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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Planning Your 4 Week Meal Plan

GettyImages-980276548(1)The Coronavirus can’t stop Spring from coming, but it can be detrimental to our health and prevent us from enjoying the beauty Spring has to offer. It is important to stay on-top of your health and take care of your immune system.

WEEK 1: Planning Your 4 Week Meal Plan

It is important to have a 4-6 week plan for you and your family, in the event of being quarantined and practicing social distancing. Creating a nutritious, yet minimally perishable menu can be a daunting task. It is important to meet nutrient needs but ensure the foods are either shelf-stable, can be frozen, and/or last longer periods in the fridge.

Step 1: Determine the caloric needs of the people in your household. To determine caloric needs, see the Dietary Guidelines. That will be important when you start planning the meals, because this will drive the portion sizes and ensure you are buying enough to meet the needs of all members.

Step 2: Consider budget. Knowing your budget will guide your decisions.

Step 3: Consider your storage space. Storage space is important to consider, because one with a lack of freezer space wouldn’t want to plan a ton of meals with frozen goods and opt for more low-sodium canned vegetables and canned fruits in water. On the contrary, one with a deep freezer can capitalize on some of the convenience, healthy frozen meals along with the frozen fruit and vegetable options.

Step 4: Start by planning breakfasts for 4-6 weeks. Consider having 2-3 breakfast options and rotate those options daily throughout the 4-6 weeks. Ideas include protein pancakes made from shelf-stable mixes or NIFS recipe below, oats topped with nut butter and frozen or canned fruit, or omelet with frozen or canned veggies (eggs can keep in the fridge for 4-6 weeks).

Step 5: Do the same thing for lunch and dinner. This is a good time to check out canned meats or freeze fresh meats and seafood (depending on storage space). Bread and cheeses can also be frozen and used for later times. Shelf stable foods include brown rice, chickpea pasta (has extra protein), sauces, whole grain pizza crusts, beans, legumes, canned vegetables (get low-sodium and rinse prior to use), canned fruits in water, tuna, canned chicken, jelly and nut butters.

Step 6: Plan 4-6 snack options, and buy enough for family members to have 1-2 snacks daily for the 4-6 weeks. Check out protein bars, granola bars, nuts, and fruits (canned, frozen, and dried)

Step 7: Reflect. Do all your days include each food group? Are there enough whole grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy or dairy-alternatives planned into each day? If not, go back and find a place to add the lacking nutrients. Having all food groups helps to reach vitamin, mineral, and fiber needs.

Step 8: Reach out to your Registered Dietitian if you need help!

RECIPE FOR THE WEEK: Protein Pancakes

Enjoy these protein-packed pancakes. They are easy to prepare, made with no refined grains and use ingredients that have a long shelf- and fridge-life.

GettyImages-1179137591Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 banana (ripened)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 2 tbsp flax meal

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients until no clumps exist
  2. Heat skillet or griddle on medium-high heat.
  3. Pour ¼ cup mix on skillet per pancake. Once the edges start to look dry and bubble, flip the pancake to cook for another minute.
  4. Serve warm with toppings of choice.

Pro tips: *Instead of syrup, try pan-searing frozen berries over medium-high heat and pour them over the pancakes!

*Once your bananas ripen, freeze them to use them for future recipes.

If you want more convenience, check out Kodiak pancake mix, Krusteaz pancake mix, or Kroger brand protein pancake mix. All have whole grains and packed with protein!

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If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Registered Dietitian, Sabrina Goshen by e-mail at SGoshen@nifs.org.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits calories meals meal planning

Meal Planning for Kids

GettyImages-526785155The kids and grandkids are home! With them being home, this means you are having to provide breakfasts and lunches. For those that relied on schools to provide these meals, this can be a stressor added to the day. Maybe your kids received meals for free or at a reduced price. Maybe you are being expected to work from home, all while attempting to help your kids through e-learning and cook them lunch. There are an abundance of reasons as to why this may be tough. You are not alone. We are in this together- as a community. We will get through this.

First, find some time to plan. Kids are used to having a structured plan during their school day- anything short of this will lead to stressed and irrational children (which makes your life harder). Make sure this plan includes when the kids will wake up, have breakfast, start school, get an hour of activity/play time, eat lunch, and conclude their school day. Knowing their schedule will help you prepare your schedule. Consider having your lunch break at the same time as theirs.

Second, plan for lunches and work with a "cycle menu." This means you determine 4-5 different lunches, then schedule one per day. Once you go through all 4-5, cycle back through them. This offers the kids variety but makes the planning, storage, and preparation easier on your part. To make it even easier, have the same meals they are having. There is no need for you to take time to prepare various foods.

Last, stick to the plan. Remember- you are in charge of WHAT and WHEN the kids eat; the kids are in charge of how much they wish to eat at a given meal.

If you are having a difficult time obtaining food for your kids, visit https://www.indy.gov/activity/covid-19-school-district-food-support. The IPS school district is providing ALL kids with free a breakfast and lunch until April 3rd (which will likely be extended). The meals are first come first serve and available to all children, regardless of school district. Follow the website above to find the nearest pick-up point.

Kid Meal Ideas

  1. Turkey + cheddar roll-up, frozen berries, yogurt, and trail mix.
  2. Hummus (can easily make homemade from canned chickpeas), pita bread, grape tomatoes, carrots, and grapes.
  3. Cheese quesadilla (made with whole grain tortillas), guacamole, salsa, strawberries.
  4. Broccoli mac and cheese (made with whole grain, chickpea, or lentil pasta), orange.
  5. Grilled cheese and low-sodium tomato soup.
  6. Homemade pizza on whole grain thin crust served with steamed veggie of choice.
  7. Tuna or chicken salad served on whole wheat crackers or bread, apple slices, carrots.
  8. Peanut butter and jelly (tip: make own “jelly” with smashed berries to reduce sugar) on whole grain bread, celery sticks, yogurt

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If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Registered Dietitian, Sabrina Goshen by e-mail at SGoshen@nifs.org.

Topics: nutrition kids menu planning

Nutrition Tips During COVID-19

GettyImages-11629356151. Stock up on nutritious foods from all food groups.
Think shelf-stable or frozen foods. Shelf-stable, nutrient-packed options include whole grain rice, chickpea- or lentil-made pastas, tuna, beans, nuts, legumes, protein pancake mixes, oats, nut butter, protein bars, low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruit in water. Frozen foods include pre-frozen bags of fruits, vegetables, and Greek-yogurt bars. Fresh options that can be frozen include sliced bananas, chicken, turkey, beef, seafood, bread, and tortillas. Eggs are also a great fresh option that keep well in the fridge for 3 weeks.

2. Fuel your body by eating regular, nutritious meals and snacks.
This will help to meet your caloric, vitamin, and mineral needs.

3. Stay hydrated
Drinking at least half your weight in ounces. If you have a fever, you will want to drink much more.

4. Have a menu plan
In case you do become quarantined or are socially distancing yourself, the plan should include enough daily meals and snacks to meet each family member’s caloric needs for 4-6 weeks. When planning those meals, try to incorporate all food groups into each day (vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein) and plan each portion size. Here is an example for 1 person:

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with ½ cup berries (use frozen), 2 tbsp peanut
    butter, and 1 tbsp chia seed
  • Snack: 1 granola bar with 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Lunch: Stir fry (use low-sodium canned vegetables or frozen vegetables,
    brown rice, and canned or frozen meat of choice)
  • Snack: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich (freeze bread, then unfreeze
    a loaf for each week) with 1 serving baked chips.
  • Dinner: ¾ cup chickpea pasta served with ¼ cup tomato sauce, 1 cup
    steamed vegetables (use frozen vegetables or fresh vegetables with a
    longer fridge life), and ¼ cup cheese (freeze shredded cheese then
    unfreeze as needed)
  • Dessert: 1 frozen yogurt bar

5. Seek community resources as needed. Many communities are coming together to help people obtain food. For Indy and surrounding communities, visit https://www.indy.gov/activity/covid-19-food-support , for food support initiatives.

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If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Registered Dietitian, Sabrina Goshen by e-mail at SGoshen@nifs.org.

Topics: nutrition meal planning viruses

Vitamin C: How Much and Which Sources Are Best for Boosting Immunity?

GettyImages-993119894During cold and flu season, we try to do all we can to prevent illness or speed up how fast we recover from illness. One such strategy many employ is the use of Vitamin C for a natural remedy. Several products are marketed as immune system boosters because they contain large amounts of Vitamin C. Do these products really work? We set out to investigate!

What Vitamin C Can Do for You

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is not made by our bodies. We must take in this vitamin in our diet. It is needed for not only immune function but also for these uses:

  • Form collagen (skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels),
  • Repair and maintain bones and teeth
  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Aid in iron absorption

It can also help prevent cancer as an antioxidant by blocking damage that we are exposed to from air pollution, cigarettes, and UV rays from the sun.

Vitamin C deficiency is extremely rare today, but in the mid-1700s scurvy in sailors was very prevalent. Those at risk of low vitamin C intake are smokers, those with medical conditions that affect absorption (cancer cachexia), and individuals with little variety in their diets.

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

The recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 90 milligrams per day and 75 milligrams per day for women. Fruits and veggies are the best source of vitamin C—especially citrus fruits. It can be destroyed by heat, so cooking slightly reduces your intake. However, most of our best sources of vitamin C are consumed raw naturally, and we usually do not have to worry about this. To get a better idea of how to meet your daily requirement with food, here are the vitamin C contents of some common fruits and vegetables that are good sources:

  • Red bell pepper (½ cup, raw): 95mg
  • Orange, 1 medium: 70mg
  • Green bell pepper, ½ cup raw: 60mg
  • Broccoli, ½ cup cooked: 51mg
  • Cantaloupe, ½ cup: 29mg

In short, you can skip the megadoses of Vitamin C at the pharmacy.

Can Vitamin C Treat or Prevent the Common Cold?

In the 1970s, research was released that suggested Vitamin C could successfully treat or prevent the common cold. Several studies since then have been inconsistent and have resulted in some confusion and controversy. To date, the most compelling evidence comes from a 2007 study that showed preventative treatment in the general population did not affect cold duration or symptom severity. However, in the trials involving marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers exposed to extreme physical exercise or cold environments daily as well as the elderly and smokers, there could be somewhat of a beneficial effect. It was concluded that taking Vitamin C after the onset of illness did not appear to be beneficial. Furthermore, at doses above 400mg, Vitamin C is excreted in the urine. A daily dose in the 1000–2000mg range can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.

If you want the benefits of Vitamin C, it is best to consume the recommended Dietary Allowance daily, before the start of symptoms. Ideally, you will get Vitamin C from your food instead of a supplement; you will also get several other important nutrients in addition to your Vitamin C. Remember to make half of your plate fruits and veggies at every meal or blend up a quick smoothie for an easy on-the-go snack, slice up peppers and dip in hummus, or ask for extra veggies on that sandwich, pizza, or salad.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

Topics: nutrition healthy eating immunity vitamins supplements fruits and vegetables viruses Vitamin C

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

GettyImages-1059024598Did you know that losing weight was ranked one of the top New Year’s resolutions for 2020? That’s probably why everyone and their mother is on a diet of some sort. One that is trending, and probably one you have heard about, is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been around for quite some time but has gained popularity over the years. The question is: is intermittent fasting really effective for weight loss? Yes and no. Confused? Let’s dig in.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that focuses on meal timing by cycling fasting and nonfasting periods. The eating pattern specifies timing of intake versus quality of food. Three popular methods of IF include the following:

  • The 16/8 method
  • Eat–Stop–Eat or Alternate-day fasting
  • The 5:2 diet

The 16/8 is the most common and entails 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating window.

The Evidence of the Effects of Fasting

Several studies have explored the effect of intermittent fasting on weight loss. A 2019 study observed 332 overweight and obese adults. They compared weight loss and weight maintenance across three groups; week-on-week-off caloric restriction (a common IF method), continuous caloric restriction (the traditional daily calorie deficit), and the 5:2 IF method. Mean weight and fat loss at 12 months were similar across the three groups, and all groups saw significant weight loss.

Another study supported these results. Alternate-day fasting did produce significant weight loss, as did the control group who followed the traditional daily caloric deficit. A systematic review also showed that intermittent fasting (ranging from 3–12 months) produced weight loss as long as participants maintained a caloric deficit.

A common theme among all these weight-loss studies is that all groups, both intermittent fasting groups and traditional calorie-restrictive groups, maintained some type of caloric deficit, meaning they were burning more calories than they were eating (calories in < calories out/burned). So, it wasn’t intermittent fasting that produced the weight loss; it was the caloric deficit. Granted, intermittent fasting was a way some could sustain the caloric deficit. However, others reported more pronounced feelings of hunger when following IF, and some studies had significantly higher dropout rates in the IF groups due to people struggling to follow the method.

The Bottom Line

Weight loss requires a caloric deficit to work successfully. The method in which one obtains this caloric deficit and maintains the caloric deficit will vary. One method, such as IF, may work for one person and not work for another. No weight-loss intervention, IF included, is a one-size-fits-all.

If you are one who naturally fasts (for example, you don’t eat breakfast) or one who needs structure, intermittent fasting may be a solid approach to meeting your caloric deficit. If you are one who binges after a fast or struggles to make it through a fast, intermittent fasting is not for you. Stick with the traditional caloric-deficit approach.

Finding the Weight-Loss Method That Works for You

Back to those New Year’s resolutions: statistics show that only 8% of people who make resolutions achieve them. The biggest thing that goes wrong, at least for weight loss, is failing to make a sustainable plan—one that produces lifestyle changes. If the method for weight loss you are trying is not working for you and is something you can’t stick with, it’s time for a change. If you’re struggling to find your sustainable lifestyle approach, consider seeing a Registered Dietitian.

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This blog was written by Sabrina Goshen, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories registered dietitian intermittent fasting fasting

Diversify Your Diet: Try Some Healthy New Ingredients

GettyImages-641965214Do you feel like you get stuck in a rut eating the same things from week to week? On one hand it makes life a lot easier, right? You don’t have to scour through recipes, find that one illusive ingredient on the top shelf in the last aisle you looked in, or put the effort into prepping a meal that claims “30-minute prep” but in fact took you two hours. I completely understand!

What if instead of a total diet makeover you just try a few small things—that might in fact add up to a more diverse diet? And it just might end up being healthier!

Flaxseed

Bob’s Red Mill sells whole flaxseed and ground flaxseed (called “meal”) at most stores—usually next to the baking items or in the cereal aisle by the oats. Flaxseed is so versatile. It’s full of healthy fats and fiber. It has a subtle taste that many won’t notice, especially in small amounts. Flaxseed is great for putting on top of oatmeal, adding to a fruit and yogurt parfait, and even substituting in a recipe as egg (flax egg)! Just make sure to grind the whole seeds as you use them to obtain the freshest healthy fats, or keep your flaxseed meal in the fridge because the fats do start to spoil at room temperature after a few months.

Bananas

Top your toast with something besides butter. Spread a thin layer of nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter on top of toast and add thin slices of banana. It’s a great way to get your protein and healthy, fiber-loaded carbohydrates every morning. Not willing to part with the usual breakfast? Freeze your ripe bananas and blend them with a little peanut butter, milk of your choice, and chocolate chips for a sweet treat similar to ice cream!

Applesauce

Keep unsweetened applesauce in the fridge for occasions where you are baking. Applesauce is a great substitute for oil or eggs. One tablespoon of applesauce is equivalent to one egg, and you can substitute equal amounts for the oil.

Tofu

Trying Meatless Mondays in the New Year? Substitute tofu for any of your go-to meats. But if the texture is an issue, here’s what you do: Grab an EXTRA FIRM block of tofu (usually found near produce), cut into small cubes about half an inch or less, spread on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and bake at 375 for 25–30 minutes or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy. You can then easily toss your tofu into your stir-fry or fajita pan, or toss it onto your salad and avoid that soggy, wet mess that tofu can easily turn into.

Chickpeas

This little legume, also known as a garbanzo bean, is protein-dense and nutrient-rich. Pick up a super-cheap can of these beans in the canned goods aisle and add them in for snacks and meals. Simply toss in a little bit of olive oil, season with a little salt and pepper, and bake in the oven on a baking sheet for 20–25 minutes at 375 until they are crispy. Toss on salads, mix in with quinoa, and top with your favorite sauce (we love a little citrus–olive oil mixture or even a soy-ginger dressing!), or eat them all by themselves.

Try just one of these new ideas this year—you might just find it becomes one of your go-to foods that you’ll grab on a quick weeknight trip through the grocery store.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating protein fiber whole foods whole grains fats

Turn Your Healthy Eating and Nutrition Resolutions into Habits

GettyImages-154906518How many of us are guilty of making a New Year’s resolution and then struggling to stick to it by the time February rolls around? Even with the best of intentions, most of us have trouble maintaining the changes that start off so strong on January 1st. Often these promises to ourselves are centered around our overall health and well-being.

As a dietitian, I see people’s January nutrition goals come and go. What is the reason for this? Practice makes perfect! Recent research has shown it can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit—66 days on average! We can’t just jump into a marathon and expect to win. We have to take small steps to get to where we want to be.

The Top Resolutions for 2020 Money and Healthy Habits

A survey of 2,011 U.S. adults (Ipsos, 2019) found that “manage finances better” and “eat healthier” come in at a tie for top resolutions heading into 2020—just in front of “be more active” and “lose weight.” Other resolutions scoring high included “improve mental well-being,” “improve social connections,” “learn a new skill,” and “be more eco-friendly.” Each of these resolutions comes across as somewhat daunting, right? Even as a dietitian, “eat healthier” is somewhat overwhelming to me! What exactly should you do to eat healthier and where do you start?

Let’s make 2020 a great year! Instead of biting off more than you can chew, resolve to tackle a few smaller goals that will help you achieve a bigger goal down the road. Pick just one or two smaller actions to take and solidify those habits before moving on to the next step.

Steps to Keeping Your Healthy Eating Resolution

I’ve put together a few ideas on how to help keep that healthy nutrition resolution going strong throughout the year—check them out below!

In 2020, I resolve to

  • Eat dinner at home three times a week.
  • Eat dessert twice a week—instead of every night!
  • Split entrees with a friend or family member when out to eat.
  • Find an alternative to my usual favorite Frappuccino.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle and drink 64 oz of water daily.
  • Eat a piece of fruit at every meal.
  • Opt for a glass of wine only on the weekends.
  • Bring healthy snacks to work.
  • Create a healthy grocery shopping list and stick to the list.
  • Cut out red meats and processed meats (bacon, lunch meats, sausage).
  • Create a support system—they often have good ideas on how to manage family gatherings, restaurants, new foods to try, etc.
  • Make each Monday a Meatless Monday!
  • Cut out added sugars.
  • Fuel up with a healthy snack before a workout and recover with a healthy snack.
  • Get an air fryer and make your own “chips” and “fries” at home.
  • Recruit a workout buddy.
  • When going out to eat at your favorite chain restaurant, look up the menu and nutrition facts before you go and decide what you’ll have before you arrive.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Go to bed an hour earlier than you usually would.
  • Try a new food every week. Swap chickpea pasta for your normal pasta, try using olive oil in place of butter for cooking, or sample a plant-based milk in place of heavy cream in your coffee.
  • Recreate your plate and make veggies and fruits the main component of your meals—second helpings are a must!
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast: opt for a little protein with a carbohydrate, like oatmeal with peanut butter.
  • Skip the soda!

Write down the one or two actions from this list that you would like to tackle. And keep in mind, if you start working on those actions on January 1, you will have to actively think about this on a daily basis before it becomes habit—remember, 66 days! Keep in mind that you may need even more time than the other person who picks the exact same goals to get into that healthier habit. Move at your own pace. If something isn’t working, ask for help. And persevere—when you slip up (we are all human), just hop right back into the swing of things. You’ve GOT THIS!

Happy Holidays!

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

 

 

Topics: nutrition healthy habits resolutions healthy eating

Gut Check: Digestive Health Boosts Your Immune System

GettyImages-997808980Fall is here and winter is nearly upon us, and that means that cold and flu season have also arrived. Have you noticed that some people just don’t get sick no matter what? Or maybe you have wondered why after being exposed to the same virus, one person gets sick while the other doesn’t.

The answer to that lies in your immune system and how strong it is. When you are exposed to bad bacteria or viruses, it’s up to your immune system to protect you from being infected. If your immune system is strong, your body will fight off the threat of sickness. If you have a weak or compromised immune system, you may end up sick. What you might be surprised to learn is this: The strength of your immune system is highly dependent on the condition of your digestive system.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Let’s Talk Microbes

Microbes live inside your digestive system. They are living organisms that affect your overall health. The protection that some of these organisms provide is beneficial to your immune system. The good bacteria recognize when illness-producing intruders enter your body; the organisms attack the intruders so that you don’t get sick. If you don’t have enough of the good bacteria in your gut, you will be more susceptible to viruses like colds and stomach viruses. You also may be at more risk for autoimmune diseases such as colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.

Although there is a large supply of these good microbes living in your gut, they can easily become diminished. If you have recently taken antibiotics, you have not only wiped out the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria. Antibiotics are not selective in their destruction.

With that being said, antibiotics are not the only way that good bacteria becomes exhausted in your digestive system. For example, the chlorine in your drinking water can destroy them, as can the pesticide residue on the food that you eat.

Once the supply of helpful microbes in your intestines dwindles, bad microbes such as yeast, fungi, and disease-causing bacteria begin to take over. Immune systems become compromised when the bad takes over the good.

Cue the Probiotics

If you think that your good microbes might be minimal, it is not difficult to remedy the problem. The solution is to take probiotics. These are the good microbes that you can consume in your diet. Once they have entered into your body, they settle in your digestive system and get to work protecting you from sickness and destroying the bad bacteria that might reside there.

The option of consuming probiotics in a capsule form is there, but you can also replenish the good microbes by eating yogurt. Check the label to be sure that the yogurt you buy says that it contains active cultures, which is the good bacteria that you need to eat.

It is important to act now and get a jump on this year’s cold and flu season. Improve your gut function and fight off illnesses by getting ahead of the game.

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition disease prevention immunity digestion gut health wellness viruses probiotics bacteria

NIFS’s Ramp Up to Weight Loss: Setting Goals for a Healthier Life

Ramp-up-logo-finalNO-SPACERamp Up to Weight Loss is a program designed to do exactly what the name suggests: ramp you up to weight loss. It’s a 14-week program that provides various tools to help you get a head start on achieving your goals. These tools include meeting with a Registered Dietitian, attending coaching sessions to help set and manage goals, and meeting with a trainer twice a week to walk you through workouts. As a weight-loss member, you also have access to the facility and group fitness classes every day. These resources are what makes Ramp Up one of the most popular programs at NIFS.

The Goal: To Teach You How to Reach Your Weight-Loss Goals

weight-loss-1The ultimate goal by the end of the 14 weeks is to make sure you feel confident in your own abilities to continue the journey that you are on. Whether you are struggling with nutrition, knowing what to do in the gym, sleep, or stress management, this program provides resources to teach you how to handle these situations in ways that will aid you in achieving goals. We start by setting one long-term goal, then break it down into short-term goals to act as stepping stones to get there. After all of the goals are finalized, we look at what action steps can be taken to achieve them. Setting realistic goals is essential for staying on track, and reaching them builds confidence in your abilities.

Weight loss is not always an easy thing to achieve. It can be a very slow process full of trial and error, ups and downs, and frustrations. There’s not a magic solution that will work for everyone. But, by tackling weight loss from multiple angles—including fitness, nutrition, and behavior—we can figure out what works best based on the individual.

After the Program: Long-Term Membership

So, 14 weeks have passed and you’ve successfully attended all your sessions, received nutritional guidance, and mastered goal setting. However, you’re not quite ready to be on your own yet. After Ramp Up, you can opt to become a long-term weight loss member. This program never expires, and you get one session a week with a trainer, assessments every three months, and coaching sessions. You still have access to the facility and all of the group classes. It’s an extra step to help you transition into continuing the journey on your own.

As trainers, we want not only to teach you how to work out safely and effectively, but to help you build the confidence and knowledge to be able to do it on your own. Being able to independently work out and make healthy choices is essential for long-term weight loss and maintenance. By taking advantage of all of the resurces over the course of the program, you can discover what helps you live a healthier life.

Find out more about Ramp Up to Weight Loss. Contact us today!

This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition goal setting weight loss NIFS programs dietitian

Nutrition Label Reading 101: How to Read Your Food’s Package (Part 2)

GettyImages-165661895In part 1 of this blog, I showed you how to interpret the nutrition information on the front of your favorite packaged foods. Now let’s get into the back of the package!

Serving Size and Servings Per Container

This doesn’t necessarily tell you how much to eat, but all of the values on the label apply to this chosen serving size. You might be surprised to see that many items you thought were individually packaged really are telling you that two cookies are 160 calories. Let’s say you eat the entire package (it happens!). You can take the “servings per container” and multiply that by all of the listed values. If two cookies are the serving, but you actually ate the entire bag, just take your 10 servings and multiply it by 160 calories to calculate that 20 cookies would be 1,600 calories.

Calories

For anyone trying to lose weight, it helps to cut back on calorie content, especially calories from packaged foods because they are often empty calories: the food gives your body a lot of calories but provides very little nutrition.

% Daily Values

Unless you are sticking to a strict 2,000-calorie diet, these numbers might not be very helpful for you, so don’t look into these values too much. For instance, 5% DV of fat provides 5% of the total fat you want to eat on a 2,000-calorie diet. In some areas you may need more or less than the 2,000 calorie % Daily Value. Low is 5% or less—aim low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. High is 20% or more—aim high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Total Fat

Total fat sums up all of the following values. Type of fat is extremely important. Often, items that are “reduced fat” end up increasing your sodium and added sugar to make up for what fat would have brought to the table—taste and body. So don’t shy away from fat completely. Just be mindful that fat packs a punch in terms of calories, so you want to practice everything in moderation.

Saturated Fat

The American Heart Association recommends keeping saturated fat to less than 5–6% of your total caloric intake. This means that if you eat about 2,000 calories per day, you will want to keep saturated fat at 13g or less per day. In general, about 3g of saturated fat per serving is a good goal to aim for, but make sure to try and stick to no more than 13g per day. The majority of saturated fat comes from animal products such as beef, pork, poultry, butter, cream, and other dairy products.

Trans Fat

The goal is 0g of trans fat. Keep an eye out in the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. A trans fat ban is going into effect; however, the grace period means you may still have to watch for this harmful type of man-made fat. If a small enough amount exists, the serving size can be altered, and manufacturers may list trans fat as 0g even if there is a tiny amount of trans fat in the product.

Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fat

The “healthy fats!” These fats may not always be listed. There isn’t a big reason to limit them other than they can add a large amount of calories fairly quickly and contribute to weight gain. However, these healthy fats don’t raise cholesterol like the saturated and trans fats do. These fats are found in nuts, nut butters, olive oil, fish, and vegetable oils. We won’t put a limit on these healthy fats because, in general, the more the better because they help increase your good cholesterol (especially if you are replacing an unhealthy fat with a healthy fat—think olive oil for cooking instead of butter).

Cholesterol

The body is capable of making its very own cholesterol from dietary fat intake, so current nutrition recommendations do not emphasize limiting dietary cholesterol; rather, they talk about limiting saturated and trans fat (dietary cholesterol is seen as impacting body cholesterol levels less so than dietary fat does). However, because the science is always changing, try to keep cholesterol to no more than about 200–300 mg/day because any dietary cholesterol is ingested and taken in as simply cholesterol.

Sodium

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2,300mg of sodium per day. The American Heart Association recommends sticking to 1,500mg or less.

Total Carbohydrates

The sum of your starches, fiber, and sugar (added and natural) [see below]. Carbohydrates have somewhat of a bad reputation, but you ideally want most of your diet to stem from carbohydrates. So don’t shy away from these just because you might see a number you think is too high. Carbs provide your body with most of its energy needs, give your brain all of its energy supply, decrease chronic disease risk (fiber!), are key for digestive health (more fiber, yes!), and help with weight control (complex carbs!).

Dietary Fiber

Most experts agree that the average American should aim for a minimum of 25–30g of fiber per day. On average most of us come in at around 12g/day. See if you can get your 1–2 slices of bread to come in as close to 5g or more of fiber if possible!

Sugars

We aren’t sure if these are natural sugars (natural fruit sugars we don’t worry about!) or added (cane sugar), but we can sometimes deduce from the ingredients list whether most of the sugars are added or natural. If you see high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar/juice, honey, or maple syrup (there are many different names for added sugar!) near the top of the list, the sugar value is likely all added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that men keep daily added sugar intake to less than 36g (9 teaspoons) and that women aim for less than 25g (6 teaspoons) daily. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines are more lenient and recommend 48g or less daily for adults and 30–35g or less for children.

Added Sugars (optional)

Again, somewhere between 25-48g of added sugar daily or less is recommended (see above).

Protein

In general, the recommendation (dietary reference intake) is to consume about 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight daily. Anywhere from 10–30g of protein per meal is a good number to aim for. If you weigh 150 pounds, this means that you will want about 54g of protein daily (about 18g at each meal).

Vitamin D

600 IU or 15 mcg for most adults is recommended (aim for a higher %DV).

Calcium

1,000mg/day for most adults; women age 50+ 1,200mg/day.

Iron

Adult males and women over age 50 need 8mg per day. Women age 19–50 need 18mg. Pregnancy increases this need to 27mg daily.

Potassium

Aim for about 4,700mg of potassium per day (Dietary Guidelines for Americans).

Ingredients List

Pick items that have fewer ingredients—this usually means that they are less processed. Or bonus if the first three ingredients are whole foods. Ingredients are listed from highest weight to lowest weight. When it comes to crackers or bread, look for “WHOLE wheat” as opposed to “enriched flour” to pick breads that contain the entire grain. Whole grain, whole wheat, whole [other grain], brown rice, oats/oatmeal, or wheatberry means the grain is WHOLE. Wheat, semolina, durum wheat, and multigrain mean you might be missing some parts of the grain. Enriched flour, wheat flour, bran, and wheat germ mean there are no whole grains.

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It’s no wonder that we are so confused by labels—there is a lot of information to try and remember and process! The best way to avoid being misled is to avoid most processed foods. With most whole foods (apples, potatoes, oats, etc.), we can be certain that we are not getting too much or too little of any one nutrient. But even dietitians enjoy the convenience (and taste) of packaged foods every now and then, and we hope that the tips in this article help clear up some confusion for you.

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This blog was written by Lindsey Hehman, MA, RD, CD. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition calories fiber whole foods carbs sodium sugar fat carbohydrates food labels