Nutrition Advice

The Best Time to Eat for Weight Loss

“What’s the best time to eat for weight loss?” I get that question a lot.  Meal timing is a concept that Hillary Wright and I discuss in detail in our new book, The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health, and Happiness. In our personal and professional experience, we’ve found that there are better times to eat to lose weight and discourage weight gain.

woman thinking

There are better times of the day to eat most of your calories.

Your circadian rhythms and weight loss

Does this sound familiar? You skip breakfast, eat a light lunch, and are famished at night, when eat your biggest meal at dinner, and then snack.

It’s no wonder! Skimping on food during the day leads to overeating at night as your hunger finally catches up with you. Excess calories aside, there is another reason why eating at night can make it harder to lose weight or prevent the pounds from creeping on over the years.

Researchers are beginning to understand how eating at night can mess with weight control and it involves circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are part of your internal clock, which operates on a 24-hour schedule. They regulate your sleep/wake cycle, calorie burning, and hormones, including insulin, that affect how the body uses blood glucose. Blood glucose is the energy all cells need and is primarily produced by eating carbohydrates.

 

Chocolate cupcakes with piped vanilla frosting.

Skimping on food during the day makes it harder to resist treats at night.

How insulin works to regulate your weight

Insulin is released by the pancreas in response to the higher-than-normal levels of glucose in the blood that occur after eating. Insulin’s job is to “unlock” cells so that glucose can enter and return blood glucose concentrations to a normal range. Insulin also helps the body store the glucose that cells don’t need at the moment. Most of that glucose goes to fat cells for the body to use for energy between meals and snacks.

Because blood glucose regulation is influenced by circadian rhythms, there is a best time to eat for weight loss. Although genetics may play a role, it appears that the body is more sensitive to insulin during the day and more resistant to it at night. That means eating too much food at night leads to excess levels of insulin and other fat-storing hormones in the blood at the time of day when your body is designed to burn stored body fat. A pattern of overeating at night also strains your pancreas by forcing it to produce more insulin to reduce blood glucose levels.


Should you try intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health? 

Consuming most of your calories earlier in the day may help you lose weight or not gain weight as easily as you age. One study divided 93 women into two different meal plans with the same number of calories for 12 weeks.  Women who ate most of their calories at breakfast and lunch and had a small dinner lost nearly three times as much weight as those who consumed the most food at lunch and dinner.

In a recent study of overweight women with an average age of 40, researchers found not eating within two hours of bedtime or consuming all food within an 11-hour period every day (often called time-restricted eating) were associated with a lower overall calorie intake. Eating less at night, when your body is getting ready to sleep, can also help you get more rest. Adequate sleep is linked to easier weight control.

woman eating popcorn with remote control for TV in her hand

Eating less, or not at all, after dinner may be the ticket to easier weight control.

A no diet approach to weight control 

Some people can eat at any time of day without consequence, but most cannot. If you’re struggling with snacking too much after dinner, here are some helpful tips that don’t involve drastic dieting:

• Include enough protein at every meal. Protein is filling and can decrease nighttime noshing.

• Eat 1/4 to 1/2 of your current nighttime snack. You will probably wake up hungry and be more likely to eat balanced meals throughout the day, which will help decrease nighttime hunger.

• Don’t eat in front of a screen or while reading. Mindful eating is important for knowing when you’ve had enough food. Sit at a table when snacking.

• Focus on non-food activities away from the kitchen.

woman thinking

 

 

Declutter Your Diet for Better Health

What with the popularity of Marie Kondo’s books and her streaming series about decluttering, purging unwanted objects is on my mind. While I struggle with clutter on a daily basis, Kondos’ simple belief – tidying up helps to calm you down – works for me. In keeping with her approach, it pays to declutter your diet for better health, too.

Cup of tea with slice of lemon.

Reducing stress may help prevent mindless munching, and may reduce your blood pressure, too.

Why getting organized reduces stress-eating 

Does this sound familiar? You’re tired and hungry after a busy day, and you’re faced with a disorderly kitchen. With little energy left to make dinner, or prep food for future meals, you give in to temptation and eat whatever is on hand.

When you’re feeling stressed about the mess, your brain does not want to deal with the dishes in the sink, the mess on the counter, and a disorganized refrigerator. Your brain wants pleasure, and food or alcohol are the quickest ways to satisfy that craving for feeling better. 

You can’t quash every food craving, but you can control your home environment as much as possible to better resist the urge to splurge.

Just thinking about getting organized to improve your eating habits can be stressful, but it’s also rewarding when you take small steps to get more order in your life.

Organize your kitchen to declutter your diet for better health and lose weight 

A tidy refrigerator and orderly cabinets help you find food fast, and it also curbs overspending because you are more aware of what food you have on hand, and what you need to buy.

Tidy kitchen.

For some people, a tidy kitchen encourages healthier food choices.

 


Read: Why clutter causes stress


I’m not perfect at kitchen organization, but I’m getting better. In my defense, I live with three family members who have their own ideas about tidiness.  However, there are some things I do regularly to stay on track with healthy eating:

• Empty the fridge, freezer, and cabinets. Throw away really old food, but also be aware that the dates on packaged foods (not fresh, perishable foods like meat, poultry, and seafood) are about food quality and not food safety. 

• When you restock shelves, organize food in categories. For example, group all canned products in one place and by type. Check the dates on foods and put the newest in the back.

• Avoid stuffing the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. You need to see what you have on hand to use it up, and to prevent buying more of the same.

• Invest in sturdy air-tight containers for sugar, flour, and other grains, such as cereal. Transfer foods to these containers and label them clearly. This saves space, improves organization, and keeps food fresher for longer.

• Use under shelf organizers to save space and tiered risers for canned goods and other packaged foods so that you can always see what you have on hand.

• Keep treats out of sight, and healthier foods in the open. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” really works. For instance, stash cookies and brownies in the freezer and put open bags of chips in the cupboard, and leave an inviting bowl of fresh whole fruit on the counter.


Read: 12 DIY projects to clean up your eating habits


Make a plan and stop stress-eating 

Yay! Your kitchen is in order, or at least it’s a bit tidier.  It’s time to plan healthier meals and snacks.

Receipt and variety of foods from grocery store.

Shopping on a regular basis is key to organizing your kitchen and meal planning.

 

• Consider meal prep on the weekend for the busy days ahead. However, if you can’t devote a few hours to the week’s meals on a Saturday or Sunday, you can always assemble balanced, simple meals and snacks in very little time. Marie Kondo’s goal is joy. Wasting food makes me sad, so I do my best to use up what would go to waste, which is part of managing your food better.

• Once you have an eating plan in place, make a list of food you need for better meals and snacks in the days ahead. It’s easier to shop for ingredients when working from a list.

• I’m not against treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips, but if having these foods in the house triggers you to overeat, don’t buy them.


Read: Dozens of tips to reduce food waste and save more money


How to prevent mindless munching

It’s not always possible to avoid eating on the run, but when you’re home, I highly recommend sitting at a table.

Eating at the kitchen or dining room table, and off of a plate or out of a bowl, allows you to eat more mindfully than when standing at the counter or sitting in front of the TV or computer screen. Increasing your awareness of eating may help you to eat more nutritious foods in the right portions for you.

declutter your diet for better health

13 Delicious Mocktails

Basil Lemonade Spritzer

Basil Lemonade Spritzer

Reasons to Enjoy Zero-Proof Drinks 

Mocktails – zero-proof, non-alcoholic beverages – are popular with people who need to avoid alcohol, and they are gaining ground with others, too.

Studies show giving up alcohol improves sleep and energy level and saves money. Moreover, drinking less may also make weight loss and long term weight control easier because alcoholic beverages have calories that you may not need.

Health experts suggest that women limit their alcohol intake, which may help reduce their risk for breast cancer.

Whatever your goals, it never hurts to drink less alcohol.

I asked my friends for their favorite mocktail recipes, and they are amazing. Enjoy!


Why taking a break from alcohol is a good idea


 

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider Cocktail

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider

 

Pomegranate Adds Punch to Mocktails 

Festive Pomegranate Cherry Spritzer from Sara Haas

Sparkling Cherry Spritzer from Jenny Shea Rawn

Ginger Pomegranate Sparkler Mocktail from Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider Mocktail from Nutrition to Fit


Study: It’s easier to go without alcohol when you have more choice


Mocktails Made with Citrus

I love the zing citrus supplies!

Cranberry Lemon and Orange Cider from The Nutrition Reviews

Easy Apple Cider Mocktail with Fresh Citrus Slices from Nourish Nutrition

Cranberry Orange and Lime Cider mocktail

Cranberry, Orange, and Lime Cider

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer from Sip Smarter

Basil Lemonade Spritzer from Bite of Health Nutrition

Tropical Lipton Green Tea Virgin Sangria from Amy Gorin

Mango Kombucha Refresher from Spilling the Beans

Strawberry Lime Watermelon Smoothie from Smart Nutrition 

Sweet and Spicy Mocktail Recipes 

I love these combinations because they offer spice and sweetness.

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas mocktail

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas from Leanne Ray

Ginger Beer Pear Punch from The Nutrition Adventure

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer mocktail

Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer

What’s your favorite way to enjoy alcohol-free cocktails or other nonalcoholic beverages?

lemon basil cocktail with a lemon slice

Delicious Mocktails to Make At Home

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss and Better Health? 

Alarm clock and coffee cup with saucer.

Surprise! You fast every day.

Are you tired of restrictive diets that you can’t stick with? Wondering if you should try intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health? Read on to weigh the pros and cons.


Read: Why eating less at night may be good for your heart


What is Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting is going without food. While that may sound drastic, consider that you fast every day while you’re asleep and between meals!

Intermittent fasting (IF) limits when you eat, not what you eat. IF is not a diet. It’s an eating pattern without the calorie-counting. 

There are several types of IF, including:

• Fasting every other day of the week.  

• The 5:2 plan: Eat as usual on five days of the week. Limit calories to 25% of your needs (for example, 500 calories on a 2000-calorie a day eating plan) on two non-consecutive days, such as Monday and Thursday.

• Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) limits food intake for at least 12 hours, and for as long as 20 hours, every day.  For example, you can choose to eat all your food from 10 AM to 6 PM, or during any other time frame that works for you.

Researchs suggests intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health is promising. TRE is the least restrictive and most adaptable form of IF, and it makes the most sense for people with a busy lifestyle. However, no type of IF is suitable for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with eating disorders, and some people with diabetes.


 Read: An RD’s experience with intermittent fasting


Grilled salmon with sauce and steamed vegetables.

Feeling satisfied is key to maintaining a healthy eating plan.

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?  

While I’m a fan of TRE, evidence suggests that this, or any, form of IF is no better than eating fewer calories in the long term. A recent study showed that following the 5:2 eating pattern for six months helped people lose more weight than those who simply cut 500 calories from their typical eating plan. However, by 12 months, those on the reduced-calorie plan had maintained their weight loss, while the other group had not.

It’s important to choose a type of IF that works for you and that’s sustainable in the long run. TRE can jump-start your intentions to eat better, and may reduce feelings of dietary deprivation.

In one study, overweight people who reduced their eating window from about 15 hours a day to 10 to 11 hours daily for 16 weeks lost weight, and reported higher energy levels and better sleep. Even though they weren’t asked to restrict calories, participants ate less without feeling deprived.


Get the real story about the health effects of eating dinner late at night


 

Woman sleeping under white comforter.

Pro tip: Spend most of your fasting time asleep.

 

In another study, a group of overweight people who ate only from 10 AM to 6 PM consumed an average of 350 fewer calories and lost about 3% of their body weight. They also lowered their blood pressure.  Study subjects were not asked to limit calorie intake.

TRE and other forms of IF may help with modest calorie restriction, but fasting is not a magic bullet for weight control. Whether or not time-restricted eating actually decreases the amount of food consumed varies from person to person.

Intermittent Fasting Helps Prevent Diabetes 

Chances are, you can reap health benefits from IF simply by changing when you eat most of your calories. Here’s why.

IF improves the body’s response to insulin.  Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that is necessary for cells to absorb glucose, which is used for energy. Insulin levels are lower when fasting, an ideal situation to prevent insulin resistance.

In insulin resistance, blood glucose levels are elevated. High insulin levels trigger the pancreas to produce more insulin to try to get glucose into cells. As time goes on, the pancreas’ ability to churn out insulin declines, leading to prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes and contributing to the risk for heart disease and cancer.

 

Breakfast foods

Pay attention to portions and the quality of foods you choose with intermittent fasting.

 

In addition, TRE plans that limit food consumption to daytime coordinate best with our natural body rhythms, which may help foster good health. That’s because insulin production is higher during the day than at night.

Even without weight loss, limiting food intake to eight hours and fasting from 3 PM on every day for five weeks decreased insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and improved blood pressure in overweight men with prediabetes.


Read: Eating later in the day can be bad for your waistline and your health


Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40

Women may notice that it’s not as easy to control their weight after age 40. As we age, we lose muscle tissue that burns more calories than fat. In addition, we may become less active, which also burns fewer calories. At some point after age 40, most women begin the transition to menopause called perimenopause.  Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, which typically occurs after age 50 in most women. 

During perimenopause, estrogen fluctuates as it begins to decline for good.  Weight gain is one of the side effects of a loss of estrogen and aging in general (men tend to gain weight, too!). Most women accumulate belly fat during the menopause transition, and after menopause occurs, and it’s often a source of consternation. 

Weight control, including IF, is a topic covered in great depth in The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health, and Happiness, that I have co-authored with Hillary Wright, M.Ed, RDN. Depending on the type, intermittent fasting may be a good strategy for healthy eating for women after age 40 and age 50. We favor TRE for women because we think it’s the best way to meet their needs and maintain a busy schedule that may also include eating dinner with family every night, juggling household duties, and holding down demanding jobs. 

How to Try Time Restricted Eating

• Be consistent.  Choose an eating/fasting pattern that works for you and stick to it every day, including on weekends. Start by limiting food intake to 12 hours daily, and try to stop eating by 6 or 7 PM. If you want, gradually decrease your eating window to eight hours with 16 hours of fasting daily.

• Eat a balanced diet. Plan your food intake to include adequate amounts of nutritious foods, and limit added sugar. Eat three satisfying meals daily to avoid excessive snacking, also known as “grazing”.  Grazing is linked to a higher body mass index in women and a poorer quality diet in women and men. 

• Remember that moderation counts. IF doesn’t involve calorie-counting, but if you use your eating window as a free-for-all, you’re missing the point. You can eat whatever you want, but maybe not as much as you want. 

• Focus on calorie-free fluids. Water, black coffee and tea, and other calorie-free beverages are OK at any time.

Pizza with greens on top.

All foods fit on any intermittent fasting program, but moderation counts, too.

should you try intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health?

Foods That Improve Memory and Concentration

Diet affects brain function. Find out how foods rich in choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 improve memory and concentration throughout life.

How choline builds and maintains the brain

Choline is part of every cell.

Choline is an essential nutrient. That means you need choline from food or supplements to meet your needs.

Studies show that choline is key to brain development during pregnancy and early life.

Choline is linked to a lower risk for neural tube defects. The neural tube develops into a baby’s brain, spine, and spinal cord.

Choline also plays a role in the development of the hippocampus, the brain’s “memory center.” As a result, choline may help preserve and improve memory.  The hippocampus is one of the only areas in the brain that produces cells into late adulthood.

Some studies show a link between better memory in people with higher choline intakes.  And, people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of a compound that allows the brain to use choline.

How to include enough choline

More than 90% of U.S. adults don’t consume enough choline, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Here’s how much choline you need every day:

Adults, ages 19-50 (not pregnant):

Female: 425 milligrams; Males: 550 milligrams

Pregnant: 450 milligrams

Breastfeeding: 550 milligrams

Choline is found in a variety of foods. However, animal foods, such as eggs, meat, and seafood, have the most choline. For example, one large egg or 3/4 cup roasted soybeans supply about 30% of your daily choline intake.

You may not get enough choline if you limit or avoid animal foods. As a result, you may need a choline supplement.

The amount of choline in foods can be found in the Nutrient Facts panel. The panel is on food and supplement labels. The Daily Value for choline is 550 milligrams.

Most multivitamins and prenatal pills do not contain much choline.  You may need an additional choline pill, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. However, limit choline intake to 3,500 milligrams daily.

 Coffee, walnuts, and berries for brain health

Iodine and brain health

The thyroid gland contains nearly all the iodine in the body. It stores iodine to make hormones for brain development and growth, and to produce energy.

How iodine builds and maintains the brain

During pregnancy, the body needs thyroid hormones to make myelin.  Myelin helps nerve and brains cells to communicate.

Iodine helps baby’s brain develop properly. Severe iodine deficiency in mom’s diet can lead to mental retardation and Attention Deficit Disorder.

How to include enough iodine in your diet

Iodine needs increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, women in their childbearing years may not get enough iodine.

The Nutrient Facts panel doesn’t list iodine, and that makes it hard to know how much iodine is in packaged foods.

Here’s how much iodine you need every day:

Adults, ages 19-50 (not pregnant):

Males and females: 150 micrograms/day

Pregnancy: 220 micrograms

Breastfeeding: 290 micrograms

All salt is not created equal

People who avoid iodized table salt, seafood, and dairy may be at risk for an iodine deficiency.

Dairy milk has iodine. However, many people avoid dairy foods. As a result, they may be missing out on iodine.

Seafood and sea vegetables supply iodine. Experts suggest eating at least eight ounces of seafood weekly. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat eight to 12 ounces of seafood weekly.

Salt with added iodine, called iodized salt, is a reliable iodine source. However, the same isn’t true of salty packaged foods.

Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods, but food companies almost always use plain salt.

Experts suggests pregnant and breastfeeding women take 150 micrograms of potassium iodine as a supplement daily. That advice also applies to women who may become pregnant. 

The body absorbs potassium iodide well. Taking more iodine is not better for you.

How vitamin B12 helps the brain

During pregnancy, the brain needs vitamin B12 for proper development and growth.  The brain also needs vitamin B12 throughout life. 

Vitamin B12 is part of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells. The myelin sheath allows cells to “talk” with each other.

Vitamin B12 helps produce neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate.

Foods with vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, including seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. It is not present naturally in plant foods. However, fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals and other grains and nutritional yeast, have vitamin B12.

It’s possible to be low in vitamin B12 if you avoid animal products. You can get enough vitamin B12 with fortified foods and dietary supplements.

Exclusively breastfed infants of women who eat no animal products may develop vitamin B12 deficiency within months of birth. Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can result in severe nerve damage.

How much vitamin B12 you need

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than you think.

Up to 15% of the general population doesn’t get enough vitamin B12. Poor memory, confusion, depression, and dementia are symptoms of too little vitamin B12 in the diet.

You need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily after age 14.

During pregnancy, the daily suggested intake is 2.6 micrograms, and it’s 2.8 micrograms daily during breastfeeding.

Why you may need more vitamin B12

People with celiac disease and Crohn’s disease and those who have had weight loss surgery may absorb less vitamin B12.

Common medications affect how your body processes vitamin B12, too.

Ask you doctor about the medication you take. You may need extra vitamin B12.

Age also affects vitamin B12. The body absorbs less natural vitamin B12 after age 50. As a result, experts say people over age 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 in the synthetic form.

Synthetic vitamin B12 is added to foods such as breakfast cereal and other grains and dietary supplements. Added vitamin B12 does not require stomach acid for digestion. As a result, the body can use it easily.

In conclusion: How to have a better brain

Eating right helps the body and brain develop properly and supports it throughout life. Include foods rich in choline, iodine, and vitamin B12 in a balanced diet. If you don’t, consider taking a daily multivitamin and a choline supplement to meet your needs.

Why Carbohydrates Are Important

small chocolate cream cookies with smiling faces

Is it me, or do those cookies look slightly evil?

Confused about carbs? Before you go cutting them out of your life, read on to find out why carbohydrates are important to your immune system and overall health. 

Do carbohydrates cause weight gain? 

A 2018 survey found that Americans blame carbohydrates for weight gain, which is probably why low-carb diets are so attractive. Yet, eating a more plant-based diet is linked to better weight control and other health benefits.

What’s more, the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest ways to eat. It’s rich in vegetables and whole grains, and is anything but low in carbohydrates.


It’s time we stopped loving to hate carbohydrates.


Carbohydrates give you energy 

The body prefers carbohydrates as an energy source because they are easily converted to glucose, the fuel that cells use.

Carbohydrates are found in foods such as milk, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans), bread, cereals, pasta, rice, and in cookies, cakes, and other sweets.

With the exception of fiber, carbs provide four calories per gram. Fiber is mostly indigestible, but more on that later.

Carbohydrates are classified as “simple,” and “complex.”

Simple carbohydrates, found in foods including maple syrup, honey, table sugar, and white bread, pasta, and rice, and milk, are digested quickly.

The starch and other complex carbohydrates found in foods such as whole grain bread, vegetables, and legumes (beans), take longer for the body to digest, making for a slower and steadier energy release into the bloodstream.

When levels of glucose dip in the bloodstream, your mental and physical energy drops, too.


Feeling “hangry?” Hanger is a real thing! Read about it here


What happens when you eat a low-carbohydrate diet 

A very low-carbohydrate intake forces the body to use protein and fat for energy, which isn’t ideal. That’s because protein is meant to help build and maintain lean tissue, including muscle, and to make enzymes, hormones, and cells to support life. When protein is used for energy, it cannot do its job to the fullest.

When the body breaks down fat for energy, it produces ketones. Blood levels of ketones remain elevated on a very low-carb diet.  Experts aren’t sure about the effects of high ketones on health, but they do know that excessive ketones can be life-threatening in people with diabetes.


Read about why a low-carb diet may shorten your life


scale with a tape measure on it

Cut carbs and you cut calories, which may be the reason for weight loss.

Why low-carb diets work for weight loss

You will probably lose weight on a very low-carb eating plan, such as the ketogenic diet.

It’s no mystery why, though. Cutting carbs typically results in consuming fewer calories, which encourages weight loss.

If you don’t want to drastically reduce carbs to shed pounds, take heart. Research shows that reducing fat works just as well for weight loss as lower carb diets.

maple syrup in a bottle

Maple syrup and honey may be “natural,” but they are sources of added sugar.

Carbohydrates are good for your immune system

Fiber, found only in plant foods, including whole grains, vegetables, and legumes, protects against diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer, and infection. Your gut cannot fully digest fiber, so how is it beneficial to you? 

Bacteria in the colon ferment, or feed on, the fiber in food, producing short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA protect the lining of your gut and defend it against colon cancer, help to control blood glucose, reduce inflammation, and strengthen your immune system.

Fiber helps to keep you fuller longer, which is beneficial when trying to control your weight. It also plays a role in lowering blood cholesterol levels and keeping them in a normal range, and preventing constipation.

It’s next to impossible to get the fiber you need on a very low-carbohydrate eating plan. As a result, you will starve the beneficial bacteria in your gut that support your overall health.

Some carbohydrate choices are better than others, but you can still have treats! 

 

How to Eat More Good Carbohydrates 

When it comes to choosing carbs, quality counts. It’s a good idea to consider the company that carbohydrates keep rather than taking them off your menu.

Foods rich in added sugars, such as regular soft drinks, granola bars, and candy, typically offer little besides calories. Limit your intake of foods with added sugars, but know that you don’t have to completely avoid them. Find out what your daily added sugar allowance is here.


Read about why it’s OK to eat refined grains


yogurt topped with berries and a fresh fig

Choose high-carb, nutrient-rich foods more often to support your health.

 

Fruits and vegetables, and plain milk and yogurt, contain naturally-occurring simple sugars. They are not on the list of sweeter foods experts advise us to limit, however.

Foods with naturally-occurring sugar, as well as starchy foods such as whole and enriched grains, potatoes, and rice, are desirable because they supply vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, and phytonutrients, beneficial plant compounds that protect your cells.

Fortified grains supply additional nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, which are often in short supply in women of childbearing age.


Read about the downsides of going gluten-free


 

bread and grains

Bread made with enriched grains provides vitamins and minerals that often go missing in our diets.

 

How much carbohydrate should you eat?

Suggested daily carbohydrate and fiber intakes are based on calorie requirements.

Experts recommend consuming 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories as carbohydrate. That amounts to:

  • 248 to 358 grams on a 2,200-calorie eating plan
  • 225 and 325 grams on a 2,000-calorie eating plan
  • 202 to 293 grams on an 1,800-calorie eating plan

Of course, you can choose to eat less carbohydrate. Popular low-carb diets suggest far less carbohydrate than nutrition experts.  For example, the ketogenic way of eating recommends no more than 50 grams daily, about the amount found in a three-ounce egg bagel.

basket of a variety of fresh fruit

Fruit is full of water, and can help you meet your daily fluid needs.

 

How much fiber should I eat every day? 

• For every 1,000 calories consumed, eat at least 14 grams of fiber from food.

• For example, on a 2,000-calorie eating plan, include a minimum of 28 grams of food fiber daily.

chickpea salad is loaded with fiber and other "good" carbs

Beans supply a type of fiber that help beneficial gut bacteria thrive!

 

Foods high in fiber to eat every day

It’s easier to include enough fiber and other carbohydrates when you eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables (which includes beans) and at least three servings a day of whole grains.

Don’t be concerned about eating refined grains. As long as they are fortified, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, they can be part of a balanced diet.

For packaged foods, check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for fiber content.

Here are some common fiber sources, with fiber listed in grams:

Navy beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 10

Lentils, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Black beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Garbanzo beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 8

Whole wheat bread, 2 ounces: 6

White beans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 6

Pear, 1 medium: 6

Avocado, 1⁄2 cup: 5

Soybeans, 1⁄2 cup, cooked or roasted: 5

Peas, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 4

Chia seeds, 1 tablespoon: 4

Apple, medium, with skin:  4

Raspberries, 1⁄2 cup: 4

Potato, medium, with skin, baked: 4

Sweet potato, medium, flesh only, baked: 4

Almonds, 1 ounce: 4

Broccoli, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 3

Orange, 1 medium: 3

Banana, 1 medium: 3

Quinoa, 1⁄2 cup, cooked: 3

Fiber fights high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol 

The Truth about Carbohydrates 

Most foods rich in carbohydrate also contain important nutrients that are not found in other foods.

Like any calorie-containing component of food, including protein, fat, and alcohol, too much carbohydrate may end up as stored body fat because of the excess calories it provides.

Eating much less than the recommended amount of carbohydrate is not a good idea, either, because it may have many negative effects on your health.

Including more plant foods and plain dairy products in a balanced eating plan is your best bet for getting enough “good” carbs.  Added sugar can also be part of a healthy diet for most people, including those with diabetes. (Check with your dietitian about your daily carbohydrate “budget.”)

 

why carbohydrates are important

Stay Fit and Fabulous After 50

Can we talk? I am not aging well, and by well, I mean I have a hard time accepting how getting older is affecting my body. Judging by all the ads on TV for Botox, body “sculpting,” and drugs to boost bone density, I can see that am not alone in my struggle to stay fit and fabulous after 50.

I’m always on the hunt for ways to preserve my health, and that’s exactly what I found in talking with my friend Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, co-author of Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well. I may not like what’s happening to me as the years pass, but I’m not going down without a fight, either. Take that, Mother Nature!

I scoured Chris’ book for tips, but I still had some questions. Here’s what Chris told me when I quizzed her.

Chris Rosenbloom and co-author Bob Murray Food & Fitness After 50

Chris Rosenbloom and co-author Bob Murray.

 

Q. Maybe it’s me, but it’s tough to fight flab with age because it can seem like you’re doing a lot to control your weight with little reward. What is “weight creep,” why does it happen, and what can we do about it?

 

A. Weight creep is that insidious, small weight gain that doesn’t seem like a big deal. And, a pound or two at a time isn’t a big deal until 20 years later when you’re saddled with an additional 20, 30 or 40 pounds.

Nobody gains 20 pounds overnight; it’s a small, steady increase until one day it hits you that you’re much heavier than you were. I think it happens because we just don’t pay attention. We don’t monitor our weight or pay attention to how our clothes fit. You might get weighed at the doctor’s office (how many of us say, “that scale is way off?”), but rarely does a doctor say anything about weight once we step off the scale.

The rise of Athleisure wear is bad news for aging women. I only wear yoga pants when I do yoga and I wear jeans when working at home, so I have some feedback from the pants that tell me how they fit. While I recommend aiming for health, and not a number on the scale, it may be helpful to weigh yourself often, and possibly daily, to get a sense of an upward trend in your body weight. Don’t worry about fluctuating a couple of pounds every day, because that’s usually just water weight.  If there is an uptick in weight overall, ask yourself what you might be doing to cause the numbers to go up. (Note: If you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, it may not be a good idea to weigh yourself daily.)


Should you weigh yourself every day?


Building and preserving muscle helps you stay strong in your later years

Building and preserving muscle helps you stay strong in your later years. Start now to reap the benefits.

 

Q. It’s so important for people to understand the importance of muscle as it relates to strength, metabolism, and overall health. Can you describe what happens to muscle tissue as we age?

 

A. Between the ages of 20 and 90, it’s possible to lose more than 50% of our muscle mass due to sarcopenia (literally meaning “vanishing flesh”) that’s the result of a sedentary lifestyle. And, for women, the effect is even greater, as we have less muscle mass by nature. Add an illness or injury and the picture gets worse; you can lose 1% muscle mass each day after surgery or during an illness!

We lose not only muscle mass, but also muscle strength as we age and that can lead to a decrease in functional fitness, that is, the ability to continue to do the things that help us live independently. Climbing stairs, shopping and carrying groceries, cleaning the house, working in the garden…all of things we take for granted when we are younger can get harder if we lose a significant amount of muscle mass and strength.

The good news is that muscle is very responsive and adaptive to strength training, and we can regain mass and strength by doing progressive, resistance exercise twice a week. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Resistance exercise can be done at home with hand weights or exercise bands. Bob and I like Fitness Blender for online app-based fitness programs, and Go4Life from the National Institute for Aging for easy, free exercise programs.

An eating plan rich in plant foods, such as fresh raspberries, is good for your heart, and the rest of you

An eating plan rich in plant foods is good for your heart, and the rest of you, at any age.

 

Q. Would you explain how menopause influences body weight, muscle mass, bones, and the heart?

 

A. After menopause, the gradual loss of estrogen affects a woman’s health in many ways, and none of them are positive. Body composition can change, and you may have more visceral fat (the dreaded “belly fat”), an increase in the fat content in muscle, and in your heart and liver, and an overall increase in body weight until about age 70.

Muscle mass is affected, as mentioned before, but most the changes in muscle are related to lack of physical activity that builds and maintains muscle by stressing it. Bone loss begins at about age 30, but after menopause there is a rapid decline in bone mass for the first five years. The loss of bone levels off after that, but bone density is not as good as before menopause. Dietitians stress the importance of a healthy eating plan, including calcium and vitamin D, during adolescence, a prime bone-building time of life, right up to menopause (and afterwards) so that you have the strongest bones possible before calcium losses occur.


“Instead of looking for a superfood, magic supplements, or prescription drug, start eating right and moving more today, because it is never too late!”


The heart is also affected by reduced estrogen levels.  Before menopause, women tend to have more “good” cholesterol in their bloodstream, and are considered at a lower risk for heart disease than men. That estrogen protection starts to wane with menopause.  But, as dire as it sounds, women can now live almost half of their lives after menopause, and exercise, both aerobic and strength training, help promote a healthy body weight, bone health, heart health, and muscle health.

women doing yoga outside

Find exercise that you enjoy. Doing different types prevent boredom.

 

Q. Starting an exercise program, increasing exercise frequency, and changing the type of exercise you do can be daunting. What is your advice to help us stay fit and fabulous after 50?

 

A. There is no “best” exercise. Find something you like to do, start slow, and just do it. In my community, I’ve seen older adults go crazy for pickleball, and people who haven’t exercised in 20 years are showing up to play this fun sport. It might also be helpful to join a YMCA or a gym that caters to older adults; many people get free or reduced YMCA membership with their Medicare supplemental insurance but never take advantage of it. And, if that doesn’t work, find a friend or a fitness buddy to walk with.

Food & Fitness after 50

Q. How important is maintaining strength and agility as we age with regards to independence and quality of life?

 

I can’t say it enough: Keeping our muscles strong, and staying flexible and agile can help prevent falls, fractures, and metabolic diseases (like diabetes). My goals include traveling, and being able to lift my suitcase to get it into the overhead bin on a plane! I also plan to be able to haul a 50-pound bag of dog food into my shopping cart, my car, and into the house to feed my two big dogs! Those tasks define functional fitness for me in my late 60s!  I am also realistic and I know things can happen to my body. When an injury or illness comes along, chances are, you will recover faster and easier if you are fit!

yogurt topped with lingonberries, blackberries and fresh fig helps support bone health

Yogurt is a convenient, versatile, protein-packed food, and it also promotes a healthy digestive system and strong bones to help you stay fit and fabulous after 50.

 

Q. Protein is getting a lot of attention these days.  Should older people eat more protein than the current suggested intake?

 

A. Researchers have identified something called “age-related anabolic resistance,” thought to be caused by less sensitive signaling pathways that lead to a slower muscle-making ability. So, older adults who are strength training need more protein than the current recommendation, and protein should be distributed throughout the day to maintain or build muscle.

While protein needs vary, I think an easy way to look at it is to recommend about 30 grams of protein per meal (a smaller person might need less 20-25, and a larger person trying to build muscle might need more, 30-40 grams) every day. I would also suggest a nighttime snack with protein, such as a half-cup of cottage cheese, two one-ounce string cheeses, or a small bowl of cereal and milk to “feed” your muscles while sleeping.

Tips to stay fit and fabulous after 50

How to Eat to Beat Digestive Problems

Today’s topic: gut health. I know that gut health is not a topic typically brought up in polite conversation. Well, maybe it should be. If you’re among the millions of Americans who suffer with uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms on a regular basis, you’ll want to know how to eat to beat digestive problems. See what Kate Scarlata, RDN, LDN, the co-author of The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step, A Personalized Plan to Relieve the Symptoms of IBS and Other Digestive Disorders, has to say about getting relief.

The Low-Fodmap Diet, Step by Step

Irritable bowel syndrome and the low FODMAP diet

One in four of us have tummy trouble on a regular basis, and an estimated 25 to 45 million Americans suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  

IBS causes gas, bloating, cramping, pain and altered bowel function.

The low-FODMAP way of eating is based on an approach created by researchers at Monash University in Australia. According to Scarlata, research shows that up to 75% of people with IBS can get relief from their symptoms by following a low-FODMAP diet.

A low-FODMAP eating plan may also benefit those with other GI conditions, such as celiac disease (along with a gluten-free eating plan.)

One in four Americans suffer from tummy trouble.

One in four Americans suffer from tummy trouble.

 

When it comes to digestive woes, the authors know what they are talking about. In addition to providing the latest research about personalizing a FODMAP plan and 130 delicious recipes, Kate, and her co-author and recipe developer Dede Wilson, discuss their experiences in the book. Kate had a major intestinal resection nearly 23 years ago that resulted in debilitating digestive symptoms.  Dede was diagnosed with IBS in 1990.  Both have successfully used the low-FODMAP diet to manage their issues.

Here’s more from my interview with Kate.

What are FODMAPS?

FODMAPs are a group of certain carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) found in higher levels in many everyday foods, such as apples, garlic, traditional yogurt (not Greek), and products made with wheat. Because some people can’t properly digest them, FODMAPS can pull water into the small intestine, and they are rapidly consumed by gut microbes (the bacteria present in the gut), which results in excessive gas production. If you have a sensitive gut, water and gas can contribute to symptoms of bloating, alteration in bowel habits, and pain.  Additionally, the microbes that feed on FODMAPs create compounds that may also play a role in the symptoms of digestive distress.

peanuts and walnuts are allowed on the low-FODMAP eating plan

Peanuts and walnuts are on the low-FODMAP food list.

Why did you write a book about FODMAPS? 

I co-wrote the The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step because I wanted IBS patients to have an easy-to-understand approach to following the low FODMAP diet.  I have created ways to make the approach less daunting and realistic through my work with thousands of patients to implement the low-FODMAP diet.

The most important point about the low-FODMAP approach is that is it a three-part nutritional intervention. The first part is a two to six-week elimination phase where high-FODMAP foods are taken out of the diet.  The second part is the challenge, or reintroduction, phase. During this phase, FODMAPs are systematically added back to the diet to help you identify which FODMAP sources trigger symptoms, and which FODMAPs do not. The third phase is the integration phase, when tolerated FODMAP foods are slowly added back to the diet.

The goal of the low-FODMAP approach is to eat the most varied and enjoyable diet as possible while maintaining good symptom control. However, balance is important. Cutting out too many foods on the low-FODMAP diet may also reduce some healthy microbes in the gut.  We encourage the challenge and integration phases of the low-FODMAP diet so that you can follow an eating plan with as much variety as possible to maintain symptom relief and keep your gut healthy.

chocolate chunk cookies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies are on the low-FODMAP diet menu! You’ll find the recipe in book.

Why are digestive disorders increasing?

In my opinion, we are seeing an increase in digestive issues due to a a variety of reasons including the use of antibiotics and antimicrobial soaps, high fructose corn syrup (a concentrated source of FODMAPs) and food additives. For example, emulsifiers in highly processed foods such as ice cream, salad dressing, and mayonnaise, cause gut inflammation and altered gut microbes in animal studies.

Pollution, stress, and other factors also alter and disturb the balance of microbes that inhabit our gut and support health.


Read: What your gut bacteria say about your health


Do you think it’s difficult for people to be properly diagnosed with IBS and other digestive disorders? 

In America, talking about gut health is often viewed as taboo. Although our views on talking about it is slowly changing for the better, many patients would rather suffer in silence than address their symptoms. A recent study found that primary care doctors fail to ask about GI symptoms quite often as well during physical exams, which further compounds the problem.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), how exciting is the evidence about the effects of what you eat on digestive health and overall wellbeing? 

I would say we are at about a 10+ in this area! The evidence continues to mount daily that the gut is the window to health.

What we eat impacts the trillions of microbes that live in our intestine. We know these microbes affect our chances for chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, non alcoholic liver disease, and depression.

It’s a very exciting time to be a dietitian interested in gut health. I truly believe all dietitians should be watching the research closely so that they can best communicate findings to patients and other consumers.

There are so many new studies looking at how FODMAPs may affect health. A 2017 study showed that when breastfeeding moms of infants with colic decreased their FODMAP intake, the infants’ colic symptoms decreased.

While more research is needed about the effect of mom’s diet on colic, the study offers hope to parents. Another interesting study looked at how the low-FODMAP diet may help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can give rise to chronic conditions including heart disease and cancer.


Click here for tips about how to discuss your digestive issues with your doctor


The Low-Fodmap diet book

13 Holiday Survival Tips from Nutrition Pros

It’s baaaack! The holiday season is fun, but overeating, drinking too much, and skimping on sleep is draining.  I speak from experience, of course, as my own self-care often takes a backseat to entertaining, cleaning, and shopping for gifts.  If you’re in the same boat, read on for 13 holiday survival tips from nutrition pros to help you thrive and stay energized.

Place setting Lenox china with holly and gold rim on table decorated for the holidays.

What to do when you struggle with the urge to overeat holiday foods

Ellie Krieger, MS RDN, TV personality and award-winning cookbook author:

At a holiday buffet, before you dig in, scan and plan. Check out everything that is being served and decide which options look best to you and which to pass up. Grab a plate and fill it mostly with healthy options (vegetables like crudite and salads, and healthy proteins like shrimp cocktail or chicken skewers) plus small portions of one or two must-have indulgent dishes. This way you will leave the party satisfied, not overstuffed.

Lindsay Livingston, RD, blogger at www.theleangreenbean.com:

Don’t put holiday foods off limits. In my experience it only serves to make you want them more. Instead, focus on moderation, and when you do choose to indulge, make sure you’re not doing it mindlessly. Sit down, focus on what you’re eating, chew slowly and enjoy the treat! You may find you’ll be completely satisfied with just a small amount!

decorated holiday cookies

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go:

The holidays are filled with all kinds of delicious food. Instead of going to any extreme– whether it’s avoiding everything or indulging in it all — choose two or three high-calorie dishes that you really love and serve yourself two heaping tablespoons of each. This way you can enjoy the amazing holiday food without feeling guilty for going overboard.

Katie Morford, MS, RD, blogger at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook:

For me, overdoing it leads to less enjoyment, not more, since it inevitably ends with a belly ache or a hangover. Yuck. I definitely indulge in holiday treats, but I’m choosy about which ones, and I keep the portions moderate. I also keep tabs on the cocktails, because it’s easy to lose track. I sometimes try to kill two birds with one stone and combine my exercise with holiday socializing, such as taking a walk with family after a holiday brunch, going ice skating with the kids, or taking the sled out for a spin.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap:

I still enjoy my favorite holiday desserts on actual holidays, but for all the days in-between, I satisfy my sweet tooth with dessert flavored teas. They have no calories and come in all sorts of delish seasonal flavors. Right now I’m loving: Chocolate mint, apple cinnamon and gingerbread. Do they really taste like dessert? No. Do they help control my sweet tooth? Yes. Plus, dessert teas make a great host/hostess gift!


Don’t be afraid to say no to holiday activities that are particularly stressful! 


 

glass of tea with no milk and a mint sprig

How to take a break from holiday stress 

Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition, The Domar Center for Mind Body Health:

Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s not necessary to attend every holiday event you’re invited to, nor is it your responsibility to host a party if it’s too much for you. Saying no allows you more time to relax, sleep, exercise, and cook healthy foods, and to get other holiday tasks accomplished. Plus, when you avoid some seasonal parties, you’ll probably eat fewer higher-calorie foods during December.

woman drinking coffee

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MS, RD, owner, BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It:

To beat stress I highly recommend taking a bath with a side of candles and music. When was the last time you took to the tub? We all lead such hectic lives that often include a quick dip in and out of the shower in the morning before moving on to a busy day. By taking the time to submerge in warm water, you’ll sooth sore muscles and relax your mind. You’re worth this indulgent break!

Janice Bissex, MS, RDN, Cookbook Author and Holistic Cannabis Pracitioner at JannabisWellness.com:

To reduce stress, get outside every day during the holidays for a brisk walk. Bundle up if you need to and get moving! I also suggest yoga, whether it’s power yoga or more of a meditative class.

mandarin orange, cinnamon stick, and pine tree sprig

What to do when your eating is out control 

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, blogger at Real Mom Nutrition:

Make your home a safe haven. You can’t control what will be at parties, at your in-law’s house, or at the office. You know there will be dishes of candies and plates of cookies and buffets of rich foods and generally loads of goodies elsewhere. At home, make tempting healthy foods, like washed whole fruit, readily available–the fruit bowl on the counter is truly effective!

Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University and author of Nutrition & You:

Move up the holiday dinners to earlier in the day. Having your bigger meal during the earlier part of the day can help you avoid becoming so ravenous at the end of the day that you end up eating anything that isn’t moving. Eating earlier means you can also go for a walk after the meal, and before the sun sets.

Elisa Zied, MS, CDN, author of Younger Next Week:

How I survive and thrive during the holidays is by trying to stick to my regular eating and fitness routine as often as possible. When I treat myself, I keep the portion of indulgences such as cookies, cake and chocolate small. I also keep guilt out of the equation, because it’s a useless emotion. I also make sure to exercise during the holidays—and try to engage family and friends in physical activities so we can stay fit together. I walk outside often, even if it’s chilly, and try to fit in things like stair climbing, jumping jacks, lunges, squats and crunches whenever I can. Staying active aids digestion, keeps me feeling energized and strong and keeps stress at bay. It also helps me feel more productive and stokes my creativity so I can write better.

mother and young son playing in the snow

How to drink less alcohol during the holidays 

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Director of Nutrition, WebMD:

Nobody has to know what you’re drinking. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a mocktail, such as sparkling water with sliced lime. When a drink looks like a cocktail, no one notices, and at the end of the night you will have reduced your alcohol and calorie intake by half. The best part is that you wake up in the morning feeling terrific because you didn’t ‘tie one on,’ and looking good because you’re well-hydrated. It’s a win-win!


Get: 13 Delicious Mocktail Recipes 


oranges-210618_1920

 

Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, author of  Body Kindness:

Forgive yourself! Just like every other human, you sometimes make mistakes. We tend to feel guilty over things we would tell our friends is no big deal. Let all the comfort, joy, and happiness in during the holidays; savor the moment and leave your calorie counters at home. Count hugs and special memories instead!

 

Wild Blueberries: Small But Fierce

A few years ago, I went on one on the best work trips of my life. I drove five hours to northern Maine to learn more about small, but fierce, wild blueberries. I already knew wild blueberries were delicious, and I learned a lot more about wild blueberries’ benefits when I saw for myself how they are grown, harvested, and packaged.

Note: The Wild Blueberry Commission sponsored my trip, and I thank them because I’ve never forgotten it. 

Wild blueberry plants

Tough weather conditions actually produce delicious and nutritious wild blueberries! (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

How wild blueberries grow

If wild blueberries had a theme song it would have to be “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”

Wild blueberry plants are tough. Any living thing that’s been thriving for 10,000 years in a desolate location called The Barrens of Maine, and in Eastern Canada and Quebec, is hardy stock. Wild blueberries love the thin, acidic soil found in such cold, harsh climates. Go figure!

Unlike the larger, cultivated blueberries that are available fresh and frozen, it’s not possible to plant wild blueberry plants, which grow low to the ground.  Wild blueberries spread naturally, and they have never been modified by humans.

a field of wild blueberry plants

Wild blueberries ready for harvesting. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

The nutrition benefits of wild blueberries vs. cultivated blueberries

Are wild blueberries better for you?

A cup of either type of blueberries qualifies as a serving of fruit. Wild blueberries, and their larger, cultivated cousins supply good nutrition, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  In addition, the skin on both types of blueberries provide beneficial plant compounds called phytonutrients.

Eating foods rich in phytonutrients helps support brain health. Phytonutrient intake is also linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. Wild blueberries are smaller than the cultivated kind, so you get more of the skin in a serving, and a greater number and variety of phytonutrients.

Larger, cultivated blueberries are bred for a certain sweetness and size. In addition, they must be able to withstand shipping. Wild blueberries are highly perishable, and once picked, nearly every single berry is frozen individually within about 24 hours.  Freezing wild blueberries right after harvesting preserves their taste, and their nutrition, which is the same as fresh wild blueberries.

Freezing these delectable dark blue berries means there’s enough to feed my year-round obsession! Here are some ways I enjoy frozen wild blueberries:

• Microwave 1 cup for 50 seconds, then mix with plain Greek yogurt. No sugar necessary!

• I swap them for raisins in this recipe.

• I make a Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beet Smoothie.

You’re probably wondering: beans in a smoothie? I wanted a smoothie that was different than what I usually make and was a mixture of wild blueberries and vegetables (beans are vegetables, too). You can leave the beans out if you think they are too weird, but trust, me, you can’t taste them, and they add fiber and other nutrients.

 


Pro Tip

Rim the glass to dress up the drink, especially if you’re serving it as an alternative to cocktails.  Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 to 2 teaspoons of beet juice in a small bowl. Invert the rim of the glass into the sugar mixture, rotating to cover the rim. Shake off the excess sugar.


 

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beet Smoothie

Delicious and nutritious smoothie ready in 5 minutes!
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beans, beets, wildblueberries, wildblueberrysmoothie
Servings: 1
Calories: 292kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small cooked peeled packaged beet (Save 1-2 teaspoons of beet juice if you're rimming the glass.)
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup white beans, drained if canned
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • Place the beet, wild blueberries, beans, yogurt, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour into prepared glass. Top with a few frozen wild blueberries and enjoy!

Notes

Per serving: 292 calories, 2 grams fat (0 saturated fat), 6 milligrams cholesterol, 312 milligrams sodium, 54 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 19 grams protein, 234 milligrams calcium, 3 milligrams iron

wild blueberry, beet, and been smoothie

 

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