January 11, 2016

Defending Food, Plants & Fat

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 8:40 pm

Man oh man nutrition is confusing. Sorry pals, but it is. I know I am your nutrition expert and you come to me with all your burning questions, but the truth is there is so much that is unknown and even more that has been miscommunicated over the years. And I work in research and still do not know the answer!

The conversation is getting quite interesting these days and more and more people are starting to have an honest conversation about food and nutrition. Thought I would share some video links to provide you with more of the story.

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food - Pollan’s documentary was featured on PBS last week and does a fantastic job explaining much of the confusing aspects of our food system. (Its two hours so give yourself some time)

The documentary is based on explaining Pollan’s well regarded nutrition advice – Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. 

New York Times Retro Report, A Decades Long Search for a Perfect Diet - An eye opening review of how the low fat diet hit the media, public health and social norms and the truths and flaws in the research and presentation of the information. (12 minutes for this one)

Fun side note - my boss and Principal Investigator from Stanford, Dr. Christopher Gardner, is featured in both videos! Very proud to be on his team.

So what to do? Go vegan? Eat a high fat diet? What the heck is the right plan?

As Gardner suggests in the NY Times video (at the 9 minute mark), and the essence of our research at Stanford, maybe there is not one perfect diet, but rather an ideal plan specific for each of us.

If that is the case, it is still fair to ask, what the heck is the right plan for me??

First and foremost - and this is an extremely important distinction, when discussing plants and fats and grains, remember that highly processed foods vs organic/pasture raised/whole and intact foods are extremely different. So to discuss fat is really unfair and confusing because are we discussing fat from a grass fed cow or trans fat in a baked goods? When we are discussing carbohydrates are we talking intact grains or a vegetable? Or a cookie made of refined flour and sugar? While they are fat and carbohydrate molecules, they are not all the same. Continually remind yourself of that. When you are deciding if you should eat more fat or less fat, more carbohydrates or less, you also have to know where that food comes from. This is the world we live in. It is what it is, and you have to be a smart consumer. 

Second- Eating more plants does not mean becoming vegan. Many of us think we need to adjust our protein and fat intake, while if we just ate more vegetables, the ratios of our food would likely balance out. It requires more effort than you realize to consume 5-10 servings (3-5 cups) of vegetables a day. If you focused your effort there, you would be amazed at the impact you could have to your health. And then if you throw in 1-3 servings of fruit and 1-5 servings of whole grain starches along with only eating high quality sources of fat and protein. You would likely find your ideal plan without ever counting a calorie or thinking about a “diet”. 

Third – If the thought of focusing on vegetables will not work for you, maybe focusing on fiber will. In Pollan’s documentary he features the Hadza tribe in Africa. Researchers from all over the world are observing this group because their microbiota, the microorganisms living in our bodies, is one of the most diverse, healthy and extensive. One conclusion is this is due to the tremendous amount of fiber in the Hadza diet. 5-10 times the amount of the typical American. So, if you were to just focus on fiber, could you find the plan that was right for you? And if you focused on fiber, you will notice that vegetables and high quality grains would increase and processed foods would decrease. Hadza are not vegan and you do not have to be either, but eating high quality meats and fats and eating balanced plates with fibrous vegetables, grains and fruits create a balanced plate.

I hope I did not make you more confused…. I hope this leaves you thinking about food and diet to make you your best and healthiest self!

So yes to Gardner and Pollan – Eat real food, find your fiber, and the right mix for YOU. 

January 5, 2016

6 Tips for Living Well in 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 9:28 pm

Happy 2016! Wow time flies – and here we are. How are things going? Off to a good year? Started the year motivated, fired up, focused and on track? Or is the craziness of life already getting in the way?

The new year is an excellent time to set intentions for the year to come. However, we often set lofty goals and expectations without creating a framework to get us there. Or we think some quick fix strategy is the solution for the long run. When it comes to weight, health and living well it is really easy to say, “I am going to lose 10 pounds” or “I am going to workout more” or “I am going to lower my cholesterol” – but are you going to live your life in a way that will actually allow you to achieve your goals and be successful? 

How can you talk the talk…and walk the walk…so you are successful.

Here are 6 tips to set you up for a healthy year of living well. 

1. Get honest - Take a good long look within and decide what is working and what is not. What is one step you can make towards living healthier? One specific goal for you. Not 12. What is one thing you can do to get you in the right direction? Get honest, get real, set true expectations of yourself and choose one goal towards living a healthier life. One step in the healthier direction will take you further than you can imagine. 
2. Eat vegetables No matter what food trend, superfood, low-carb/low-fat/functional/clean whatever meal plan you are on, vegetables need to be a part of it. Full stop. The key to eating healthily and achieving your weight goals includes vegetables. (BTW…If you cannot think of a goal from Tip #1, eating vegetables is a great place to start.)
3. Be kind - It is very easy to be hard on ourselves, to beat ourselves up that we are not achieving the all mighty “perfection” and that we didn’t meet all the expectations of our goals that were not achievable anyways. What is far more difficult and much more beneficial is being kind to yourself. And realizing perfection isn’t possible. What is possible, and desirable, is finding a balance.So If you used to drink 15 drinks a week, and set a goal to not drink for January and you have one drink on a Saturday night dinner with friends, do not beat yourself up for the glass. Be proud of yourself that you only had one glass, when you used to have 3-4. That is a significant success! (And if alcohol isn’t your vice, insert sugar, lack of exercise, fried foods etc…)
4. Decrease added sugar - This one is so simple but gets tricky out in the real world. So here is the deal, if you are not mindful of what you are eating and paying attention to the ingredients of the food you put in your mouth, you easily could be taking in so much added sugar that you might as well have an IV drip of simple syrup attached to you. Seriously. It can get that out of hand, and quick. Why is this important? Diabetes and metabolic related diseases are killing us and we do not seem to see how serious it is. So, if you want to live a long life and enjoy it, decrease your consumption of added sugar. Do not eliminate it. Decrease it. 
5. Sleep and Water - These two are the foundation of good health and seem to always fall through the cracks. I cannot express the important of both. 7-9 hours of sleep and figure out how much water you are currently drinking and slowly increase until urine is clear-ish and you are urinating often. Sleep and drink water. Sleep and drink water. They are game changers.
6. Enjoy it - The main reason resolutions do not work is because we force ourselves onto a plan that makes us unhappy and deprived, we fight as long as we can and then we break. If you hate kale, do not eat it! Find another vegetable you like. Or experiment with flavor to make veggies taste to your liking. If you despise running, do not train for a marathon! Find an activity that gets your heart rate up that makes you smile and you enjoy and look forward to. Dancing? Basketball? Hiking? Crazy aerobic classes with loud music? Go for it. And enjoy it. That is how it will stick. Make the process of good healthy and living well enjoyable. Imagine that?!?

And here is one more morsel….maybe you just choose one of the things listed above. Not all six need to start today. Just move in the right direction and as you build momentum and motivation it will come together.

Wishing you all a very happy new year filled with delicious food that makes you feel good and baby steps towards taking care of yourself every day.

Travel Tips – Avoid The Holiday Weight Gain!

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 9:28 pm
I am on vacation – yay! I wrote this message last week so I could unplug and go off the grid for a week. You can confidently assume I am relaxing poolside right now with a big smile on my face.  Thought I would take this opportunity for a blog on some solid travel tips. The “all or nothing” folks out there tend to take vacations as a time to really go “off” the wagon. While I am all for splurges and treats, I simply do not understand total sabotage. Why work so hard when you are home to eat right, exercise and take care of yourself and then take so many steps back on holiday?? Just does not make sense to me.

How can you enjoy time away and still stay (at least somewhat?) on track?
  1. Bring snacks - Have some go to snacks in your bag at all times so you never get in too much trouble. Remember, being hangry never makes for fun holiday time. And if you wait too long between meals, your metabolism will not work in your favor and you will overeat at your next meal. Pre-portioned packages of nuts, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, whole wheat crackers, jerky and bars made of real, clean ingredients like nuts, dried fruits and spices are usually the best bets for non perishable. If you are not traveling far, a sandwich or some yogurt could be a good on the go snack.
  2. Keep meal times consistent, especially that mid afternoon meal. When traveling we often miss our meal timing and go into dinner starving which usually gets us in trouble. Stay mindful during the mid afternoon.
  3. Say yes…and say no. Often on vacation we say yes to everything because “why not-we are on vacation!” or because we are with people that we feel we have to say yes to everything. I highly encourage you to say “yes” when you want to and I accept there are times you have to, but say “no” too! Stick up for yourself and do what you want. And find some moderation while on holiday.
  4. Drink water. We often feel hungry and crave sweets when all we actually need is some water. And airplanes and hotel rooms are usually very dehydrating. Bring a water bottle with you and drink up!
  5. Be a planner. If you can, plan the day you want. Do what feels right for you. Fit in a workout, or go to a restaurant where you can get what you want, or plan a stress free fun filled day that is ideal for you.
  6. Where can you walk? Get those steps in! Often just walking throughout the holiday is a way to keep your weight under control. Plan your trip around walking to have fun and get your exercise in.
  7. How can you be active? Can you use the hotel gym? Or is there a workout class you can fit in to your schedule? Or go on a hike, bike ride or activity so you are active while on vacation?
  8. Order smart. Be strategic in your ordering. Find your vegetables, non fried foods, leaner proteins and whole grains. Be a little high maintenance when you can and order what will work for you and your plan.
  9. Find some buddies. Do you have a family member, coworker or friend on your trip who can support you? Get a buddy so you can eat right and exercise. Reach out to them before the trip if you can to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
  10. Visualize yourself moving forward and not back - don’t assume you are going to gain 10 pounds. See yourself coming back lighter!
  11. Have fun while being healthy! It is often considered a “downer” to eat healthy and workout on a trip. I don’t totally relate to this one but I know this is a truth. So find ways to see eating right, being active, not sabotaging yourself as FUN! Imagine that?
  12. Put yourself first. Eat how you want, be active, live your life so you see the results you want. I know this isn’t always possible on trips since so much is out of your control, but when you can, go for it!
  13. Savor the splurges. Of course there will be treats, sweets and splurges. Enjoy each bite, each moment and savor it.
  14. Alcohol Alcohol Alcohol - Of course you are going to drink, and I have yet to tell someone to stop drinking to lose weight, but I am certain everyone can drink less. So, do not drink just to drink – the calories add up!
Those of you who are planning trips for the holidays….consider this advice and use it! 
Travel well! And healthily! And Have FUN!

October 12, 2015

Me in The Huffington Post (!!!) and Getting Back in the Saddle

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 10:27 pm
Thrilled to announce that I am part of The Huffington Post Blogger network! Yesterday, two of my articles were published - click here and here. So excited for what is to come. And thank you thank you to Mary and Lisa for the introductions! Please share, tweet, follow, like and spread the love!Social media and PR experts out there? Help! Any chance you want some nutrition counseling in exchange for some pearls of wisdom in helping me out? Email me! (Most of you are not even a little surprised that I am a bit technologically and pop-culture challenged!?!)

All righty…Back to our regularly scheduled program….

Back in the Saddle

A few months ago, I fell off a horse. Yes, I just wrote that. And I am being literal – I have started horseback riding and I literally, fell off the darn horse. I used to ride as a kid and am loving getting back into it. Wow it is fun! But my goodness, it is difficult! I do not remember it being such a workout but am loving every minute, except falling off…

So I have been improving and challenging myself and was doing a drill and my horse went a bit faster than I would have liked and I just fell off. It hurt…badly. Tried to be tough, but my back and hips were in serious pain. Thank goodness nothing too serious, but ouch, it hurt!
So what to do, give up? Do nothing and hope it gets better soon? Nope.
Instead, I did the following to heal smart and fast and keep moving forward:
  • Asked for help. I reached out to my network of health providers and injury specialists to get me feeling better. A mix of getting my bones back in place, muscle work and stabilization and good advice all certainly helped.
  • I kept moving! I went swimming everyday, Pilates and whatever type of exercise I could do that did not cause pain. Doing nothing would have been the worst thing for me, but so often we think that is best.
  • Took it slow, rested and avoided doing anything seriously stupid.
After 3-4 weeks I was back. Phew! Am back in the saddle and riding again and I am having so much fun.We all have setbacks. Whether it be an injury, or a stressful week, or vacation or a life event that gets us off track. That is ok. It happens and will continue to happen.

How we handle those setbacks is crucial to behavior change. Keep moving forward.

Put one foot in front of the other, breathe, believe in yourself and know you will get through this. Eating well and exercise is not always going to be “perfect” and work accordingly to plan. Regardless, take baby steps towards your goal and you will get there.

You got this.

Bottom Heavy

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 10:27 pm

I heard this expression with regards to meal timing the other day and had to share. A fellow sports dietitian suggested to her athletes not to make their day “bottom heavy” – meaning, do not save all your calories and food for the end of the day. Such a good visual when you think about planning your day.

Visualize your day as steady and consistent – a tube filled with water flowing through at an even rate. If you do not plan your meals correctly, the water flows too fast through the tube and there is a clog at the end. 

You all know by now what a stickler I am about meal timing – I think it could change the word! Let us use this as a moment to refresh. I believe the WHEN of eating is more important than the WHAT. Often if you figure out the WHEN, the WHAT sorts itself out.

I highly encourage you to:

  • Eat within an hour of waking
  • Eat every 3-4 hours thereafter
  • Eat within an hour pre and post workout

I notice all the time that most of our poor food decisions are due to not appropriately planning the day.If you go too long without food our metabolism does not work efficiently and then when you do decide to eat, we usually eat too much and store more of that food as fat. 

Visualize your day and spread out your calories more evenly to prevent the see-saw from being heavy on one side or loading all the calories too late in the day to make your day bottom heavy.

When you plan your meals better, your energy improves, you will likely achieve your ideal weight, cravings subside and it is much easier to think about food in a rational way. If you wait too long between meals you get hangry and can rarely make a good decision when you are hungry…and angry. 

Set alarms in your phone, set meal times in your calendar, think about your day the night before…set yourself up for success. Do not make your day bottom heavy – spread those meals out!

October 6, 2015

Climbing Mountains and Surviving Mars

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 2:47 pm

Been in the mood lately to watch others taking on deathly adventures. Not sure what that means…but I recently watched the film Meru and just finished the book The Martian and loved them. Highly recommend both if you are a wanna-be-adrenaline-junkie like myself. Wow! Both describe unreal events….climbing uncharted territory and hanging from a mountain during a storm in a portaledge which scares the heck out of me (this picture says it all and takes my breath away) and surviving being stranded on a freezing desert planet….on another planet…by yourself! (I realize the book is fiction but listening to it on Audible, I really felt like I was right there with Mark Watney, holy moly)

Anyways, I digress, back to my point! What is my point? Right. My point is, in both of these insane stories, it all comes down to food. See how I did that? The nutrition nerd cannot help herself! Having enough food for fuel. And using food for just that – fuel. Fuel to keep your body running so you can function and do incredible things, like climb up a mountain or survive Mars.

We have all heard that term before – “Use food for fuel!” but how many of us actually think about it? We are so fortunate to have food available to us at all times. The majority of us are not starving nor hungry out of lack of resources. There is food accessible 24/7, food will be delivered right to your door, food is plentiful no matter the season, weather conditions or life circumstance. And how often do we look at food as fuel? We look at food and consider flavor, satisfaction, satiety, emotions, memories, comfort, cravings, social situation, price, status, preparation, convenience….but how often do we notice that food is fuel for energy?

The truth is, the number one thing that food provides is calories, which is energy. It is essential to our survival. And only when we hear incredible stories such as the guys on Meru or a man surviving Mars do we see how it really comes down to what you eat to survive a day.

Shall we all quasi starve ourselves and only eat the minimum to survive? No.
Shall we never enjoy a treat for celebration? Of course not.
Shall we never go to a comfort mood simply because we want to? Nope.

But, with each bite, appreciate what you have. And look at your plate and notice if you are eating a nutritiously dense plate of food with proteins, carbohydrates and fats so you are truly fueling yourself. Be grateful that you are not counting calories to survive, but use food to fuel the wonderful things you want to accomplish in a day.

Remember, your brain survives off glucose, which is sugar! So when you are deep in thought or highly productive, know that your food provided that moment.

Your eyes need sugar to see. When you are looking at something beautiful, thank your food for fueling your eyes to see.

When you accomplish a physical challenge, whether it be your morning workout, playing with your kids, trying something new or climbing a mountain, thank your food for giving your cells the fuel to take that step forward.

Be mindful, and appreciative for each bite. Use food to fuel you forward!

September 22, 2015

Deprivation | Guilt

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 3:56 pm

Deprivation and Guilt are two words that have been on my mind a lot. Not necessarily due to my own actions, but when I think of my clients and study participants. So often, someone knows exactly what they need to do to eat healthily, they have everything in their favor to be successful, yet it does not happen.

Instead, they vacillate between deprivation and guilt. They go on a super strict, extreme plan and deprive themselves of food….and then they cannot take it anymore, overeat and feel guilty.

What a vicious, frustration cycle to be stuck in! What can we do to get out of this?

To be honest, I am not certain. Many individuals I know are struggling with this and some are having more success than others to get out of it. Here are some suggestions:

Be honest with yourself – do you fall into this cycle? As I have been suggesting this topic to more and more folks, their eyes get wide as they realize this characterizes them so well, yet no one has explained it. Maybe…just maybe…when you become aware that you are in this struggle, you will stop being so all or nothing and find a way to get some balance.

Find a way to motivate yourself…that works for you. We all work in different ways. Some of us need accountability, some of us work well with rules and structure, some of us need more education…whatever it is, figure out what is going to motivate you. YOU. What is going to motivate you to stay on track?

You are worth it! Why live in such a destructive cycle of deprivation and guilt? It is exhausting and no fun. Believe in you. You can do this. You can live a life in balance without food causing such destruction.

As I said, I am not quite certain how to get around this one…but it is becoming my passion to support you to find balance. Balance, peace and joy with food. Imagine that?


Hate to waste food?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 3:55 pm

“I hate to waste food”

I have heard this excuse several times in the last few weeks so thought it was time to bring it up. A common thought clients have when they discuss their struggles with portion size, is that they really hate to waste food and feel obliged to eat it rather than let food go to waste.

While I am touched by the thoughtfulness, I cannot let this be the reason why we overeat. Because here is the deal…if you do leave food on your plate, that food is not going to go to a starving child or homeless person. That food is going to be thrown away. I fully support making efforts to create less waste, but ultimately if you are overeating your meal due to not wanting to waste food, it is a lose-lose situation. The person in need is not getting that food…and you overate! 

So…to help yourself:

When eating at home, only serve yourself enough for one portion. Whether you eat family style or pre portioned plates, put the appropriate amount of food for you on your plate to prevent wasting. And have plenty of containers at home for leftovers and storage.

If you are eating out, ask for a to go box at the beginning of the meal so you can pre portion your food and get two servings out of a meal. Or portion out what you want and leave leftovers on your plate for a to go box. Or order less. Get an appetizer instead of an entree or split with someone you are eating with.

And to help others in need:

An app to help with leftover food!

And LOVE ugly food – that is they way to truly not waste food. 

So lets scratch this excuse off the list ok?

September 13, 2015

Chocolate Milkshakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 9:55 am

My best friend’s father has lost a nice chunk of weight in the last few years – so proud of him! When I asked him how he did it, he said his doctor provided some simple advice.. Eat less and move more. His doctor also asked him what is his favorite food, to which he responded easily, “chocolate milkshakes” and his doctor suggested have one milkshake a month. Not weekly or daily, but do not deprive oneself of a favorite food. Enjoy it as a monthly treat.

Well it worked! He is down in weight, has created a sustainable change and it didn’t “hurt” that much because he never deprived himself or felt like he was on a “diet.” He truly created a lifestyle change.

So what is your favorite food? That one item you love, sometimes space out thinking about and crave? Enjoy it…monthly. Not daily. Not weekly. Not just because. Enjoy it monthly because you want it and savor it…then move on.

I think I have a few favorites on my list…See’s dark chocolate bordeaux is coming to mind…and I do tend to walk in that store monthly for a treat…

Eliminating all food from your diet rarely gets you far. We usually find a way to sneak things in and often when we avoid foods for too long, when we indulge, we go BIG. HUGE. So instead of a bingeing moment, lets catch it before things get out of hand. I enjoy 2-3 chocolates instead of 5-6.

So enjoy that chocolate milkshake once a month Larry! And keep up the great work!

September 1, 2015

September is the New January

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 8:08 am

Rabbit Rabbit!!

It’s September 1st and for many of you, it feels like a new year with school starting, routines changing and feeling the need to get back on track. While I am not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would take advantage of your motivation and love of “jumpstarts and challenges” to fire you up and get you living well and healthy.

So set a goal. Make it reasonable, extremely specific and in line with where you want to go. It doesn’t have to solve all your concerns and fix everything – just needs to get you headed in the right direction.

See below for some topics to get you started.

Remember – be specific! Decide number of times per day/week, portion sizes and times of day to make expectations of yourself clear and organized. “Eat better and lose weight” is not a goal!

  1. Eat breakfast!
  2. Eat every 3-4 hours
  3. Make half your plate for lunch and dinner vegetables
  4. Drink half your weight in pounds, in ounces of water per day – that is a starting place for how much water you need. You should be urinating often and clear-ish in color.
  5. Decrease your current alcohol intake – negotiate a new drink limit for yourself
  6. How many sweets do you have per week? Have less
  7. Cut out processed food! Focus on whole, clean eating
  8. If you focus on cardio work, add a strength training workout to your routine
  9. If you focus on strength training, add a cardio workout to your routine
  10. Learn how to cook something! And learn how to cook it in bulk to provide leftovers
  11. Notice the added sugars in your life…and decrease it
  12. Sit quietly for 5 minutes – breathe and let go
  13. Focus on mindful eating - be aware of what you eat, eat slowly, eat quietly and notice if it changes your habits and portions
  14. Stand up and walk for 3-5 minutes twice a day during your work day. Get moving!
  15. Trying something new, fun and crazy! Get out of your comfort zone and go for it! Try a new workout, go take a class, eat a new food – something new!

Fall is almost here and I love this time of year. Even though it is 80 degrees here and we don’t really have seasons in SF, I am a sucker for fall foliage, and excited to enjoy my sweaters and scarves, coziness and apple cider soon.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

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