Healthier Eating On the Go

According to the book, Fast Food Nation, 1 in 4 Americans eat out everyday. Studies also show that those who eat out more, weigh more. With that said, I know there are times when we all need food on-the-go or we’re just flat out busy …. so here are some quick tips on how you can learn to tweek your fast food choices to make them the healthiest possible.

Make careful menu selections: Stay away from dishes labeled Deep-fried, Pan-fried, Battered, Breaded, Creamy, Crispy, Scalloped, Alfredo, Cream Sauce, and Super-Sized. Instead choose foods labeled Grilled, Broiled, Roasted, Steamed, Baked, Whole Grain, or Braised.

Undress Your Food: Beware of calorie & fat packed salad dressings, spreads, cheeses, sour cream, etc. Don’t be afraid to special order or make special requests. Have bread without butter. Ask for sandwiches without mayo. Dressings, sauces, & gravies on the side & ask for extra lettuce, tomato, & onions instead of bacon & cheese.

Avoid Buffets: Even salad bars can be calorie loaded. By the time you add cheeses, croutons, bacon bits, & high fat dressings you are up near the calories of a burger and fries. Instead opt for fresh fruits & vegetables and skip the extra toppings. Before going back for 2nds & 3rds be sure you really are still hungry.

Beware of Soda: Soft Drinks are the single most source of calories in the American diet according to The Center of Science in the Public Interest. 1- 32 oz. Cola has 310 empty calories & 85 grams of sugar. Switch to water with lemon/lime, diet drinks, flavored water, unsweetened ice teas, or non-fat milk.

Enjoy your Meal: Pay attention to what you eat & savor each bite. Don’t eat in front of the television, don’t feel like you have to eat everything on your plate, & don’t eat right from the bag or box.

Moderation is Key: The average dinner meal at a restaurant contains over 1,000 calories & 60 grams of fat. So order a small or kids size, share an entrée, or put half your meal in a to-go box at the beginning of your meal. If bread or chips are offered as a starter, don’t ask for a refill & use smaller plates.
Also be sure to check out ‘The Stop & Go Fast Food Nutrition Guide,’ it can be downloaded free by clicking here. It’s an easy, color coded tool to aide in making healthy fast food choices. Take charge and make healthier fast food choices!


Getting Your Daily Fiber

Most Americans only get about half of the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber each day. High fiber foods help with digestion and help fight certain cancers. Fiberous foods help you stay fuller longer so they may aide in weight loss.

Use these simple tips to help reach your fiber goals.
  • Scan for Bran- Look for “bran” and “whole wheat” on product packages and ingredient labels.
  • Grab the Whole Food- Munch on a whole piece of fruit, in place of drinking a glass of juice. The skin is where the fiber is, so you’ll get the vitamins and the fiber too.
  • Savor the Skins- Eat fruit and vegetables with the skin on. Eating the skin helps to bump up the fiber, plus it provides texture and a bonus of other nutrients.
  • Screen for Beans- Replace your typical side dishes with high-fiber dried peas and beans, such as kidney, pinto, lentils, or black-eyed peas. These fiber-packed legumes make it easier to meet daily fiber goals. (1/2 cup canned red kidney beans = 8 grams fiber)
  • Go Nuts- Jazz up salads, vegetables, snacks, and desserts with almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, or soy nuts. Nuts and seeds add fiber and add a crunch to foods. (1 oz. roasted almonds = 3 grams fiber)
  • Be Berry Wild- Choose raspberries, blackberries, and boysenberries to add variety to your cereals, yogurts, and ice creams. These berries have twice the fiber of many other fruit selections. (1/2 cup fresh raspberries = 4 grams fiber)
  • Bring on the Brown- Use brown rice instead of white. Switch to whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat breads and whole-grain crackers instead of regular white versions. (1 cup brown rice = 3+ grams fiber)
  • Skip the Chips- Select snacks that are a good source of fiber. Instead of potato chips, go for low-fat popcorn, whole-grain pretzels, or oven-crisped whole-wheat pita crisps. (3 cups popcorn = 4 grams fiber)
  • Drink Up- Water is a healthy beverage choice – especially as you eat more fiber. Your body needs more water to help process the added fiber you eat. Aim for eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day.


100 Push Up Challenge

I have started this challenge once before....  and made it for a quite a few weeks, but I never made it through the whole program. I hate not accomplishing something that I started on.  So I am going to re-start the

and I want to Challenge ALL of you to join in on the challenge.  It doesn't matter how many push-ups you can do now... whether 1 or 100, take the challenge and we can all become stronger together. 
Plus it doesn't take a fancy gym or fancy equipment. Just self-motivation and determination.  Plus it is a 3 day a week program for 6 weeks. How easy is that?

Click here to take the Initial test. You can then follow the week by week program to increase your number of push-ups.  So get going and let me know how things go!


How Much Sugar??

I am a visual learner... I see things visually and seem to remember them so much better that way.  So when trying to figure out how much sugar I am eating I like to use this little trick.

Think of Sugar grams in regards to Sugar cubes.
One Sugar Cube = just over 4 grams of sugar.  

Would you eat 10 sugar cubes??? Well that's what just 40 grams of sugar is (that is about how much sugar is in just a 12 oz. can of coke.)
So what I like to do is look at the label and see how many grams of sugar the food contains--- I then divide it by 4 to get the number of sugar cubes it would be. I immediately realize much sugar I am actually eating.  Please check out all theses awesome pics at www.Sugarstacks.com.  They have so so so many pics of every day foods(treats, beverages, breakfast foods, smoothies, fruits, and more) and their sugar content.
Here are a few examples.

 Coca Cola
 -12 oz (355 ml) Can
 Sugars, total: 39g
 Calories, total: 140

 -20 oz (590 ml) Bottle
 Sugars, total: 65g
 Calories, total: 240

 -1 Liter (34 oz) Bottle
 Sugars, total: 108g
 Calories, total: 400

Yoplait Yogurt, Strawberry
 6 oz Container
 Sugars, total: 27g
 Calories, total: 170

 1 bag (2.6 oz)
 Sugars, total: 47g
 Calories, total: 250

Häagen-Dazs Frozen Yogurt, Vanilla
 1 serving (1/2 cup/106g)
 Sugars, total: 22g
 Calories, total: 200

 1 pint (424g)
 Sugars, total: 88g
 Calories, total: 800

Baby Carrots 
 1 serving (8 carrots/85g)
 Sugars, total: 4g
 Calories, total: 30

 Jamba Juice Sunrise Banana Berry
 16 oz drink
 Sugars, total: 59g
 Calories, total: 280

McDonald's Oreo McFlurry
 12 oz cup
 Sugars, total: 73g
 Calories, total: 550

 hope these have helped you visualize how much sugar you are actually eating from day to day. Thanks again to www.sugarstacks.com.  I know it makes me think twice about shoving such goodies in my mouth when I really think about it.  Trust me sometimes it works for me and sometimes I go right on ahead and consume.  Remember Moderation in All Things.


Sandwich Thins

As a follow up to yesterdays post on breads I thought I would share with you another fantastic alternative to your typical slices of bread.  

The possibilities are endless on how these can be used..... they are great just out of the bag, toasted, or used as a replacement for buns on your hamburger.  

This is why I love them:
  • For two slices they have only 100 calories per roll (that's 50 calories a slice--- there aren't many slices of bread that can compete with that). 
  • They are conveniently sliced. 
  • It is 100% whole wheat - there are other flavors but I haven't tried them, so if you do be sure to check the label.
  • They have no high fructose corn syrup... BONUS
  • They have 5 grams of protein.
  • They contain 5 grams of fiber ... not too shabby. 
  • Only 1 gram of fat (no trans fat)
  • And almost more importantly they taste great. 

sorry this is a bit blurry.... but it gives you an idea.

Plus I imagine kids would love these because they have no crusts..... 
The only downfall is that they can be a bit more costly than your typical bread but I heard that they carry them at Costco in larger packages at a pretty good price. 
So go ahead and THINDULGE


Bread & Healthy??

I know how hard buying bread can be.  There are so many options that sound healthy (7-Grain, Wheat, Whole-Grain) but how do you know if it really is a healthy choice.  To make your bread shopping easier here are 4 tips to help get you the healthiest available.  (much of this info was taken from this great article by Lynn Grieger and reviewed by Susan Janoff, MS, RD).

Here are some of the highlights from the article. 
Step 1: Look for the word "100% whole" on the label. Whole grain, whole wheat and stone-ground whole wheat are winners. These products contain the entire grain and all its health benefits. For example. Nature's Own All Natural 9-Grain bread sounds wholesome, but the top ingredients are enriched wheat flour, water and honey, not whole-grain flour. 

Step 2: Read the list of ingredients. The first ingredient listed is present in the largest amount, and in bread products that first ingredient should include the word "whole." If the first ingredient listed contains the word ENRICHED, avoid it....  it doesn't provide all the benefits a whole grain would.

Step 3: Avoid products that are "made with whole grains," which does not always mean whole wheat. The first ingredient in Wonder Made with Whole Grains White Bread is enriched wheat flour. Whole wheat flour doesn't show up until the third ingredient, after water. Do you really want bread that has more water than whole grains?

Step 4: Check the serving size. If you're looking to reduce your calorie intake, choose a bread with slices that weigh less. Example: a slice of Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat weighs 43 grams and has 110 calories, but a slice of its Stoneground 100% Whole Wheat bread weighs in at only 25 grams and 70 calories per slice.  


100 Calories.

Simple Tips to Cut 100 Calories

  • Drink 2  cups of fat free milk instead of 2 cups of whole milk (you still get the same amount of Calcium and Vitamin D)
  • Swap 8 oz. regular soda with 8 oz. diet soda (or even better water)
  • Trade two tablespoons of regular butter or margarine for two tablespoons of light whipped butter or spray butter
  • When having pie or desserts with a crust, take off the bottom crust and don't eat it.
  • Instead of chocolate syrup on an ice cream, use fresh berries or other in-season fruit of your choice as a topping
  • Enjoy salsa rather than cheese dip with tortilla chips
  • Split a small bag of French fries with a friend
  • Sorbet or sherbet is a refreshing alternative to premium ice cream
  • Order thin crust pizza vs. pan or thick crust pizza
  • Order baked potatoes with only one high-calorie topping (butter, sour cream, cheese), not all three
  • Choose minestrone and other broth-based soups over cream-based soups
  • Choose red sauce rather than cream-based sauces on pasta
  • Remove the skin from chicken pieces
  • Follow the low fat directions on the box when making brownies, cakes and cookies
  • Omit or decrease by half the butter or margarine in boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Leave the cheese off of sandwiches and hamburgers
  • Leave 10 French fries uneaten on your next order
  • Eat an open-faced sandwich (eliminate 1 slice of bread)
  • Ask for the salad dressing on the side rather than on your salad
Remember cutting 500 calories a day(from either your diet, or exercise) is the equation for 1 pound weightloss a week.  Every 100 calories count so do the small things that will add up to make a big difference. Your waistline will thank you for it. 


Butternut Squash Soup

It had been awhile since I had had a butternut squash, so while at the grocery store the other day I picked up a Butternut Squash. I happened to be watching the Food Network the next day when I saw Giada make a soup that looked delicious, so I gave it a try. Click here for the recipe.  I thought it turned out pretty good- a little thicker than I thought, but overall tasty.. I did make a few changes. I didn't have sage so instead I added some Thyme . I think when I make it again I will add nutmeg and some cinnamon to give it a bit more spice flavor. I would also add just a bit more water, chicken broth, or milk to make it a little less thick.. just a little though.  Not only was it tasty but super healthy(low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals).

Here's a bit of nutrition info on Butternut Squashes:  The chart below shows the % of each nutrient that you are getting from 1 cup of Winter Squash......

WOW.... In just 1 cup of the butternut squash you are getting 150% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin A(move over carrots).  Vitamin C, Potassium, Fiber, Folate, Omega 3 fatty acids are also in the squash.
Next time you are at the grocery store, grab a butternut squash and try a new recipe.  You too will see how delicious they can be. 


The Biggest Loser.... Before & After

Did you check out the Season Finale of the Biggest Loser 2009?  I can't say that I have been a dedicated follower this entire season but I would catch an episode here and there and it continues to amaze me how hard these individuals work day after day.  They can be a motivation for each of us.  They did it.... now you can do it.... whether 5 lbs. or 100 lbs.  It really is your decision to make a change and do whatever it takes to change your life and reach your goal.

First CONGRATS to Danny for being the winner of the Biggest Loser. Doesn't he look amazing (as do all of them).... and I think what is more important is that now he has a life... a life to live with his family. He lost 55.58% of his starting weight... A total of 239#s.

Second CONGRATS to Rebecca for being the biggest loser AT-HOME winner.  Look at her rockin' body now... 139#s lost.... Awesome.

What I most love is that they all seem so so so happy.
I'm also so excited that Shay(the biggest contestant ever on the Biggest Loser) gets to continue her weight loss journey throughout next season.  Can you imagine getting $1,000 for every pound lost.  I think her current weight is 304#d.... my prediction is that she will be down to 175-180#s at the next weight in.  That would be over $120,000.  Not too shabby.  I guess we will see if she continues to add to her already impressive weight loss.

Click here for all the before and after pics of all the  contestants.
Let's all take the example of these amazing individuals and conquer our weight loss/getting healthy goals.



the winter blahs of EXERCISING.

I know when it starts to get cold outside, I tend to want to stay home, cuddle up in blankets on my couch, drinking hot chocolate, while watching a movie...... but then I think about the common pounds of winter-holiday weight gain that seem to accompany these months, and I don't want to be a part of that.   So here are a few ideas on how you can keep your exercise regimen going and your shape trim these next few months.

1. The most common answer for the winter months is to go to the gym.....  which I encourage and is great, but for many, the gym isn't a feasible option so instead
2. Make your home, your gym: Designate an area and a time every day that you will do your exercises.  There are so many great exercises that you can do at home.
-It may be as simple as jumping jacks. Make a goal to get up to 100 straight jumping jacks as a warmup.  
-Jump rope.... Check out my previous post on why I love the jump rope and how easy it can be..
-Exercise DVDs.... give them a try. What I like to do is put the Workout DVD into my laptop, having it playing next to my TV, while I am watching my favorite TV shows. That way I am doing double duty.  Watching TV and exercising all at once.  I don't feel guilty sitting on the couch being a couch potato, and the workouts seem so much easier and go by so much quicker because my mind is on the TV show... not my exercising.  click here for a few of my fave Workout videos.
-If you have stairs in your house... take advantage of them. I don't have any stairs at my apartment now but where I nanny they have two flights of stairs and I make it a point to go up and down them as much as possible.
-Use exercise equipment like hand weights (or large cans of food if you dont have your own hand weights), stretch bands, weighted balls etc.
3. If you like to swim, find an indoor pool to keep your routine going.
4. When it snows, take advantage of all the calories that you can burn from either playing in the snow.... or shoveling the sidewalks, driveways etc.  This may not be the most fun of ideas but calories burned are calories burned no matter how it is done.  So get out shoveling after the next big storm.  Trust me you will get your workout in.
5. There are lots of Video games now that encourage physical activity. Wii Fit, Dance, Dance Revolution are just a few. Try one out.
6. Enjoy outdoor winter activities; Snowboarding, snowskiing, cross country skiing, sledding...... dont be afraid to bundle up and get out there and try a new activity this winter.

SO NO HIBERNATING THIS WINTER.....   Get active and Stay active. 


Kids & Grocery Shopping.

One of my awesome former classmates at Simmons College in Boston, Jennifer Shea, MS, MPH, RD is now a Corporate Dietitian for a chain of Grocery Stores. She is so fabulous and does a great job at what she does.  I stumbled across on of her articles, Shopping With Kids and thought it had some fun and creative tips on how to get your kids excited about eating healthy.  So I am going to pass the info onto all you moms out there.... I know it can be quite the challenge and it is often easier to leave kids at home when you are out shopping. But if you can make it fun for kids by letting them take part in the decision making of foods... they may be more likely to eat and like the foods later.

I love the tips Jenny gives here to add challenge into the shopping trip. Try out these ideas in the following aisles:
•Produce – Taste the rainbow. Have the child pick out a fruit AND vegetable in a different color each week and encourage him/her to take at least a few bites of the chosen foods. Children need multiple exposures to a new food before they develop a liking for it, so don’t be discouraged if the child dislikes the food upon first taste.  TRY, TRY, and TRY again.
•Cereal aisle – Spot the golden grains. Have the child seek out a cereal that lists a whole grain as the first ingredient. Examples of words to look for on the ingredient list: whole wheat, whole corn, brown rice, oats, oatmeal, wheatberries, cracked wheat, bulgur cracked wheat. 
•Bread aisle – Go for 100%. Have the child seek out bread that includes the words 100% Whole Wheat in the product name. What if he/she will not go anywhere near breads that are brown in color? Look for the Whole Grain white breads that are white in color but are made with whole grains. 
•Beverage aisle – Go with water as a number one choice. Water comes in a variety of fun bottle shapes for kids to choose from. Or go with 100% fruit juice or 100% fruit juice with added sparkling water. Avoid juices that contain added sugars. Juices are often mistaken as healthy... when instead they are packed with sugars and empty calories. 

Happy Shopping.