August 28, 2015

How obsessed should you be?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 4:38 pm

A common frustration and concern I hear as folks learn how to eat better or pay more attention to food is that they are now “hyper-focused and obsessed” with what they are eating…”is this healthy?”

“I am reading every ingredient, I am asking waiters what is in all the food I order, I am looking at menus before I go to restaurants, I am thinking about food differently now that I know where my food comes from…am I obsessed? This can’t be good…right?”

It is tricky as of course, I do not want to spark disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder, but many are surprised that I am usually ok with this pattern…and here is why.

  1. It will get easier - when you start this process, it involves a lot of work and attention. However, it gets easier. You learn recipes that work for you, grocery shopping becomes a quick errand, you will be an ordering pro and it all becomes habitual rather than effortful.
  2. I like everyone paying more attention to food! We need to! So many of us do not know what we are putting in our bodies and that scares me. We eat mindlessly and have no awareness of our food habits, the choices we make around food and most of us are not taking ownership in our decisions around food. I want you to be mindful! I want you to be aware. That is the only way you are going to achieve success. 

While I am not trying to make you all neurotic…I am ok with a little crazy. A little obsessiveness may do you some good. Just a bit…

I mean, I am totally normal right? You see? It all works out.

Breakfast?!? Yes or No?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 4:37 pm

When it comes to nutrition, there are only a few things I am certain of, and one of them is eat breakfast. I do believe it is the most important meal of the day and an absolute game changer when it comes to managing physical and emotional hunger.

I saw on the Today Show a segment on how breakfast should be skipped to lose weight…my heart skipped a beat, worried about how this was going to play out on TV…and thank goodness afellow dietitian, Keri Glassman, RD spoke beautifully about the importance of nutrition and breakfast. Phew! Watch the segment here.

Reasons to eat breakfast:

  • Decreases stress hormones, allowing your body to burn fat and metabolize efficiently
  • Helps manage cravings throughout the day, overall daily caloric intake will likely be lower
  • Manage emotional hunger and mood – start your day with fuel to prevent getting “hangry” or making less healthy food choices later
  • Fuels morning workouts and allows for proper recovery

***I will provide the disclaimer, there are a handful of clients who have tried to eat breakfast at my suggestion, and after trying it for a few weeks they notice they feel worse and have gained weight. My answer is – make it work for you! If you try breakfast consistently for a month and it is not working for you, then find a strategy that works. Ultimately that is what is most important.

Need some breakfast ideas?

  1. Quick plain oats, cinnamon and fresh or frozen fruit – topped with yogurt or milk
  2. Eggs, toss some veggies, olives and hot sauce on top – toast on the side
  3. Sweet potato, eggs
  4. Lean sausage, veggie, starch
  5. Yogurt or cottage cheese, nuts and fruit
  6. Smoothie with yogurt or milk, 1 serving of fruit and some greens

Try breakfast consistently for a month and let me know how it goes. Keep me posted. Start your day off right!

August 16, 2015

Low Fat vs Low Carbohydrate – the debate continues…or does it?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 6:22 pm

Low Carbohydrate vs Low Fat studies are all the rage!

Many of you know I am working on a nutrition study at Stanford comparing low fat to low carbohydrate diets. Our study is the largest single site weight loss study ever to be conducted – 609 men and women! – participants are randomized to a plan and follow their diet for a year.We do not provide them with food or money and they are ultimately responsible for being adherent. They have 22 group classes filled with education and resources and unlimited access to a dietitian for the year.

Some of you may have seen the recent coverage of a study comparing low fat vs low carbohydrate diets. Very different study design than ours – very small (only 19 participants) - an extremely controlled environment, food is provided, no real life distractions – for a short time of only two weeks.

So…who won?

Well the jury is still out on our study as it will not be completed until Spring 2016…and the recent study showed that participants on both diets achieved results.

  • One could argue that a super controlled study with only 19 people is not applicable to real life. But, at least we know exactly what they were eating.
  • And while the study I am working on is a much larger sample size, we cannot control their actions - they are living busy, intense lives and we are not certain of every calorie they are consuming. 

So…who the heck won? Which diet is better?

The answer is likely neither…or both…and while I am counting the moments until the data from our study is ready, I truly believe it is going to show benefits and flaws on both plans. Our study is called “One Diet Does Not Fit All” for a reason. There is not just one perfect fit for everyone.

A commentary from the recent study states that it might not be relevant which diet you are on, but rather what eating plan you can maintain and what is the right mix of nutrients for you, and only you, to achieve results.

As unsexy as it is, if you create patterns, habits and a routine that work for YOU, I sincerely believe you will succeed and feel better than ever.

Be good to yourself…and enjoy some carbohydrates…and fat…and protein – imagine that!

August 11, 2015

Inside Out

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 6:52 am

Have you seen the movie Inside Out? I just loved it. Such a creative perspective on emotions and the mind. It got me thinking about how many individuals I know who struggle with emotional eating. I want to highlight two points that were sparked from the film that relate to food and emotions.

1. We eat for joy…we eat for sadness…we eat for angst…we eat for anger… Many of us struggle with emotional eating, but we often cannot see that we are doing it. It is a skill to be mindful and present of our emotions. Ever since I saw the film, I keep picturing those characters when emotions come up. Last week, I was feeling pure anger, and I pictured that little red, stout guy as I wanted to scream out loud!! It helped! Still felt angry, but was comforting to be present…rather than running to a bar or ice cream shop and eating to quiet the anger.

So if we do feel something, what if we acknowledged the emotion rather than eating to feel it, or to not feel it? When we feel sad, say out loud “I feel sad” rather than eating some chocolate. Or if I was feeling angst, acknowledge it rather than drinking some wine. Or when you feel joy, smile big and embrace it, rather than eating your favorite food in celebration.

2. We feel joy…and sadness…and angst…and anger…all at the same time. Many of us want to feel joyful all the time. Live in a positive, happy, joyful space all day long. But, I am not sure that is realistic…or necessary. Fear, angst and sadness are real, healthy, appropriate emotions and we should feel comfortable allowing ourselves to feel them. 

Often, if we feel anything other than joy, happiness and perfection, we eat our feelings. When things are not quite right, we eat. And trust me, I get it! I have had chocolate in many an emotional moment! But, for some of us, these emotional eating moments are far too frequent and are having a major impact on our mental and physical health. Can we let ourselves feel the angst, sadness, fear, anger or whatever else is going on…rather than eating it to cover it up? 

Go see the movie…it will make you laugh out loud and think for days. And of course, you will feel a whole bunch too. And try not to bring popcorn, sweets or soda in with you…

August 2, 2015

One Pound a Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 11:23 am

My Stanford participants are working hard…creating behavior change, learning how to eat differently, taking care of themselves and getting healthier…progress!

But, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that many of the participants are struggling more than I realized and I couldn’t figure out why…and then it hit me. They are losing .5-2 pounds a week and think it is not enough. They are beating themselves up assuming they should be doing more or doing “better” at this whole weight loss thing and more pounds should come off per week.

I was heartbroken for them. Here I am feeling proud and excited for them and they are not feeling much pride or excitement at all.

So, lets start with a major clarification – A pound a week of consistent weight loss is GREAT! A pound a week is a sign of success. If you keep going at that rate and consistently lose, you have high chances of losing all the weight you want, keeping it off and feeling fantastic.

I know one pound seems like nothing, but there are a lot of things to remember when it comes to the game of weight loss.

It is portrayed in the media that you can drop a ton of weight fast and all your problems will be fixed in a matter of days. Sorry folks, that is not how it works. Rarely can you safely lose a lot of weight quickly and if you do…it almost always is going to come back on. To be even more of a “Debbie Downer” here, when you lose weight that fast it is likely not fat but rather muscle and water.So, if you actually want to lose fat, I am assuming you do (?), you need to slowly and consistently take it off. 

Weight is only a number. Often times we have this goal in our head of what we want to weigh. So you focus on that number, do everything you can to lose the weight…and you hit your goal..yay! But then you stand buck naked in the front of a mirror at your goal weight and it doesn’t look quite like what you imagined. That is because strength training, aerobic exercise and proper posture are part of looking your best. And when you work out, you may gain weight. So, again,focusing on just that number on the scale is likely not the whole picture.

Stop the yo-yo! We go on cleanses, starve ourselves, cut out food groups and do all sorts of crazy things to get the weight off and then it just comes back. What the heck is the point? Why feel miserable and lose weight, just to put it all back on? To make it worse, when you yo-yo, the weight that comes back on usually is even harder to get off because it triggers a stress response in the body. The body thought it was starving and in trouble…then you gain the weight back…the body will hold onto those extra pounds with all of its might because it is worried you are going to starve again.

Here is a crazy thought – ENJOY the process of weight loss. Imagine that? BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. Be patient…it is a virtue for a reason. 

Take it slow, be consistent, develop sustainable habits and watch those pounds slowly but surely melt away. You will feel better than ever, physically and mentally.

Stand in front of that mirror buck naked with pride at your smokin hot bod and healthy life!

May 18, 2015

I wish I had the courage to….

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 4:41 pm

A new group of participants just started at the Stanford nutrition study I am working at and after the first class, I received a handful of emails from a few newbies saying, “I am terrified to do this….but excited…I need help.”

When faced with the reality that they were going to commit to this study and be encouraged to drastically change their food and lifestyle habits, a wave of fear came over them.

This process is scary! Terrifying actually. One woman was shocked and relieved when I told her she has every right to feel scared! And I am so glad she let me know. It requires courage to take that step forward and make a change. When you take a step towards action, the path is not going to be perfect, and may be a bit different than you expect, but take it slow, embrace it and be proud of how brave you are.

I saw this article last week about a wonderful event called the “Courage Wall” – a set of giant blackboards with the words written “I wish I had the courage to…” People are writing all sorts of things as there is a lot that requires courage – what would you write?

We all have things we want to do but we are often too afraid. So afraid we may not even be able to admit that we feel fear. So often, the reason someone cannot move forward in improving their health – nutrition, exercise, stress – is due to fear of that first step. I know it is scary but please do it. One little baby step. One teensy, weensy yet extremely courageous step in the direction towards health and wellness.

Lastly, one of my favorite TED talks on the topic of courage.

Be brave! Be courageous! Take that one scary step.

May 5, 2015

Simple Rules

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 1:50 pm

A client forwarded this article to me last week and I had to share. So simple. So clear. So real.

Yes, I am a dietitian and talk nutrition all day long…and work in nutrition research…but the truth is we do not really know that much about nutrition. Kinda crazy considering how much people spend on nutrition products and programs and how many claims there are out there suggesting results. Little has been proven, everyone seems to have unique nutritional needs and our food system is so complicated that it is difficult to know what we are really eating.

Please read this article and take a breath. Remind yourself to not stress out about your food choices. Eat whole, real food. Do not believe in the fads and quick fixes. Eat with your friends and family. Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling…and what is the right mix of nutrients for you.

Take care of yourself. Nurture yourself with food that makes you feel good. Keep it simple.

April 28, 2015

Eating fat makes you…thin?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 9:36 am

As many of you know, I am working on an exciting research study at Stanford comparing low fat to low carbohydrate diets. There is one participant who was assigned the low fat diet – she has been following a very low fat diet for a year now and having slow and steady weight loss. Very, very slow…half a pound a week…but steady. She has been in a plateau these last few weeks and we were brainstorming all sorts of things to get her back on track…she came in last class reporting she had lost 3 pounds. “Wow!” I said, “How did you do it?” and she responded with, “Eating more fat”. 

There is another participant, in the same low fat class as the woman mentioned above, who gains weight if she even adds a few extra grams of fat to her diet – 10 measly almonds – and she will watch the scale go up.

So…what is the answer? Does eating low fat take off the pounds? Or does eating more fat help you lose fat?

It should not surprise you that my response is that I do not know. It should hopefully not surprise you (and potentially comfort you) that there is not one right fit for everyone. We all have different metabolisms, genetics, activity levels, preferences, lifestyles and behaviors. Certain foods allow some of us to thrive, while those same foods could make someone else feel miserable.

Fat is an interesting topic because there seems to be quite a discrepancy as to what people need and prefer. I have some clients who are eating a LOT of fat…and others who are eating little to no fat at all. If you have not found your happy place with food, experimenting with fat might be a fun experiment to see how your body works. 

Plant fats:
Portion size – 2 Tablespoons or 1/4 cup

  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds and seed butters

Plant oils
Portion size – 1 Teaspoon

  • Any oil that is liquid at room temperature

Animal Fat
Consider one ounce as a portion size for meat for simplicity to keep track of total intake
Butter – portion size is 1 teaspoon
Dairy – portion size is 1/2 cup

  • Higher Fat - Red meat, Poultry skin, Sausages, Butter, Whole fat dairy
  • Medium Fat - Dark poultry meat, Fattier fish such as salmon, Lower fat dairy
  • Leaner Fat - Poultry breast, White fish, Super lean red meat, Non fat dairy

NOTE: Fried food is not on the list! Neither is processed meat or hydrogenated oils. Sorry pals. Fried oil, fried food or processed fats are just not part of my plan for anyone…. ever.

Where to start:

  1. Assess how much fat you are currently eating.
  2. Keep a food log for 2-5 days and notice how many servings of these foods you are eating.
  3. Note the different portion sizes above and the different animal fats.
  4. Do not judge yourself or eat in a special way. Just do your normal day and note how much fat are you typically eating in a day.

Decide if you want to add more fat to your current plan or take some away. Again, I don’t know the answer here!  Are you pleased with your weight? Are you feeling stuck and not sure what to do? Are you having major sugar cravings – could it be because you are not eating enough fat? Are you always hungry? Are you always too full? Take all of these into consideration.

If you notice that you are eating many many servings of fat per meal, maybe you want to cut some off. Or maybe you notice you really only eat 1-2 servings a day and adding some fat may be an interesting experiment.

Choose a number of servings for the following groups:

  1. Plant Fats
  2. Plant oils/Butter
  3. Ounces of animal fat
  4. Cups of Dairy

Stick to a plan for a month….and see what happens. You have to be consistent with the plan for at least a few weeks to see how your body reacts. Be patient, mindful and consistent and you will find the right fit for you. 

Keep me posted!

April 21, 2015

Matthew McConaughey is a lucky man

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 1:33 pm

Yes, he is one good looking man and seems to be having fun no matter what he does…and says things like “All right all right all right…” and people love him – but why is Matthew McConaughey such a lucky man? He is married to a gorgeous woman who understands the importance of COOKING IN BULK

Forget the Academy Award…this man won the all mighty prize. McConaughey’s wife, Camilla Alves was featured on the Today Show last week as part of their week long series on skillet dinners.  Meals that can be made for the whole family in one skillet. Easy, quick, tasty – and easily made into leftovers for meals later in the week. Alves did a great segment on meat sauce, cooked three ways that can be enjoyed throughout the week or frozen for later. There were some other great dishes as well such as shrimp/veggie/noodle stir fry and an awesome stew/chili from Giada de Laurentiis. 

You know how I feel about this - cooking in bulk could save the world! We would all eat more homemade food, cooking would be less stressful, we would have more time to eat and share with our family and eating whole real foods would be effortless.

Our waist lines would shrink, our stress levels would decrease and living a healthy life would be within reach. Like a said, we could change the world if we cooked in bulk.

Try it! Cook 2-3 times the portion you normally make. Trust me. It is a game changer. Make it happen. Your week will go smoothly and eating healthy will be a way of life rather than a chore.

April 8, 2015

Exercise? Or take a nap?

Filed under: Uncategorized — JBNUT @ 5:36 pm

A client wrote me this the other day:

“I’ve had this dilemma recently. Do I take a nap or go to the gym? I haven’t been sleeping my needed 8 hours because of my kids having trouble sleeping through the night.

Any words of advice? Maybe one day gym, the next nap?”

What do you think? Sleep or workout?

You may be surprised that I suggested sleep over exercise to her. My specific suggestion was to take a nap after work and consider a 10-15 minute walk afterwards with her kids. The more and more I work with individuals on weight loss, the more I realize that stress is often causing individuals to keep weight on rather than simply eating too much or not exercising enough.

When you do not sleep enough, the body is stressed and not functioning at its most efficient. If stress hormones run too high your body will hold on to fat rather than not. And if you are tired, you will get delirious and likely not make the best food choices.

Don’t get me wrong, if you overeat and/or live a sedentary life…that is a stressor to the body and will likely cause weight gain! But if you eat too little or workout too much, that is a stressor too!

So, what to do…workout? Sleep? De-stress?

Of course I don’t know the exact right answer….but I know that you should notice how you are feeling. And being honest with yourself regarding how much sleep you are getting, how you are eating, how much you are exercising and how stressed you are feeling.

I know we live in a world of “work hard, play hard” but sometimes if you push yourself too much you are only causing your body to shut down.

Some of us live in a world where we follow the concept “be good to yourself” – maybe that could be just what you need to get you on your way.

Be well.

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