Snack It To Me

By: Crystal Flores, RD

If snacks are meant to curb our appetite and stabilize blood sugar between meals, then why do we find ourselves raiding the vending machine at snack time?  Even worse right now for the holidays is the overabundance of holiday treats available for our snacking pleasure.  So, how do we keep all of this unconscious noshing under control?  First, we should be mindful of how much and how often we are eating.  Many people find keeping a food journal helps with accountability.  Doesn’t have to be very detailed, simply writing down the time and what you ate, “2:00 pm crackers” is enough.  Knowing you need to write down what you are eating may help you second guess if you are hungry and if you are making a wise food choice.  Another way to keep snacking in check is to set a limit of three snacks daily and to keep them less than 150 calories each.  Sure, the supermarket is full of “100 calorie” snack options, but due to their lack of fiber and protein, many of these may leave you wanting more, rather than leaving you satisfied.  Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables in plain view in lieu of holiday goodies will also help cut out some of those unnecessary calories.
Snacks can actually help to achieve a well-balanced, nutritious diet.  Pairing fruits or vegetables with lean protein or low fat dairy can help meet some of our nutritional goals such as five-a-day fruits and vegetables and three servings daily of low fat dairy (or comparable calcium sources).  Below you will find a list of healthful snack options to get you started: 

Apple slices with almond or peanut butter or even a low fat cheese
Vegetables and hummus, try sugar snap peas, carrots and sweet bell peppers
Small handful of raw nuts
Strawberries and fat-free yogurt
Cottage cheese and fruit
Walnuts or almonds with raisins or dried cranberries (keep the total portion to a handful)
Fruit smoothie made with fat free milk, fat free yogurt and fresh/frozen fruit
Pear slices with a slice of turkey and reduced fat cheddar cheese
½ a sandwich on high fiber bread with banana slices and chocolate hazelnut spread


Adding Protein = Building Muscle

When we start a new health routine, we often think we need more protein, but is this really the case?  Protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle, blood, skin, hair, nails and internal organs as well as provide enzymes to regulate bodily functions and transport nutrients, oxygen and waste throughout the body.

Is there such a thing as too much protein?  Yes there is.  Despite all the products on the grocery store shelves promoting their protein content, we typically eat more than we need.  Too much protein contributes to excessive caloric intake, resulting in weight gain.  Many high protein foods are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol as well, which will contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

So how much do we need?  You guessed it, another math equation.  The average healthy adult needs around 0.3-0.4 grams per pound.  That means a person weighing 150 pounds needs roughly 50-60 grams of protein per day.  Children need roughly 0.7-1 grams of protein per pound depending on age.  The younger the child, the more protein is needed due to their fast rate of growth.  If you want to know how many grams you or your child needs specifically, ask your registered dietitian!

Below you will find a chart of common foods and the corresponding grams of protein based on serving size.

You may notice it is not difficult to eat your required grams of protein daily.  If you have an egg at breakfast, three servings of dairy throughout the day and three ounces meat/poultry/fish at dinner, you’re covered (and that’s not including the additional grams you receive from all the vegetables and whole grains you are eating daily!).


What's Fiber Got To Do With It?

By: Crystal Flores, RD

Fiber, fiber, fiber…eat more fiber!  We hear this everywhere from commercials to the doctor’s office, but why?  Fiber provides us with a number of health promoting benefits.  Fiber helps to fill us up without adding calories, which is always a bonus when it comes to weight loss.  We do not digest fiber, hence why it does not contribute to caloric intake.  It goes in and it goes out.  It grabs onto cholesterol in our intestines, allowing us to eliminate it rather than absorb it, lowering our blood cholesterol levels.  Fiber also absorbs a large amount of water, keeping our digestion regular.  It even slows the digestion of carbohydrates, stabilizing blood sugar levels.  High fiber diets have been linked to the prevention of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Where do we find fiber?  We find it in our plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.  All of which are components of a healthy diet.  At this point in our nutrition challenge, you should already be incorporating many of these foods into your everyday eating. 

How much fiber do we need?  Women under 50 need at least 25 grams per day and men under 50 need at least 38.  Children ages 3-18 years need 5 grams plus their age (so a three year old needs 8 grams daily).

When increasing the fiber in your diet, it is important to do this slowly.  Rapidly increasing your daily fiber intake can cause gas and bloating until your body adjusts.  It is also important to ensure enough fluids.

Here are some ideas to boost your daily fiber intake:
  • Choose whole grain breads with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and cereal with at least 5 grams per serving.
  • Leave the skin on produce when able.  For example, eat the skin of the apple and potato.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seeds or wheat germ on your yogurt.
  • Have a bowel of oatmeal in the morning.
  • Chew your fruit rather than drink it.
  • When baking, replace 50% of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Eat more lentils, beans and peas.
  • Choose whole wheat pasta.


Water, water everywhere!

Nutrition Challenge Week #4
By: Crystal Flores, Registered Dietician

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body.  This is especially true during pregnancy, lactation and physical activity.  During pregnancy, fluid helps us with digestion, increasing our blood volume to supply nutrients to our developing baby, keep amniotic fluid levels up and prevent swelling to name a few.  During lactation, proper hydration helps to increase and maintain our milk supply.  During physical activity, even mild dehydration prevents coordination, concentration, stamina and reaction time.  If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

How much water do we need?  Simple equation.  Take your body weight in pounds and divide by two.  That is the minimum ounces of water you need per day.  So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 75 ounces of water daily.

What about fluids other than water?  Sports drinks are a good choice when engaging in strenuous physical activity lasting longer than one hour.  Drinks such as Gatorade and Poweraid deliver energy and electrolytes to replace what was lost in sweat.  Juice can be a great source of vitamin C and electrolytes (depending on the type of juice), but more than 4-8 ounces per day can hinder weight loss efforts.  Milk, especially chocolate milk, is great post workout because it provides protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes your body needs for recovery.  Caffeinated beverages can actually contribute to dehydration and are not the best choice.

If you do not like water, here are some tips to make it a little tastier:
  • Fill a pitcher of water and add in a sliced fruit of your liking.  Popular choices are lemon and lime.
  • For an even more refreshing twist on the classic water with lemon, add in a sprig of fresh mint.
  • Have a cup of tea or coffee in the morning.  Decaf is great for those who are sensitive to caffeine.
  • Try flavored seltzer water or add in a splash of 100% fruit juice to a plain seltzer.
  • Sugar-free and calorie-free versions of many popular beverages are available, but just be aware these do contain artificial sweeteners.  Everyone seems to have a different opinion on sweeteners and I will give you mine: everything in moderation.  Don’t make this your “go to” beverage of choice.


Eat A Rainbow

Nutrition Challenge Week #3
By: Crystal Flores, RD

So many of us don’t get in enough fruits and vegetables daily, which is why this is the challenge for week 3.  There is no substitute for the nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide us, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  What are phytochemicals?  These are the substances that give plants their color and have great antioxidant properties.  You can’t get these in a multivitamin! 
How many servings do we need in a day?  Five, that’s right, FIVE.  Aim for fruit and/or vegetable with every meal and snack.  Three meals and two snacks will give you all five servings.  Easy peasy.  Okay, that was cheesy!

Bored with the fruits and vegetables you typically eat?
Try to eat a rainbow every day:
Red Peppers
Red Grapes
Orange Peppers Yellow Peppers
Summer Squash
Butternut Squash
Sweet Potato
Green Peppers
Green Apples
Green Grapes
Brussel Sprouts
Green Beans
Globe Grapes
Purple Potatoes
Purple Cabbage
Purple Cauliflower
Red Onion
Blue Corn
Celery Root
White Corn
White Potato
Dakion Radish

Here are some recipes to help get you started:
Breakfast:  Blueberries topped with low fat yogurt and sliced almonds.  Look!  You can check off weeks 1,2 and 3!
Snack: Post Boot Camp: Chocolate milk blended with some ice and 1/2 a banana.  Hey, is there calcium in there?
Lunch: Turkey with lettuce, tomato and avocado on wheat with a green salad on the side.
Snack: Apple slices with 1 ounce of reduced fat cheese.  Another calcium check!
Dinner:  Lean steak with sweet potato and grilled asparagus.

If you’re noticing a trend in each week’s theme, you are right!  If we eat MORE of what our body needs, you won’t fill up with what your body really doesn’t need.  Always a good way of looking at things during the holidays!  Happy Thanksgiving!



Nutrition Challenge Week #2
By: Crystal Flores, Registered Dietician

Okay Boot Campers, we have all heard about the importance of calcium for strong teeth and bones, but did you know that is only the tip of the iceberg?  We need calcium for normal blood clotting, maintaining a normal blood pressure, nerve transmission, enzymes and hormones to regulate digestion, fat and energy metabolism as well as the production of saliva.  Calcium aids in the transport of nutrients and other substances across cell membranes.  It works with magnesium in muscle contraction and it is very important to have a balance between calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium to maintain muscle tone.  Possible benefits of calcium include protection from colon cancer, lowering blood cholesterol as well as fat metabolism and weight loss.

So, let’s get technical here for a moment.  We absorb calcium in the small intestine with the help of vitamin D.  Only about 10-40% of the calcium we consume is absorbed.  That large range is due to a decreased absorption when we have an excessive intake of oxalates and phytates, presence of fiber in the diet, a high intake of fat, alcohol, coffee, sugar, diuretics and aluminum-containing antacids and…stress!  What are oxalates and phytates you ask?  These are naturally occurring substances in plants and animals.  Oxalates are abundant in leafy green vegetables, soy products, almonds, peanuts, quinoa, black tea and wheat germ to name a few.  Phytates are antioxidants found in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  In other words, these are both present in a healthy diet. It’s amazing we absorb any!  Good news, we absorb more in times of great need, such as lactation and pregnancy.

A diet high in protein helps to increase absorption and so does the presence of lactose.  An acidic environment and vitamin D are also important.  The best sources in our diet are from dairy products due to the high calcium content, presence of lactose (milk sugar) and vitamin D.  Another great source we don’t think of often is canned fish with the bones.  Other good sources include enriched soy products, enriched almond/coconut/rice milk, dark-green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans and peas. 

How much calcium do we need?  All women between 19 and 50 years of age need 1000 mg of calcium daily.  This includes both pregnant and/or lactating women.  Three to four servings of high calcium foods daily meets our needs.  Take a look at the nutrition facts panel on your food.  The calcium is listed at the bottom as a percentage.  This percentage is based on 1000 mg of calcium.  Perfect!  So if it says 30%, this is 300 of your daily 1000 mg.


What's for Breakfast, Mom?

By: Cyrstal Flores, RD

Congratulations!  You have already taken the first step to take charge of your personal health by participating in Baby Boot Camp and now you are taking charge of your nutrition.  Let’s face it, we’re moms.  We are the busiest people we know!  We always put everyone else first and then what?  We are exhausted!  Now more than ever, it is important we take care of ourselves so we can do what we do best…be an AMAZING mom.  So, for this first week, let’s start everyday right…with BREAKFAST!  No, a cup of coffee and the crust of your toddler’s toast do not count.

Here are some ideas to get you started.  Bonus, most of these recipes can be made in a large batch to give to the whole family!

I prefer plain old fashioned or steel cut oats.  Prepare according to package directions and make it tasty by trying some of these combinations:  *Throw in 1/4 cup of sliced almonds and drizzle with honey or maple syrup * Chop up 1-2 dried apricots and 1/4 cup of walnuts * 1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins and a spoonful of sunflower seeds

Egg sandwich:
In a small non-stick pan, add 1 teaspoon cooking oil and 1 egg.  Cook as desired.  Place on a whole wheat English muffin with a slice of Canadian bacon and reduced fat cheese.  Have a piece of fruit on the side.

1/3 cup low fat yogurt of your choice
1 cup fruit (frozen fruit works great)
1 cup 1% or skim milk
Blend the above together and add in ice to desired thickness.  May sweeten with sweetener of your choice.

Fruit and yogurt:
Low fat yogurt of your choice.
1 cup of whatever fruit you have around (sliced banana, berries, mango, kiwi, melon…)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed/wheat germ OR 2 spoonfulls nuts (sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, etc)

In a rush?
Grab a fruit and nut granola bar, piece of fruit and a glass of skim or 1% milk (or a low-fat yogurt).

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