Archive for the ‘General Nutrition’ Category

Every Color, Every Day: A Guide to Balanced Eating

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Nature has given us clues on how to eat well, and they are colors. 

 The antioxidants and other good chemicals that help our body are actually what give plants their colors and their flavors. Beta carotene is orange, anthocyanins are red, purple, and blue. The darker the more concentrated. This is why foods such as blueberries and beets, foods so colorful they’ll stain your tongue, are good for you, the pigments themselves are good.

 Because, roughly, each pigment represents a different benefit, you should try to eat something of every color every day. Eat something orange, such as an orange, a carrot, squash, or sweet potatoes. Yellow foods also typically have the same nutrients as orange ones, just less. Eat red foods, like tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and especially beets. Eat purple or blue foods like blueberries. And of course eat green foods.

By eating every color every day, you’ll be ensured of having a balanced diet of your nutritive needs.

 There is more to this little color puzzle as well. Have you ever seen blue corn chips? Or purple potatoes? Maybe a bright orange cauliflower? These colors are not just novelties, as far as produce goes, if it is has the color, it has the nutrition, so purple mashed potatoes have some of the same antioxidants as blueberries, as does purple asparagus and blue corn. And that orange cauliflower has beta carotene in it.  The best part is, these items taste more or less the same as their less colorful and less nutritive counterparts.

So when you’re at the store, if you have the choice, choose the colorful option, your body will thank you.

Weigh your Food, and other weighloss tips for eating out

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

It is a jungle out there, it is so easy to be misled into thinking you’re eating something healthy, when you’re not, so easy to think you’re doing good, when you’re doing bad. All because of misleading marketing and common myths about the food we eat.

You should of course always check the label for nutrition information, but what if there is no label, what if you’re eating at a restaurant or otherwise not eating packaged food, what then?

Well, there are a few things you can keep in mind to help you make healthy choices.

Step 1, Weigh your Food

Yes, weigh it. You don’t need a scale, just estimate it’s weight with your fork or your hand. In general, the heavier something is, the more calories it has. This is not always the case though, there are exceptions. Foods with large amounts of water weight, such as watermelon, may weigh a large amount while being very low in calories. So this doesn’t apply so much to wet foods, but definitely, always, to dry foods, especially baked foods. The heavier your baked good is, the more calories it will have.

Step 2, Remember Starches and Sugars are equally bad

Most people know to avoid excess sugar, but those same people don’t always avoid excess simple starches, when in the end they’re equally as bad for you. Simple starches and simple sugars are metabolized quickly by the body and long term too much of them can lead to diseases like diabetes. Short term they’ll send your metabolism on a crash and burn roller coaster that will leave you feeling hungry again and often irritable. So in your mind you should lump many baked goods and candy together, as occasional treats only.

Step 3, Aim for Complex Carbs and Lean Protein

The things that will make you feel fuller longer are complex carbs, including whole grains and veggies, especially those with soluble fiber such as beans or oats. Also, lean protein such as lean cuts of meat and again beans will also more evenly burn to keep your metabolism steady.

Keep those three things in mind when eating out and you should be better able to meet your weight loss goals.

How to eat more fruits and vegetables

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

We all know the statistics suggesting that Americans don’t eat enough antioxidant rich fresh fruits and vegetables.This is unfortunate since a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to protect against a diverse array of diseases including several forms of cancer and heart disease. Fresh fruits and vegetables also play a role in slowing down the aging process.

If fresh fruits and vegetables so good for us, why aren’t we eating more of them? We’re living increasingly busy lives which leaves us little time to sit down and eat a healthy meal. Plus, many Americans admit to not enjoying the taste of vegetables. Remember President Bush and his strong aversion to broccoli?

Fortunately, there are ways to painlessly add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet:

1. When you grab a sandwich or burger on the run, tell them to add extra lettuce and tomato to your sandwich. Request a side salad in place of the high calorie french fries.

2. Cut up an array of fresh fruits and vegetables in the morning such as carrots, celery, and cucumber slices. Take them to work with you along with a container of low fat dip for a quick snack. Be sure to keep the dip refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.

3. If you don’t have time to eat your vegetables, drink a quick serving size can of vegetable juice everyday with your meal. Drink fresh fruit or vegetable juice as a fast and nutritious pick me up during break time Another option is to get a juicer and make your own fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

4. Add some fresh fruit to a small container of low fat yogurt for a healthy and nutritious snack.

5. Want a healthy dessert? Place seedless grapes in the freezer as a popsicle substitute. You can also buy popsicle molds and make your own popsicles out of fruits that have been pureed in the blender.

6. Add fresh fruit to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas all taste wonderful in breakfast cereal.

7. Instead of eating plain eggs in the morning, add spinach, tomatoes, and chopped vegetables to create a antioxidant rich omelet.

8. For a quick pick me up, blend fresh fruits with a little low fat milk in your blender to create a delicious smoothie.

9. When you go to a restaurant, substitute the vegetable of the day for the starch served with most entrees.

10. Substitute fruit juice in place of your daily soft drinks.

11. Instead of eating a calorie laden dessert, prepare a bowl of fresh berries and top it off with a dollop of fat free whipped topping.

12 Substitute a veggie burger for your usual hamburger. Be sure to add lots of lettuce, tomato, and sprouts.

Give some of these suggestions for adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet a try. Including more fruits and vegetables to your meals will not only add a unique taste but will give you all of those wonderful health benefits. What could be better than that?

Taking Control of Portion Sizes

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Most of us don’t think about our portion sizes when we sit down to eat a meal. Even if we do think about them, we may overestimate how much we should be eating and how much our portion sizes affect our waistlines. While portion sizes may seem inconsequential, eating the right portion sizes can make the difference between meals that lead to weight loss and meals that lead to weight gain.

The first step in taking control of portion sizes is learning typical portion size guidelines. Keep in mind that you may need more or less depending on your individual needs. The following are simply general guidelines.

  • A portion of meat or fish is the 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards;
  • For fruits and vegetables a portion is a cup, or the size of a tennis ball;
  • A single portion of cheese is one ounce, or the size of four dice;
  • When it comes to the fats, for foods such as oil, butter or cream cheese a portion is one tablespoon, or the size of your thumb;
  • A portion of peanut butter is two tablespoons, or both of your thumbs;
  • When pouring a bowl of cold cereal a portion is three quarters of a cup, or about the size of a tennis ball;
  • For pasta, which is most often overeaten, a portion is ½ cup, or about the size of a tennis ball;
  • A portion of yogurt or milk is one cup, or a regular coffee mug full;
  • For mashed potatoes a portion is one cup, or the size of your fist;
  • A portion of cooked rice is a half-cup, or the size of half a baseball;
  • If you are serving up cooked legumes, a portion is half a cup, or half the size of a baseball;
  • When eating a snack such as pretzels or crackers, fill a small coffee mug for a proper portion, instead of eating from the bag.

These visual comparisons can help you quickly choose the right amount of a food to eat. If you prefer to be more precise, you can use measuring cups and a food scale. A food scale will give you the weight of your food in ounces. After using measuring cups and a food scale for a while you will be able to recognize how big your portions of food should be. Choosing the right sized portions can become a habit.

You may think that by eating smaller portions you will still be hungry. Try eating slowly and drinking plenty of water with your meals. You will likely find yourself feeling satisfied but not stuffed at the end of your meals. And if you do find yourself still hungry, try filling up on more vegetables next time. Most vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, so they won’t sabotage your diet, but they will keep you feeling full.

Choosing proper portion sizes is a simple, yet vital step in eating right to lose weight. Keep in mind that the portion sizes I have listed are general. You may require a bit more or less depending on your nutritional needs. So the next time you are serving yourself a meal, stop and think about your portion sizes and whether or not you may want to cut back on them. Cutting down on your portion sizes can help cut down your waistline. 

The Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Flaxseed may be the easiest super food to incorporate into your diet. Just two tablespoons contains 2400 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids, something Americans’ diets are lacking! It is not the latest pill claiming superior health benefits, but whole ground flaxseed. Not only is flaxseed a great way to get Omega-3 into the diet, but also fiber and lignans. Just adding a couple tablespoons (one serving) to your morning breakfast can prevent a wide array of diseases.


There are 4 grams of fiber in one serving of flaxseed. That is as much as a serving of oatmeal. Adding flaxseed to oatmeal doubles the fiber content of breakfast. Starting the day off with a high fiber breakfast promotes regularity, and prevents overeating throughout the day. The fiber found in flaxseed is soluble and insoluble. Flaxseeds are a natural, gentle laxative. Not only does flaxseed help the digestive track, but it also helps the respiratory system. Known to help alleviate asthma, flaxseed also decreases the severity of other inflammatory respiratory problems. Its anti-inflammatory properties are what contribute to the effect flaxseed has on slowing down the progression of atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. 


Lignans are phytoestrogens and a natural antioxidant. The lignans in flaxseed bind circulating substances that cause cancer. Lignans bind with bile acids to remove them from the body. Ingesting enough lignans may be one of the best natural defenses against gallstone formation and colon cancer. It also lowers cholesterol and helps alleviate diabetes symptoms. Flaxseed has more 75 times more lignans than any other plant source, and as much as 30 cups of broccoli!


Omega-3s are a lifeline for the brain and heart, and essential for normal growth. While American diets are more than sufficient in levels of Omega-6 essential fatty acids, it is deficient in important Omega-3s. Alpha-linolenic acid is the form of omega-3s contained in flaxseed. It is the best source of Omega-3s as it contains at least five times more Omega-3s than any other plant source. Flaxseed fights breast, prostate, and colon cancers thanks to its high content of this important nutrient. It lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and stabilizes blood sugar. This super food also is linked to curing and preventing macular degeneration. As the studies on flaxseed increase, so do the known benefits.


Flaxseed has a nice, nutty flavor. It adds substance and texture to cereal, baked goods, and is a great substitute for butter when mixed with peanut butter or natural honey. It can be added to smoothies, tossed into salads, sprinkled on top of yogurt, or even used as a substitute for breadcrumbs. Flaxseed is available in whole seed, ground seed, or oil form at health food stores and supermarkets. Ground seed is the favored form because all of the nutrients and compounds are intact, and it is easy to mix into other food. Flaxseed oil is easier to digest, but lacks the fiber that the other two forms provide.


 The Omega-3 and Lignan quantity is what makes flaxseed so remarkable. No other food source can provide these nutrients as well. There are so many variations one can do when cooking or baking with flaxseed. It has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits, and only recently has received the credit it deserves here in America. It is good for so much more than just alleviating a variety of different medical conditions. Adding one to two tablespoons of these nutty-flavored seeds to your daily diet can provide the insurance for health that America has been longing for.