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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What Goes into a Dietitian’s Grocery Cart?

I LOVE FOOD.  I also love how food makes me feel, when I choose to eat well.  Nutrient diversity is important for gut health, so I select foods from every food group and produce of every color to incorporate throughout each week.  Here is a quick rundown of foods that cultivate my cart. 

Healthy eating begins in your grocery cart!

  1. A variety of colorful fruits and veggies to serve raw or cooked throughout the week. I keep apples, bananas, orange cuties, cherry tomatoes and seasonal produce on the counter and grapes, sliced peppers and carrots in the fridge for quick, easy snacks.  (My dietitian heart flutters when my 5 year old chooses a handful of cherry tomatoes as a snack after school!)

  2. Whole grains for their natural nutrition and fantastic fiber.  This includes quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal and barley – to name a few.

  3. Lean protein such as skinless, boneless chicken breast, turkey, a variety of seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils and cheese.

  4. Healthy fats including extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, and nut/seed butters.

  5. Milk, which varies weekly and includes organic cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk and plain Greek yogurt which I flavor at home with fruit, granola, nuts, honey and/or jam.

  6. Condiments and pasta sauces (low in salt and added sugar) with short, simple ingredient lists I can pronounce.

  7. Coffee and Tea leaves or bags for a fresh, warm cup of goodness when I want a change from water.

  8. Dark chocolate in the form of individually wrapped candies, mini dark chocolate chips mixed into homemade trail mix, or dark chocolate cocoa. (Dark chocolate is a must in my house!)

  9. Kid snacks like string cheese, no-sugar added apple sauce, whole grain fig bars, and whole grain pretzels and crackers.

  10. “Sometimes” treats, which vary.  If my kids shop with me and behave in the store, they can choose a “sometimes” treat which is any food or drink in the store that’s kid safe.

Helpful tips when shopping:

  1. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry – your food choices will reflect your hunger rather than your desire for health.

  2. Write a grocery list to help you stay focused and on track while shopping.

  3. Begin shopping in the produce section while you are feeling most ambitious to shop and eat well.

  4. Buy a fruit or vegetable you haven’t tried before, or one that you haven’t tasted recently, and find a good recipe for it!

  5. Set a limit on your “sometimes” treats before entering the store and stick to it.

  6. Schedule a Grocery Store Tour with me to make grocery shopping trips more nutritious, fun and efficient!


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!

17 Nutritionists Reveal Their Top Healthy-Eating Secrets

Reader’s Digest posted a fantastic article on the nutrition habits of dietitians and nutritionists.  Incorporating the following tips into your lifestyle can improve health, increase energy, boost total nutrition intake, reduce nagging sweet-treat cravings, better regulate GI function, ease stress when preparing last minute meals and lead toward a healthy, sustainable weight.  Please share this article because everyone deserves a nourished life and these tips should not be kept secret!

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Healthy-Eating Tips
Have an emergency healthy food supply.

Hydrate in the morning.
Store food in clear containers.
Eat your veggies first.
Have more dark chocolate.
Chill out before you eat.
Connect with your food.
Flip your ingredients.
Rehydrate after a workout.
Listen to your body.
Make veggies half your plate.
Savor every bite.
Eat more plants.
Go for snacks with fiber and protein.
Freeze extra food.
Don’t clean your plate.
Remember your whole grains.

Useful Links

To view my services – Click Here

To learn more about me – Click Here