Should You Weigh Yourself Every Day?

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I’ve been on a lot of low-calorie diets, mostly as a teenager, and my dietary deprivation always involved frequent tracking of my “progress” on the bathroom scale.  I felt accomplished when I dropped a pound or two, and terrible when I didn’t.  It was clear that my self-esteem was affected by the numbers on the scale, and I didn’t like the feeling. As a registered dietitian counseling people about weight control, I made stepping on the scale optional.

In my personal and professional experience, the scale can leave emotional scars. That’s why I was a bit surprised by an article in USA Today that suggests weighing yourself daily is helpful for losing weight and preventing weight gain.

That conclusion may be based on the results of several research studies, but it does not apply to everyone, and certainly not to children.

As Laura Cipullo, RD, author of The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, puts it in the article, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers and start to identify your self-worth with what’s on the scale.

If you struggle with disordered eating, weighing yourself daily may not be a good idea. In fact, the studies mentioned in USA Today excluded people with a history of disordered eating, who may be more prone to obsessing about weight and respond to falling or rising numbers on the scale with extreme dieting or binging.

I would like to think that I’ve made peace with the scale, even though I weigh myself more often now than in the past 20 or 30 years. I use the scale to confirm that I must get back on track before the pounds really add up, not to deride myself for veering off course.

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with weighing ourselves. Do you weigh yourself on a regular basis?

 

 

 

What Health Experts Resolve to Do in 2016

 

 

While I like the idea of a fresh start, I’m not really one for making new year’s resolutions. I wondered if other food, nutrition, and health experts felt the same way, so I asked around. Truthfully, some of their answers surprised me! Here’s what they said.

Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet

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Personally I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I have always held the belief that there is “no time like the present” to make changes or improvements in your life. And that no matter when you begin, you should gradually ease into these changes in order to create a new habit. It doesn’t matter how fast you get there, what matters is as long as you stay.

Registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak’s goals for food, fitness, and health in 2016

Catherine Katz, PhD, Founder of Cuisinicity

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As I am reflecting back on this past year and looking toward 2016, my thoughts keep coming back to Carly Simon’s song “These are the good old days…” It may sound corny and perhaps even trite but I take this message quite literally. Twenty years from now, we will be reminiscing of these times, these days we are living now and I want to live them fully cognizant of how meaningful they are, right now. What this means to me personally is just to keep cherishing my family with all the wonderful people and furry friends in it. What this means for Cuisinicity is that I not only want to keep doing what I have been doing but I also want to pay it forward to our beautiful planet even more mindfully than I already have. So, my new year resolution is to contribute to the sustainability of our environment and to the well-being of other species by creating even more plant-based recipes. In that spirit, I have expanded my repertoire of dishes and added a new Vegan category in my Recipe index on Cuisinicity.

Six food trends to help you eat better in 2016

Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach®
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I set resolutions because they’re a powerful tool to plan and get psyched for a year of achievement, happiness and success. My thinking changes this time of year. I review what I’ve achieved in the previous year and consider where I want those completions to lead me next. Rather then setting resolutions around what I should or shouldn’t do, I think about what I really want and commit to meaningful resolutions I can accomplish.

How to give up your inner critic this year

Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month-By-Month Guide to Losing Weight while Living Your Life.

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After years of working to help people live healthier lives I’ve realized that it’s really about what you do day in and day out on a consistent basis that yields the best results. So, I don’t usually make New Years resolutions. I used to in the past but I’ve found that after a few weeks I always seemed to forget about them. Instead, I have an ongoing loose list of goals that I try to focus on and tweak as needed no matter what time of year it is.

Feeling adventurous? Seven fitness trends to try in 2016

Holley Grainger, MS, RD, Owner, Holley Grainger Nutrition 

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While I’m not one to set hard-core resolutions each time the calendar year turns, I do like to use this time to reflect on the previous year to help me reset and create goals (business, personal, etc.) for the upcoming year. As a full time work-from-home mom of two, this year I’m hoping to be more intentional and mindful about the time I spend with my family, the time I spend on myself, and the time I dedicate to my company.

Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, CSP, LMNT, writer for Stirlist.com

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I actually do make New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s a fun way to bring in the new year. I think spending some time reflecting back on the year is a healthy thing. It helps you evaluate what went right, what didn’t go so well, and how you can do better. I’m not a fan of lofty New Year’s resolutions because those can cause feelings of guilt and frustration. This year my New Year’s resolutions include making some changes in my business and I’m also going to pick up my ukelele more than once a month!

 

Better-for-You Chocolate Holiday Treats

I eat dark chocolate nearly every day, and especially during the holidays. Combining chocolate with fruit and nuts satisfies my cravings and improves nutrition. My friends and family seem to like the pairings, too.  They’re always so appreciative when I make these super simple, better-for-you treats as holiday gifts and for when I entertain.

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How to make healthier holiday treats

There’s no formal recipe for my healthier holiday treats. For each batch, melt 10 ounces of dark chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips)  in a double boiler. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to make room for the other ingredients.dsc_0460

When the chocolate has melted, add 2 cups whole or chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or a combination directly to the double boiler, mix thoroughly, and drop by large tablespoons onto waxed paper.

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Top with festive sprinkles or shredded coconut, if desired.

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I prepare several batches of treats with a variety of ingredients.dsc_0050

My latest obsession is macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, and white chocolate. Yum!

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When I need to be mindful of nut allergy, I make the dried fruit treats first and package them up so that they don’t come into contact with nuts. These are a raisin and coconut combo:

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For the apricots or other whole fruit, dip them into the chocolate half way.

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Allow the treats to set for about 2 to 3 hours before packaging.

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Would it be better to forgo the chocolate and eat plain nuts and dried fruit? Yes, that would be perfect, but not nearly as much fun.  And I think my friends and family would be disappointed!

Happy holidays!

 

13 Holiday Survival Tips from Nutrition Pros

Holiday festivities are fun, but they drain your energy when you overeat, drink too much, and skimp on sleep. I speak from experience, of course. As December wears on, I am less motivated to take care of myself in favor of baking, entertaining, cleaning, and shopping for gifts.  Most of us, including me, could use some support to make this month better. I asked my nutrition expert friends for inspiration to make it to New Year’s Day with no regrets about my behavior, and here’s what they told me.

What to do when your eating is out control 

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

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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.

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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.

Quick tip: If you’re hosting a buffet dinner, guide your guests to healthier eating by placing the lowest-calorie foods first in line. People tend to pile their plates with the first foods they encounter. 

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

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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.

What to do when you want to drink less alcohol 

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

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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!

Quick tip: To drink less, don’t serve yourself more than a half glass of wine at a time. Sip alcoholic beverages from tall, thin glasses because they appear fuller and you’re less likely to over-pour. 

What to do when you’ve gone overboard Continue reading

Delicious, Nutritious Holiday Recipes

None of us will get through the holidays with a “perfect” eating record, and trying is pointless, anyway. While indulgence is the name of the game during December, preparing one or two better-for-you dishes to have at parties means you’re never completely at the mercy of high-calorie holiday fare. Here are 20 holiday dishes that we nutrition experts depend on to stay healthy and energized during this hectic season. Enjoy!

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

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A few weeks ago, I got a shipment from my friends at The National Mango Board so I made Mango and Black Bean Salsa from book, MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better to share with you.

The salsa is festive, and nutritious.  Mangos are bursting with more than 20 vitamins and minerals and, along with the black beans, they lend the salsa a hefty amount of fiber, which is often in short supply during the holiday feeding frenzy.

Tote Mango and Black Bean Salsa to a holiday party to serve with toasted whole grain Naan or pita triangles, serve as a side dish with roasted or grilled meat, chicken, or fish, or have on hand as a healthy snack.

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups fresh mango, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve with toasted whole wheat Naan or pita bread cut into triangles.

Per serving (1/4 cup without bread):

69 calories

0 grams fat

199 milligrams sodium

14 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fiber

3 grams protein

10 milligrams calcium

More on the Menu

Here are 19 better-for-you foods for a healthier holiday season.

Appetizers and Dips

Healthy Creamy Corn & Avocado Dip from Abbey Sharp, RD.

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Roasted Carrot Hummus from The Meal Makeover Moms.

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Eggplant Pecan Pate from Sharon Palmer, RD.

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Abalone Cocktail from Christy Wilson, RD.

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Sweet Potato Polenta Bites with Thyme-Marinated Mushrooms from Kara Lydon, RD, LDN.

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Quick and Easy Lentil Feta Bruschetta from The Spicy RD.

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Main Dishes

Savory Spinach and Feta Pie from Katie Morford, MS, RD.

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Roasted Turkey Breast from Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN.

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Smoked Firehouse Chili from Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD.

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Bacon Mushroom Cauliflower Risotto from Danielle Cushing, RD.

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Salads and Side Dishes

Carrots, Dates and Mint Salad from ‪Dixya Bhattarai‪, RDN.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Katie Mora, MS, RD.

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Golden Beet Salad from Amy Bruursema Getman, RD.

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Warm Spelt Berry with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette from Steph McKercher, MS, RDN.

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Curried Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Pepitas from Katie Cavuto, MS, RD.

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Desserts

Apple Quinoa Bake from Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN.

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Cherry Pecan Baked Pears by Allison Stevens, RD.

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Orange Cranberry Tart from Judy Barbe, MS, RD.

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Vegan Cannoli Dip from Emily Cope, MS, RDN.

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What You Should Know About Eating Meat

Are you struggling to understand recent reports about beef, bacon, and hot dogs? You’re not alone.  Here’s how make sense of the science, and my favorite way to keep meat on the menu.

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The Beef with Meat 

A couple of weeks ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report suggesting that eating more processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham, is linked to an increased risk for colorectal cancer, the second leading cancer killer in the United States.

In addition, the IARC said a higher intake of red meat, including beef, pork, veal, and lamb, is probably carcinogenic, but the evidence isn’t as strong as for the processed kind. Poultry and fish were not fingered in this report as problematic.

Scary, right? At first glance, yes. But some perspective is in order.

Risk is relative.  While the report indicates that greater meat intake results in greater cancer risk, it’s important to note that about 34,000 cancer deaths yearly around the world are linked to higher intakes of processed meat, while 600,000 are attributable to alcohol. Smoking cigarettes causes one million cancer deaths a year worldwide.

It’s OK to Eat Meat

If you like meat, it’s OK to have it as part of a balanced eating plan.  The question is what type and how much meat is safer to eat.

While the IACR report says the risk of cancer is linked to the amount of red meat consumed, it doesn’t provide a specific level to include in the diet. However, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) suggests limiting red meat to 18 ounces (cooked) weekly.

The IACR doesn’t ask people to stop eating processed meat, but it does makes it clear that lowering consumption can reduce the risk for cancer. The AICR suggests avoiding ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs, sausages, and other processed meat, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Processed meats contain nitrate salts that form powerful carcinogens called nitrosamines in the body.

Does that mean the occasional hot dog, ham sandwich, or bacon with eggs on the weekend causes cancer? No, but I consider processed meats, including cold cuts, as “sometimes” foods rather than everyday fare, especially for children.

The upside to eating less meat is the opportunity to include more plant foods, which are rich in compounds that help to ward off cancer and other chronic conditions. Whole grains including quinoa, freekeh, and farro, are filling and are higher in protein than many other grains. Adding vegetables to meat dishes reduces meat intake and stretches your food dollar, too.

Mushrooms and Meat: A Perfect Pair

Mushrooms blend well with meat, in part because they take on the flavors in the dish, including that of the meat.

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I substitute an equal amount of cooked mushrooms for half the beef in many of my favorite recipes, including Mushroom Burgers, Mushroom Pizza, and Almost Lasagna. Just chop the mushrooms to match the consistency of the meat, cook, and blend into the recipe. Here’s one of my favorite beef stew recipes made over with more mushrooms and less meat. Enjoy!

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Beef and Mushroom Stew

Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 pound boneless beef bottom round roast or other stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon salt

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried thyme leaves

2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (you can use an equal amount of red wine and broth if you like)

16 ounces sliced baby portabello mushrooms or any other type of mushroom

2 cups chopped carrots or baby carrots

1 cup frozen peas

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and black pepper. Add the meat and coat it with the flour mixture.

In a large stockpot, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, add the meat to the pan and brown. Remove the meat from the pan. Season meat with salt. Reserve.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the stockpot. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat or until onions have softened. Add 1 cup of the beef broth and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until the browned bits attached to the bottom and sides of the stockpot are dissolved. Stir in the remaining broth.

Return the meat to the stockpot. Stir in the mushrooms, cover the stockpot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/4 hours. Add the carrots to the stockpot. Cover, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes or until the beef and carrots are fork-tender. Stir in the peas and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Per serving:

256 calories

8 grams fat

283 milligrams sodium

20 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fiber

27 grams protein

40 milligrams calcium

 

 

3-Ingredient Broccoli Cheese Calzone

Warning: These are possibly the worst food photos of one of the most delicious meals I make on a regular basis without a recipe. Here’s why I’m posting them, and the recipe.

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Last week, I was making one of my go-to, get-it-done, dinners (which also happens to be delicious) and I decided to document the process.  There was no natural light in the kitchen, and I was too tired to style the food. The result: instructional photos, not food porn.

If you like pretty pictures of food, you may want to look away now. If you’d like to get dinner on the table using just three ingredients (OK, four, if you count the olive oil), and you can tolerate some reality, keep reading.

Let’s get started.

You need 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided; 10 cups of chopped 1-inch broccoli florets; 1 pound of prepared white or whole wheat pizza dough; and 16 ounces of block cheddar cheese. That’s it.

Heat oven to 400˚F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Steam the broccoli.  While the broccoli is cooking, slice cheddar cheese into ¼-inch slices. (You can substitute packaged shredded cheese.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle of about 10” long by 16” wide.   Place half the cheese on the pizza dough lengthwise to within a half inch of the edge of the dough. The cheese forms a barrier between the dough and the broccoli to keep the calzone from getting soggy.

 

When broccoli is fork-tender, rinse with cool water. Drain well and blot with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Arrange broccoli evenly over the cheese.

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Cover the broccoli with the remaining cheese.

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Fold dough in half over the broccoli and cheese filling. Seal edges with tines of a fork. Using your hands, gently scoop up the calzone and transfer it to the baking sheet. Brush with remaining olive oil.

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Cook for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Allow the calzone to rest for at least five minutes before cutting. Makes at least 8 servings. Serve with fruit and milk for a balanced meal.

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If there’s any leftover, warm for about 7 minutes in a 300˚F oven, or for about 30 seconds in the microwave. The oven is better, but I’m usually in too much of a hurry to wait!

Here’s the nutrition information using regular pizza dough. Whole wheat pizza dough will increase the fiber. Use reduced-fat cheddar cheese, such as Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar (no, they are not a client), to reduce calories and fat.  (Serves 8)

Per serving:

399 calories

22 grams fat

825 milligrams sodium

32 grams carbohydrate

5 grams fiber

22 grams protein

460 milligrams calcium

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