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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Healthy Holiday Eating: The Practical Way

GettyImages-495329828The holidays are HERE! We all know what happens around the holidays. I see two extremes in my practice as a Registered Dietitian:

  • The vicious cycle of dieting all year to lose the “holiday weight” or to get bloodwork back to normal after all the holiday meals. People accomplish their goals just in time for the holidays to start again—and gain back the weight and drive our doctors nuts with outrageous bloodwork again.
  • The person who is terrified to “lose all their progress,” brings their own “healthy” meal to the gathering, and completely avoids the yummy meal—even at the cost of social, mental, and emotional health. Let’s be honest: that behavior distances people socially, and not having Grandma’s famous pie is just sad. 

Honestly, both are unhealthy approaches and they are, frankly, unnecessary. Let me be real clear: what we do consistently over time is what has the greatest impact on our health, not what we do on one day, two days, or a couple holidays. We can break these cycles! You don’t have to gain weight or ruin your bloodwork over the holidays. You also do not have to bring your own “healthy” meal, avoid Grandma’s cooking, and face a socially awkward and sad situation.

There is a way to enjoy the holiday food with family and friends all while pursuing your health goals. Here are the action steps.

Be Active

Get up and moving. This can be as simple as taking a walk with family, going on a morning stroll before the gathering, walking the dog, or playing a game that has you up and moving (such as Wii, tag, Twister, or Simon says). You can also get in a quick 20–30-minute workout before all the festivities start that day, or wake up early to get in a full lifting session. Don’t overthink this; a short 20–30-minute workout with high intensity is very effective! (Here are some workouts you can do when traveling.)

Follow Your Eating Routine

Forget the “don’t eat anything to save calories for all the food tonight” method. That leads to a very hungry person, which makes overeating at the gathering much easier. Go about your morning as you normally would. Eat breakfast (if you eat breakfast). Have your typical snack and lunch. Fill up on fiber-rich sources, such as fruit and veggies, along with lean proteins. All these options will help fill you up and nourish your body. You will walk into the gathering satisfied and ready to eat your Grandma’s holiday meal.

Hydrate 

Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of non-caloric fluids (mainly water) the days before, the day of, and the days after holiday gatherings. Liquids take up room in your stomach, meaning staying hydrated contributes to proper regulation of hunger/satiety cues. Again, this helps reduce overeating. Additionally, holiday foods tend to be high in sodium. You will want plenty of water to offset the negative effects that a high sodium intake has on your hydration status. Trust me, you will feel much better if you stay hydrated.

Eat the Holiday Meal

For heaven’s sake, do not bring your own meal, measuring cups, or scales to the gathering! Eat the holiday meal. Fill up your first plate with all your favorites—the ones that grandma and momma only cook once or twice a year. Be mindful of portion sizes. Then, if you want, go back for a second plate. For that plate, pick two or three more things that you want some more of. Take a portion of each and enjoy it.

Enjoy the Meal

Sit down with each plate. Take a nice deep breath. Start eating. Chew each bite thoroughly. Slow down your eating. Be present at each bite, soaking in all the yummy goodness of that home cooking. Don’t be afraid to pause between bites and converse with family around the table. This not only helps you enjoy family around you and to be present in that moment, but it also gives your body time to send you satiety cues. When we eat super-fast, we do not allow our body enough time to signal “I AM FULL.” Be present and listen to what your body is telling you.

Have a Conversation

During the meal, talk with your family and friends, even if you are the one having to initiate conversation. DO IT! Think about one of the true reasons for the season. Hint: it is not food and gifts. Sure, food is a huge part of it. But we gather to be with family and friends to celebrate our blessings, our year, and our religion, and to give thanks. Conversing really embraces what holidays are all about and shifts your focus to more than just the heap of food in front of you.

Eat Dessert

Find your favorite deserts and eat a serving. I promise, eating dessert will not derail your health goals. I’d argue this action will actually help your health goals because Grandma’s famous pie sure does positively contribute to mental and emotional health.

Get Right Back to Your Typical Regimen the Next Day

Wake up the next day and get back to your typical routine. Exercise as you normally would. Eat your normal meals and snacks. Honor your physical health with nutritious options. Sleep. Do this on the days you are not at a holiday gathering. Back to the idea of consistency, there are more non-holiday days than there are holiday days and gatherings. Be on your game and remain consistent during those weeks and days, knowing that another gathering full of food and fun is right around the corner. Repeat steps 1–7 during the next gathering.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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

Topics: healthy eating snacks holidays breakfast hydration Thanksgiving christmas meals emotional blood sugar dinner

Safe Meals and Snacks for Going Back to School or Work

GettyImages-1257082950As many of us are confronted with the decision of whether to send our children back to school or continue with online learning, we are faced with many questions that we had never had to ask ourselves before. Breakfast, lunch, and often snacks are mainly consumed during these hours at school, so as we continue to see Indiana trying to return to normal and reopen, we might need to tailor our eating habits to ensure we are not risking unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 when refueling our bodies throughout the day. These ideas also work for adults who are returning to the workplace or have already returned to the workplace.

Keep in mind, you want each meal to be comprised of plenty of fruits and veggies (half of your plate), while one quarter of your plate is filled with a protein, and the remaining quarter is filled with a minimally processed grain like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Make sure to use leftovers to make the next day’s meal prep easy—think large-batch cooking. Snacks should have a protein (such as nuts, peanut butter, etc.) along with a high-fiber carbohydrate like a piece of fruit (think banana or apple) to keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day.

Tips for Safe Eating at Schools and Work

Here are some actions to consider when eating meals at work or school amid a pandemic:

  • Cut back on items that require heating up in the microwave to avoid touching a community microwave.
  • Use a thermos if you would like to take hot items (such as coffee or soup).
  • Pack a bottle of water (drinking fountains are likely to be closed).
  • Practice “hands-free” snacking. An example for kids: toothpicks already placed into small sandwich squares that they can pick up like an hors d’oeuvre makes for a fun and safe way to eat finger foods!
  • Use packaging to avoid touching food prior to ingesting food items.
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Scrub with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds and don’t touch other items prior to eating.
  • Bring your own utensils, napkins, and condiments.
  • Vary the times you visit the cafeteria if possible to avoid high-traffic times.
  • Keep your mask on as long as possible and try to sit at least 6 feet apart.

Meal and Snack Ideas

Take a look at some of these meal and snack ideas and give them a try. Keep in mind that these are suggestions, and I hope they provide inspiration. Although they don’t cut out your risk 100 percent, every little bit helps during this crazy time.

Breakfast Ideas

  • Smoothie: 1-2 cups of frozen fruit, a handful of leafy greens, a spoonful of peanut butter, and milk of your choice blended to your preferred consistency. Pack in a thermos and bring your own straw.
  • A banana and a squeezable almond butter packet (such as Justin’s).
  • Overnight oats: soak rolled oats in milk in the fridge overnight with a dollop of peanut butter. Add fresh or frozen fruit on top. Eat cold or throw in the microwave before leaving the house (it retains heat well!).

Lunch Ideas

  • Sandwiches on whole-wheat bread: wrap in parchment paper to avoid touching the sandwich when eating it. Skip the deli meats and try to load up on colorful and crunchy veggies with hummus in this option.
  • Pasta salad: bring your own utensils. Make a big batch of whole-wheat pasta and sautéed veggies and toss with balsamic vinegar and olive oil in the morning. Toss in a can of pinto beans or a handful of pine nuts for an easy protein.
  • Spinach salad: top with carrots, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and chickpeas. Toss dressing on at lunch.

Snacks and Sides Ideas

  • Squeezable applesauce pouches
  • Larabars
  • Mamma Chia Squeeze pouch
  • Yogurt with a banana—I love the Silk soy yogurt for a dairy-free option
  • Individual bags of prepopped popcorn (try pouring it into your mouth straight from the bag—it might not look graceful at times, but it keeps your fingers out of your mouth!)
  • Precut fruit salad (apples, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
  • Precut/bite-sized carrots, cucumber, and celery that you can easily stab with a fork or toothpick and dip into a little hummus

***

While this is not an easy time for anyone, trying to keep up your routine in eating habits is important so that your body is properly fueled and healthy. Best of luck this year, and stay healthy!

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

Topics: healthy eating snacks lunch breakfast disease prevention kids school viruses covid-19 coronavirus pandemic

Kids Confined: A Parent’s Survival Kit

GettyImages-1216458718(1)In one way or another I think it’s safe to say that the spread of this virus has affected all of us in the last few weeks. And for some, it has become life-changing! As parents of a school-aged kid, my husband and I have had some tough conversations with our kindergartener explaining why he won’t be seeing his friends or teacher at school for a while, if at all. Not only have we had to have tough talks, we’ve had to become pretty creative in how we keep him active and engaged.

Our son, Isaiah, is the definition of energy. In his words, “I’m 100%!” And he means it! He only knows one speed and that is fast. Not only does Isaiah’s energy require creativity, his appetite is comparable to a bottomless pit.

How Are We Thriving Through a Global Pandemic? Two Words: Consistent Creativity!

For a child that is used to having so much structure at school and thriving in that environment, how can you replicate that at home and maintain your “cool parent” status? Here are some tips.

Keep Them Engaged

Finding fun, creative, and engaging educational opportunities for the kiddos to remain sharp is only half the battle. Timing is also critical. Making sure that each day is a little more exciting than the day before is a great way to keep them engaged in learning and being active. 

Let Kids Help Choose Activities

Allowing involvement in the decision making of what we do has been a key as well. This is a great test to see what interests your kids have and what type of learners they are. Are they hands-on? Do they need to see the activity performed first a few times? Or maybe just once? I am learning each day just as he is. 

Build Structure and Choice into Snacks

Our son can eat. If we were to let him choose when and what to eat, he would eat us completely out of the house. Each day he has the choice of three or four snacks (such as fruits, vegetables, yogurts, jello cups, an occasional homemade cookie, a snack-size bag of chips, crackers, fruit popsicles, etc.) along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’ve provided that structure and have allowed him the freedom to choose. We are, however, still trying to figure out exactly where he puts all the food.

Creative Ways of Getting Exercise

For an active kid such as him, we’ve had to get even more creative with how he gets his exercise (same goes for us). Some days it consists of timing him to see how fast he can run up the stairs to get a diaper for his sister. Days that the weather isn't cooperating with us, we’re firing up GO Noodle on the Apple TV and dancing to some Zumba. And when the weather is nice enough to be outside, we’re taking walks, running, playing basketball in the driveway, doing sidewalk chalk, or whatever else we can come up with to burn that energy.

We’re All in This Together

We’re all trying to navigate through this crazy time, and the most important thing we can hold onto is that we’re all in this together. I read an Instagram post from Reformed Sports Parent the other day that allowed me to cut myself some slack:

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be okay. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course-correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don't scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it. If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those 4 or more weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.

Stay Healthy!

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

Topics: exercise at home snacks kids fitness for kids quarantine home learning

Get an A+ in Back-to-School Nutrition

GettyImages-1026132188Whether you are starting your first year in college, sending your kids off to school, or are teaching classes this school year, make sure that your nutrition stays at the top of your priority list. It can be easy to get bogged down in your day-to-day routine and quickly lose sight of your goals. Follow these steps to help you stay on track this year.

1. Eat Breakfast

It’s okay to be a creature of habit and eat the exact same meal every morning, as long as it is nutrient dense and keeps you satisfied throughout the morning. Pair a little protein (about 15–20 grams) with a carbohydrate. This gives your brain the boost it needs, but also helps keep you full so that you don’t arrive at lunch with a growling belly.

A few ideas to try:

  • Oatmeal with berries and a spoonful of peanut butter (try making overnight oats for easy grab and go).
  • Scrambled egg with sautéed veggies and whole-grain toast.
  • Banana or apple slices with a thin layer of almond butter on whole-grain toast.

2. Take Snacks

Your body needs a little fuel throughout the day to keep energy levels high and keep you focused. Just like breakfast keeps you full throughout the morning, you want to make sure you aren’t arriving to your next meal famished—otherwise, people have a tendency to eat too much, too quickly. Keep the pantry and fridge stocked with healthy and easy snacks so you can grab one and go in the morning.

A few ideas to try:

  • The original fast-foods: bananas, apples, oranges.
  • A variety of nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and pecans.
  • Granola bars such as Larabar or KIND snacks.
  • Hummus and veggies.
  • Whole-grain crackers and guacamole.

3. Practice Smart Hydration

Skip high-calorie beverages and aim to increase your intake of water. Opt for alternatives like flavored sparkling water, unsweet tea, or fruit-infused water to mix up your choices. (Here are some more tips for proper hydration.)

4. Make a Meal Plan

Just like you plan a time to do homework, work out, or go to sports practice, don’t put your nutrition on the back burner to everything else. Sit down as a family or roommates and write out your plan for the week. Start with breakfast—this is often the easiest. Next, plan dinners—dinner often will help you fill in your lunch plans with leftovers. From here, make your grocery list. This not only helps keeping you out of the closest fast-food joint, but it also helps with budgets—a win for everyone!

Meals do not need to be complicated. Keep the Plate Method in mind. Simply try to make half of your plate fruits and veggies, keep protein portions to one quarter of your plate, and make the other quarter of your plate whole grains.

5. Allow for Splurges

After a long day of exams, helping with book reports, or grading papers, everyone deserves a little treat, right? Try to avoid rewarding yourself with food at the end of every day, but also know that if you plan for some of your favorites you will be less likely to over-eat these items when you “cave” at 3 AM on a Tuesday! Take the kids for Friday night ice cream every week, hang with your friends and enjoy a slice or two of your favorite pizza, and then plan to get right back on track with healthy eating after that. One meal or snack will not throw you off track.

Sweet alternatives:

  • Chocolate hummus with fruit
  • Dried and pitted dates filled with almonds or dark chocolate
  • “Nice cream” (frozen banana blended with peanut butter)

***

We at NIFS hope your school year gets off to a great start. Best of luck in the 2019–2020 school year!

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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 snacks lunch breakfast hydration school meals meal planning

Back Away from the Sugar: Making Better Nutrition Choices

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 5.16.05 PMEaster might be over, but the candy lingers. There is no escaping the colors of the sugary candy that is around every corner. From jelly beans to chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs, the temptations are endless and the calories are empty.

Too Much Sugar Is Harmful

Sugars are caloric, sweet-tasting compounds that occur widely in nature, including in fruits, vegetables, honey, and human and dairy milk. We are born with the desire or preference for sweet taste. The presence of lactose in breast milk helps ensure that this primary source of nutrition for infants is palatable and acceptable. Chemically and with respect to food, sugars are monosaccharide or disaccharide carbohydrates, which impact sweet taste. Most foods contain some of each.

Monosaccharide is a single molecular unit that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The most common monosaccharides are glucose, fructose, galactose, and mannose.

Disaccharide is sugar containing two monosaccharides that are linked together, and which are broken down in the body into single sugars. The most common disaccharide is sucrose, which is also known as table sugar.

What Happens When You Eat Sugary Candy

When you consume Easter candy, you are getting a large dose of sugar. Whether it’s in the form of high-fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, it slams into your system like a bowling ball, and the effects are disastrous. Within the first 20 minutes or so, your blood-sugar level spikes as the sugar enters your bloodstream. It arrives there in the form of glucose, which is your body’s main source of energy. This sudden rise in blood glucose stimulates your pancreas to start pumping out large amounts of insulin, which is the hormone that helps your cells take in the available glucose. Some of this glucose is used instantly for energy, but the rest is stored as fat by insulin, to be used later.

Sugar is ok in moderation just be mindful, especially around the holidays when sugar is so easily accessible.

But the holidays alone aren’t the only times that we can allow these choices to creep in. Daily your efforts to eat well may be sidetracked by busy schedules, business dinners, birthday parties, evenings out with your friends, fundraising banquets, breakfast meetings, church dinners…the list goes on.

Alternatives for Healthy Eating and Celebrating

Here are some healthier alternatives. Don’t forget that you also have the option to meet with our Registered Dietitians on staff to help you get on the right path.

Let’s look at ways to enjoy Easter and not feel like you have to munch on carrots and lettuce the whole day. Alternatives to candy:

  • Very dark chocolate (choose some with very little sugar)
  • Nuts
  • Fresh fruit
  • Whole-grain crackers and pretzels
  • Cheeses
  • Popcorn

And start thinking about next Easter with these non-food ideas for kids’ Easter baskets:

  • Play dough
  • Balls
  • Jump ropes
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Crayons
  • Garden starter set
  • Butterfly habitat
  • Beading supplies
  • Swimming toys
  • Card games

The possibilities are honestly endless. It’s just a matter of taking the time to think healthier and smarter next Easter!

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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 weight loss snacks holidays diabetes sugar blood sugar

Late-Night Snacks: Satisfy Your Craving with Healthy Eating

GettyImages-945953942If your evening snack is turning into a fourth meal each night, that could hinder your wellness goals or sabotage your daily workout.

There is a lot of thinking that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time of night. However, your metabolism doesn’t shut off at a certain time, so the timing of the snack isn’t necessarily the problem, as long as you make sure to have it at least an hour before bedtime so that it can be more easily digested before you go to sleep.

More often than not, nighttime snacking is from boredom or habit rather than actual hunger. Therefore, assess how you are feeling and then decide whether you are truly hungry and need a snack to hold you over until breakfast.

Healthy Nighttime Snack Options

If you really are hungry, try some of these balanced snacks that are a better option than the salty chips or bowl of ice cream.

  • One apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Container of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Raw veggies and hummus
  • Small bowl of high-fiber cereal (at least 3 grams per serving) and milk
  • String cheese or a light cheese wedge and a few whole-wheat crackers
  • Air-popped popcorn and a handful of nuts
  • Blueberries and strawberries with light whipped topping
  • An ounce of dark chocolate and a glass of milk
  • Avocado spread on a Wasa cracker or a slice of whole-wheat bread
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit

Are You Eating Enough During the Day?

If you are consistently starving before bed, it might mean that you aren’t eating enough calories throughout the day. Start monitoring your meals and see if you are spreading your calories evenly between breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a couple of snacks between meals. Making sure you have enough fuel throughout the day can decrease late-night desperation eating.

The other thing to consider is whether you had enough protein at dinner. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, so have a serving around the size of the palm of your hand or around 25 grams to guarantee you are getting the benefit.

Remember to stop and assess your hunger level first before reaching for any late-night treats!

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

Topics: healthy eating snacks protein fiber

10 Foods That Will Keep You Satisfied with Fiber, Protein, and More

GettyImages-855098134Are you one of those people who are always hungry? Are you constantly thinking about your next meal or snack and what you’re going to eat? The issue could be that you aren’t choosing meals or snacks that fill you up and keep you satisfied. So the alternative is grazing constantly to get that full feeling.

Luckily there are lots of foods out there that are filling and will keep you satisfied longer. These foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, or good-for-you fat. Here’s a list of 10 foods to choose when you want to stay fuller longer.

  • Nuts: Nuts have all three things that help keep you full: healthy fat, protein, and fiber. The key is to stick to a serving size because they are calorie dense. Measure out an ounce and enjoy all types of nuts at snack time or meals to keep you full.
  • Avocado: Loaded with good-for-you fat, these tasty treats are a nice addition to a sandwich or salad, or as a dip for veggies. Like nuts, they are very calorie dense, though, so a little goes a long way. Stick to a fourth of an avocado as a serving and enjoy the benefits of staying satisfied.
  • Eggs: Studies have found that protein keeps you more full than carbs. When you eat eggs versus a bagel for breakfast, the eggs win every time for post-meal satisfaction. Start your day with this complete protein; grab a hard-boiled egg for a snack or add it to your salad at lunch and enjoy staying fuller longer.
  • Popcorn: This tasty snack is high in fiber, which helps with the full factor. It also takes up a lot of volume, which means a serving size is pretty large (3 cups!) for a snack. So, if you like to reach for a larger snack, popcorn could be your new go-to item!
  • Berries: Loaded with fiber, these sweet and tasty fruits are an excellent way to increase your fullness factor. They can easily be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time. The cancer-fighting antioxidants are just an added bonus.
  • Cottage cheese: Dairy foods are high in protein, which is a plus for keeping you full. Cottage cheese is also a great way to vary your snack routine. Toss in some fruit, veggies, or nuts for some crunch, and every day can be a different experience.
  • Celery: If you have heard that celery is a negative-calorie food, you know this a great go-to item for filling you up and keeping you full. It’s low in calories and high in water and fiber content, both of which will help keep those hunger pangs away.
  • Greek yogurt: Another protein-packed goodie is Greek yogurt. Choose a 2% variety to add some fat to your snack or meal. The portion-controlled cup is also nice to help keep the serving size in check.
  • Beans: You get protein and fiber-filled goodness with all of your bean varieties! Toss them into soups, salads, and dips and enjoy the benefits of staying full longer.
  • Sugar-snap peas: Another high-fiber veggie that you can add to your routine is sugar-snap peas. They are crunchy and filling and super easy to prepare. Just wash and go!

Add some or all of these 10 foods to your daily routine and enjoy the benefits of keeping that growling stomach at bay!

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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 weight loss snacks lunch protein fiber fruits and vegetables fats

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

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

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

What to Eat: Nutrition Before a Long Run or Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-77293911-1Your body needs fuel! When you are planning to do a run or a workout that is longer than an hour, the way to ensure that you have enough energy to get through it is to make sure you are eating the proper combination of foods beforehand for endurance. This is tricky, though, because you want to make sure what you are eating doesn’t upset your stomach during the workout. Here are some suggestions to get you through the workout with the right nutrition for feeling great.

Tips for Eating Before a Workout

The most important thing is to eat something that is familiar. You never want to try something new on race day or competition day. The old saying “practice makes perfect” will help decide what works best for your body.

Aim for a meal that has an easily digestible carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1. Typically you want something that is lower in fiber and not high in saturated or bad-for-you fats.

For most people, eating around 2 hours prior to running is ideal; but some people have found they can tolerate food 30 minutes before a workout, especially if you are doing the run first thing in the morning. If that is the case, something smaller might be best. Make sure to have a snack before bed that has a combination of carbs and protein (such as cheese and crackers, a yogurt parfait, or fruit and nuts).

Pre-workout Meal Ideas

These are suggestions that you can try to come up with your body’s perfect pre-workout meal depending on the time of day you are completing it.

  • 1–2 slices of wheat toast or an English muffin with peanut butter
  • Cup of Greek yogurt with berries
  • Cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Half a bagel with an egg and cheese
  • Turkey sandwich with a slice of cheese
  • Pita pocket with homemade tuna salad
  • Cup of quinoa with veggies mixed in
  • Cup of whole-wheat pasta with meat sauce
  • Cup of brown rice with chicken and veggies

Start practicing with some of these suggestions or with other meals or snacks that sound good to you that meet the 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio so you are ready to tackle those long runs and workouts.

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

Topics: nutrition running workouts snacks endurance protein carbs

Eat Better, Work Better? Three Nutrition Tips for Productivity

GettyImages-171693421.jpgWe’ve all heard the phrase that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but who knew that eating a balanced diet would also make you more productive at work? That’s what was found in a study conducted by Brigham Young University on 19,000 employees from three large companies (published in the Population Health Management journal). It was discovered that employees with unhealthy diets were 66% less productive than those who ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

So how can you be a more productive employee? Try these three simple ways to eat more balanced meals and then get ready to impress your boss.

Whole-grain Goodness

Swap out your old rice, pasta, bread, and cereal for grains that are higher in fiber and are less processed. Brown and wild rice are excellent alternatives to white rice. Whole-wheat pasta, couscous, quinoa, millet, and oats are more high-fiber options to incorporate into your diet.

When it comes to breads and cereal, check the label. Choose options that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Check out the Whole Grains Council website for more information.

Fabulous Fruits

Most people need three pieces of fruit per day to meet their individual requirements. This can easily be done by incorporating a fruit in your morning cereal or oatmeal, grabbing an apple or banana for a quick and portable snack, or having a bowl of sweet berries after dinner for dessert. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber in fruit are all great reasons to include them in your diet.

Varied Veggies

One of the most challenging food groups to get into your diet, but also one of the best for you, is vegetables. It can be difficult to meet that 4–5 recommended servings per day, so how can you get these in to help balance your diet?

One way is to make sure that you are spreading them out throughout the day by including a vegetable serving at lunch and/or snack time. At lunch, grab portable veggies such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, and sugar-snap peas to add some variety and crunch along with your typical sandwich. Or nibble on veggies with a hummus dip for an afternoon snack. Make it a goal to try one new/different vegetable each week.

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Now that you know the impact of nutrition on employee health and productivity, you can follow these three tips for healthy meals and snacks.

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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 snacks lunch employee health productivity fiber vegetables whole grains fruit