Nutrition

Tony's Nutrition Tips For The Holidays

Eating well is not about being 100% perfect every day, every meal, especially over the holidays. However, you shouldn’t treat the holidays as a free pass to eat whatever you want, or you’re setting yourself up for disaster and possible regret come January 1st. Try some of Tony’s favorite tips to help you stay on track during the holidays. 

1. Accountability is key

For years I’ve stressed the importance of accountability. Whether its finding a workout partner, posting your meals, joining a group like my new Dietbet Challenge, keeping a food journal, or writing out your goals, accountability is the key to your success. 

2. Offer to host the party

By hosting the party or dinner yourself, you are in control of the foods that are served, so you can substitute unhealthy ingredients and dishes for healthier options. Controlling food supply is easier when you’re the one in control.

3. Don’t skip meals

It’s tempting to save your appetite for all of the delicious food at a holiday gathering, but you’re also setting yourself up to overindulge and make bad choices. Before your holiday meal, eat a protein- and healthy-fat-packed snack such as veggies and humus or celery with nut butter. Protein and fat help you cut your cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.

4. Start smart

Start your meal with soup and salad or fresh veggies, and avoid snacking before your meal on appetizers made with refined flour or sugary treats. Volunteer to bring something so you’re guaranteed to have at least one healthy dish you enjoy and can load up.  

5. Rethink your drinks

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and sends you down a slippery slope of bad choices. Most alcoholic beverages are also filled with sugar and empty calories. Limit alcohol intake, or better yet, avoid it altogether. If you do indulge on a drink or two, drink water in between and make the rest of your beverages sparkling water, tea or water with lemon or lime. 

6. Eat mindfully

I’ve been talking a lot about mindfulness lately, and that’s because I’ve realized how important it is! Before each meal, take five deep breaths, and tune into how hungry you really are. As you eat, focus on flavors, colors and smells, and try to put your fork down between bites. Halfway through your meal, pause, put down your fork and take a few more deep breaths. Assess your hunger on and ask yourself, “How much more food do I need to feel satisfied without feeling uncomfortable?”

7. Don’t cave to peer pressure

We’ve all been there when the well-meaning friend or relative asks you why you’re not having a piece of their homemade fudge or having another glass of wine. Just know that no one will feel insulted if you explain, “I’m here for the company, not just the food.”

8. Set your intention

Before indulging in holiday food and spirits and desserts, set an intention for the event such as “I will start with vegetables, limit myself to two glasses of wine and water, and only have two bites of dessert after dinner.” Of course only you know your weaknesses, so you’ll set an intention that feels right for you. Setting an intention makes you less likely to indulge in foods and activities that make you feel less than your best. 

Remember above all else not to beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Just do your best and forget the rest! 

Your Pal,

Tony

Fortitude, Nutrition, Personal Development

ConQuer Your Mind – Part 1 “What You Feed Grows”

The following video expands on the chapter one idea “What you feed grows” from my e-book How To ConQuer Your Mind To Achieve Your Goals.

The truth is that until you get your mindset right, your success in any goal will be temporary and limited at best. Watch as I share some thoughts about how you can change your behavior with a focus on mindset first.

You can get the e-book for free from the Team Quadzilla Facebook page, or directly HERE. Stay tuned for more videos to supplement the e-book content.

Fitness, Nutrition

Ask the Dietitian: What is Your Opinion of the Ketogenic Diet?

Full-fat everything you want — it sounds like a dream diet to lose weight on, right? The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, has risen to diet trendom. Health-wise, the ketogenic diet has also been shown to be beneficial for mental disorders, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes  and even weight loss. Even so, this diet is quite controversial.

Let’s explore this diet together, so you can make an informed decision for your personal health.

WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb and moderate protein diet. Despite recent popularity, the “classic” KD has been used for almost 100 years to treat children with epilepsy. It was later adapted into the well-known commercial weight-loss program, the Atkins diet. Different versions of this diet exist, but these two are among the most common:

  • Classic Ketogenic Diet: This diet uses a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 for fat to nonfat (Think: protein and carbohydrates) in grams.
  • Modified Atkins Diet: This diet restricts carbohydrates to 20 grams of “net” carbs daily. “Net” carbs are defined as total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber.

Take a look at the chart below to see how the KD stacks up against what experts recommend; the difference is drastic. Keep in mind that the definition for a “classic” KD may be different than what people who practice a more mainstream ketogenic lifestyle for weight loss will consume. A modified version of the KD is more flexible on the number of carbs you can have in a day, so low-carb vegetables (think: broccoli, spinach, lettuce) won’t count against you. High-fat, keto-friendly foods include those higher in saturated fat (e.g., bacon, cheese, butter) and lower in saturated fat (e.g., olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds).

*Note: A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats will likely have a macronutrient (e.g. fat, protein, carbs) profile within the “acceptable macronutrient distribution range” (AMDR).

HOW DOES THE KETOGENIC DIET PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS?

You may wonder how eating up to 90% of your calories from fat while turning a blind eye to calories can lead to weight loss. Nobody knows exactly but researchers have a few good guesses:

  • Fuel Switching. Eating a lot of fat and severely limiting carbs pushes you into “ketosis,” a state where mostly fat is burned instead of carbs. Even the brain, an organ that preferentially uses glucose (a sugar) for fuel must adapt to using fat in the form of ketones.
  • Appetite Control. Those on the KD claim it dampens their appetite. This is because ketones may play a role in signalling satiety within the brain.
  • Metabolically Expensive. Just because you transitioned into ketosis and can burn fat more efficiently doesn’t mean your body won’t need carbs at all. To keep blood sugar within a reasonable range, the liver converts protein into glucose through a process called “gluconeogenesis.” OK, biology lesson stops here. Just know that this process demands a lot of energy and burns an additional 400–600 calories daily.

The KD may be great for short- and medium-term weight loss, but there’s no clear outlook on what it will do to your health in the long run — and this puts many experts on edge.

WHY IS THE KETOGENIC DIET SO CONTROVERSIAL?

The US News expert reviews give the KD about 2 out of 5 stars. Right off the bat, here are two major reasons why this diet sank so low:

  1. It promotes foods high in fat, even saturated fat, which is bad for heart health. A diet that puts few limits on bacon, butter and full-fat cream automatically draws backlash.
  2. It can eliminate whole food groups if followed stringently. This includes high-carbohydrate vegetables, most fruits and whole grains. This could lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long run.

READ MORE > EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DASH DIET 


ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS?

Despite the controversy, let’s balance pros and cons. Yes, the KD is solid therapy for children with epilepsy, but they’re always under careful clinical supervision to correct for any micronutrient deficiencies. The KD is showing promise as therapy for Type 2 diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, etc. but the science isn’t yet well-established. The same applies for long-term weight loss.

THE VERDICT

Hopefully I’ve given you enough food for thought. In my opinion you should still try to lose weight first by following a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But, to be frank, I’m flexible on the ketogenic lifestyle, especially if you’re pursuing this diet with the help of a qualified health professional.

Clearly, the KD is restrictive and isn’t for everyone. Be realistic about whether this diet will align with the lifestyle you want. If you have a sweet tooth or love your fruits and veggies, you will likely struggle on keto. Those who are vegetarian or vegan will also find the KD challenging.

Finally, just because the diet is a poster child for all-you-can-eat bacon doesn’t mean you have to eat this way. There are healthy fats to choose including avocado, olive oil, walnuts and fatty fish.

by Trinh Le, MPH, RD

My humble opinion on the matter is that while Keto might be a great kick-starter for your weight loss goals, I don’t see this diet as sustainable (or healthy) for the long term. I firmly believe “balance is best,” and that includes real food from all the food groups in proper portions. You don’t need to restrict food groups or count calories when you follow my favorite resource for healthy eating – 90/10 Nutrition. Start with 90/10 first. You might find like me that you can “Eat like this forever!”

Fitness, Nutrition

Essential Guide to Healthy Eating

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Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or complicated. As an advocate for healthy living, understanding food and basic nutrients is important to me. I believe that to change your body (and physical health in general), you must start with your mind first, then your food, and THEN your exercise. You can’t outwork a bad diet, and you’ll never enjoy a lifestyle of healthy eating until your mindset is right about food.

Rather than re-creating the wheel, I’ve simply gathered some resources from the MyFitnessPal Blog that does a great job of simplifying the basics of healthy eating. I like these linked articles because they explain the importance of often persecuted food groups and defends my personal opinion that eating a balanced variety of foods is better than any restrictive “diet-of-the-month” that requires you to cut all carbs or fats. Take some time to read these links and educate yourself. Consider this your crash course in healthy eating.

Essential Guide to Macros

Essential Guide to Protein

Essential Guide to Fat

Essential Guide to Carbohydrates

Want more? Check out my video presentation of a Nutrition 101 course I taught for my employer.

Fitness, Nutrition

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping

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Want your family to eat healthier? It all starts with a healthy shopping list. If your cupboards and fridge contain mostly healthy foods, everyone in your family is likely to eat better. If the junk food is not in your house, you can’t eat it. Duh.

Surprisingly, healthier eating can lower your grocery bills, too. It’s true that ready-to-eat meals and packaged foods save time, but they can cost more and some have too much salt and fat. I was skeptical of this claim like you are, until I tried it myself. If you want real, sustainable change in your health, you’ve got to get the food part right. The good news is that it’s not that hard to do.

Follow these tips to get the most nutrition bang for your buck.

Stock Up With Staples

These pantry basics will give you the foundation you need for better family nutrition at home.

– Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables

  • Canned: Look for low-sodium vegetables and no-added-sugar fruits. We use a lot of canned green beans. Warmed up with whole wheat pasta and some lean meat for a super simple meal.IMG_0434
  • Frozen: Use what you need for a meal, then put the rest of the bag back in the freezer. We use a ton of frozen mixed veggies. I like to nuke the frozen veggies with raw broccoli. It steams the broccoli perfectly in 2 mins. Added to some pre-cooked chicken breast and whole wheat pasta or seasoned sweat potato chunks for a delicious healthy meal.
  • Dried: Check the label for and avoid added sugar, especially on fruits. I like raisins and dates. They are super sweet on their own to help satisfy my sweet tooth.

Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and non-instant oatmeal

Steel-cut oatmeal costs just pennies per ounce and is a good source of fiber. I’ve cut a lot of bread out of my diet lately, but I still go for super cheap Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. No need to pay for the fancy stuff.

Beans, lentils, and peas

Packed with protein and other nutrients, they’re a great way to stretch your food dollar. Save! Use them in everything from soups to chili to burritos. Packaged dried beans cost less but take some planning to cook. Low-sodium canned beans are another option. Rinse canned beans to lower sodium even more.

Nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts

Lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs We eat lots of chicken breast, natural deli turkey, 93% lean ground turkey or beef, and eggs. Lots of eggs. So cheap and filling when mixed with veggies in a stir fry or omelette.

Low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products

Children under age 2 should have whole milk unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Yes, you can eat cheese. Real cheese though. Velveeta is not real cheese. Read the ingredients. We like Sargento Cheese. Yogurt and cottage cheese is tricky. Read the ingredients.

Buy Healthy Snacks

How to keep your kids from going overboard on chips, cookies, and other snacks? Make it easy to find the healthy stuff. We’ve learned that kids will adjust to the food you have. Don’t assume you must have junk food snacks for the kids because that’s all they will eat. You are in charge.

Keep these healthy options on the center shelf of the fridge: (this list is on our fridge)IMG_0616

  • cut-up fruit
  • baby carrots and low-fat ranch dip
  • string cheese
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • low-fat yogurt

And these on the counter:

  • dried fruit and nut mix
  • pretzels
  • whole-grain crackers and peanut butter

3 Surefire Healthy Grocery Shopping Rules

To keep your food choices on track with your family’s health goals, follow these three basic rules as you cruise the supermarket aisles.

Don’t shop hungry. Ever notice what winds up in your cart when you shop with hunger pangs? Eat a nutritious snack beforehand so the munchies don’t take control of your shopping.

Make a healthy shopping list. Even if you know what you need, a list saves time and prevents impulse buys. Organize your list into sections according to the store’s layout. Shop for the healthy items first, picking up the treats last. We use the Kroger ClickList to automate our shopping. When you shop from home via internet, you are far less likely to add items to your cart that aren’t on the list. Saves buckets of money!

Hug the walls — most of the time. Stay focused. Avoid parts of your grocery store with the unhealthy choices. The edges of the store (the perimeter) tend to have the healthiest choices. Detour down center aisles for beans, whole-grain pastas and cereals, and canned and frozen vegetables and fruit. Skip the aisles with chips and other temptations, or get only the items on your list. When you’re grocery shopping with kids, the temptations can be especially distracting.

Let us know your healthy grocery shopping tricks to save time, money, and sanity.

SOURCES: University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University: “Convenience costs;” “Snacks for healthy kids;” “Stretch your protein dollar;” “10 tips for saving at the grocery store;” “Ways to save money in 2010;” and “What’s a good buy?”American Dietetic Association: “Raising healthy eaters from preschool to high school” and “Save time and money at the grocery store.”The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: “Winning ways to grocery shop with young children.”WebMD Health News: “Baby Milk Recommendations Changed.”