Nutrition

What you do in the kitchen is just as important as what you do in the gym. To effectively achieve your fitness goals, proper nutrition is an absolute must!

Study: Eating Out Adds 200 Calories Per Day…

t1larg.fastfoodWhether it’s going to your favorite fast food establishment or eating a sit down meal at a restaurant, researchers have found that dining out adds an average of 200 calories per day to your diet.

The study, which was recently published in Public Health Nutrition, surveyed some 12,000 individuals on two separate days. According to the data, the calorie boost was greater for low income individuals and people who identified as black. High income individuals saw the smallest increase in calories; researchers speculate that higher income individuals may have better access to resources and healthier (but often more expensive) food options.

It’s no secret that fast food and restaurant meals are often more calorie-dense than home-cooked meals. But researchers noted that on days when individuals ate out, they didn’t adjust their calorie intake accordingly. In other words, if you know you’re eating out for dinner, compensate for the extra calories with an especially healthy lunch. It can help mitigate the damage.

Beyond calories, restaurant and fast food eating also resulted in more saturated fats, sugar and salt.

This data clearly demonstrates the impact of typical restaurant meals on our diets. But the choice doesn’t need to be between eating out and proper nutrition. There are certainly steps that each of us can take to ensure healthier restaurant meals. Like drinking water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol. And sticking with baked or broiled options rather than foods that are fried, creamy or breaded. Research restaurants online (some have more healthy options than others) and ask your server for substitutes.

200 calories might not sound like a lot, but when those calories are consumed several days a week, 52 weeks a year – they add up to an alarmingly large number. Be aware of the foods you eat and make smarter decisions whenever possible!

5 Tips: Mindful Eating to Lose Weight & Improve Health.

89696614I’m not a big fan of diets and restrictions.

In fact, I don’t think that a healthy lifestyle is about less. It’s about more; it’s about an abundance of colorful, nourishing foods and a full array of flavors. It’s about freeing your body from excessive fat and living the life you’ve always wanted.

One powerful step in losing weight and improving your health is mindfulness. At first glance, it can sound like a lot of new age gimmickry and wishful thinking. But mindfulness is a change in perspective that opens up new dimensions in your life.

Albert Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. By practicing mindfulness, you’re able to see the world anew – rather than simply treating the symptoms of an underlying problem.

Here are five ways to practice mindfulness from farm to tummy:

  1. Be mindful of where your food comes from. Is eating sacred? I think so. After all, it’s through food that we fuel our bodies to experience this tremendous gift of life. Without food, there is no life. In some ways, the food we eat is an offering to our bodies – not unlike an offering that a pilgrim might make at a temple. When food is viewed in this light, the source of your food – and knowing how it is grown or handled – can become increasingly important. While organic foods may or may not be healthier (the debate is ongoing), there’s an energetic benefit in knowing that your food is grown in a sustainable way.
  2. Be mindful of what your food contains. Ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to the foods you eat. By paying attention to the nutrition labels on product packaging, you’ll be more knowledgeable about the foods you eat – and better able to make informed, smart choices. Beyond saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars and so on, it’s important to read the list of ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want it inside your body?
  3. Be mindful of how you prepare your food. Whether I’m cooking for just myself or some friends or family, I make cooking an act of love. In fact, I even bought a so-called gratitude board. While it looks and works just like a cutting board, a gratitude board is a reminder to give thanks for the food you are preparing. With gratitude and love in mind, it becomes much easier to make wiser food choices. Moreover, mindfulness of food preparation carries over to restaurant eating. When dining out, mindfulness helps ensure that your food choices support your goals.
  4. Be mindful in your eating ritual. There are many ways to be mindful while eating. First, it’s about saying grace. If you feel silly offering a prayer over the food you’re eating (like a Twinkie, for example), then do you really want to eat it? Second, it’s about being aware of the food you’re actually eating. Rather than mindlessly munching in front of a television, enjoy the eating experience without distractions; you’ll be less likely to overeat.
  5. Be mindful of how your food makes you feel. When you swallow your food, your body is just getting started. How do you feel after you eat? Though fried foods may taste good, they probably make your body feel sluggish or slow and unmotivated. Similarly, soda can spike your blood sugar and can cause highs and lows. Evaluate how your body feels, and make this part of the eating experience. By paying attention to how you feel after eating, you may notice that your crave unhealthy foods less and less.

What are some of the ways that you bring mindfulness to eating? Let me know in the comments below! And for more information, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!

What Does Percent Daily Value Mean On Food Labels?

Dear Davey,

I’m so confused by the percentages listed on nutrition labels. How can something have 140% of a nutrient? That doesn’t even make sense. Please explain what these numbers mean.

From,
Jordan

man_reading_labels_t540People are often confused by the percentages listed on food labels. So here’s the deal.

These percentages are called daily values and they are a guide to the nutrients in one serving of a given food. For example, a cup of milk might have 30% of your daily value of calcium. That means, in theory, you’ll need to get another 70% of your daily value of calcium through other foods to meet your body’s daily biochemical needs.

When a serving contains 140% of a nutrient, it means that you’ve exceeded the recommended daily intake by 40%. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 1,000 mg of that nutrient, a 140% listing means that the serving contains 1,400 mg of that nutrient.

Makes sense, right?

It’s very important to note that these standards are based on a 2,000 calorie diet and are set by the FDA and don’t differentiate on the basis of age, sex, medical condition, etc. Because nutrition isn’t a one size fits all approach, your actual daily needs may vary from these recommendations; they are simply meant as a very general guide.

You’ll also notice that there’s not a daily value for trans fat or sugar. That’s because experts recommend avoiding trans fats and minimizing added sugars for optimal health.

Exceeding your body’s daily needs for fat, cholesterol and sodium may put your health at risk. As such, using the daily values on nutrition labels can help you identify smarter food choices.

As I mentioned before, your daily nutritional needs may be quite different from the daily values listed on food labels. My mother, for example, has high blood pressure; her doctor recommends strict limits on the amount of sodium she eats. An endurance athlete may consume 3,000 or 4,000 calories a day; his or her daily nutritional needs will be very different.

If you have any questions about how much of a nutrient you need, just ask your healthcare provider for more detailed guidance. And for more information, check out 5 things to look for on nutrition labels.

Love,
Davey

Is Greek Yogurt Healthier?

Dear Davey,

I’ve seen a lot about Greek yogurt being very healthy. Is it all marketing hype or is Greek yogurt really better for you than regular yogurt?

From,
Sean

greek yogurt vs fruit yogurtHey Sean,

For the most part, people think of yogurt as a healthy option. But the truth is, not all yogurts are created equal.

For illustrative purposes, let’s compare 100 grams of nonfat fruit yogurt to 100 grams of nonfat plain Greek yogurt (see click-able chart).

As it turns out, the nutritional differences are substantial. With 95 calories, fruit yogurt is far more energy-dense than nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Even more shocking is the amount of sugar. The 19 grams of sugar in fruit yogurt converts to nearly 5 teaspoons! Compare that to the 2.3 grams of sugar in plain Greek yogurt. There’s also a substantial difference in protein content. While the 4.4 grams of protein in fruit yogurt isn’t shabby, plain Greek yogurt has a solid 10 grams.

Hands down, nonfat plain Greek yogurt is the healthiest yogurt option. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s a huge improvement over other yogurt variations – especially when it comes to calories, added sugar and protein.

As a general rule, only buy plain yogurt – regardless of your preference for regular or Greek yogurt. Fruit yogurts almost always have added sugar. In fact, the second ingredient listed in Dannon Fruit on the Bottom yogurt is sugar. If you want some sweetness in your yogurt, add a few berries or a slice or two of fruit.

The bottom line is that nonfat plain Greek yogurt is, in fact, healthier than the other yogurt variations.

Love,
Davey

P.S. For more information about improving the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!

Is Cooking Protein Powder Bad?

cookingwithproteinLet’s face it: Protein powder doesn’t taste great. In fact, it’s pretty awful.

It’s no wonder that people try to disguise the taste of protein powder by hiding it inside other, more delicious foods like smoothies, yogurt and so on. But what about baked foods like protein powder muffins, pancakes, cookies or cakes? Does cooking protein powder change the chemistry and render it useless?

Believe it or not, this is actually a widely-held protein powder misconception. It’s true that cooking protein powder does change the structure of the protein powder’s amino acids through a process called denaturing. But this same process happens in all the other protein-containing foods we eat including cooked eggs, beef or chicken. Cooked or not, our bodies absorb the same amino acids – and can put them to work.

In short, cooking protein powder doesn’t impact its effectiveness.

As such, try incorporating protein powder into some of your favorite foods. For example, I add protein to a healthy blueberry muffin recipe that I love for an extra nutritional boost. Explore and have fun.

In the comments below, share some ways that you’ve incorporated protein powder into your favorite recipes.