Health & Wellness

The Skinny on Nutrition

By Helene Seifer (January 2013)

Lies we tell ourselves about food:
Calories don’t count if we eat standing up, directly out of the refrigerator.
There are no calories in food eaten off our children’s plates.
If chocolate is healthy, an entire box of Godiva chocolates is even healthier.

We all know better, but how can we be better in 2013? Ebell members share their nutrition tips and foibles so we can all be more mindful about our eating habits in the New Year.

Daryl Trainor Twerdahl’s observations about her clients. Chicken pot pies used to be a popular order, and some wanted them saltier. “The opposite would happen now.” People are also amenable to adding more greens and other healthy options.

Daryl recommends two easy ways to immediately improve our health: squeeze lemon juice on vegetables instead of butter, and buy non-fat dairy products. She knows first-hand how small dietary adjustments can have a profound impact. In addition to catering, Daryl is also Executive Director of the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Foundation and saw how a diabetic in the program stabilized her blood sugar levels once she added daily breakfasts to her delivery package. Daryl herself used to experience mid-morning slumps and cravings until a nutritionist recommended eating high-protein breakfasts and mid-morning snacks. After implementing those changes, she dropped five pounds, changed her body-mass index and stopped having highs and lows!

For additional information on good, nutritious and sustainable food practices Daryl recommends the website http://www.GoodFoodLA.org.

Registered Dietitian Carol Impara urges moderation, emphasizing that “Eating is a pleasure. It’s a social and cultural activity. I don’t like to see it as a set of rules.” Carol, a professor of Nutrition at Mt. San Antonio College advises, “Get away from the idea of staying away from certain foods. Balance is what’s important. Put a lot of color on your plate, and nothing artificial.”

“Carbohydrates are good for us as long as we choose whole grains, not highly processed carbs such as white rice and white bread.” Be Pescetarians? “The FDA counsels no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. We need their Omega 3 fatty acids, but watch out for fish with high mercury content: shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish.” Raw foods? “As part of a food plan they’re a great way to get water and fiber, but our body doesn’t extract as many nutrients from them as with cooked food.” And is it a problem if a food makes us burp and toot? “Whole grains, legumes and cruciferous foods such as cabbage and cauliflower are gassiest, but they’re very healthy. They help you feel full, reduce constipation and help lower blood cholesterol. Health-wise, pain is a better indicator. If nauseous or cramping, discontinue.”

“The real demon is highly caloric drinks. It’s easier to over-consume when drinking calories.” Sodas, sweetened bottles of ice tea, even fruit juices raise blood sugar, Carol warns.She also points to a “link between sleep deprivation and obesity. People who regularly get less than 6 hours a night have a tendency to gain weight.”

For help with portion control and personalized meal plans, Carol recommends the USDA website http://www.choosemyplate.gov.

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