Learn How to Train Yourself to Eat Only 2-3 Bites of Anything!

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by houseofthailand.com via Flickr

I’ve touched on the topic of mindful eating before, but it’s such an easy tactic that it’s overlooked, it’s worth mentioning again! As a gal that can never say no to cookies and/or ice cream, I’m one of those people that needs tangible accountability practicals. Especially when it comes to ice cream cake!  I’m all about understanding the system and thought process of food and finding small ways you can have your cake and eat it too!

A 2013 Cornell study finds eating smaller portions of your favorite foods, such as chocolate and chips can provide the same satisfaction as a larger portion would.  Logically, it makes sense portion size has a direct impact on caloric consumption, but not on level of satisfaction. Your body and hunger cravings need less than you think! If you’re wanting to control your weight and cravings, take a small bite and wait 15 minutes and see if your stomach and head ‘need’ more.

This research supports the notion that eating for pleasure – hedonic hunger – is driven more by the availability of foods instead of the food already eaten,” said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and a co-author of the study.

If cutting soda or sweets out of your daily life cold turkey isn’t realistic, which is understandable, combine your sugar craving with a healthy option. For example, dipping bananas in chocolate sauce or with peanut butter can be a great way to satiate cravings, while obtaining desired nutrients. Each individual’s food journey is unique and dietary changes need to be specific to overall feasibility. Removing sugar cold turkey may be necessary at the beginning, but once you’ve recognized how to gain more control over food choices, you can reintroduce it a little at a time. Maybe after a month of no ice cream, you allow yourself 1/2 cup twice a week.

Also, let’s talk quality! If you’re going to splurge on calories, pick high quality products that you can savor every bite.  Every once in a while, choose the perfect dark chocolate truffle that may set you back a few pennies instead of the ubiquitous Baby Ruth. So, what treats are you going to allot for the week? Think about what you can gain and lose–weight wise by using the above tactics!

Sources: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/savor-every-bite-with-mindful-eating/




How to savor every bite – Mindful eating 101




FDA Proposed Nutrition Fact Label

By: Nikki Nies new_vs_old_nutrition_facts_label.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale

You may have heard murmurs about the FDA’s proposed nutrition fact label  later this year.  It seems appropriate for a revamp of the fact label, which was introduced to the food market in 1993.  Present day increased risk of chronic diseases, has caused question of what else can be done to decrease the risk of such said diseases.

The new proposed fact labels are intended to provide more attention to calories, serving size and to emphasize the amount of sugar derived from added sugar.With a larger font and less “clutter” on the new proposed fact label, will help people more quickly discern if a product should be purchased or not.

Now that we know the type of fat, not the amount, is more important for overall health, the new label would not list calories from fat, but list the amount of fat from trans and saturated fat.

Additionally, servings would better reflect what the average American eats, not a serving size of what the suggested serving should be.  For example, instead of listing it would list servings as a cup, etc. The amounts of potassium and vitamin D would also be required to be listed on the label as they are important for adequate bone growth and development.

With these proposed nutrition fact label changes, it is hoped it will help people make healthier choices.  Secondly, with high blood pressure, stroke and CVD risk a concern, by having cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat potassium and sodium content available, it shall help in the decision process.

What’re your thoughts on the new proposed changes?  Do you already use nutrition facts labels when deciding to choose to purchase a food?

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm387114.htm



FDA’s new food label: much improved!


Barriers to Change

By: Nikki Nies

How’re your New Year’s resolutions coming along?   Do you remember what you initially sought out to improve on?   If you’re still carrying out your New Year’s resolution, that’s great! If not, having the goal to be the healthiest version of yourself is not a bad goal to have either.

Constant improvement of oneself is a great goal to have.  While people often put health professionals on a pedestal of health.  We all have traits and goals we can work on.   I’ve been thinking about what I want to improve on and publicly admitting makes one more accountable for said goals.

First, I know I drink an extensive extra amount of coffee than the recommended 3 cups maximum per day.  While other portion servings are more valid, my concept of a portion of coffee is skewed.  I don’t think coffee should be served in anything than less than 16 oz, but preferably closer to 24 oz.  While, I’ve cut out a lot of sweets (i.e. ice cream, cookies) in my regular diet due to my weekly grocery budget, I still use sugar in my coffee.  I don’t feel as guilty about the sugar packet I add to my coffee,  but I know if I drank it black, the coffee wouldn’t be a problem.

I know if it was a life or death matter, I could give up coffee, but it’s become like a third arm to me, it’s like drinking water in the morning.  I fully recognize that I have a slight coffee addiction, but am nowhere means willing to decrease to the intended 6 oz. servings.  Perhaps, when I’m done with dietetic internship? Probably, not.

However, there’s another part of my life I know I need to make better efforts.  While this blog emphasizes nutrition’s role in good health, exercise is an equally important part of the equation.  While I see myself as an active person, I definitely don’t get the recommended minutes of  daily physical activity.

We all need to acknowledge the mental barriers that impair our ability to keep our healthy routines.  What goals do you want to achieve and what’s in your way?

For me, I’m not a morning person.  Studies have shown starting your day with time at the gym or at home exercise can be a great kick off to the rest of the day.  I’ve been seen to go to the gym at 10PM and obviously it gives me an adrenaline rush.  Also, if you’re not completely committed to a new change, it’s so easy to talk yourself out of plans.  I’ve rescinded using my apartment’s elevator and only use the stairs.  I convince myself this is an adequate substitute of daily exercise, however, we all know it’s not.

Being held accountable to stick to a new goal can help remove barriers to change.  I’m heading to the gym tomorrow with my roommate.  Honestly, I wasn’t intending to go to the gym tomorrow, but since she asked me to accompany her, I know this is the time to seize a new healthy exercise routine.

Join me in living a more permanent healthy lifestyle and don’t allow those barriers inhibit your chance at reaching your goals.  Let’s do it!

Muffin Tin Portion Control


By: Nikki Nies

How many of you grab your scales and measuring cups to ensure you’re eating the desired portions and/or servings you want?  Really, you rummage through your cupboards and delay the ever pending consumption of food to portion out your food? If you do portion out your food or you’ve got a great eye for portions, that great.  However, for the other 99% of us that have deceiving eyes, don’t worry.

Original Image by Melissa via Flickr
Original Image by Melissa via Flickr

Many have already jumped on the bandwagon, using muffin tins as a great portion control device.  If you haven’t come on board! Another plus is that using a muffin tin can slash cooking time in half–saving time and money spent on energy!  Smaller portions are also tastier due to the decreased surface area and likelihood of drying out.

With restaurant and food industry portion sizes insanely disproportionate to what Americans really need to be consuming, a built in portion controlled cooking dish is the best next weight loss tip.  Not only can one freeze the smaller portioned food easier, but one can be guilt free about how much they eat.  Grab your muffin tins and start that portion control!

Check out some out of the box muffin tin friendly recipes at http://www.parade.com/153274/yvettemarquez/recipes-to-make-in-a-muffin-tin/

Sources: http://www.tastespotting.com/tag/ricotta/15



Health Halos


By: Nikki Nies

What are the largest selling products in America?  Those that are easy to understand, quick to use and requires little assessment.  That description of American consumerism includes the combination of food companies marketing “healthier” options and many consumer’s quick choices of healthy foods.  For example, do you automatically assume the terms “organic”, “vitamin fortified” or “antioxidant rich” products are better for you?  A health halo is the attachment of misleading health claims to not so healthy food products.

A study by the International Journal of Obesity conducted a research study of 186 participants to examine food imageschoices and perceptions.  They had one group of foods considered “healthier” to the standard variety. In actuality, the healthier versions contained the same amount of calories per 100 g as the standard varieties.  Participants rated the healthier choice as lower in energy and than the standard choice.  The health claim of “reduced fat” is the most associated health claim to be associated with the underestimation of calories.

1470384_10201980996583749_1121757277_nIn addition, organic foods have been positively labeled as healthier than nonorganic counterparts. Consumers have stated they “taste” fewer calories and fat in organic products, which can cause people to overconsume organic products as they do not feel they are eating as much, calorie and portion wise, compared to non organic products.  There’s a huge bias, with consumers stating they would pay 23.4% more for supposedly organic food than non-organic food.

Those that are environmentally friendly, recycle and read nutrition fact labels regularly are more likely not to be duped by health claims than those that do not. The point is take all health claims with a grain of salt.  There ARE some healthier options, but you have to find them  through the weave of options. It’s important to read the nutrition facts label and ingredient list to discern the quality of the food and if the health claims are rightfully stated.  Yes, the initial process of reading the back of the box will take a while, but your health should not have a time limit on it.  Once you get the hang of what’s really healthy, it’ll become more second nature.  Remember, the fresher the better!

Sources: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/smart-shopping/health-halos-what-food-labels-really-mean/

What Is Organic Food? Part Of The Healthy Halo Effect







Thai’in It In


By: Nikki Nies

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but please forgive me.  I recently got back from a trip to Thailand, which was not only awe-inspiring, humbling, but also eye-opening.

Over the last few months, I’ve been under a lot of stress, especially as I try to prepare for my next phase of my life.  I know first hand how easy it is to eat not because one’s hungry, but due to stress.  Even as a nutrition student, I had a noticeable amount of weight for my size.

Since I just graduated from an undergraduate program, I wanted to enjoy the trip to the fullest, which at first meant not depriving myself from the traditional, authentic Thai food.  In the first few days in Thailand, I noticed I had lost some weight (my wrist is the first place I lose weight and my watch was loose).  I was surprised because I was taking advantage of the local food and was more concerned with trying new foods than being health conscious.

Since returning from Thailand, I’m back to one of my healthiest weights, being able to quickly shed the pounds.  It got me thinking.  I was only there for 2 weeks, yet I able to enjoy the Thai food to the fullest without feeling guilty.

Some things I learned on my trip:

  • Their portions are about 1/4 of what I’m used to at home.  At first, I was shocked by the portions as it’s easy to become accustomed to oversized portions, however, I never ate a meal still hungry.  Yes, the portions were a lot smaller, but I always walked away from meals stuffed.  For example, what an expected American portion would be served, would be intended to serve 4 people in Thailand, at least.  Above, I’ve posted a picture of me at my first meal, such a great meal!
  • I just went through all my pictures and I didn’t actually take any pictures of the small plates, but check out this picture.  This dish is a typical portion for many Thai restaurants.


  • The amount of walking and physical activity that was did was 2 fold compared to what I do in the USA.  As a student, I can’t imagine how many hours I sit behind a desk and a computer.  The sedentary activities that are required to excel in college drastically limit the amount of activity one has time for throughout the day.  We were usually out all day, walking around temples, kayaking and/or never “lying around.” Perhaps, that balanced out what I ate.
  • I didn’t do any snacking there.  A lot of the people on my trip would buy chips at the 7/11, but I don’t gravitate towards salty foods and didn’t jump in.  Before the trip, I would eat every couple, just because I could.  However, on the trip we were designated certain times to eat and since I didn’t carry chips with me, I was only eating the small portioned out dishes.  I guess snacking really does add up!
  • Most of the food was extremely fresh.  We did a homestay and when you ordered, it would take about 40 minutes for the dishes to come out.  In America, that would be considered terrible service, but they literally made all dishes from scratch.  If you ordered sea bass, they went to their fish hatchery and grabbed a fresh sea bass from the water.  You can’t get any fresher than that!
  • Besides the visible use of condensed milk for banana pancakes, called roti, I didn’t see much dairy products used.  I don’t know if there’s a correlation between staying trim and the lack of dairy products, but I found it interesting.  They definitely have their share of ice cream places, but locals don’t go there often.

As stated, I learned a lot on my trip and it confirmed the belief, “less is more.”  I came back with a better appreciation for Thai cuisine, content that I got an array of tastes and flavors. I’m hoping what I learned from this trip I can tie into everyday practices back in the States.  I always considered myself to be a mindful eater, but I feel more aware of when I’m hungry and just bored.  So, perhaps, the Thai’s got it right, as their eating customs mimic a happy lifestyle while enjoying great flavors.

Source: http://www.smilepolitely.com/food/saigon_to_bangkok_in…_savoy/