‘Eat Well, Be Well’

Food Messaging.. What does it tell us?

As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.

The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.

Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.

Love Food, Love the Experience

After reading Loving Your Food, I thought long and hard about my current eating habits. While I enjoy the process of cooking, I admit the pleasure I derive from eating pleasure is less than desirable. My eating life has turned into a multi-tasking marathon; it is far easier for me to stand up and complete unfinished tasks as I mindlessly shovel food in my mouth (OK, maybe not shovel, but certainly not eating in the most dignified manner). Obviously, as an RD, this is certainly not good practice as half the time I don’t even realize what I am eating. This article was a good reminder that the act of eating is one of pleasure that should truly be enjoyed. When we rush and multitask while consuming food, that pleasure is gone. Furthermore, we miss the benefit of making mindful choices that not only taste good, but also are also good for us.

The last few days I have tweaked some of the habits that crept into my daily life. I actually sit down and look at my food., I take the time to drink water throughout the day & am taking time to make foods that I alone enjoy. I’m rediscovering that eating is for sustenance and pleasure.

A Resolution You Can Stick With

Yesterday, as I browsed through various mailers, I came across a store ad featuring a woman clad in a skimpy fitness outfit. Inside the flyer were various specials for fitness equipment. I found myself shaking my head at the irony of this ad; given less than a week ago mailers were featuring glutinous amounts of food (and toys). New Year’s resolution season has officially hit. As discussed in a precious blog. I am not big on the all or nothing mentality of New Year’s resolutions, as they often set us up for failure. As I was contemplating the year of resolutions, I came across this article The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions which has a completely different way of looking at how we make resolutions. After decades of being told to practice self control (eat less, spend less, exercise more) we have failed miserably. The article goes on to say the way we have viewed self-control is wrong. The real key? Social emotions. “Unlike reason and willpower, they naturally incline us to be patient and persevere. When you are experiencing these emotions, self-control is no longer a battle, for they work not by squashing our desires for pleasure in the moment but by increasing how much we value the future.”

My recommendation for a resolution this year? Read this article and as the author states “reflect on what you’re grateful to have been given. Allow your mind to step into the shoes of those in need and feel for them. Take pride in the small achievements on the path to your goals. Doing so will help ensure that every future New Year’s Eve will have more to celebrate than to regret.”

Holiday Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

In an effort to simplify my life this holiday season, a theme that resonates with me every year, I have been thinking about ways to pare down my life. This thought started with a simple trip to the grocery store where I noticed the shelves were filled with an overabundance of holiday food items, that sadly, go to waste. It goes without saying that we live in a world of abundance, particularly when it comes to food. Of course, this is not a blog about world hunger, but it certainly gives you something to think about in this season of plenty.

Obviously, being a nutrition professional, I have a love of food so I am not going to totally forgo the joy of baking, just stick to my favorites that I know will be savored by family & friends alike. My personal favorite holiday treat is Hazelnut Maple Biscotti; nothing beats this divine combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.

So, I will savor my biscotti and all the simple pleasures the season has to offer.

Hazelnut Maple Biscotti
Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber.

½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)
¼ cup butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1-teaspoon vanilla
1-tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts
Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat. In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.

Part 2-Habits for Weight Loss & Maintenance

Last month’s blog covered Part 1 of habits for weight loss & maintenance. The article outlined the 7 Habits of People Who Lost 30 + Pounds & Kept the Weight Off As stated previously, while none of this is earth shattering, it is another reminder that successful weight loss & maintenance require life long healthy habits.

Habits 5-7

5. Daily exercise is a priority
Almost all (90 percent) registry participants exercise for about one hour every day. This habit is especially effective because nutrition & exercise work hand in hand for weight loss. Additionally, working out can help build more defined muscles. The most effective ways to change your body composition is to add strength training and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workout routine.

6. Weekly Weighing
Seventy five percent of registry participants weigh themselves at least once each week. While weighing may not be the best tool for everyone, for some, the number on the scale can also be a motivation to implement healthy habits in the first place. For the study participants, hitting an “all-time high in weight” is a common trigger for someone to want to lose weight. Frequent weighing also helps participants avoid the scale creeping up without noticing. Monitoring weekly can catch a one- to two-pound weight gain. It’s a good idea to weigh in occasionally, but guilt-tripping yourself each time you step on a scale is a big no-no. Instead, think of that number as a valuable data point that can help you troubleshoot and plan for the coming weeks.

7. No Binge TV watching
Finding time for healthy habits can be challenging so why waste your precious time engaging in a sedentary activity like TV watching. This doesn’t mean you have to give up television to see success, but you should limit your screen time. Most registry participants watch less than 10 hours a week. By limiting screen time, they can make more time for other activities (i.e. exercise).

The Bottom Line

It would be nice to think that these people are privy to some super secret way to lose a lot of weight and keep it off. But the simple truth is that there is no secret; it takes hard work, consistency and patience to see results that last.

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