Nutrition Tip of the Week

September 29th, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of September 29, 2014

Going Organic on a Budget

Devotion to organic foods has hit the roof in recent years. Organic food sales have increased from ~$11 billion in 2004 to an estimated $27 billion in 2012. In 2012, organic food products accounted for more than 3.5% of total food sales in the United States.

So why are people buying organic foods?  Many consumers believe organic foods can serve as preventative medicine against health risks and help cure illness.  There are numerous health benefits linked with eating organic foods. In turn, many are willing to pay a premium price for organic foods.

Organic foods are made in a method that excludes the use of non-organic insecticides and pesticides, which provides you with the best nutrients you need. Studies indicate that organic foods are less likely to have pesticide residues than their conventional counterparts.  And most people who try organic foods do find they enjoy the taste better.  But how can you introduce organic foods into your everyday lifestyle without breaking the bank?

Believe it or not, eating organic foods does not have to be expensive. Over the past 5 years, the growing interest in organic food and its many benefits has led to more competition and increased availability. Organic options are more accessible, which as we know from basic economics, decreases the price. If you are concerned with where your food comes from, affordable organic items are a very welcoming choice.  Here are 9 tips that can help you pick up lots of organic products on a budget:

Shop at your Local Farmers’ Markets.  Growing your own food can be an exciting and economical choice, but there are also going to be times when you have immediate needs for specific produce not found in your garden.  When this happens, try seeking out a farmers’ market in your area.  Ask if they have organic choices before you start filling up your basket.  In most cases, buying directly from the person growing the produce will render a better price, since you are not paying for the supermarket mark-ups.

Toss the Refined Sugar and Go ALL Natural.  Raw sugar is about the same price as refined sugar.  However, the health benefits far outweigh the slight price difference.

Buy “In Season”. An easy way to save on fresh fruits and vegetables is to buy what is in season.  For example, in the summer months, fruit is easy to obtain and therefore more inexpensive. To find what is in season, visit your local farmers’ market and see what type of produce is plentiful.  There is no shame in asking when the answer is not apparent either.

Eat Less Meat by Going Meatless on Mondays.  Ethically raised meat is a wonderful option, but it can be expensive; there is no getting around it.  Eating meatless just one day a week can help diffuse the cost.  You can also get plenty of high-quality organic proteins from non-meat sources, such as eggs, beans, tofu, and nuts.  With the money saved on beef, pork, and chicken, you will have more money to purchase even more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

Buy Unpackaged Foods. More and more grocery stores have package-free, bulk dispensers for items like nuts, beans, lentils, coffee grounds, and even cereal. You can buy the exact amount you need at a lower price point than the packaged counterpart of these items. Since you are not paying for a big brand name, you will not be wasting money subsidizing fancy packaging or big advertising campaigns. Plus, if you bring your own grocery bags, some stores will pay you a $0.05-$0.10 per reusable bag, and you are helping out the environment.

Skip Processed Items. This is an obvious way to improve your food budget, yet it is also one of the most overlooked ideas, even when it comes to organic food. Organic does not always mean healthy; you will find organic chips, candy, and frozen pizzas for nearly four times the price of organic produce. Swap out the organic snack crackers for a pound of organic carrots and hummus. You will be saving money and calories, as well as eating healthier at the same time.

Look for Store Brands.  Chains and boutique stores correspondingly now carry their own generic line of organic products, in addition to their standard generic food lines. My neighborhood Kroger, for instance, carries organic diced tomatoes, pasta, beans, peanut butter, strawberry fruit spread, ketchup, mustard, and many other products for a much lower price than brand name organic items.

Become a Member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or Food Co-op (Cooperative).  A CSA is a farm-share program that enables you to “buy in” to an organic farm.  For an upfront payment, you will “share” in the farm.  Food Co-ops are often a member-owned business that provide produce and other farm products to their members. You usually pay a certain price.  By being a member of either group, you will receive a box of fresh, all organic produce for a fraction of what you would pay at the store.  This is also a great way to try different produce that you may or may not normally consume.  And they usually supply you with different recipes and cooking tips for whatever produce is fresh in the box that week.  A quick google search will help you to find a CSA or Food Co-op near you.

Be Wise.  Another option to going organic on a budget is to be sensible. If you cannot afford to buy entirely organic foods, choose wisely to which items it is best to pay more for. A good rule of thumb is to buy organic fruits and vegetables that have thin skins (such as apples and berries).  These foods tend to absorb the most pesticide residue and herbicides. These foods are often referred to as the “dirty dozen” and they include:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach and Lettuce

In turn, buying organic food does not have to break the bank. By practicing a little self-discipline and choosing your grocery purchases with precision, you will be able to afford more organic food items on a regular basis. You will be sitting down to a family dinner that you know offers the best nutrition and food safety, which you are well able to provide - for a fraction of the cost.  Here is to CELEBRATING your success by eating more fresh organic produce AND not breaking the bank!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

August 21st, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of August 18, 2014

Vitamin Basics = ABCDs

Is it really that easy?  I am sure we have all heard for years that vitamins are good for us and we need them to stay “healthy”.  We know that vitamins and minerals are essential to our health.  We also know that vitamins in food are fundamental to the development of ALL the body’s tissues and fluids and vital to the numerous functions that keep our internal systems operating each day.  But, do we know and understand the particular benefits of each vitamin?  Here you will discover a quick reference to the vitamin basics: A, B complex, C and D, and the precise roles they play in the body.

Vitamin A.  This vitamin comes in 2 forms: retinoids from animal products and beta-carotene from plants.  It is significant because it contributes to normal vision, gene transcription, bone metabolism, a healthy immune system, healthy skin and cell growth, as well as reproduction and maintaining the cell lining of the eyes, intestines and respiratory system.  The food sources that contain high amounts include eggs, beef, chicken liver, cheese, fortified cereals, orange vegetables/fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, mangos, and apricots, broccoli, collards, spinach, and kale.  Vitamin A is fat-soluble and disposing of any excess taken in through the diet takes much longer than with water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C.  Toxic levels of Vitamin A can occur, although rare.

B Vitamins.  These vitamins function as a complex group and are vital to many processes in the body, including energy production, as well as the metabolism of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), fats, and carbohydrates.  They are essential for a healthy liver, skin, eyes, hair, mouth and nervous system.  The food sources rich in B vitamins include whole grains, whole unprocessed foods, legumes, milk, eggs, nuts, fish, fruits, and leafy green vegetables.  B vitamins are soluble in water so excess are generally readily excreted, although individual absorption, use and metabolism may vary.

Vitamin C.  This is the vitamin also known as ascorbic acid and is a cofactor in at least eight enzymatic reactions.  It boosts the immune system and protects against cell damage, while also helping to form collagen in the body.  It aids in the absorption of iron, but can become an issue in patients with rare iron overload disorders, such as hemochromatosis. Some great sources of vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and cabbage.  Vitamin C is water-soluble, which means that dietary overloads are not absorbed and excesses in the blood are promptly excreted in the urine.  This makes the probability of toxicity exceptionally low.

Vitamin D.  This is also called calciferol and helps the body absorb calcium from foods.  Although Vitamin D is generally called a vitamin, it is NOT an essential dietary vitamin as it can be synthesized in “adequate” amounts in most individuals when exposed to sunlight.  However this process is not as effective when excess weight is a factor.  Essential vitamins cannot be made in sufficient amounts in the body and must be obtained from the diet.  Vitamin D is needed for strong muscles, movement, and proper nerve functions.  Food sources high in vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), fortified milk products, fortified cereals, and mushrooms.

Vitamins are essential to support life and we must get them from our foods and/or dietary supplements.  The nutrition they provide helps us feel enhanced, vigorous, and they assist the body with normal functions.  CELEBRATE products have been developed with careful attention to how different vitamins and minerals will interact with each other.  Not all companies pay attention to this important factor.  Having the proper amount of vitamins in the proper form is what makes the CELEBRATE difference.  Don’t forget to take you multivitamin today!!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

August 4th, 2014 by admin

Nutrition Tip of the Week

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of August 4, 2014

Tips for Creating Nutritious Dinners in a Dash

All of us have had a day when our meeting ran late, we were caught in traffic, one of our kids had a piano lesson starting in 10 minutes and the other had soccer practice later that evening…  Any of these schedule disruptions can lead to everyone getting home tired, hungry, and wanting dinner on the table instantly! You definitely do not have time, nor do you want to spend hours over the stove. For the most part, it just seems easier to eat a bowl of cereal, grab a bag of chips, or dip a spoon into the peanut butter jar.

Unfortunately, these options lack nutrients and could contribute to an expanding waistline over time.  And while you can reheat a portion-controlled frozen meal on occasions, it is not ideal to make eating freezer foods a habit.

So, in order to help you combat this common issue, here are 8 great tips for cooking meals that are quick, great tasting and good for you too!  Here’s how to make dinners in a dash:

  1. Always Cook When You Feel Like Cooking. The quickest meal is the one you have already cooked.  Let us explain.  Invariably, there will be too many times when you cannot, or will not want to cook. So think ahead and plan accordingly.  Planning ahead is the key to successfully getting through any meal emergency!  It takes the headache out of already stressful situations.  Try making a double batch of lasagna or beef vegetable soup and then freeze the other half.  On those crazy days, defrost it in the fridge while you are at work.  When you get home, just heat up your entrée and enjoy!
  2. Get to Know Your Crock-Pot. A crock-pot is a huge time saver and a must have for anyone with a hectic schedule!  Soups and meats cook easily while you work the day away.  From breakfast to dessert, side dishes to entrees, it is time for you to think outside the pot.  Simply chop up the ingredients for your favorite stew, soup, or chili in the morning, and let it simmer in the pot while you are at work.  When you walk back through the door that evening, the fantastic aroma of a ready-to-eat meal will welcome you.
  3. Stay Stocked. If you have ever come home from work, opened the refrigerator door, and stared at its contents wondering what to cook, you may have ended up forfeiting nutrition and taste for speed.  To avoid this from happening to you, the trick is to always, always have fresh fruits and vegetables available.  It is easy enough to cut up both and add alongside any meal.  You can also prep some fruit and vegetables for easy lunches or dinners by washing, cutting and placing them in glass containers in the fridge.  Also, make sure your pantry is stocked with healthy, convenient foods so you can put dinner together in a hurry.  A can of black beans means you can make tacos or quesadillas on the fly.  Tomatoes and olives can be used to make the perfect sauce in which to simmer chicken or fish.  Veggie burgers are easy to defrost in the microwave for a quick sandwich.  Dried lentils cook quickly, just add water and spices, and you will have a nice hearty, protein-rich meal in about 45 minutes.  By selecting high quality prepared foods, you will not feel guilty about a meal that includes a sandwich and a cup of a canned soup every now and then.
  4. Be Cool. Fresh vegetables at every meal is ideal, but in the real world it is not always an option.  Frozen vegetables offer a lot of advantages, especially when you are trying to get dinner on the table in a timely fashion.  Frozen vegetables are already the perfect size (no washing and cutting) and they can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts.  In some cases, they are even more nutritious because they are frozen at the peak of ripeness, whereas fresh produce destined to travel is often picked unripe.  This is particularly true for out-of-season or imported produce.  Also, frozen vegetables never end up spoiling in your crisper, which reduces waste.  Try serving them as a side dish, or toss them in stir-fries, soups, pasta, and stews.
  5. Buy a Wok. This is one pan that is a must-have in every kitchen.  The unique shape of this pan enables you to cook more quickly than in a regular skillet, without using much oil.  Once you cook with one, you will be amazed to see what a difference it makes.  Chopped vegetables, fish, poultry, red meat and tofu are ready in an instant; just make sure you invest in a nice wok.  Your food will thank you!
  6. Enjoy Salad Days. You do not have to begin every meal with a salad.  A sizable salad makes a great quick meal; bagged, pre-washed salad greens make it even faster to get dinner to the table.  Add some carrots, cucumbers, and purple cabbage, along with a handful of grape tomatoes, an ounce of cheese with your favorite protein, and dinner is ready.
  7. Have Breakfast for Dinner. Breakfast foods are great anytime of  day, and they are another fun and quick dinner idea that is sure to please everyone.  A frittata with frozen vegetables could not be easier to prepare and get on the table in a dash.
  8. Pick Dinner from the Patio Garden. A garden takes time to maintain, but it can be a time-saver when you are in a hurry.  All you have to do is walk outside or to the patio, and you will have produce so fresh and tasty; only minimal preparation will be necessary.  Homegrown, garden tomatoes and fresh leaf lettuce will make that speedy burger you prepared and froze ahead of time something amazingly tasty.  Adding fresh basil to some jarred sauce is sure to bring a little more flavor and spice to any pasta dish too.

When you plan ahead, strategize, and stock your kitchen well, a food predicament becomes much less of a crisis and more of a small inconvenience and is easy to combat! The key to quick meal preparation happens before you walk in the door.  If you have dinner already cooked or prepped or if you have planned ahead and the pantry and freezer are stocked with healthy, handy staples, you are in business!  Now you can Celebrate cooking and eating healthy, even in a time crunch!!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

July 14th, 2014 by admin

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of July 14, 2014

ABSI: A Body Shape Index

Most, if not all, of us have heard of BMI (or Body Mass Index).  However, there is a new index floating around medical circles and we at Celebrate like to keep you up-to-date on all the latest lingo or lingo to come.  A Body Shape Index (ABSI) is another metric used to help determine your health by evaluating not only your weight, but also your body shape.

What Is Wrong With BMI? BMI was used for more than 40 years (and will probably continue to be used) as a simple formula to determine who is healthy and who could improve their health.  BMI compares your weight with your height.  However, it does not account for bone mineral density, lean muscle mass, or where your weight is located.  The latter being an important factor when it comes to understanding your overall health.

As a result, doctors began evaluating waist circumference (WC).  By measuring the waist, doctors and other health professionals were able to evaluate the amount of body fat that rests around our mid-section, which puts us at a greater risk for heart disease and other health conditions.  However, only using WC does not take into account height.  For example, a female patient with a 35-inch waist who is 5’10” may have a completely different health profile from another female patient with the same waist size, but is only 5’1” in height.

The other issue with BMI is that it may make those with muscle mass (athletes and those who exercise quite frequently and strenuously) appear overweight since muscle weighs more than fat.  These individuals will weigh more even though they are quite healthy and their BMI would say they are overweight or even obese.

Why ABSI? An initial study calculated ABSI and BMI of more than 14,000 Americans of all shapes and sizes (pregnant women excluded) and found that ABSI appears to be more accurate than high BMI at predicting mortality.  They found that those individuals with the highest ABSI numbers were two times more likely to die from any cause than those with the lowest ABSI.  The researchers also noted that there were individuals that had a BMI within the normal range, but had a high ABSI (due to carrying their weight around their midsection), putting them at an increased risk of death.  Since ABSI also accounts for height, it is better than just using WC.  The researchers concluded “ABSI is sensitive to some body composition aspects, such as having a higher proportion of abdominal (stomach) fat and having relatively little muscle mass in the limbs.”

Applying ABSI. There is a calculator you can plug your numbers into to determine your individual ABSI.  A quick Google search will find it for you — sorry we cannot include links in our blog.  The number you want to note is the relative risk from ABSI.  A result of 1 means you are at average risk of death for your age.  An ABSI less than 1 means you are below the average risk of death for your age (where you want to be) and a number greater than 1 means you are at an increased risk of death for your age.

The Positives. You can always work to improve your numbers through healthy eating and being physically active.  Working to reduce your WC will dramatically improve your ABSI.  Weight loss surgery combined with healthy eating and physical activity will put you well on your way to reducing your risk of death and CELEBRATING your new healthy lifestyle.  Be sure to always consult your family physician and/or bariatric surgeon before starting any new exercise program or eating plan.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

July 7th, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of July 7th, 2014

How Smart is Your Smartphone?

We are all looking for ways to stay healthy, to track our fitness goals, track what we eat daily, and to help keep us motivated.  The fact is we do not get/make enough time for planning to complete these tasks in our everyday busy lives.

However, the solution is right in your hands.  In the age of modern technology, almost everyone has a smartphone.  This can be used to keep you healthy with the aid of some apps, most of which are FREE.  There are various apps, both paid and free that will assist you in your workouts, eating plan/meal planning, and daily routine, such as when to take your vitamins, and keep track of your exercise.  Here are 10 apps that could change your lifestyle and keep you healthy.

1.  RunKeeper. This FREE app can help you track your activities, including running, walking, cycling, skating, and skiing to name a few.  The app can track the distance and speed of your fitness activities and it gives you an update every 5 minutes.   It works effectively, since it records your progress and calculates the calories you have burned during your activity.  It can be connected to Facebook, so you can compare workouts with your friends, and it shows your route too!!

2.  My Fitness Pal. This FREE app is reliable for tracking your calorie intake and your weight.  You can track what foods you have eaten and at what times, as well as your exercise.  The nutrition analysis feature will make this app your best friend.  You can access your Myfitnesspal account using the app.  When you access your account, you will have access to a wide range of the food and exercise database.  You can access it from anywhere and the app syncs your phone with the website and provides the latest information.

3.  SleepCycle. This app is an intelligent alarm clock that analyzes your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase, which is the natural way to wake up feeling relaxed and rested.  It calculates your movements while you sleep in order to find out the most suitable sleep cycle for you.  It uses the collected data in order to wake you at the right time and it will surely improve the quality of your sleep time.

4.  Fooducate. This app helps you spot tricky non-healthy foods quickly.  Simply scan the barcode and Fooducate will give you a rating for the food scanned based on calorie counts per serving, processing techniques and amount of excess sugar.  It is the perfect “friend” to take with you when you shop for groceries.

5.  Substitutions. This wonderful application helps you cut out certain foods from your eating plan and replace them with a healthier alternative.  It will show you the possible substitute for a certain ingredient.  It has a feature to find the right food for allergy and/or food sensitive people.

6.  CSPI Chemical Cuisine. This app is a FREE personal trainer in your pocket.  It has 30-45 minute timed workouts for cardio, toning and strength, videos for each move, and a voiceover talking you through the workout.  The app also pulls music from your own playlist to keep you motivated.  You can chose your workout based on the time you have available and/or the results you wish to achieve.  It has auto-share to connect you with all of your friends on Facebook as well.

7.  The Whole Pantry. This app is the first of its kind, as it combines inspiring whole food recipes with lifestyle and wellness guides.  It is billed as the go-to place for health, wellness and lifestyle information.  It provides recipes, lifestyle guides, and articles on natural medicine, fitness and well-being aimed at healthy living with a back-to-basics approach.  The back-to-basics approach to both cooking and nutrition, provides a whole foods base for any eating preference or lifestyle.  The meals are created with all benefits in mind, to improve sleep, lose weight, clear skin, reduce allergies, aid in better digestion and balance your mood.

8.  Healthy Habits. Not only can this app help you eat better and exercise more, it can also help you shop less, reduce stress, and improve your behavior.  This app recognizes that habits are often behavior patterns that occur automatically and without conscious thought, then it gives you practical tools to turn your good intentions into actions, so you do not get in your own way.  This app can be used in conjunction with Habit Breaker, which aims to help you break bad habits and initiate new good habits, so you can reach your goals more easily.

9.  Thin-Cam. Almost all of us underestimate the portion sizes we eat and we are unreliable when it comes to tracking food and exercise in a food diary.  Thin-cam has you take a photo of your meal before you begin eating; the photo is then uploaded to the site and analyzed by nutritionists, so there is less room for error.  With this app and paid membership to the website, you can also get their fitness, eating tips, and weight loss tips and support, so you stay well informed and interested.

10.  Endomondo. Can you use a little extra motivation?  Then this is the app for you.  This app, which comes in a FREE version and a Pro version for less than $3.00, can be used for a variety of sports, such as running, cycling, and walking.  It tracks your workout route via Google Maps, showing GPS tracking route, distance, duration, and calories burned, and it tracks your workout history to compare later.  You can create an account and get motivated by your friends every time you break a mile.

Smartphones are ever-present, engaging, and easily portable making them an obvious choice to promote healthy habits. Consistently recording eating intake and health information can be a key component to successful weight loss and electronics make this easier. The research shows us when people use smartphones (technology) to track eating and physical activity, while getting daily feedback messages, 63% of the participants achieved greater than 5% weight loss.  Do not delay, start using your Smartphone today to help you get healthy and CELEBRATE your weight loss success.