Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect gift for this holiday season? Below are my go-to recommendations for the health-conscious, health-curious or those who may be looking for a boost in the New Year. 

These products have either been personally tested by myself or highly recommended by clients. Happy shopping!

Cookbooks with healthy, tasty recipes

Books for health & self care

Gratitude + Organization

Bars

Sleep

Favorite kitchen gadgets

Workout Clothes

Health Retreats

Anything you recommend purchasing this holiday season? Comment below or contact me and let me know!

Acai Part II

For anyone who knows me, you may know of my love of Acai bowls. They are so tasty and healthy that this is my second time posting about them in the past year!

Acai bowls have become one of the latest trends, but why pay for one at a juice or smoothie bar when you can make your own at home? I like to keep my acai bowls pretty classic, but feel free to add in other fruits such as peaches, mangoes, pineapple and more! The best thing about these bowls is that there is no one way to make them. Customize them to your liking or follow this delicious recipe, created by my talented intern Janette Bedoyan. You won't regret it :)

Gathered Ingredients:

                                    

                                    

Blend:

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Before:

                                           

                                           

After!:

                                          

                                          

Acai Bowl Recipe

  • 2 Packets frozen unsweetened acai berry purée, defrosted slightly
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ cup (give or take) of frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup coconut milk

Toppings:

  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Granola of any kind
  • Chia seeds
  • 1 banana

Enjoy!

Intuitive Eating Part IV | Washington, DC Dietitian

Missed the first 3 posts in this series? Check them out!:

Intuitive Eating Part I, Intuitive Eating Part II, Intuitive Eating Part III

Principle IV: Challenging the Food Police

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

In the world of dieting, it is easy to develop negative thoughts that can work against us. These thoughts can come from diet books, magazines, television commercials, social media and more. Food thoughts and judgments run widespread through our minds, but how often do we take a moment to focus on them and notice what we are saying to ourselves? These thoughts are not born with us. Instead, we hear them as we grow up, take them in, and sometimes establish them as set rules, some negative and some positive.

When thinking about these voices, a few questions come to mind:

Where do these voices come from? What in our past or present has made us think this way?

What is the tone of the message? Critical, shaming, harsh, makes you feel guilty? Or open, curious, helpful?

What information is the food police sharing? Is it reliable? Is it something that directly affects you?

What are the affects of this information? How does it alter my thoughts and actions? 

Even when these thoughts are evaluated, they stick in the consciousness of the people who think them. We have found that in this world of dieting and eating, specific voices will pop up from time to time, ultimately influencing how we feel and how we behave.

A few of these voices can be classified. By reading the descriptions you can see which are helpful to you and which are not:

Food Police

This voice causes guilt and is full of judgment. It keeps the eater in the dieting world, and out of touch with inner cues of eating.

Nutrition Informant

The Nutrition Informant uses nutrition as a driving force to keep you dieting.

Diet Rebel

As you rebel against dieting this voice usually results in overeating and self-sabotage.

Food Anthropologist

The Food Anthropologist is a neutral observer that can give you a distant perspective into your eating world. This voice is nonjudgmental and keeps you in touch with your inner psychological and biological signals.

Nurturer

The Nurturer helps to disarm the verbal attacks from the Food Police. This voice helps you get you through the tough times and is nowhere near harmful.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Negative Self-Talk (And How to Change It)

When thoughts about eating are irrational or distorted, the negative feelings we develop escalate more and more rapidly. As a result, eating behavior can end up consequential and destructive. Therefore, we need to replace the irrational thinking with rational thoughts. This allows us to control our feelings and later, our behavior.

To get rid of distorted diet thoughts, you first need to identify the irrational thinking that is going through your mind. Ask yourself:

-Am I having repetitive and intense feelings about food and my body?

-What am I thinking that’s leading me to feel this way?

-What is true or correct about this belief (if anything)? What is false? Remember that just because you think something it doesn't necessarily mean it's true. Think of a more positive thing to say to retaliate against any negative voices. 

Washington - DC - Nutritionist


Go for the Gray. Gray may seem to be a dull color, while black and white are dramatic extremes. In the world of eating, however, going for the gray can give you an array of choices. Give up the notion that you must eat in an all-or-nothing fashion. Allow yourself to eat the foods that were always restricted, while checking your thoughts to be sure that they support your choices.

Self-Awareness: The Ultimate Weapon Against the Food Police. The next time you see yourself eating in a way that feels unsatisfying or out of control, give yourself the gift of remembering what you were thinking before you even took the first bite of food. Examine that thought and challenge it. As you get more proficient at the Intuitive Eating process, you’ll be able to catch these thoughts before they make you feel bad or cause undesirable behavior.

Become self-aware. Listen for the different voices that can either serve as your support or saboteur. Discard the layers of negative voices and create an opportunity to form a healthy relationship with food.

For more information about Intuitive Eating and ending the dieting cycle, contact me to set up an appointment!

Read more at: http://intuitiveeatingcommunity.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steps to a Successful Lunch | Washington, DC Dietitian

It’s almost time to leave for work, and making a lunch to take with you just does not cross your mind. This happens to so many of the clients and friends that I talk to. They want to eat healthy, but time and other commitments can get in the way. My number one rule for healthy eating in general is planning ahead, whether its having snacks on hand, having some meal options for the week and preparing lunches ahead of time, especially when we are experiencing those rushed mornings. Here are some helpful tips to build a healthy lunch to-go! 

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

 

Prepare Whole Grains a Day or Two Before. To help make lunch prep easier, trying buying whole grains from the market, such as brown rice or quinoa, and cook a good amount ahead of time. A lot of these whole grains only take a few minutes to cook, and can easily be made as you’re finishing up with dinner or a late night snack the night before. To spice your grains up a bit, you can quickly sauté a variety of vegetables or other legumes and add it to the mix.

Pre-Cut Your Vegetables. To help speed up the sautéing process, you can pre-cut your vegetables and store them in the freezer or refrigerator for easy access during meal prep. Many grocery stores sell vegetables already cut, which makes it even easier for storing! Chop up bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and celery and reserve for sautéing or cut some cucumbers, green beans, spring peas and carrots to use for salads. It is best to store these items in either air-tight containers or freezer bags.

Don’t Forget Your Proteins. Have your favorite proteins on hand and ready to be added to any grain bowl or salad. This can include sliced deli turkey, pre-cooked chicken or fish, or hard boiled eggs. If you prefer not to eat an animal protein, try out tofu or beans! These are loaded in protein and are perfect to give you that energy boost at lunchtime. They are also super fast to cook.

Or Your Spices! Forgo the salt, and add in a nice variety of spices! Spices have been known to have many health benefits, especially helping with balancing the digestive system. Turmeric, cumin and red pepper have anti-inflammatory effects while garlic contains protective phytochemicals that can fight bad bacteria in your body. Spices can easily be added to your salad dressings or sautéed veggies to take a regular meal to the next level!

Have Simple Toppings Available. Sometimes simple ingredients can take your meal up a notch. Some options to have on hand include avocado, hummus, seeds/nuts, low fat cheese, Greek yogurt, to light dressings. These can be added to sandwiches, salads, chilis and more. Greek yogurt is great as a mayo substitute and feta or cheddar cheese can be added to pretty much anything!

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

So now that you know what to prep ahead of time, what can you bring to work? Some of my favorite options include sandwiches loaded with veggies, soups and stews, salads with the works and rice or quinoa bowls. Think of some of your favorite meals that you eat out and try to recreate them, and use the plate method to guide your nutrient intake. You'd be surprised at what you can do! 

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

You can get as creative as you want with these meals. There is no wrong or right combination of ingredients. Choose the ones you like best and start experimenting. Happy eating!

Intuitive Eating Part III | Washington, DC Dietitian

Mindful Eating Day – January 26th, 2017

MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR FOOD

If you tell yourself that you can not or should not have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation. These feelings can build up and can lead to greater problems, such as having uncontrollable cravings and often, bingeing. When you are able to give in to the foods you are forbidding yourself to eat, it will usually end with overeating and an overcoming feeling of guilt.

Cravings can drive us crazy. As soon as we’re restricted from any kind of substance, all we can think about is that particular thing. And not only do we want that thing, but we want ALL of that thing. The food is now seen as more special than it has before and we begin to think that this will be the last time we will ever be able to bite a piece of it again. We crave large quantities and a small piece will not suffice. Our minds become fixated on wanting to consume it so badly that we neglect to ignore our other internal needs.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist


So, how are we able to get rid of the pattern of restraint and succeeding overeating? The key is to give yourself total, unrestricted permission to eat. This means that you erase any ideas that certain foods are “good” and others “bad”. You begin to eat what you really want and eat without any self-punishment. When you truly free your food choices, you eliminate the pressure to overeat.

The most effective way to instill this belief is to start consuming the foods you currently are restraining yourself from eating! And before you proceed with making peace with food, always remember to honor your hunger.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

According to Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, there are five steps to making peace with food.

1. Pay attention to the foods that are most appealing to you and write them down as a list.

2. Put a check by the foods you actually do eat, then circle remaining foods that you have been restricting.

3. Give yourself permission to eat one forbidden from your list, then go to the market and buy this food, or even treat yourself by purchasing it at a restaurant.

4. Check in with yourself to see if the food tastes as good as you remembered or imagined. If you find that you really like, continue to give yourself permission to purchase and eat it.

5. Make sure that you keep enough of the food in your kitchen so that you know it will be there if you want it.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

This Mindful Eating Day, we should remember to make peace with our food. To not hold back from the foods we enjoy and instead, focus on how we can truly be peaceful with the foods we love most.

For More Information, visit: http://www.intuitiveeating.com/

Want to read more? Check out my previous posts in this series:

Intuitive Eating Part I: Introduction to Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating Part II: Rejecting the Diet Mentality

 

 

 

Farmer's Market Winter Salad | Washington, DC Dietitian

Winter is here, and sometimes that prevents us from going to our nearby Farmer’s Markets. However, the produce that is in season right now is perfect for a fresh, crunchy salad great for any occasion. Use what’s available to you and get inspired!

These are some vegetables that caught my eye during my last trip to the Farmer’s Market:

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Fresh Spinach, Purple carrots, Baby tomatoes, Golden beets.

This salad recipe is not only easy to make, but contains a lot of vitamins and minerals that are important for your health!

Ingredients:

Spinach

Carrots

Tomatoes

Beets (+ 2 tablespoons lemon juice)

Toasted almonds

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Pepper

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Directions:

Place beets, skin still on, in medium-sized pot. Fill pot with water until beets are covered. Add in lemon juice. Place pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat down to low and cook until beets are fork tender. Rinse beets with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Peel off skin and chop.

Place spinach in a large bowl, and add all vegetables + the almonds. Give it a nice toss. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and squeeze in some lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper on top and give the salad one last mix! That’s it! It’s that simple.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Beets are actually a great source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium! These nutrients are essential for your brain function and immune system, and may even improve your stamina.

Feel free to mix in or replace any ingredient in the recipe! Some extra ingredients I like to add include:

Pomegranate seeds

Jicama

Bell peppers

Avocado

Corn

Enjoy and happy eating!

Recipe by Janette Bedoyan

The Best Oatmeal You've Ever Had

Winter is coming and the weather is cold, which means a shift towards warm and cozy meals. One of my go-to breakfast's this time of year (and all year, really) is Oatmeal. You might think "boring!", but hopefully this post will change your mind. Oatmeal, like other grains, is a good staple because there are many ways to change it up and make it interesting. You can add many different healthy mix-ins that are both tasty and satisfying. Once you find your favorite combination, you will most likely crave it on the daily, which is what has happened here.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

The key to making a tasty and healthful oatmeal is to keep added sugar out. You can make oatmeal that is just as delicious by following some simple rules: cooking your oats with ripe bananas, adding cinnamon and adding a small amount of peanut butter. 

Adding bananas to the cooking process allows them to release their natural sugar, making the oatmeal deliciously sweet in a natural way. No processed products or strange ingredients needed! Just make sure that your banana is slightly browned for best taste.

The method to making this is simple:

  • Add together 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 sliced banana and 1 cup of low fat or soy milk 
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, checking to make sure that your oatmeal doesn't overflow! Or cook on stove top.
  • Once done, give it a good stir. Add in a sprinkling of raisins, 1 tbsp of chia or flax seeds, 2 tsp of cinnamon (or more) and a dallop of peanut butter.
  • Stir it all up and eat! I know you'll be dying to take your first bite but make sure it's cooled first ;) 

If you are looking to spice things up, try any of the following mix-ins and come up with your favorite!

  • Shredded coconut
  • Vanilla extract
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cocoa
  • Dried cranberries
  • Flax, chia or hemp seeds
  • Almond or cashew butter
  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin or apple butter
  • Spices such as nutmeg, cloves, etc.
Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Enjoy!

Intuitive Eating Part II | Washington, DC Dietitian

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

It’s the same story I hear from clients. They try a diet and do great, losing 15-20 pounds in the first few months. Then they become hungry, irritated – mad that they are missing out on parties and events because of the diet they are on. They become resentful of the plan and feel deprived of their favorite foods, spiraling into negative thoughts and eventually giving up on the diet. These negative thoughts and “screw it” attitude lead to overeating on the foods they were restricting and can possibly lead to binging. A few weeks of this all-or-nothing mindset around eating, and any weight that was lost on the diet is back, plus some. Feeling defeated and unwell, they find the next diet to try, bringing them into a constant cycle of dieting and overeating and then dieting again. 

If you’ve ever been on a diet you know the feelings around it. At first it is exciting, you feel motivated, and you are ready to make a commitment. You do well for a couple of days and although you’re a little hungry you may see some results and stay motivated. Then you might slip or cheat and feel some guilt around it. Sometimes you can bounce back, but other times that guilt makes it hard to commit and you end up “falling off the wagon.” If you make it through the diet you enjoy your success, but then become stressed about keeping the weight off. This sometimes leads to obsessive thoughts about calories, food intake, and your weight. Overall this situation is stressful and anything but a mindful approach to food intake. As a consequence, this can wreak havoc on your self image, confidence and overall body acceptance. 

If you are currently in this dieting cycle you may know that it is hard to break from, but in order to live a healthy and happier life, it is key. Rejecting the diet mentality is the first step in intuitive eating and bringing you closer to listening to and accepting your body and your needs. If you are reading this, you are probably tired of dieting and trying the next big thing that will help you lose weight. If that is the case, it is time to get rid of any thoughts around quick diets. Throw out any diet books, magazine articles, or bookmarked diet pages that have promised results only to leave you stressed out and dissatisfied. Get angry about the diets that you have tried that made you feel like a failure once you were off of them and gained the weight back. Diets don’t work and the first step to reaching a healthier relationship with food is letting go and being free of them. 

It can be scary to let go of the diet mentality, but once you do you will quickly find that your stress will decrease and you will start to learn more about yourself and your personal needs. If you need some support during this process, feel free to set up an appointment with someone certified in Intuitive Eating to learn more about the next steps and how to succeed with your new mindset.

This blog post is part II of the Intuitive Eating series. Missed out on part 1? Click here!

This post was first posted on the blog for Capital Center for Psychotherapy & Wellness

A Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving | Washington, DC Dietitian

Thanksgiving is easily one of my favorite times of the year. I love heading home, seeing old friends and family, relaxing, and of course eating holiday food!

Holidays are about spending time with family and enjoying food in a healthy way.  Follow these simple tips for a delicious and fulfilling Thanksgiving dinner. 

                                               Butternut Squash Quinoa

                                               Butternut Squash Quinoa

Eat Normally Throughout the Day

Some may think that skipping meals earlier in the day is strategic, but this will only set you up for overeating! Eat a balanced breakfast and lunch so that you eat a more normal sized dinner.

Exercise

If you know you'll eat a little extra on Thanksgiving, try to get in some movement. This will set a good tone to your day, and allow a little wiggle room at dinner. Get some fresh air and go for a walk or run, or chase around some of your younger relatives. 

Make Half Your Plate Veggies

This is a good rule for any time of year, but especially on Thanksgiving! Instead of piling on the meat and stuffing, make half of your plate healthy veggies, a quarter of your plate starch and a quarter lean turkey.

Be Aware of Portion Sizes

Many times holiday weight gain isn't  from the types of foods we eat, but the amount. Watch your portion sizes and you'll be able to taste a little bit of everything. Use smaller dishes to serve food, check your hunger level before going for seconds, and split your desserts! Everything in moderation.

Listen To Your Body

Your body will tell you if it's had too much or too little to eat. Try to check in with yourself to gauge hunger and fullness levels before going back for seconds. While many people go into the holiday dinner with the intention of overeating, remember your health goals and how you want to feel that evening and the next day. Leftovers are often abundant so remind yourself that you will be able to eat this delicious food for more days to come!

Washington - DC - Dietitian

Enjoy Yourself

If you overeat, it's ok! Remember that it's only one day and you can get back on track the next day :) Have a great holiday!

Jalapeno Chicken and Brown Rice | Washington, DC Dietitian

I usually try to plan out and shop for dinner recipes, but some days are a "what's in the fridge?" type of day.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

This meal was a perfect example of that. Use what's on hand and get creative! We had leftover Jalapeno Chicken Sausage, brown rice, black beans and fresh spinach. Easy, simple to make, healthy and tasty! Win-win all around.

Jalapeno Chicken Sausage and Brown Rice Plate

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 links chicken sausage (I used Jalapeno but any flavor will do!)

2 cups brown rice, dry (I used TJ's microwaveable brown rice)

1 bag fresh spinach

1 can black beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook brown rice according to package directions. For the TJ's steam in bag it was 2 minutes in the microwave. Allow more time for brown rice made on stove top.

2. Heat chicken sausage in microwave or on stove top for 2-3 minutes

3.  Grease cooking pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Add bag of fresh spinach to pan and cook until wilted

4. Drain black beans. Add to cooking pan until heated.

5. In large bowl add brown rice, chopped chicken sausage, spinach and black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine ingredients. Serve by candlelight!

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Chicken sausage is a great option to spice up any meal, while being a healthier option than regular sausage. I recommend it in rice dishes, stir fries, in salads, soups and more. Try different flavors to see which you like best. Enjoy!

Healthy Eating While Traveling

In honor of my upcoming trip to Vermont, today’s post focuses on something that can be a bit challenging --  eating healthy while traveling. Here are some of my go-to tips when I’m on the road!

Pack Snacks and Food

One of the best things you can do in any situation whether traveling or at home is plan ahead. When traveling I make sure to keep room in my luggage and carry on for healthy snacks for the trip, usually including granola bars, apples, dried fruit and nuts, or popcorn. One of the most challenging parts of traveling is getting hungry and then having unhealthy options to choose from on the road. Having snacks will prevent hunger and make it easier to make healthy choices.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist
                      Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels from Whole Foods

                      Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels from Whole Foods

Do Research Prior to Your Trip

The best way of knowing the types of foods that will be available on your trip is to research ahead of time. What options are available in the airport or on the road? What healthier restaurants or meal options will be available at your final destination? While you might not always be able to find out detailed information ahead of time, it is helpful to have somewhat of a plan. I was lucky enough to find a healthy spot in the Boston Airport during my recent trip there (pictured below). Definitely a big win!

                             Berkshire Farms Market in the Boston-Logan Airport

                             Berkshire Farms Market in the Boston-Logan Airport

Split Meals and Treats

A fun part of traveling is being able to try delicious and new-to-you foods, so don’t deprive yourself! Instead split your meals or take some back to your hotel or house for leftovers. 

Use the Plate Method

One of my go-to’s when eating out is to use My Plate to help balance my meals. With all of the dining out on trips, I try to make my meals as vegetable-heavy as possible and then leave part of the plate for more of the “fun” foods I want to try. This could be as simple as getting a salad instead of fries as a side or ordering a salad as the main meal and getting a small side dish of something a little more decadent. 

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

 

Walk It Off

One of the best ways to sightsee is to walk, bike or even run around the city or town you are visiting. If you are on a work trip, try to stay somewhere that has a gym or see if there is a neighboring gym or walking trail you can use. Often hotels that don’t have gyms will partner with a local gym that the visitors can use. Something I also enjoy doing is trying out new yoga or workout classes in a new city. However you are able to do it, try to get some exercise in to improve your mental and physical health while traveling.  This week I plan to go on a few hikes around Vermont to enjoy the beauty of New England.

Have Fun!

The main thing to remember to do is have fun! Traveling is a blast and food should not get in the way. Vacations also don’t have to be made into an excuse to eat or drink whatever you want, but to enjoy yourself in moderation so you can fully experience wherever it is that you are. Listen to your body and it will tell you what and how much you need. 

Do we need to take Vitamins and Supplements? | Washington, DC Dietitian

Vitamin supplementation is a controversial topic, as there are many products found on the market that claim to "help" us prevent deficiencies and maintain normal body functioning. Though vitamins are essential to a healthy life, how much do we actually need? Research shows that we can get adequate vitamins and minerals just by eating a varied diet, yet many people take additional vitamin pills and other supplements to help them reach their daily levels.

In most healthy adults, eating a variety of protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains will give us the vitamins and minerals that we need, while taking supplements in addition to eating a varied diet can actually be harmful, increasing our intake to sometimes toxic levels. This includes protein supplements, which have become quite popular in our culture. If we are eating enough protein sources during the day from meat, dairy, beans, tofu, legumes, etc., often times the additional powders aren't necessary.

                                                 PC// Lauren Louise Photography

                                                 PC// Lauren Louise Photography

While this is the case for healthy adults, there are instances where vitamin supplements may be necessary and required. Supplements are recommended during certain life stages such as pregnancy, lactation and in older adults. For those with vitamin deficiencies either due to poor nutrient absorption, inadequate food intake, or other medical conditions, vitamin supplementation is required. It is also important for vegans or strict vegetarians to take supplements, especially that of B12, since the nutrient may be missing from their diet. Even is missing a food group completely due to an allergy or food preference, a supplement can be helpful. Across the world, where vitamin deficiencies may be more likely, supplements can be life-saving in low income or impoverished areas.

In these cases, vitamins can make up for deficiencies that may occur. In cases among the general public though, supplementation may not be required and there are some things to be mindful of when it comes to supplements available on the market: Many supplements are not regulated by the FDA and some have been found to have harmful additives and ingredients. Some supplements may be less researched and are unaware of long-term effects that they may cause. Many can have false claims, promising to improve strength, provide energy, or make your hair and nails stronger. If someone is eating a varied diet and taking a supplement on top of that, it may cause toxicity if the tolerable upper levels are reached, something that usually is seen only with over-supplementation.

                                               PC//Lauren Louise Photography

                                               PC//Lauren Louise Photography

Overall, whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals in our bodies and the safest way of consuming them. Vitamin supplementation can be beneficial in certain stages of life, with certain medical conditions, or for specific diets, but otherwise as a normal, healthy adult, eating a variety of foods can provide us with all of the nutrition that we need. If you have a nutrient deficiency or are missing out on certain food groups in your diet, it is important to do adequate research and to speak with a professional in the medical field about vitamin recommendations to benefit your health.

Banana Fro Yo | Washington DC Dietitian

When you're in the mood for a healthier frozen treat, a deliciously wonderful option is Banana Fro Yo!

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Luckily for us some genius foodies have created this healthy alternative to dessert that tastes great and satisfies any sweet tooth. I can hear you now... "That's impossible!" But from one ice cream lover to another, I can safely say that it's true.

Behold my favorite version: the Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Banana Soft Serve. The name says it all. Literally.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

All you need for this delicious treat are three ingredients: Peanut butter or PB2, Cocoa Powder and Frozen bananas. The second thing you need is either a food processor or a Vitamix for the blending.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

 

Here's the how-to!:

Ingredients:

4 frozen bananas, peeled or chopped before freezing

1 tbsp of PB2 or Peanut Butter

2 tbsp of Cocoa Powder

Directions:

Add ingredients to food processor or blender. Process and pulse until smooth. Add any toppings. Eat! It's that simple. Try making a big batch and storing it in the freezer for a tasty treat any day of the week.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

There are a lot of variations out there so get creative and see what you like. Try it with chocolate chips, shredded coconut, berries, oats, granola, chia seeds and more.  You can even make it with just bananas for a one-ingredient version. Enjoy!

FNCE 2016 in Boston | Washington, DC Dietitian

These past few days I was in Boston for the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, the annual Dietetics conference where over 10,000 dietitians attend each year! The location for the conference rotates and this year it was in the beautiful city of Boston

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

I toured the city with my FNCE roomie Jo-Ann and we explored many places including Quincy Market and Harvard. Food highlights included coffee from Thinking Cup, an awesome lunch spot called Flour Bakery, dinner dates with friends from DC and Syracuse University, and this amazing Pitaya Bowl from Jugos.

Yum!!

Yum!!

Now on to the Conference! A big highlight of this trip is the amazing Expo where hundreds of food and nutrition companies show their stuff with samples, materials and all the swag!

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

A few of my favorite products that I tried are below -- some that were new to me as well as the usual staples. They were so delicious and the nutrition stats are impressive.

Biena Chickpeas (Delicious Chickpea snacks) 

Betsy's Best Nut Butters (Unique flavors that taste SO good)

Perfect Bar

Mediterra Nutrition Bars

 Kind Bar

A few booths are truly impressive with their offerings including Siggi's and Chobani. Chobani had unique yogurt parfaits and mezze dips that I will definitely need to recreate at home!

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Parfait

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Parfait

Fig and Balsamic Parfait

Fig and Balsamic Parfait

Another amazing part of the conference are alumni receptions! I attended the Syracuse University Nutrition Reception, where I went for undergrad. It was so wonderful catching up with old classmates and Professors and hearing about their newest ventures.

Washington - DC - Nutrionist

The Syracuse Nutrition Department is celebrating their 100th year next year, which is so impressive! Looking forward to going back to the University to celebrate this milestone.

Now on to what I learned at FNCE. There were many interesting sessions that I attended but a few really stood out.

Orthorexia Comes of Age: Perspectives on the "Healthy" Eating Disorder

Orthorexia is a newish condition that refers to someone who only will eat healthy, clean or "safe" foods, leading to disordered eating that is severely restrictive or limiting. This is not yet considered an eating disorder, but awareness of this condition is growing and more and more cases are being seen. The man who coined this term did the talk and it was very interesting to learn more about what to look for and how it is treated. While healthy eating is important, there is no such things as perfect and it is SO important to have a balance in order to prevent any disordered thoughts around food. This talk ties into my work with mindful and intuitive eating so I enjoyed learning more about it. There was so much interesting information that was discussed that I will have to write a separate post to share it all!  

Using Science to Further Define FODMAPS

IBS is a common issue and one that I work with a lot with my clients. When clients have tried multiple food elimination diets and are having trouble identifying what is causing their gastrointestinal distress, I often turn to the FODMAP diet. This is a research based practice that removes certain types of carbohydrates from the diet so that the person is able to identify which ones are causing symptoms. After 2 weeks of eliminating the FODMAPS, the person then starts to add them back in to see which ones they are able to tolerate. While very helpful, the diet can be confusing and somewhat restrictive at times, so this talk was very helpful in guiding us towards resources and recipes that I can share with clients to make sure that they are successful. Again, so much information was discussed in this session and I will have to write a separate post to share everything I learned. If anyone has questions in the meantime, feel free to reach out.  

And just like that, FNCE 2016 is done! Looking forward to next year in Chicago to celebrate the Academy's 100th year! 

Intuitive Eating Part One | Washington DC Dietitian

In our society it has become common to base our food intake off of what magazines, media, celebrities and the Internet tell us to do. All around you there are diet plans, weight loss pills and supplements, and new programs that are promising fast results. At the same time food marketing on TV and in the grocery store is at an all time high, making it nearly impossible to resist temptation.

It is important to remember that you are completely unique in your calorie and nutrient needs depending on how much you exercise, your genetic composition, your age, gender and your food intake. In light of this, many individuals on diets may not be getting the correct nutrients or calories that they need, causing them to either overeat or undereat, which inevitably leads to unintended weight gain. Something else to consider is that each person is unique in their customs, food preferences, family support, and the environment in which they live in. Diets and food plans don't take any of this into consideration. They can seem exciting at first, but after the first few days or weeks it is common for people to feel hungry, deprived, and irritated. It is even more common for people to follow a diet plan, then finish and regain the weight, causing a cycle of deprivation followed by overeating. 

So, how can someone break this cycle with intuitive eating?

The answer to breaking the dieting cycle is in listening to your body with mindful and intuitive eating. Your body knows better than any magazine article what it needs and what it craves. As we get older we forget to listen to our body, which causes a disconnect that can have harmful effects both physically and mentally. Getting in tune with your body’s cravings like we did as children brings you back in control of your food choices and eventually brings you to a healthy weight for your body. This includes listening to your body’s signals by eating when you are hungry, eating slowly and enjoying your food, and stopping when you feel satisfied – not too full. It involves retraining your mind to reject diets and, instead, eat balanced meals that satisfy you and don’t leave you feeling deprived or weighed down. It also means finding ways to handle emotions without using food while also accepting your body to improve self-esteem.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Intuitive eating is not a diet, but a way of life that is maintainable and long term, allowing you to eat the foods that you enjoy without any stress or guilt. The process is broken down into 10 Principles that will get you back in touch with your body and leave you free from dieting and deprivation:

  • Reject the diet mentality
  • Honor Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Respect your Fullness
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
  • Respect Your Body
  • Exercise – Feel the Difference
  • Honor Your Health

In this blog series we will go through each of the principles of Intuitive Eating to help bring you to a place of acceptance around food instead of fear or anxiety. The first step is to reject the Diet Mentality which we will discuss in more detail in the next post.

For more information visit www.intuitiveeating.com

This article was first posted on www.capitalpsychotherapy.com

Smart Food Swaps for Improved Health | Washington, DC Dietitian

A friend recently pointed out an article about how to save 100 calories from your day. Some suggestions were helpful, others not quite as much. Instead of focusing on calories, I recommend making healthier swaps in your food choices. Not only will you reduce calorie and sugar intake, but you will still be able to enjoy your favorite foods while increasing protein and nutrients. Below are my top healthy swaps:

Switch to lean meats

Lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish provide the same amount of protein as steak and other red meats, but are lower in calories and saturated fat. Try chicken fajitas, turkey chili, fish dishes, turkey or veggie burgers instead of beef, etc.

Choose low fat dairy and cheese

Switching from whole milk to low-fat dairy items can save you in the long run. Low fat cheese and dairy keeps protein intake the same, but decreases the amount of saturated fat, which can be harmful to heart health. Full fat is OK in moderation, but when possible choose low fat milk and yogurt, and low fat cheese for sandwiches and other cheesy dishes. 

Use banana or other fruit to sweeten foods

Using banana in your dishes provides a perfect amount of sweet flavor without the added sugar! Try banana instead of jelly on PB&J, add frozen banana to smoothies, use it as an ingredient in baking or try my favorite: Oatmeal. This oatmeal is free of any added sugar but tastes just as good. Simply chop up banana in plain oats mixed with milk and THEN cook your oatmeal. Whether it's in the microwave or stove top, the banana adds enough sweetness that it doesn't require any added sugars. Mix in some raisins, cinnamon, flaxseed and a dallop of peanut butter for a balanced breakfast.

Washington - DC - Dietitian

Use spices and herbs to flavor foods

Instead of using sugar try cinnamon, nutmeg and other sweet spices. Instead of using salt try pepper, chili powder or other flavorful combinations. This will provide extra flavor without added calories.

Make a Healthier Sandwich and Salad

Choose mustard or hummus over mayonnaise, choose whole grain bread and use bread instead wraps. Wraps provide similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates as bread, but since wraps are larger they hold more food, making it easy to go overboard with calories and fat. Instead of regular salad dressings, try vinegar and a small amount of olive oil. Or add hummus to a salad to make it creamier. For both salads and sandwiches use lean meats and go wild with the vegetables.

Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Drink Smart

Whether it's regular or alcoholic beverages, liquid calories can make a big difference in your health. If you aren't a water drinker, I suggest starting to become one NOW. All of those other beverages that claim to be life-changing really aren't. Water is all you need to be fully hydrated throughout the day. If you are an athlete or are exercise for more than one hour at a time, Gatorade or G2 can be helpful during workouts, but for regular everyday activities, water will do just fine. If you don't like water, try adding some fresh lemon or lime to your drink or try seltzer or sparkling water. When it comes to alcohol, try light beers and choose the drink that you will sip the slowest. 12oz of light beer, 5oz of wine and 1oz of liquor all have roughly 100 calories so choose what will work best for you.

It's All About the Portions

Even if you are eating healthy foods, if your portions are too large you will be taking in extra calories. If you usually have 3 drinks per night, switch to 1 or 2 and drink water in between. If you usually have 2 cookies, have 1. If you normally have 2 cups of pasta try having 1 cup and filling the rest of your plate with vegetables and lean protein. Making small reductions in meals and leaving some food on your plate can make a big difference in your health. Listen to your body, eat slowly and eat until you are comfortable, not stuffed. This is a good indicator of what size portions you really need.

Find alternate ways to relieve stress

In moments of emotional stress it can be easy to overeat, which can negate any healthy eating that you do. Try to focus on other ways to relieve stress such as walking, yoga, journaling, talking to friends, meditation, reading... or playing with puppies!

Washington - DC - Dietitian

Just sayin'...

Acai | Washington DC Dietitian

The summer months may be over, but I still crave delicious Acai Bowls. Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) became popular a few years back when it was claimed as a "superfood", saying that it could increase energy, prevent aging and cure disease. Though this berry may have many health benefits, messages and media tend to exaggerate, and based on research, it's been found that Acai is just like every other berry out there; it's good for you and tastes great!

Overall, berries are good for you for many reasons including that they are:

  • High in essential vitamins and minerals
  • High in fiber
  • High in antioxidants to help fight disease
  • Low in calories and fat
  • Delicious

Acai is sold in stores in juice and frozen form, and is best in its frozen state. Though the juice may taste good, like other juice products out there it has unwanted sugar and calories.

To get my daily dose of nutrients, I whip up some Acai to make a delicious breakfast bowl. The process is simple. First, buy the frozen pack:

Washing - DC - Nutritionist

Then blend with frozen banana, Greek yogurt and flax seed. When it is blended and has reached a thick consistency, pour into a bowl and top with bananas, granola, chia seeds, coconut and anything else you enjoy! 

Washington - DC - Nutritionist
Washington - DC - Nutritionist

Ah-sigh-yum! This bowl is refreshing and tasty-perfect way to start your day.

 

Eating to Fuel Your Workouts | Washington DC Dietitian

Did you know that what you eat before, during and after workouts can impact your performance? Eating well not only gives us nutrients and keeps us healthy, but helps us maximize our exercise potential.

Eating before a workout gives you the energy you need for optimal endurance. Without proper fuel you may feel sluggish and weak, which will lessen the intensity of your workout and can mean fewer calories burned and less muscle gained. Eating after your workout helps repair your muscles and replenish your energy. 

So how can you prepare yourself with enough energy for a good workout? Eat to fuel your body by following these basic guidelines.

Pre Workout

About 1 hour before your workout have a 100-150 calorie snack. This food should be a carbohydrate since it is the body’s main source of energy. Good pre workout snack ideas include:

• Fresh or dried fruit

• Oatmeal

• Cereal

• Crackers

• ½ energy bar

• Pretzels

During Your Workout

If you are exercising for a short period of time (30-45 min) you don’t need food to keep you energized. Simply stay hydrated for optimal energy during your workout.

If your cardio exercise will be longer than an hour consider a sports drink such as Gatorade, or refuel with a product like Gu to keep your body fueled and your blood sugar stable.

Post Workout

Eating before your workout is crucial to your exercise routine, but eating after your workout is equally as important. Providing your body with carbohydrates and protein restores your energy and repairs your muscles, both which are important to decrease soreness and build up muscle for future workouts. The best after workout snacks include a balance of protein and carbohydrates, which can be found in these snack ideas:

• 1 cup of milk or chocolate milk

• ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich

• ½ protein or energy bar

• Yogurt with fruit

• High fiber cereal with milk

• Trail mix

• Turkey sandwich

• Smoothie

Another great way to get in this balance of protein and carbs is to eat a meal right after your workouts. Make sure to eat within 30 minutes of your workout for best repair.

Fueling your body before and after exercise is important for a strong and worthwhile workout!

Fat is Back | Washington DC Dietitian

Fat, like other food groups, has gotten a bad name. But just like carbohydrates and protein are essential to your diet, fats are too!

When nutrition first started getting popular, people were convinced that the cure to good health was cutting the fat out. Sure, fat should be eaten in moderation, but cutting it out completely is not the answer.

What resulted from this "no-fat craze" was turning all of our regular food into low fat or non-fat chemical bombs. Foods that used to have fat were stripped of it and instead replaced with sugar and chemicals to make the item more flavorful. When things don't have flavor or fat to keep us feeling full, we are left unsatisfied and craving more, which leads to more eating. Have you ever tried a 100 calorie pack and ended up eating 5 because you were still hungry and craving more? I know you've been there...

It can be hard to switch what years of "training" has taught us. Growing up we have learned that fat is bad and to reduce it as much as possible. The truth is that fat is good for you as long as you choose the right types and eat it in moderation.

  • Eat more good fats. Mono & polyunsaturated fats come mostly from plant products and are beneficial to our health. Sources include avocado, olive oil, canola oil, seeds, nuts, nut butters and more.
  • Eat Omega 3's. Omega-3's are another source of healthy fat that aids in reducing inflammation and improving brain function. You will find this healthy fat in fish, flax seed & walnuts.
  • Limit intake of bad fats. Try to avoid trans and saturated fats, which can affect your heart. You will find these fats in fried foods, baked goods, and high fat meat and dairy products.

Be aware of portion sizes: the recommended amount of fat per serving is about 2 tbsp, which is around the size of a golf ball.

When looking at the plate method we see room for carbohydrates, protein, fruits, vegetables & dairy. This doesn't mean that fat should be excluded. Fat is necessary at each meal as part of a balanced diet. Here's a few ways to add it in.

  • Top salads and sandwiches with avocado
  • Use olive or canola oil when cooking
  • Add olives to salad
  • Have nuts paired with fruit for a snack
  • Add a small amount of peanut butter to your oatmeal
  • Add chia or flax seeds to yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies
  • Try to eat fish 2-3x per week or take Omega 3 supplements

Fat is important for our body to function normally and also helps us feel full and satisfied. Without it we are more likely to overeat and be less satisfied with our meals. Research is coming out touting the health benefits of full fat dairy so stay tuned for the final verdict!

 

All You Need is Yoga | Washington DC Dietitian

This post is for the hard core yogis, the sporadic attendees and the yoga-curious.

When yoga first became popular I wondered about the benefits. Research showed that it was great for flexibility, improved mood, strength and overall well-being, but many questioned whether this one practice was enough for your overall health. Did yoga provide the same benefits as an exercise routine that included aerobic activity and strength training? For a while, professionals said no. That the best way to incorporate yoga was part of a routine that included aerobics and strength training. But recent research is starting to prove otherwise.

Yoga Teacher John Schumacher did his own digging on this subject. Based in Washington, DC he owns Unity Woods Yoga and has been practicing solely yoga for over 30 years. To find out whether yoga was enough, he checked in with his doctors and at age 52 he is completely healthy and in top health compared to people in his age range. Since then many Universities have done research to find out whether yoga provides a good enough workout for overall health. Similar beneficial results have been found.  Yoga has been found to build strength, provide cardiovascular benefits, improve lung function, improve flexibility and improve your overall body composition.

                                                                                                             

Research about Yoga is still small but is starting to build. From a researcher's perspective the studies might not include enough people or be done over a long enough span of time. But we are seeing benefits in the participants nonetheless. If yoga is your go-to form of exercise or you are looking to increase it, it may be all you need. Practicing intense yoga for 1 hour several times per week can help improve your overall health. If you are only doing about 15-20 minutes of light yoga 3-4x per week, you will want to incorporate other exercise into your routine as well. This is especially true for beginners when you aren't as involved in the practice but are working up to it.

If yoga is all you do, then it might be all you need. If you dabble in yoga then combine it with a mix of cardio and strength training for optimal results. Namaste!