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.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

June 23rd, 2014 by admin

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

Week of June 23, 2014

Hydrating Foods

With the first day of summer occurring over the weekend and the temperatures rising on the mercury, it is quite important to stay well hydrated especially with physical activity that takes you outdoors.  While drinking lots of fluid is important, you can also improve your hydration status by eating foods rich with water!

Water is important for many body functions including regulating your body temperature, assisting in maintaining electrolyte balance, and metabolizing nutrients.  Achieving adequate hydration will help to prevent headaches and fatigue from dehydration.  Water also helps to control your weight.

Lettuce. Crisp lettuce tops the list of water-rich foods with it being 96 percent water!  Lettuce can also provide a great source of potassium, which is an important electrolyte and helps to reduce blood pressure.  It is also high in folate, which functions as a coenzyme in the development of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and also assists in the metabolism of amino acids (the building blocks of protein).  Lettuce contains antioxidants, which help to fight off cancer and many other benefits.  Lettuce contains a smaller amount of vitamins C and K.  A nice, crisp, cold salad always sounds refreshing to me on a hot summer day!

Watermelon. Watermelon seems to be one of those staples during every summertime get together and there is a reason for this!  Watermelon not only tastes great, but it is also quite refreshing.  Watermelon is about 91 percent water and is a great source of vitamins A and C, lycopene, fiber, and potassium.  Vitamin A helps with healthy eyes and eyesight, while vitamin C has many functions including acting as an antioxidant and helping to ward off the common cold.  Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, helps to prevent heart disease and many different types of cancers.  Fiber helps to keep you feeling full, while helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract, among many other benefits.  So get to slicing up that big watermelon and start that seed- spitting contest (you know we all did it as kids)!

Grapefruit. Grapefruit is not only a great tasting fruit, but it is also very refreshing on a hot summer day.  Grapefruit is about 90 percent water, is low in calories, and is a great source of phytonutrients and vitamin C.  There are many different varieties of grapefruit, including red and white.  The pink and red varieties will also contain vitamin A and lycopene.  Phytonutrients are not essential for keeping you alive, unlike vitamins and minerals, but when phytonutrients are consumed from food, they can help to prevent disease and keep your body working properly.  Grapefruits make a great addition to complete a healthy breakfast.

Broccoli. Broccoli is not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but maybe it should be!  This cruciferous vegetable contains about 89 percent water and also includes vitamin C, calcium, fiber, iron, and beta-carotene.  Calcium helps to maintain strong healthy bones, among many other benefits.  Iron helps to carry oxygen to the active tissues (muscles) of the body and prevent fatigue, among many other functions.  Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body and helps with healthy eyes and healthy eyesight among many other functions.  Try tossing it with Greek yogurt in a broccoli salad with nuts, raisins, and carrots for a simple, healthy snack or side dish.

Low-Fat Milk and Yogurt. Not only do low-fat dairy products add protein, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A and D to your daily eating plan, but it is also a great way to hydrate!  Low-fat milk and yogurt come in at 89 and 85 percent, respectively.  Another great choice is non-fat cottage cheese coming in at 81 percent water.  Protein helps you to feel full, but it also helps to maintain lean muscle mass, which is important for a healthy metabolism (how you burn calories).  Phosphorus’ main function is the formation of teeth and bones.  Vitamin D helps to prevent muscle and joint pain, as well as assists in the absorption of calcium.  Vitamin D has also been shown to help prevent many types of cancers.  So work to get your 3 servings of healthy dairy products per day!  Try low-fat milk as a great post-workout recovery drink or mix cereal into yogurt for a healthy snack.

Other Veggies. A few other hydrating foods you may wish to include are non-starchy vegetables.  Not only are these low in calories, but they are also high in fiber and have 95 to 96 percent water by weight.  These include lettuce (as previously mentioned), cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, and tomatoes to name a few.  Try using romaine or fresh spinach in a salad with cucumber and tomatoes for a tasty, refreshing dish.  Starchy vegetables are much lower in water content when compared to non-starchy vegetables.  Potatoes are only 79 percent water by weight, while raw corn is 76 percent water by weight for example.

Other Fruits. In general, fruits are made up of 84 to 86 percent water by weight.  Some great choices include blueberries, apples, and oranges.  Fruit also helps with weight loss, similarly to non-starchy veggies due to the high fiber content and high water content.  Try using fruit as a replacement for a sugary dessert or snacks.  Not only will it satisfy your sweet tooth, but it will also help to hydrate you for these hot summer months.

Lean Proteins. Most people would not think of lean proteins as being a source of water, but they can also help with your hydration status.  Skinless chicken and turkey breast, fish, shellfish, lean beef, and tofu are not only great sources of protein, but are high in water.  Firm tofu is 85 percent water, while turkey breast is 70 percent water.   Shrimp is 78 percent water.  Not only do lean proteins help to maintain your weight due to their ability to help you feel full while keeping calories low, but they can also help hydrate you!  Try mixing a lean protein with healthy, non-starchy veggies for a very satisfying, hydrating, healthy dinner.  Stir-fry shrimp with veggies, grill salmon with sautéed green beans, or bake skinless chicken with stewed tomatoes and mushrooms.

Satisfying Soups. Soups main component is water and regular consumption of clear or broth-based soups can help you control your weight according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.  In general, chicken and vegetable soup are 92 percent water.  However, a high intake of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, so opt for lower-sodium choices.  Even better, consider making your own soup and add lots of fresh, non-starchy veggies for a great, healthy, hydrating meal.  Try to steer clear of cream soups.  Even though they are still high in water content, they tend to be higher in fat and calories.

There are many great ways to ensure optimal hydration.  Check out some past blog entries for tips on how much fluid you need daily, what counts as fluid, and tips to help you stay well hydrated including the tips from today’s blog.  We look forward to hearing how you CELEBRATE the summer months while staying well hydrated and well on your way to weight loss success and maintenance!