers have decreased the number of calories ordered by 30 to 50, which could mean a 3–5-pound weight loss in a year.

Tips for Better Nutrition When Dining Out

If you currently dine out, here are some tips to help make the best decision when ordering:

  • Think your drink. The drink you choose can add up to 500 calories to your meal, yet doesn’t affect how full you will feel when you drink it. Instead, look for calorie-free drink options. Water and unsweetened iced tea are the best; however, occasionally you can choose a diet soda or sugar-free lemonade to go along with your meal. This new labeling will also list the calorie content for alcohol, so make sure to include those calories when planning a balanced meal.
  • Load up on veggies. Consider swapping the traditional side of fries, chips, tots, etc. for a vegetable. Salads, raw veggie sticks, or a hot vegetable option when available will keep the meal high in fiber and lower in fat and calories.
  • Choose a protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so if you don’t want to be reaching for a snack an hour after your meal, be sure to have a protein source at every meal. Anytime you can choose a lean protein like poultry, seafood, and lean red meat, it’s even better!
  • Go for the whole grain. Protein isn’t the only thing that will keep you full; so does fiber. Choosing a whole grain when available is another must for staying satisfied longer. Choose a whole-wheat pizza crust, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta or rolls when they are offered.
  • Practice portion control. Many meals eaten out are so large that you can easily save half and have it for another meal or split the meal with your dining partner. Keep in mind portion sizes: one serving of meat should be the size the palm of your hand, sides are around the size of a tennis ball, and added fat like butter is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • Try mindfulness. So many times when you dine out, it’s for a quick and easy meal or a celebration or social event. During these times you could be distracted and not paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels. Take time to pause between bites and assess whether you are full and can save some of the meal for later.

Take advantage of the new labeling as a way to help you stay informed about your choices. Look over the menus and choose a reasonable meal that will let you leave the restaurant happy with your choice!

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

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

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories dining out restaurants

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!

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

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

Struggling to Get in Your Vegetable Nutrition? Try Frozen!

GettyImages-846048468It can be a challenge to get in the recommended 2–3 cups of vegetables each day. Even people who like vegetables can struggle coming up with ways to increase them. Thankfully, the food industry realizes this and has come out with a ton of quick and easy options to make it simple to get in those servings.

The key is to take a stroll down the frozen food aisle. Some people are concerned that frozen veggies aren’t as healthy as fresh vegetables, but that isn’t the case. Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen at their optimum nutritional state. This guarantees that all of those nutrients are preserved. Cook them to crisp tender and the majority of those nutrients will be intact.

Not only can you go for the traditional frozen veggies like broccoli and carrots, but now there are lots of fun options to make it easier to get the recommended plant-based nutrition and vitamins into your meals.

Delicious Frozen Options

Here are some new items to toss into your grocery cart at your next shopping trip.

Cauliflower Craze

Spiralized Sensation

Protein Power

Watch the Sodium

One thing to be cautious about is that some of these frozen veggie options are higher in sodium than the standard bag of plain frozen vegetables. Make sure to drink plenty of water with your meal to help flush out the sodium, and pair your frozen veggie side with a fresh piece of protein and a whole grain. Don’t add additional salt to the dish, and review the nutrition facts label to see which ones are higher than others.

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

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

Topics: vitamins plant-based frozen food veggies meals

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste (from a NIFS Dietitian)

GettyImages-639303956Every day Americans waste a lot of food. One statistic states that we throw away up to 40 percent of the food that is purchased! This is usually due to the fact that even though food costs are rising, no other nation spends less on the food supply. Since food is so abundant, especially with the warehouse options like Costco for grocery shopping, it makes it easier to not value the food and therefore toss more in the trash.

Tips for Reducing Wasted Food

Here are some simple and practical tips to help you contribute to reducing food waste in America.

  • Shop smart. This is the easiest and most practical one to follow. When you go grocery shopping, don’t buy too much food! This might mean going to the store more frequently or just buying less each time you go. Plan your meals and snacks and then make a list. When you get to the store, actually stick to the list.
  • Practice portion control. This one is tough! Following portion sizes is a challenge since we tend to over-serve ourselves; however, if you are eating the correct portions, then the food isn’t being wasted. A typical serving of a side dish, from potatoes to vegetables, is ½ cup and meat is 3 oz. Start measuring every so often to keep portions and calories in check and get the right nutrition.
  • Save and EAT leftovers. If you are sticking to proper portion sizes, chances are you will have leftovers of food. Use this opportunity to have lunch or dinner ready for the next day instead of eating out or struggling to come up with an idea of what to cook. If you did eat out and brought home a doggy bag (since restaurant portions can be very large), be sure to eat your leftovers within a day or two.
  • Use an app to help. Handpick is a useful app that allows you to put in what items you have on hand and it will generate a recipe for you to make. There are thousands of recipes to choose from, so chances are one will appeal to your taste buds.
  • Use expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines. These dates refer to food quality and not food safety. A food doesn’t automatically turn bad on the exact date that is printed. This is just a guideline. When eating a product after the date listed, use your senses. Go by your smell, sight, and taste.

Keep Track of How Much You Throw Away

Try to start implementing some or all of these tips so you can decrease your personal food waste. Each week take an inventory of how much you had to toss and try to make it less the next week. You will end up saving money and calories, and maybe moving closer to being a zero-waste home.

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

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

Topics: nutrition calories apps food safety portion control grocery shopping food waste zero-waste saving money