Explore DC with your Other Senses: A guide to activities in DC without Eating or Drinking

Lately many clients have expressed that while they love socializing, it is hard to find activities in the DC area that aren't centered around food and alcohol. DC is a very social city, which is a lot of fun but can be challenging for those who are trying to reach their health goals!

It is important to work on managing food intake at the amazing restaurants in the area, but even better to get in a variety of activities with friends and family. This is helpful not only with food consumption but stress management and exercise goals as well. I recently surveyed clients and friends for activities in the DC area that they enjoy outside of dining and many wonderful ideas were generated. Here they are! 

Explore Nearby Towns

                                                                                                                                   Harper's Ferry, WV  (photo by william fox)

                                                                                                                                 Harper's Ferry, WV (photo by william fox)

Bike to and walk around Old Town, Alexandria

Visit and walk around Annapolis, Maryland

Visit Leesburg town and Outlets

Visit (and hike around) Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Hike DC!

                                                                Great Falls National Park

                                                              Great Falls National Park

                                                                             Jefferson Memorial at the National Mall

                                                                            Jefferson Memorial at the National Mall

                         Pure Prana yoga studio  in old town, alexandria

                       Pure Prana yoga studio in old town, alexandria

305 Dance Class with friends

Workout class with friends

Cut Seven

Jiu Jitsu

Pulse Inferno

Horseback Riding

Running

Yoga

Stand Up Paddleboarding in DC  & VA

Indoor Fun

                                                      King street coffee  in leesburg, VA

                                                    King street coffee in leesburg, VA

General Activities

Rock Climbing

Read a book at a coffee shop

See a movie

Spa Day

Public Talks

DC-Area Related

Story District - every second Tuesday of the Month

Meditation class: with Tara Brach, in Arlington, in Ashburn

See a show at DC Improv

Daybreaker

Visit ARTECHOUSE

African American Museum

Pottery Making at Hinckley Pottery

Union Market

See a play: Kennedy Center, Ford's Theater, Studio Theatre

Stay at Home

                               Plants from  leesburg farmers market  and  Catoctin Gardens

                              Plants from leesburg farmers market and Catoctin Gardens

Potluck Dinner with Friends

Game Night

Gardening

Arts & Crafts

Fun with Animals

                                                                                                             FOHA

                                                                                                            FOHA

                      Volunteer with animals: Lucky Dog Rescue, Washington Animal Rescue League, Friends of Homeless Animals

Spend time with other Dog Owners with

 

Any other ideas that you enjoy? Feel free to send them my way! 

 

 

How to Make Long-Lasting New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again! The time of New Year's resolutions and creating health goals for yourself to have your best year yet. While many of these resolutions are well-intended, you may find yourself in the cycle of: create goals --> stay on track for a few weeks  --> get sidetracked/frustrated/disappointed --> lose motivation and fall off the wagon. 

I learned a long time ago from my own experiences and those I learned in school and work that resolutions won't work if you don't have the necessary tools and expectations to make yourself successful. While we may think that it's all about willpower and determination, it is SO much more. Similarly to what I discuss in nutrition sessions, behavior change is complex and requires exploring your lifestyle, environment, stressors, knowledge, support systems, mindset, thought process and much much more. Behavior change takes time and our culture often forgets to mention these things. For New Year's resolutions that will last, here are a few of my go-to tips:

Washington - DC - Ashburn - Nutritionist

1. Be patient and forget the quick-results mentality. Our health culture is all about quick changes and overnight success, which almost always leads to failure. The diet industry has a 5% success rate and there is a reason for that! Making changes that will last takes time -- sometimes months to years. It's important to take this time to explore and learn about yourself and be compassionate with the time it will take to make this habit change. If you have been doing something for a few decades of your life, it will take more than a few days or months to reverse it. Give yourself time and enjoy the journey. Also, diets or cutting out food groups don't work. Remember that :) 

2. Be realistic. It is great to have goals to reach for, but what is actually doable for you? Where are you right now in your life and what types of changes are achievable? If you set unrealistic goals for yourself you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Start small and build up gradually, one day, week or month at a time. For example, if you are looking to make healthier choices, rather than cut out sugar completely, try to focus on increasing your fruit and vegetable intake to 3 servings per day, building up to 4 and then 5. You will be much more successful this way. 

Washington - DC - Ashburn - Nutritionist

3. Have a support system. Behavior change can be hard, so having a support system in place to help you reach your health goals can make a huge difference. This could be in the form of supportive family members and friends, a professional, group activities or meetings, online forums, etc. If you don't feel comfortable talking to anyone about your progress and goals, having support through a journal can even be helpful. Staying accountable and finding like-minded individuals can make a huge difference.

4. Stay positive. It is especially easy to get down on ourselves in today's culture when we see so much 'success' and 'perfection' in social media and around us. Remember that these are only snapshots and that everyone has struggles. Stay true to yourself and if something doesn't go as planned, learn from the experience rather than judging it. Nobody is perfect -- it would be a boring world if there were no flaws. Love yourself and see where that mindset takes you instead.

5. Manage your stress. Often times, bad habits result as a response to stress. Over drinking, overeating, under-eating, overexercising - these are often a symptom of underlying stress. It is important to find other ways to manage any emotions or stressors in your life whether it's finding a hobby, getting out in nature, exercise, practicing self-care or talking it out. 

There is a lot that goes into behavior change and it is important to go into it with a new approach this year. Start small, be realistic, surround yourself with positive people and vibes and set out on a new path! If you need support or accountability, I am here for you as are many other professionals in your area. Have a great and healthy New Year!

 

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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.

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

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.

 

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!

 

How to Increase your Metabolism | Washington DC Dietitian

The burning question that everyone wants to know is "What can I do to increase my metabolism?".  I'm sorry to break the news but magic pills and super foods won't do the trick. Green tea, caffeine and spicy foods are quick fixes with negligible effects. The long-term approach to increasing your metabolism goes back to the basics: eating well and exercising often.

Blame is often put on a few things when it comes to metabolism and weight loss. They include the following:

  • "I have a slow metabolism": It's true that some people have a faster metabolism than others but this doesn't mean that weight loss isn't possible. At a previous job we offered metabolic testing and I rarely saw a metabolism that was considered to be too slow. Some results were slower than others, but often it would be a smaller woman since they may require fewer calories. In general though patients had average metabolisms that allowed for weight loss! Often times we may think we have a slow metabolism even if we really don't.
  • "I have bad genes": Genes can play a role in our health, but keep in mind that they are a smaller factor in your weight than your lifestyle. Eating well and exercising can rule out bad genes.
  • "I'm getting older so my metabolism is slower": Yes, as we age our metabolism decreases, but the decrease is slight and age is usually not the main reason for weight gain. The bigger factor that correlates with weight gain is a decrease in exercise and activity.

No matter what your genes are, what your past has been or how old or young you are, it is possible to increase your metabolism. Here's how.

  • Strength train: Muscle mass increases your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Make sure to incorporate strength training at least 1-2x per week for the best benefit.
  • Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it jump starts your metabolism to make it work efficiently throughout the day. Eat within an hour of waking up to reduce the risk of slowing your metabolism.
  • Eat frequently throughout the day: Eating food actually increases your metabolism, so make sure to eat small meals throughout the day to keep it going strong. Aim for 3 meals and 2 snacks per day for the best balance. Eat healthy foods and proper portion sizes to avoid weight gain. Refer to my post on eating balanced meals for healthy options.

If you begin a healthy weight loss plan, are following these tips and are still not losing weight it may be helpful to check with your physician. Often times if weight gain is occurring while following a healthy lifestyle it could be because of your thyroid. A simple blood test can be done to check for hypothyroidism.

Get your metabolism in gear by eating often and building muscle mass. Weight loss may require changing your habits, but soon enough they will become part of your normal routine.