Health Tips When Traveling To China


China_table_settingBy: Nikki Nies

To truly immerse yourself in a culture, especially one that is far removed from your own is the true definition of traveling. Whether you travel to the exhilarating Machu Pichu or soak up the rays in Turks & Caicos, there’s one factor in vacation destinations that can be not be ignored, the food. Depending on one’s taste buds and food preferences, that can dictate travel excursions. No matter how much you   factor in food, China should be at the top of your list of travel destinations!

You should head to China with at few ideas of where you want to go and how to best enjoy the food. I have provided first hand tips of how to best eat in China.

With many carbohydrate sources, such as rice, noodles, steamed buns as entrées themselves or accompanying the entrees, it can be easy to carb overload. However,

  • Eat with chopsticks. Not only will it slow down intake, but locals will be more likely to give you menu and meal suggestions when they see you immersing in the culture
  • Try a bit of everything, but don’t eat everything. Having a couple bites can help limit overindulging while getting the exposure to different flavors
  • Cold beverages are deemed harmful to digestion of hot foods, so hot tea or hot water are served with meals. Tea is believed to help with the digestion of greasy foods
  • Food is often prepared and served on small plate, “family style”, be ready for direct pick up and communal eating

    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
    Image by rayand goo.gl/5mSWbf
  • While China can be divided into 57 cuisine regions, below are some of the more popular regions:
    • Szechuan (Sichuan): known for spicy, hot flavor; uses a great mixture of poultry, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, tofu in combination with pepper and chili; fast frying is most commonly used method
    • Cantonese: characterized by tender, slightly sweet taste; sauces are often light and mellow, including hoisin, oyster, plum and sweet and sour sauce; often see spring onions, sugar, salt, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar and sesame oil used; garlic can be heavily used; prefer stewing, sautéing or braising food, which helps to preserve the flavor
    • Hunan: “land of fish and rice”; fresh vegetables cooked “al dente”; favors steaming, stir frying, smoking and sautéing; special seasonings include soy sauce, tea seed oil, Chinese red pepper, fennel and cassia bark and spicy oil
    • Jiangsu: moderate saltiness and sweetness; places emphasis on the making of soups; abundant in freshwater fish and seafood from the Yangtze River and Yellow Sea
  • Desserts less common, with sweet foods introduced during meal. For example, basifruit, sizzling sugar syrup coated fruits are eaten with other savory foods
    • Beware, there are fried desserts that incorporate red bean paste
    • If dessert is served at the end of the meal, often times it is fresh fruit
  • Soup is often served at the end of the meal to satiate appetite

For any of you that have traveled to China, what other tips can you share? It’s hard to give specific “restaurant recommendations” as a lot of the great food is on the street kiosks and depending on what flavors you’re looking to try! Remember, when traveling, go in with an open mind and have fun! What regional cuisines are must eats for you

Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/healthy-living/use-your-noodle-the-real-chinese-diet-is-so-healthy-it-could-solve-the-wests-obesity-crisis-873651.html

The Forgotten Health Benefits of Chinese Food

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-tips-healthy-chinese-cooking

http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2013/2/7/chefs-reveal-how-to-find-authentic-chinese-food

Ketogenic Diets


By: Nikki Nies

While the title of this blog post is “Ketogenic Diets”, the word ‘diet’ may be presumed to be synonymous with the Atkins diet.   Yet, the word ‘diet’ may be misperceived in this instance. imagesTherefore, for this post, diet means medical nutrition therapy. Those with nervous system or neurological disorders (i.e. epilepsy) could benefit from ketogenic consumption.

The ketogenic diet is comprised of high fat, low carbohydrate intake.  Since ketone bodies behave as inhibitory neurotransmitters, mild dehydration is needed to prevent dilution of ketones.  A 4:1 ratio of fat to non-fat grams is recommended. A ketogenic diet contains 70-90% fat and the remainder as protein and carbohydrates.

One will also need calcium, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B6 and B12 supplements. MCTs are more ketogenic, more rapidly metabolized and absorbed. MCTs alleviate some of the obstacles of compliance and acceptance. Patients and clients should be aware that this high fat diet can lead to slower growth, even with overall calorie restriction, which is supposed to increase efficacy of ketogenic diet.

The ketogenic diet mimics the fasting state and has been found to successfully treat seizures. However, it may be unpalatable. Stimulants, like coffee, tea, colas and alcohol are to be limited.  With an adequate amount of fiber and fluid, this can aid in the relief of constipation.  A gradual change is diet is advised and it’s important  to note cough syrups, laxatives and certain medications can contain large amounts of carbohydrates, so one should monitor interactions with the diet.

Furthermore, with a high fat diet, this can lead to nausea and vomiting. A small drink of fruit juice can mediate such symptoms. If you’re in the need to increase long chain triglycerides, by adding sour cream, whipped cream, butter, margarine and/or oils can be added to desserts, casseroles and entrees. To use MCT, it’s advised to use in salad dressings, fruit juice, sandwich spreads (i.e. guacamole) and casseroles.

If you’re apprehensive about the ketogenic diet, a low glycemic index is considered a less strict route, with more liberal total carbohydrate intake. If hyperuricemia or hypercalciuria, increase fluid intake and consider using diuretics.

Photo Credit:Lurie Children’s

Sources:http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketogenic-diet-plan.html

http://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/nutrition/517.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19049580

http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet

Hummus and Guacamole Showdown


HummusVSGuacamole

Source: http://www.prevention.com/which-healthier-hummus-vs-guacamole?cid=socFO_20140813_29676476

High Fiber Musts


By: Nikki Nies

High fiber diets are always tooted as a lifestyle must! What does high fiber mean, you ask? It means consuming a diet of at least 21-25 g of fiber for women and 30-38 grams of fiber for men.  If meal planning isn’t part of your daily routine, it’s easy to let the days go by and not fulfill the daily fiber recommendations.  Gradually increase your fiber intake as a quick surge in fiber can lead to bloating and gas.

The best way to consume a high fiber diet is to eat more foods that have a higher fiber content! Can you guess what tops the list of the highest fibrous foods per serving?

————————————————————

  1. Corn bran, raw: 1 oz.=22 g of fiber
  2. Navy beans or white beans: 1 cup=19 g of fiber
  3. Yellow beans, cooked: 1 cup=18 g of fiber
  4. Adzuki, French, or black turtle soup beans: 1 cup=17 g of fiber
  5. Split peas, cooked: 1 cup=16.3 g of fiber
  6. Kidney or cranberry beans: 1 cup=16.0 g of fiber 
  7. Mung or pinto beans: 1 cup=15 g of fiber high-fiber-diet
  8. Lentils, cooked: 1 cup=15.6 g of fiber
  9. Black beans: 1 cup=15.0 g of fiber
  10. Oat or wheat bran, raw: 1 oz.=12.0 g of fiber
  11. Lima beans: 1 cup=13.2 g of fiber
  12. Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked:1 cup=10.4 g of fiber
  13. Artichoke, cooked: medium=10.3 g of fiber
  14. Green peas, cooked: 1 cup=8.8 g of fiber
  15. Raspberries: 1 cup=8 g of fiber

A high fiber diet + adequate fluid intake is the right combination for smoother digestion, lower one’s risk of obesity, heart disease and/or cancer.  Furthermore, since fiber isn’t digested, it moves through the body quickly, helping to aid in constipation.

Have you added more fiber into your daily diet?  What changes have you seen accompany these fibrous additions?

Sources:http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948

http://thehealthyapron.com/2010/08/20/a-fiber-fortified-world/

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/063008p28.shtml

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000193.htm

FODMAPS


By: Nikki Nies

With the bombardment of the latest nutrition tips, FODMAPS has entered the forefront of the cause of some people’s issues tolerance of foods.  Researchers are hinting that those that declare they must be on a gluten free diet would be better off becoming familiar with the FODMAPS diet.

diagram-fodmapI’m not here to attest to such claims, as further research needs to be done. Yet, it’s still important to be aware and knowledgeable of what FODMAPS consist of and why they’re being considered responsible for abdominal pain, bloating, wind and altered bowel habit through fermentation and osmotic effects.

The FODMAPS diet is traditionally prescribed for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID).  FODMAPS can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  It’s thought that restricting the types of carbohydrates one consumes can provide relief and diminish symptoms.

Since this type of restriction is very intense, it’s recommended to seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian (RD).  The process of removal and reintroduction of foods is usually over a six week period.After cutting out , wheat, rye, onions,legumes,soft cheese, yogurt, milk, honey, apples, pears, sorbitol, etc. for the recommended time, one may start using a teaspoon of honey in their tea or adding a cup of milk to cereal.

From then on, one will test the reaction of foods and listen to gut.  Pun intended.

Check out the comprehensive list of foods that are limited in the beginning stages of FODMAPS and then slowly reintroduced:

The-Fodmaps-Diet4-1024x577

 Again, adopting this diet without discussing with your primary care physician and/or a Registered Dietitian (RD) can lead to unwanted outcomes.  The number priority is maintaining one’s safe and health!

Sources: http://stanfordhospital.org/digestivehealth/nutrition/DH-Low-FODMAP-Diet-Handout.pdf

http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388522/

http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24076059

http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/mal-absorption.html

The FODMAPs Diet

It’s All in the Name of the Diet


FAdDiet-BAd-Diet-1By: Nikki Nies

I was working recently at school in a computer lab and a student walked up to me asking to fill out her survey.  After filling out the typical female/male question, I already had questions regarding her survey.

Her first survey question asked, “Do you believe diets are healthy?”  She said what do I mean? I asked if she meant by diet as “eating healthy” or the more name brand diets, such as Atkins or Low Carb Diet. After some thought, she finally stated she was surveying on people’s perception of fad diets.

Of course, as a nutrition major I “strongly disagreed” with all claims that a fad diet is the most effective method of long term weight loss.  However, I started thinking about about “why” and “how” diets have evolved to be effectively hyped up and marketed.

It could be argued everyone’s on a diet–whether it’s a diet consisting of daily trips to McDonald’s to only chicken nuggets as main source of protein or eating 1/2 of one’s plate of fruit and veggies.  They’re all describing a type of diet.  A diet is:

 kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats

To help you decide what kind of diet you want to go ahead with, let me give you some things to ruminate about certain diet features:

  • Rapid Weight Loss: Not only is weight loss more than .5-1 lbs. not the most effective way to lose weight, one will also lose muscle, water and bone.  With too much weight lost in a short amount of time, it can lead to the regain of weight
  • Complete Restrictions of Foods or Foods Groups: Mind you, I’m not talking about eating foods if you’ve got an intolerance, sensitivity or allergy, but be wary of diet claims that either state unlimited quantities of certain foods (i.e. cabbage soup or grapefruit).  You may think substituting a food group with a multivitamin will help compensate with missed food groups (i.e. no carbs), but you’ll still be missing critical nutrients.
  • Exercise is not needed: Regular physical activity is needed for optimal weight management; it’s recommended one gets at least 160 minutes of exercise per week
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  
  • Lose weight without making any changes!: Be wary of diet claims that you can eat as much high calorie foods and still lose weight.  In truth, it’s recommended to slash calories by 500 for a healthy, gradual weight loss.
  • Once and for all magic pill! Permanent weight loss requires the implementation of healthy lifestyle changes.  Doctors, dietitians and other leading experts are adamant that no “magic pill” exists.
  • Every body will lose weight: there’s no one size fits all solution.  Every one’s situation, body and needs are different! Contact a dietitian and/or your local health care provider to design a individualized nutrition and exercise plan.

The above claims are tempting to believe, but when looking for what you want to merge into your daily “diet”, think about the health claims that the latest diets have to offer.  To help you decide if the  latest diet is for you, ask yourself  “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, the diet isn’t for you.

Sources: http://www.eatright.org/Public/list.aspx?TaxID=6442452003

http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fad-diets/

http://www.nutrition.gov/weight-management/what-you-should-know-about-popular-diets

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/

http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/myths.htm

http://www.webmd.com/women/fad-diets

The Pros and Cons of Fad Dieting

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0061-weighing-claims-diet-ads

“Some” White After Labor Day is Okay!


By: Nikki Nies white-foods

Refined sugar and bread give the white food group a bad rap, but there are many white colored foods that are worth mentioning.  While the color white’s not technically part of the rainbow, it’s still a color that shouldn’t be ignored!

Unfortunately there’s this generalization that all carbs are bad for you.  Yes, cookies, cake, ice cream and sweetened beverages should be consumed in moderation as their nutritional value is limited, they’re easy to overeat and aren’t filling.  The body processes refined grains quickly through the body, feeling hungry soon after.

In replacement, adding more “smart carbs” into daily meals will help you forget those cravings.  Smart carbs, you ask? Yes! The human body needs carbohydrates for basic bodily function, as it’s the main source of energy.  Smart carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and low fat dairy products.

The difference between the carbs that are recommended in moderate amounts and the smart carbs is within the processing and amount of fiber.  Most refined carbs have been stripped of their bran, which is the most fibrous part of the whole grain.

However moderation of all white foods isn’t completely needed.  There are some white foods, such as cauliflower, shallot, leeks, garlic, onions, white turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, white corn, mushrooms and turnips that are great natural, unprocessed white colored foods.  The alium group–garlic, shallots, leeks and onions are all sulfur rich foods.  This means they help blood circulation, anti inflammatory, diuretic and antibiotic properties.  It’s recommended to eat at least one high allium food a day.

Additional great white foods include tilapia, halibut, whitefish, cod, haddock, milk, tofu , buttermilk, yogurt, and cottage cheeese, but we’ll talk about those at a later date!

Next time you’re restocking your pantry, make sure to grab some onions, garlic and mushrooms! They’ll keep you fuller longer, help you meet your fiber needs and slow absorption, I swear!

Photo Credit: Calorie Count

Sources:http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-white-foods

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/blog/nutrition/2013/11/5_white_foods_that_should_be_o.html

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/white-foods/1

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/10-white-foods-for-picky-eaters

Post Workout Recovery Needs


By: Nikki Nies 1390487_10152315919883989_1630683936_n Part of my internship includes providing nutrition counseling to a particular Benedictine sport’s team.  I was luckily enough to get assigned to work with the men’s track team. Prior to starting work with the team, we were warned by the outgoing interns that a lot of the sports coaches weren’t responsive to the services that we had to offer. Yet, as I said, I lucked out as the track coach not only acknowledges the role nutrition plays in his athletes performance, but has actively sought information.  It’s been great to work with my co-manager, Amanda, as we’ve gotten to know the athletes better and be able to cater to their needs. Although, school’s currently out of session, the coach recently inquired out post recovery items that he could purchase for his team.  Obviously, nutrient value and cost were at the top of his list in regards to how to prioritize the different bars and supplements. All the products listed below have been approved by the NCAA for use.

Product Price Nutrient Content Serving
Myoplex Chocolate Milk 4 pack/$8.29 atWalgreens4 pack/$7.99 at drugstore.com24 pack/$46.26 at abbottstore.com 20 g of protein; 20 g of carb 1-11 fluid oz. bottle
Carnation Instant Breakfast 10 pack/$4.24 atWalmart22 pack/$14.99 on candyland Store.com 10 g of protein; 41 g of protein 1-8 fluid oz bottle
Muscle Milk Powder Mix 5.29#/$24.96 2 scoops=20 g protein; 45 g of carb4 scoops: 40 g protein; 91 g of carb
Muscle Milk 4 pack/$10.89; $2.72/bottle12 pack/$30.99; 24 pack/$43.97  18 g of protein; 27 g of carb 11 fluid oz.
Clif Bars 12 count box/$13.49 at vitacost.com12 count box/$12.99 at AllStarHealth.com 9 g of protein and 44 g of carbs
Gatorade G Series Recover 4 pack/$12.99 at ShopFoodEx.com 12 case/$60.95 20 g of protein; 45 g of carb 11.16 oz.
Gatorade 03 Recover 12 pack/$24.49  Kiwi Strawberry: 8 g of protein; 7 gofcarbTropical Orange: 8 g of protein; 20 g of carbMixed Berry: 8 g of protein; 7 g of carb 8 fluid oz.
Gatorade  Endurance Carb Energy Drink 20 pack/$45.80 10 pack/$25.50 at Niagara Cycle Works 30 g of carb; 0 g of protein 1 pouch

Protein provides the building blocks, but carbs provide the energy to do the rebuilding. It’s implied protein alone will end up being partly burned to provide energy, which could be true based on when athletes have eaten last.  A product is considered adequate for the team, if it’s got a good mixture of protein to carb ratio (3-4 carbohydrates :1 Protein). Additionally, to keep costs down, there are some great foods that can be incorporated into one’s diet as well!

  • Chocolate milk Darigold Refuel with Choc Milk Refuel stamp
  • Sandwich with 2 slices of bread and 1-2 oz. of meat or cheese and some lettuce
  • Greek yogurt and a banana
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Smoothies–i.e. mix of OJ and vanilla protein powder

For the shorter, easier work out, it’s suggested to use products that provide ~30 g of carbs (i.e. Gatorade endurance carb energy drink).  For higher intensity workouts, ~60 g of carbs may fare better. For post strength-training, to increase protein to 20-30 grams (i.e. Myoplex chocolate milk; Gatorade G Series Recover). It’s hard to persuade anybody to use something with less than 20 grams of protein.  It’s also hoped they worked hard enough to need it!  There’s more muscle damage in strength training and there’s a lot of marketing around needing protein. A study led by Lynch et al., 2013 compared the use  of complex protein ready-to-drink beverage (VPX), with approximately a 1:4 CHO to PRO ratio and isocaloric carbohydrate beverage (iCHO) after a performance test.  Use of the VPX may provide a recovery advantage as it relates to repeated-bout performance compared to an iCHO-only beverage.

Additionally, a study by Ivy et al., 2002 looked at the glycogen content within the vastus lateralis pre-exercise and 4 hrs. post-exercise. They suggested the Cho:pro compared to carb only supplementation replenished glycogen stores more effectively, which is important to mitigate tissue damage, inflammatory markers, and upregulate the Akt/PKB pathway for MPS. For any gluten free needs, I had directed the coach to Harris Whole Health. I learned a lot about post work out products and options through this research.  I’m glad I was able to help the coach find some products that met the teams’ need.  Perhaps, you’ve walked away feeling informed too! Sources: http://winforumblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/lowfat-chocolate-milk-or-refuel.html

Debunking Weight Loss Myths!


By: Nikki Nies Weight-Loss-Myths460

“Magic pills” and “detoxification systems” that promise instant weight loss have been around for years.  In the 21st century, the market continues to meet the demand of the such products, yet many of these so called products do not provide the advertised weight loss.

While the bombardment of which products can be overwhelming, be careful what you shell out money for.  The table I’ve created below provides examples of weight loss claims that have not been found efficacious with using such products.

Instead, diet and regular bouts of exercise are the still proven tried and trued method of losing and maintaining weight loss.

If I skip meals, I’ll lose weight quicker
  • Can lead to becoming overly hungry → overeat at next meal
  • Those that skip breakfast tend to be heavier than those that consume at least 3 meals/day

o   Quick breakfast options: whole wheat toast with fruit spread or oatmeal with low fat yogurt and berries

Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off
  • Often promise quick fixes with food restrictions and/or avoidance of food groups/types of food
  • Hard to follow
  • May not provide all nutrients one needs
  • Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.
  • Losing >3#/wk can increase risk of developing gallstones

o   Safe wt loss: 0.5-2#/wk

Carbs are fattening. I should limit.
  • Carbs are body’s main source of energy
  • Limit simple, not complex!

o   Simple: candy, cake, cookies, sugar sweetened desserts/drinks and alcohol

o   Complex: fruits, vegetables, whole grains

  • Opt for brown rice, whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta
“Low fat” and “Fat free”=0 Calories
  • Low fat and fat free products have calories, but may be less than full fat
  • Many processed foods have the same amount of calories whether low fat or full fat
  • Processed foods that state they’re low fat/fat free may have added flour, salt, starch, or sugar to improve flavor and texture after fat is removed, which contain added calories
When dieting, one can’t eat fast food!
  • Yes, fast food can be bad for you
  • Opt for:

o   Avoid “value” combo meals as more calories than you need in one meal.

o   Choose fresh fruit or nonfat yogurt for dessert

o   Limit use of high fat/calorie toppings

  • i. e. bacon, cheese, reg mayo, salad dressing

o   Pick steamed or baked items over fried

o   Sip on water or fat-free milk instead of soda

o   Choose soft instead of hard tacos

Snacking is always a bad idea!
  • In between meal snacking can prevent overeating at meals
  • Can benefit from 5 small meals a day
  • Great choice: nuts, low fat cheese, yogurt or an apple
Eating healthy costs more!
  • Canned and frozen fruits and veggies can provide same nutrients as fresh at a lower cost
  • Great sources of protein: tuna, lentils, beans and peas
  • In the end, health care costs will be less expensive!

What weight loss claims have you encountered that isn’t listed in the table? Have any specific questions regarding weight loss claims you’ve heard that you’re not sure about? Ask away!

Sources:

http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/myths.htm

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/weight-loss-myths-debunked/story?id=19548576

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/01/health/wrong-weight-loss-myths/

http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/6-weight-loss-myths-debunked%5B/embed%5D

The Balance of Calories


By: Nikki Nies

While calorie counting may not seem like the most appealing way to loss weight or maintain weight loss, it’s a tried true way to become more aware of what one’s eating.  The up side? After a while, you’ll get a better idea of what portions are and you won’t be as dependent on your nifty Calorie Count handbook.20120530we-comparing-low-and-high-calorie-snacks-989x721

Not all nutrients contain the same calories.  Carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram while fat contains 9 calories per gram.Opting for fruits, vegetables and low fat foods are recommended as their more “bang for you buck.” In addition, if you consume foods that are higher in fiber, you will feel fuller longer.

Check out the diabetes exchange list for some common serving sizes.

The trick: getting a better grasp of what a serving is, how to interpret nutrition facts label and not being fooled that all small packages have small calorie amounts (i.e. see picture to left).

The struggle is being aware of calories, but not allowing it to consume you.  You want to be able to enjoy what you’re eating and not be consumed by how much you’re eating!

Sources: http://ndep.nih.gov/media/GP_FatCal.pdf

http://caloriecount.about.com/

http://startlosingweight.org/counting-calories-and-losing-weight/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/dos-donts-counting-calories

 http://www.caloriescount.com/home.aspx

http://www.thecaloriecounter.com/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/dos-donts-counting-calories

http://mispibo.com/2013/10/counting-calories-sucks-still/1240