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!

 

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Healthier 'Dilla | Washington DC Dietitian

I don't know about you, but usually the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is cook an elaborate dinner. As much as I enjoy cooking (love. it.), I like it better when I have time and don't feel rushed. My go to solutions for this are the following:

  • Prepare foods on Sunday to have for the week (smart choice)
  • Eat out with friends (fun choice)
  • Quesadillas! (perfection)

Quesadillas are my go-to meal because they are easy, fast and delicious. You can make them for yourself or for groups and I'd say they are always a crowd pleaser.

But I know what you might be thinking. Aren't quesadillas bad for you??

First off, I don't believe that there are any good or bad foods. But it can be true: quesadillas are basically cheese, some sort of protein and high fat toppings. Luckily, like most foods they can be healthified pretty easily! I'm not going to lie and say you won't notice the difference, but these dillas are still pretty darn good.

To healthify these bad boys I use the following:

  • Whole grain tortillas instead of regular flour tortillas. The calories are the same but the whole grains offer more fiber and nutrients.
  • Low fat Mexican cheese is subbed for regular cheese to reduce calories and saturated fat. Cheese is considered a protein and you will usually get a substantial amount from this dish, so I will usually omit any meat.
  • I add spinach to the dillas for nutrients, but any vegetables will do. I like spinach because it doesn't involve any prep and cooks quickly. (I wasn't lying about these being fast!)
  • Another way to healthify these is to use non-fat Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream as a topping. I grew up with sour cream (hi mom!) so they are essential to my quesadillas. Non-fat Greek yogurt tastes the same and adds a nutritious punch.

Super Easy Quesadilla

Serves 1

Total Time: 10 minutes (If not using chicken)

Ingredients

  • Fresh spinach
  • Boneless skinless chicken breast (optional)
  • 2 Whole grain tortillas
  • Low fat Shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Non fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Salsa

1. If you are using chicken, bake chicken breast in baking pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 min or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. 

2. Spray saute pan with Pam. Cook 1/2 bag of fresh spinach until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Put aside. 

3. Place 1 tortilla on same, freshly sprayed Saute pan. Top with Mexican cheese and spinach. Place second tortilla on top. Cook on medium heat.

4. Let the tortilla cook on each side for a few minutes until slightly browned.

5. Top with salsa, small amount of avocado and Greek yogurt.

6. Eat every last bit.

 

Let's Give Carbs a Chance | Washington DC Dietitian

Carbohydrates. As a nation we love to hate them. They are the first thing to be eliminated from our diets and the first thing we blame for weight gain. Yes, carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, but like most foods it isn’t because they are bad for you, but because of the amount that we eat. Rice and pasta are healthy until we consume 3 or 4 cups at one time!

The fact is that carbohydrates from starches, fruit and dairy are essential for survival. They provide us with energy and nutrients and are our main source of fuel. When we are born we rely on carbohydrates from milk for the first few months of our lives. It is human nature to crave and consume carbs because we were intended to.

This topic is important to me because often times the first thing you hear when someone is on a diet is that they cut out carbohydrates, even though they are needed for survival.

Things are about to get technical while I explain the facts about carbs.

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Carbohydrates turn into glucose in our bodies and glucose is the only source of energy for the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Carbohydrate stores in the body don’t last long so the only way to replace them is by doing one thing: eating more carbs (about every 4-6 hours)!

When the body doesn’t get energy from carbohydrates it turns to the next fuel source: protein from your muscles. Protein gets taken apart and turned into glucose to provide energy, which weakens your hard-earned muscle mass. When muscle mass is reduced, your metabolism slows down which can lead to weight gain. This is the opposite of your goal.

Sadly, eating a high protein diet will not restore the lost muscle mass. When carbohydrates are sparse, the protein you eat is used for fuel instead of doing what it is intended to: building and repairing your muscles, hormones, enzymes and cells.

But what about fat? Our initial thought is that fat could be used for energy to help us lose weight, but that is not the case. Our main source of fuel is carbohydrates, followed by protein, followed by small amounts of fat. 

Yes, weight loss can be fast when we eliminate carbohydrates due to the “hydrate” in “carbohydrate”. Carbohydrates attract water so when we cut them out we initially lose water weight. This is not to be confused with losing actual fat mass. Once you start consuming carbs again it is likely you will gain that weight back.

To sum it up, carbohydrates are VERY important. They are the main source of fuel for our bodies. When we reduce carbohydrate intake energy comes from our muscles, which decreases muscle mass, slows your metabolism and can lead to long-term weight gain. Bottom line, include carbohydrates as part of a healthy, balanced diet for optimal health and performance.