Step Off the Scale for Wellness

Bring on 2019!  The start of a new year is refreshing and exciting as many of us resolve to improve the quality of our lives with new year’s resolutions.  Often, wellness and weight goals are at the top of the list.  Afterall, nothing else much matters if we aren’t well enough to truly enjoy it.  Many people will resolve to diet to lose the extra pounds gained throughout the holiday season, or perhaps pounds that have steadily crept up in recent years.  Although it is true that in some cases, weight loss can improve quality and length of life, the number on the scale does not necessarily equate to health and wellness if we aren’t eating balanced meals with foods rich in nutritional value.  While popular, fad diets often result in quick weight loss and then quick weight regain with little focus on long-term nutritional health.  For many people, focusing on the scale rather than the plate will derail health goals time and time again. 

When healthy, our bodies’ physiological processes work as they should, enabling us to function efficiently both internally and externally.  Our bodies should provide us with enough mental and physical energy to not only survive but enjoy each day.  Did you know that the food and beverages we consume directly affect our mood, energy, and health, giving each of us control in how we feel daily?  It’s true!  A diet rich in whole foods including fruit, vegetables, lean protein, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains is abundant in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, which boost metabolism, speed fat burning, reduce inflammation, stabilize energy, elevate mood and decrease risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, metabolic disease, digestive disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer. 

A diet rich in whole foods including fruit, vegetables, lean protein, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains is abundant in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, which boost metabolism, speed fat burning, reduce inflammation, stabilize energy, elevate mood and decrease risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, metabolic disease, digestive disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer. 

On the contrary, a diet rich in convenience and processed foods including refined grains like white flour, white bread, white rice, cookies, candies, cakes, chips, fried food, bacon, sausage, soda and fast food is abundant in salt, sugar, and saturated fat which slow metabolism, reduce fat burning rate, clog blood vessels, fuel inflammation, decrease energy, may cause depression, and greatly increase risk of obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, metabolic disease, digestive disorders, Alzheimer’s and cancer.  One doesn’t need to completely avoid processed foods to be healthy, but they should be limited and only consumed in moderation. 

In many cases, processed foods lack natural nutrients, phytochemicals, fiber, and often don’t leave us feeling satisfied for very long.  Because of this, we tend to eat larger portions of these foods more frequently, which intensifies the negative effect they have on our health.  Think back – when was the last time you overindulged in cookies and candy?  The resulting blood sugar swings and sugar cravings probably had you going back for seconds and maybe thirds without you even realizing it.  Now, think back to when was the last time you overindulged in apples and broccoli?  Likely never.  It’s very difficult to overeat natural food because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber which trigger our bellies and brains to sense satiety, slow digestion and turn off hunger cues, as real food should.    

As a passionate dietitian, I wish nutritional health and wellness upon everyone.  With over a decade of experience in the field, I have found that slow and steady weekly changes, with a focus on nutrition rather than weight, prove to be the most successful and sustainable approach to lasting weight loss and wellness.  Being thin isn’t healthy if we’re consuming adequate calories but inadequate nutrition.  A well-balanced plate is ½ fruit and non-starchy vegetables, ¼ lean protein and ¼ whole grains or starchy vegetables.  Select foods from every food group and produce of every color to incorporate throughout each day, as all foods offer different vitamins and minerals in varying amounts. 

Nourish up from the inside out.  Rather than allowing the number on the scale to proclaim your health, focus on cultivating your plate, one meal at a time, with real food.  I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with how small plate changes over time result in long lasting wellness and weight control.  Live the life you crave.

Below is a list of small changes you can implement to improve your wellness and support weight control in the new year.

The Change

How to Implement the Change

Eat for health rather than a goal weight.

Eat natural, minimally processed food as often as possible. Weight loss will naturally follow suit.

Stay hydrated so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst.

Drink 8 cups (64 oz) of water or natural, unsweet beverages daily. You may need more with exercise.

Eat 3 servings of vegetables daily.

Enjoy sliced veggies with your favorite dip, eat salad, add vegetables to your eggs, pizza, pasta, sandwich, soup and smoothies.

Eat 3 servings of fruit daily.

Enjoy fruit salad or add fruit to whole grain pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, Greek yogurt, toast with nut/seed butter, salads and smoothies.

Replace refined grains with whole grains.

Replace white rice, bread and pasta with quinoa, brown/black rice, oats, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, farrow, sorghum, buckwheat, millet.

Keep vibrant fruit and vegetables visible.

Stock your counter with fresh produce and shift your fridge contents so colorful produce is at eye-level.  (Out of sight, out of mind.)

Move 30-60 minutes daily to boost energy and mood.

Walk, bike, run, yoga, housework, lift weights, park further from the store; every movement helps.

Allow yourself to truly enjoy your favorite foods on occasion – guilt free.

Rather than scarfing down your treat, eat slowly, taste it, savor it and truly enjoy it – you will likely find that a small portion is satisfying when you don’t feel so ‘bad’ for eating it.

Cultivate your plate one meal at a time.

Wellness is about progress, not perfection.  Enjoy your nourished life.

If you have nutrition concerns or would like personalized assistance implementing better nutrition in your life, contact me.

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25 Meal Prep Tips for a Nutritious Week

A little advance meal prep goes a LONG way by reducing daily food prep tasks and cooking time on busy nights. Try out some of these tasty, time and money saving tips to make your snacks and meals less stressful and more nutritious!  It’s always recommended that you wash produce before use.  I prefer to store my prepped-food in glass, air-tight containers which provide a clear view of contents, are easy to clean, don’t discolor or hold odors with use, and are microwave safe for quick heating when needed.

  1. Pre-peel several tangerines and store in the refrigerator.

  1. Slice mango, melon or pineapple and store in the refrigerator.

  1. Pick grapes off the stems for quick grab snacks.

  1. Buy a bag of frozen berries and thaw some in the fridge for easy additions to yogurt, oatmeal, or to puree and drizzle over pancakes.

  1. Peel and prep carrots in a variety of sizes – shreds for salads, chunks for roasting and sticks for dipping in hummus or dressing.

  1. Peel and slice onion and store in the fridge for tearless meals and snacks throughout the week.

  1. Slice red, orange, yellow and green peppers to eat raw with hummus/dressing, on salads or sandwiches, to cook with eggs or for roasting and sautéing.

  1. Slice the bottoms off brussels sprouts and then cut them in halves or quarters (depending on size), removing any discolored outer leaves, and store in the fridge to steam, roast or sauté.

  1. Fill a sheet pan with veggies (sweet potato, brussels sprouts, apples & red onion is my favorite combo), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees until done to your liking.

  1. Prep dry salad ingredients in ready-to-go containers. Prep wet ingredients in a separate container (or below dry ingredients if not shaken).

  1. Make your own salad dressing – experiment with different spices and flavors!

  1. Cook grains in bulk to use for multiple meals throughout the week. (Ex. Quinoa as a stand-alone side, scrambled into eggs, as a replacement for rice in a recipe, added to vegetable soup…)

  1. Make a pot of soup for quick meals and snacks throughout the week.

  1. Cook a pot of beans for the week.

  1. Hard-boil a pot of eggs.

  1. Bake a variety of breakfast egg muffins.

  1. Make extra pancakes to store in the fridge (or freezer separated with parchment paper).

  1. Pre-portion yogurt or cottage cheese into meal/snack containers.

  1. Make meatballs to be served over grains, on a salad, or with pasta.

  1. Broil salmon or a filet of fish with leftovers to use throughout the week.

  1. Slow cook, bake or roast several chicken breasts to use alone, as chicken salad or as an addition to soup, stir-fry, eggs, homemade pizza, casseroles, and stews.

  1. Bake a loaf of zucchini bread or banana bread.

  1. Make your own trail mix – ¾ nuts/seeds with ¼ carbs. (Try ingredients such as almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, dried coconut, dried banana, mini dark chocolate chips…) A serving is about ¼ cup.

  1. Make overnight oatmeal, adjusting flavors to suit your taste with added banana, berries, apple and cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, peanut butter, maple syrup or honey.

  1. Search for recipes and “meal prep ideas” on the internet to find more suggestions that appeal to you!

Autumn Harvest

With summer still waving goodbye off in the distance, autumn is here and ready to delight with cooler days, crisper nights and a fall harvest that many of us excitedly anticipate all year long.  It’s pumpkin season!  Think of warm and vibrant spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and cloves baked into roasted pumpkin, mashed pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin bread.  Is your mouth watering too?  Perhaps you’re not a pumpkin enthusiast.

Let’s talk apples!  Tart, sweet, crisp and juicy apples with just the right crunch.  You know you’ve picked a good one when a light spray of apple juice caresses the cheek of the friend sitting across from you as you take your first bite.  Green apples, red apples, yellow apples, or multicolored “rainbow” apples – as my daughter gleefully calls them.  Homemade or jarred, unsweetened applesauce with a spritz of lemon and sprinkle of cinnamon is a quick, nourishing treat to prepare for children and grown-ups alike.  Then, of course, there is apple cider, apple pie, baked apples, dried apples, apple walnut salad or – I dare you to tickle your taste buds with this dish – balsamic-honey roasted apples, brussels sprouts and pepitas (recipe below).  How are those seasonal salivary glands doing now?

For those of us that hide-out indoors during the heat of the summer, autumn is a time to reconnect with nature.  The colorful array of nutrient-packed fall produce that is available this time of year can cultivate any plate.  Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that nourish our bodies while helping to protect us from disease.  When It comes to nutritional health, variety is vital as all foods offer different nutrients in varying amounts.  Variety will also optimize gut health by establishing a balanced gut microbiome which can decrease risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, digestive disorders, and heart disease.  A well-balanced plate is ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ lean protein and ¼ whole grains.  Select foods from every food group and produce of every color to incorporate throughout each day.  Eat the rainbow for your health!

Below is list of nourishing autumn harvest selections you might find at your local grocery store or farmers’ market.  Never been to a farmers’ market?  Now is the perfect time to go!  The farmers’ market is a great place to meet community members and support local business.  As a bonus, fresh-air shopping at the outdoor market provides a free source of vitamin D.  Enjoy mingling with neighbors and soak up those warm sunrays while they last! 

If you don’t have access to fresh, seasonal produce, frozen produce is another great option because it is picked at peak ripeness, blanched and then frozen to preserve nutrients.  In some cases, frozen produce may contain more nutrition than fresh produce that has spent days degrading in transit, on grocery store shelves and in your refrigerator.  Choose plain frozen vegetables or fruit and flavor them at home with your preferred ingredients.  Canned produce can also be a healthful addition to meals and snacks when choosing those that are sodium-free or low sodium and rinsing well before consuming.  The key is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, whether they be seasonally fresh, frozen or canned.  As 2018 transcribes its final chapters and fall leaves begin to color our sky, take a moment for yourself to appreciate the beauty of this season and harvest autumn while it lasts.  Enjoy your nourished life.

Seasonal Fall Produce Chart


Brussels Sprouts
















Sweet Potatoes






Winter Squash



Green Beans