When in España…


IMG_9999By: Nikki Nies

I had the pleasure of spending 10 days in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona, Spain. This retreat from daily responsibilities was a superb way to learn and better understand Spanish culture, food and tradition.

While there, I was taking note of the similarities and differences between American and Spanish culture. On the plane there, I was quickly reminded that the Spanish work to live, unlike the American reputation and often times reality, that we live to work. This statement rang true from city to city. Not only was a greeted with kindness everywhere I went, but the infectious enthusiasm and zest was much needed.

Perceptions can be far from reality, so I went to Spain with as open as a mind as could. Since back from my trip, I realize that I enjoy the Spanish “clock.” Most services aren’t offered before 8AM, with lunch far from starting prior to 2PM and dinner well into 9-11PM.

Cultural and food traditions I took away:

  • As a good reference of time, the metro’s first departure is 730AM. I’m sure you’re familiar with how American public transportation, with life and business available well before 6AM
  • Breakfast consists of a small coffee and a (chocolate) croissant, it’s rare for a cafe to be open before 8-9AM.
  • Bocadillos, or sandwiches, are a quick, easy way to eat on the run! With cheese and Iberian ham, you can’t go wrong. These can be eaten for a heavier, yet acceptable breakfast item or as a snack
  • IMG_9635Spaniards are not afraid, if anything, encourage sugar consumption. While in Madrid, I stopped in a cafe and noticed that instead of the traditional salt and pepper I’m used to seeing on tables, the table had granulated sugar, brown sugar, a sugar substitute and salt. More times than not, there was no pepper to be seen. Additionally, when ordering coffee, even if not requested, sugar was always given
  • The drink of choice is beer. There’s no such thing as ordering tap water, with bottled, mineral water offered if requested. Diet soda is not an option either, with Coca Cola and Fanta the norm
  • With the beaches and Mediterranean Sea near, fresh seafood is a common find on menus. In particular, fried calamari or garlic in prawns were prevalent and served in large portions. It’s safe to say that seafood is in abundance!
  • Pastries are a common means for dessert. A Spanish dessert staple consists of churros that are dipped in chocolate. IMG_0027
  • Fresh produce can be found in day markets and the street vendors are eager to share their latest, freshest produce. You don’t have to travel far to
  • While vegetables are scant, the Spanish have impressively been able to keep their figure. Tapas are a great portion control way to maintain one’s recommended intake.
  • I was intrigued by the Spaniards’ lack of need to “finish” their plates. Unlike Americans, I noticed many times people would leave a bit of their beer, coffee or food on their plate, not feeling the need to “clean” it.

I’m reenergized from this relaxing trip! What aspects of Spanish cuisine do you most revel in? If you’ve traveled to Spain, what different experiences have you had?

Adopt Private Mind Tricks


portion-chartBy: Nikki Nies

While the words portion control, calorie counting and “mindfulness” are regularly thrown around as necessarily components of weight loss.  Unfortunately, there’s often times a discrepancy in the information provided to the public and what information the public retains and understands when temptation confronts them. In addition, when environmental bias cues bias one’s feeling of satiation, the task can become even more challenging.

Rule of thumb strategies, technically known as “heuristics,” create for ourselves — such as not spending more than $15 on an item of baby clothing, or more than $50 on a pair of shoes — can help simplify the daily choices we make. Behavioral economists believe that adopting good heuristics can help one develop sound habits.  In terms of nutrition, these habits can be healthier.

For instance, most people know that eating an apple is better than eating a slice of cake and that eating a slice of cake is better than eating two slices of cake.  With many restaurants, movie theatres and grocery stores now providing nutrition fact labels to consumers, it does not appear that consumers need more nutrition information, but perhaps, better heuristics to help develop bias towards eating less unhealthy foods.

Such rules could offset irrational tendencies, as found by studies led by Brian Wansink.  In a pilot study consisting of 1000 participants from a weight loss website were randomly assigned three small behavior changes over a three month period.  The results found the weight loss ranged from a 1.93-pound monthly weight loss (e.g., use ten-inch plates for dinner) to a 0.83-pound monthly weight gain (eat oatmeal for breakfast), the average heuristic resulted in an average weight loss—1.16 pounds per month per person.  The most effective heuristic was found to entail little decision making, such as the use of smaller plates and/or eating in the kitchen versus in front of the TV.

Less restrictive interventions are also found to be more effective to implement long term, such as the consumption of hot breakfasts instead of more restrictive heuristics, such as specifying one eats oatmeal for breakfast.  Additionally, by weighing the effectiveness of an intervention by compliance and estimated weight loss may increase compliance and make overall healthier food choices.

The use of heuristics can be a great way to integrate small, modifiable changes to one’s lifestyle, while increasing likelihood of long term implementation that gives clients the autonomy to adapt changes to preferences and lifestyle. What heuristic strategies have you found to be most successful? What do you hope to incorporate into your life?

Photo Credit: Diabeter

Sources:  http://www.learnvest.com/2014/05/money-habits/#ixzz3NL95JtVm

http://www.learnvest.com/2013/07/4-ways-to-trick-your-brain-into-banishing-bad-money-habits/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23994507

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2012.01098.x/abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22577307

http://www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu/pdf/permission/2009/Healthy_Hueristics-AER_2009.pdf

http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/content/mindless-eating-and-healthy-heuristics-irrational

10 Ways to a Healthier YOU!


Health-Map-471x282By: Nikki Nies

Being honest with ourselves’ goals and future lifestyle changes is the best thing to do moving forward.  While one might have the best intentions of losing weight, as we all know, learning how to walk is essential and part of the foundation of learning how to run.  With that said, with the New Year upon us, there’s no better time to jumpstart healthier changes.  BUT, while there are ten suggestions to a healthier lifestyle, you know, deep down, what changes will stick and what changes are not realistic to implement.

You don’t have to implement all ten changes, as that may be too overwhelming and backfire in the long run, but incorporating one or two ideas that best fit into your daily routine can provide insurmountable intrinsic and extrinsic benefits.

1. Drink more water! Aim for 16 oz. of water with each meal and snack

2. Plan at least one more meal per week in advance.  Meal ideas :

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup egg whites, 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1 cup blueberries, 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • Flatbread sandwich with 3/4 cup egg whites, lean meat, cheddar cheese, spinach, onions and black olives
  • 2 scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and Canadian bacon on an English muffin

Lunch/Dinner: 1047445.large

  • Chicken and flank steak, 1/2 cup white rice and 2 cups steamed vegetables
  • 4 oz. extra lean ground turkey, 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, 4 cups spinach with olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • 4 oz. salmon, 2 cups broccoli with 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. turkey breast, 1 oz. raw, unsalted nuts, sliced cucumber
  • 6 oz. oven roasted chicken breast 1, 1 cup vegetables and 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, 4 oz. tilapia and 1 cup steamed green beans
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons olive oil

Snack:

  • Banana and peanut butter smoothie
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon natural nut butter or 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup oatmeal and protein shake
  • Fresh pineapple and yogurt
  • Handful of almonds and an apple
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Brown rice cake with almond butter and string cheese

3. Make meat proteins a side dish, not main entree of meals

4. Follow the 80/20 rule-with healthy options 80% o the time, but still having the occasional indulgence

5. Instead of concentrating on the number of calories consumed, focus more on the variety of colors and foods you’re eating from the increased intake of fruits and vegetables

6. Gradually cut down on calories where you are willing to make lifestyle changes you can live with

7. Be patient and realistic–remember that small changes do make a difference and that it’s more important to FEEL better!

8. Sharing is caring! Share your latest achievements via social media! Post on Facebook the latest meal you made, take a picture and upload to Instagram of the view at the top of a mountain you’ve hiked and/or follow motivational and inspirational quotes on Twitter

9. Use the outdoors as your gym will decrease excuses of working out.  While it’s winter, indoor swimming, hiking, rock climbing and biking are great year round exercises!

10. Find a partner, a support system and/or accountability buddy to encourage, confide and motivate you to make healthier choices.

If you need more information, please search and contact a Registered Dietitian near you! Keep us posted on your lifestyle changes! What healthier lifestyle additions are you adding to your day to day life? Good luck!

Photo Credit: Care2 and Green Bean Delivery 

It’s an Egg-cellent Idea!


93935ddc76ee03c515d43e550bd86e02By: Nikki Nies

The topic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been driven into the ground quite nicely.  In addition, it’s a well known fact Santa Clause lives at the North Pole. Yet, the best breakfast options and how to make them are still up for discussion.  It’s not a coincidence that when impending storms are on hand people run to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs.  With that said, 9/10 homes have eggs on hand in their fridge, but can be hesitant to use due to the controversy its affect on cholesterol levels and inconsistent recommendations of egg intake.

While the yolks of eggs contain the cholesterol, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from eggs.  In moderation, which means no more than seven eggs per week, having eggs can be advantageous and without concern of increased risk of heart disease*.  Furthermore, in comparison to sodium, trans fat and saturated fat found in the accompaniments of eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns and the oil used to deep fry the foods, the cholesterol content found in chicken eggs is minimal. Also, using cholesterol free eggs or egg whites, which doesn’t contain the yolk part of the egg is recommended.

It’s unfortunate eggs receive such a bad wrap! If one’s mindful of the quantity of eggs consumed, more positive attention can be directed to eggs beneficial nutrient content

So, whether you’re already at the recommended seven eggs a day, there’s no harm in mixing up how you make your eggs! While I’m a sunny side up kind of gal, I vow to try a different use of eggs!

Fun Ways to Eat Eggs:

Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
  • Omelettes, frittatas and quiches: Great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables,fruits and healthy oils
  • Hard Boiled: keeping a few hard boiled eggs on hand at all times is a great snack to take on the go; additionally can help cook eggs in advance in case of concerns of consumption prior to expiration date
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Mayo free egg salad. Can be eaten between two slices of bread, English muffin or as is!
  • Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner burrito: By adding eggs in a burrito filled with lean turkey, tomatoes and cheese, you’ll have your family asking for more! Also,make sure to add a spoonful of guacamole for extra flavor and texture!
  • Poached: by cooking in only water, it’s one of the healthiest ways to make eggs. You can’t beat the presentation either!
  • Deviled: many people put their own spin on deviled eggs.  Mix up the traditional recipe with curry powder, chopped celery and mayo!
  • Steamed (Chawan Mush): much easier than one would think, especially in clean up!
  • Egg Soup
  • Eggnog: doesn’t have to be designated to only December! Swap out the whip cream for a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): A traditional Japanese way of frying eggs
  • Tea Eggs: A traditional Chinese snack, soak hard boiled eggs in a mixture of soy sauce and tea

What egg-cellent ways do you make eggs? What ways do you plan to incorporate eggs into your meals?

*Seven eggs may be too much for those with diabetes, with 186 mg of cholesterol per one large egg, this may significantly increase risk of heart disease.  It’s recommended that those with diabetes, heart disease and/or high cholesterol, cholesterol intake should not exceed 200 mg per day.  To translate, that means no more than 4-6 eggs per week!

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol/faq-20058468

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/health-professionals/patientclient-education/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol? (Diet Myth 4)

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/20-quick-and-easy-ways-cook-eggs

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/leftover-egg-yolks-clever-uses/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/good-eggs-for-nutrition-theyre-hard-to-beat

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/ask-well-how-many-eggs-can-i-eat/?_r=0

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/eggs-and-cholesterol

Millennials’ View on Nutrition


Original Image by William Murphy via Flickr
Original Image by William Murphy via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Food Insights shares reports on the results from six focus groups, composed of millennials, which are those persons born between 1980-2000, regarding their perception on nutrition and its impact on eating habits.  The good news: most millennials the importance of good nutrition. The bad news: many millennials do not always eat the way they know they should or like.  Many millennials thankfully perceive a healthy meal composed of lean meat, fruits, vegetables or a salad.  However, many millennials’ plates do not reflect these healthy foods, instead many plates have fried foods, red meats with little to no vegetables or whole grains.

What are the challenges millennials face on a daily basis:

  • Original Image by Michael Beck via Flickr
    Original Image by Michael Beck via Flickr

    Lack of time–easier to opt for “convenience” foods that are transportable with little to no preparation needed

  • Due to strong perception that eating healthy is expensive, many just opt for $1 and/or premade convenience foods–see eating fast food as an easier, less expensive way to get full quicker
  • Dining out with friends, family and colleagues is a vital part of millennials’ social activities–more likely to overeat and/or overindulge when out
  • Hard time exerting will power over temptations in the afternoon and late night
  • Many primary care physicians do not discuss complications and/or risks associated with excess weight or being overweight
  • Often skip breakfast
  • Unsure of how to apply health tips into their day to day lives
  • Lack of meal planning–not considered a priority
  • Lack of willpower–susceptible to emotional eating triggers and/or stress eating
  • Hard time keeping portion sizes in mind
  • Find it challenging to find health menu options.  Thankfully, Healthy Dining Finder can help guide millennials into a more healthy direction!

With millennials making up 25% of the American population and the future of the America, we need to make more of an  effort to debunk the myth that  eating well is “hard” or has to be “costly.”

On average, many millennials give themselves a C+ in healthfulness.  At least millennials are honest with their opinions.  Yet, we shouldn’t stop there.  Now, that we have a  better understanding of the disparity between what millennials know what they should eat in comparison to the reality of the eating habits, we can better direct our nutrition interventions to their habits.  Do you work with millenials within your practice? What challenges have you had trying to encourage healthier eating habits? Or are you a millenial yourself and find yourself starting health goals in the beginning of the day, yet releasing yourself of those health changes by the end of the same day? How can RDs help you best overcome those challenges?

Sources: http://www.foodinsight.org/MillennialNutritionViews

http://www.foodinsight.org/MillennialNutritionViews#sthash.UsvFNRbW.dpuf

http://www.foodinsight.org/sites/default/files/MSE%20FNCE%202014%20Presentation%20website.pdf

http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/Millennials-Tuesday-GREENBLUM.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/millennials-food-trends/bgp-20056133

http://www.wellnesstoday.com/spirit-nutrition/6-ways-the-millennial-generation-is-changing-the-food-industry

http://hartbeat.hartman-group.com/article/527/Millennial-Consumers-A-Barometer-for-the-Future-of-Food-Culture

http://mic.com/articles/3724/four-millennial-eating-habits-that-are-changing-the-way-we-eat

Microwave to Great Meals


microwave-cooking-mr-gallery-xBy: Nikki Nies

I grew up using a microwave as my go-to source of reheating food! When I moved into my first apartment last year, where there wasn’t a microwave provided in the unit, I didn’t realize how much I have come to rely on my microwave.  Until I got to the store to buy a microwave, my roommates and I resorted to heating food up on the stove.  For my generation, we admit we’ve had it easy technology wise. Yet, that doesn’t mean we’re willing to giving up our gadgets or “convenience” machines.

With that said, my time in Illinois has given me great insight and incentives to find ways to cut corners to make my money stretch while still eating a balanced, healthy diet.  I will not sacrifice quality food,I  am a nutrition student after all! Due to limited space and financials, my roommates and I have made do with some basic essentials, we had two pans and that’s all we need! As you can probably tell, I’ve learned how to stretch my food and utilize all my food and equipment to the fullest, this includes the microwave!

There’s tons recipes on line that are microwave friendly.  Here are some recipes I’ve tried myself and have found to be equally as good as if it were made in the oven or stove top!

My days of only reheating food in the microwave are over.  I now embrace the ability to make full meals in a cup or bowl in the microwave.  Yes, you heard me! Whether you’re in the mood for whipping up breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and/or dessert, your reliant microwave is always available! An added bonus, less clean up =]!

Have you used your microwave for some great meals? What tips do you have for smoother microwave cooking?

Photo Credit: MyRecipes 

Sources: http://greatist.com/health/surprising-healthy-microwave-recipes

http://www.hercampus.com/health/food-nutrition/5-healthy-meals-you-can-make-using-only-microwave

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/everyday-cooking/cookware-and-equipment/microwave/

http://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/resourcesforyouradiationemittingproducts/ucm252762.htm

Healthy Eating in College


eating_healthy_in_college1By: Nikki Nies

With the impending semester upon us, it’s never too early to talk about healthy dining on campus.  While freshmen are often times required to buy a meal plan with tuition, those living in nearby apartments or are juggling school and home responsibilities, the stress of school can quickly get to students.  Unfortunately, the first habit to go is eating healthy.  Yet, it doesn’t make sense to opt for cheesy fries that don’t have as much energy producing qualities as a strawberry banana smoothie when the time crunch is really being felt!

I admit, I find myself eating on the go more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I’m going through McDonald’s drive thru or grabbing a Hot Pocket out of the microwave on my way out! With careful planning before the work load gets into the “meat” of things, you can set up your semester with some healthier options.

Planning ahead for upcoming semester, trimester or quarter, use the following suggestions for long term use:

  • Have a mini fridge in your dorm and/or access to fridge in apartment or suite for on the go breakfast items, such as a piece of fruit, yogurt,string cheese and/or pb&j  to store leftovers and to have produce on hand!
  • Opt for “healthier” options at fast food chains.  Order salads with dressings on the side, pizza with half the cheese, roast beef sandwich, sweet potato and/or fruit cup.  Limit the high fat, greasier options, such as French fries, fish sandwiches and/or fried chicken.
  • Monitor your sugar intake, which tend to quickly add up quickly.  Often times, coffee creamers, cookies, cocktails, cereals are packed with sugar.  Not sure how to check the sugar content? Here’s how to read a nutrition fact label.
  • Keep your room or apartment stocked with healthier snacks so you’re not tempted to head for the vending machines or order late night pizza.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab some pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, rice cakes, whole wheat crackers, hummus and/or granola.
  • Keep a reusable water bottle on hand!  It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.  It’s common for people to mistake thirst for hunger, plus drinking regular bouts of water can keep you focused.
  • Take advantage of the dining hall’s salad bar! Fill up on fresh fruits and veggies, but go easy on the salad dressing!  Vegetables are very filling for few calories!cafeteria
  • Attempt to eat meals on a consistent basis.  Yes, college is known to be hectic and one may not always a have a set schedule, but eat when you’re hungry and avoid skipping meals as much as possible.
  • Recognize your body’s cues.  I understand it’s a lot easier said than done, but listen to your body as it tells you when it’s hungry and when it’s full.  No need to overeat, that’s what leftovers are for!
  • Recognize portion sizes and stick to them.  You often need less food than you think or may like to fill you up! You’ll let meals stretch longer, while sticking to the recommended portion sizes.
  • Limit alcohol intake.  Alcohol is packed with calories, but provides few nutrients.
  • If you’re going grocery shopping.  Mix it up! It’s easy to get bored eating the same meals day after day and to opt for late night pizza, but don’t give in!
  • Fill up on calcium. Just because you’ve graduated high school, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done growing.  Make sure to eat enough calcium rich foods to continue to prevent osteoporosis. You don’t have to be entirely dependent on milk for your calcium, so keep on hand low fat yogurt, green leafy vegetables and/or low fat cheese
  • If you’re out and your stomach’s growling, don’t feel guilty about grabbing fast food.  Sometimes you have to eat what’s available, eating fast food once in a while isn’t going to kill you.  It’s when such habits become a weekly and then daily habit one should worry.

Yes, this is a lot of information to remember, but you don’t have to add all these suggestions tomorrow.  People tend to be more successful long term with small, gradual changes.

Photo Crdit: Diets in Review and Healthy eating in College

Sources:https://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/docs/tip-2012/budget-0812.pdf

http://www.clarke.edu/page.aspx?id=6510

http://jdrf.org/life-with-t1d/college/top-10-tips-for-eating-healthy-in-college/

http://bestfoodsforyourhealthfrieda.blogspot.com/2013/10/shrink-your-belly-in-14-days-routine.html

Food for thought: The challenge of healthy eating on campus

http://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body