Do you have a favorite family recipe that you’d like to improve on? Are you interested in learning how to be a more mindful and health-conscious cook? Use this list of cooking substitutions to improve the nutritional quality of your favorite recipe!

IMG_1446

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Think of substitutions in cooking as “trial and error.” Sometimes they’ll work out great and other times they might flop, but it’s all part of the process. Every recipe is different – you’ll never know unless you try!
  • If you’re tweaking an old favorite recipe, try changing just 1-2 ingredients at a time. Then, if it doesn’t turn out, you’ll know which change didn’t work.

Happy cooking (and eating)!

If your recipe calls for… Try this instead… For this nutritional benefit…
Condensed milk or evaporated milk Evaporated skim milk
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
Sour cream Nonfat plain Greek yogurt or (depending on the texture desired) nonfat cottage cheese
  • More protein
  • Less saturated fat (compared to whole sour cream)
Cream cheese Neufchâtel cheese (find it right next to the cream cheese in most grocery stores)
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
Bacon Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, or lean prosciutto
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
  • Less sodium
Mashed potatoes Steamed, pureéd cauliflower
  • Fewer carbohydrates
  • Fewer calories
  • More vitamins and minerals
Potatoes Sweet potatoes
  • More vitamins
White rice or pasta Whole grain pasta, brown rice, bulgur, couscous, barley
  • More fiber
  • More vitamins and minerals
  • More stable blood sugar response
No vegetables Add any vegetables you have around!
  • More fiber
  • More vitamins and minerals
  • Improved satisfaction after the meal with fewer calories eaten (veggies take up a lot of space!)
Butter Canola oil or avocado oil
  • More omega-3s and healthful monounsaturated fats
  • Less saturated fat
Salt Herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, basil, chives, garlic), spices (turmeric, cumin, curry, lemon pepper, black pepper), lemon juice, or use half the salt
  • Less sodium
  • More anti-inflammatory properties

The Parsons family got back a few days ago from a road trip that sort of resembled those you see on family comedies – you know, the ones where nothing goes exactly as planned? We had a great time though and thankfully everyone kept positive attitudes and was patient. The fiascos only led to fun stories and memories.

Since returning from vacation I have had a really hard time getting back into my routine and back to blogging, posting, and well…working. One of the major benefits/challenges of working for yourself I suppose. Anyway, I thought I’d ease myself back into it with a fun, goofy post.

IMG_3011

Recently, a friend of mine found this nutrition guide from the 1950s at an antique store and picked it up for me (thanks, Sandy!). I have had a blast poking through it and finding some doozies, as well as some common sense that still presides over balanced eating today. Today I’m going through the top 3 best (and silliest) pieces of nutrition advice from this little gem.

5 Best Pieces of 1950s Nutrition Advice

  1. “Do not skip meals.” This can help your body regulate its own blood sugar and prevent overeating later in the day. Often nighttime snacking binges are the result of an inadequate or absent breakfast.
  2. “Eat many kinds and all you can of low calorie vegetables.” I can not emphasize enough the importance of the inclusion of these super-healthy foods. Most of our bodies are dying for some natural vitamins and minerals! For most of my clients, if they changed nothing other than meeting their daily allotment of fruits and vegetables, they noticed a significant improvement in energy levels and any symptoms they had.

IMG_3012

3. “Your diet should be based on a personal understanding of the difference between hunger and appetite.” The book elaborates by describing hunger as a need for fuel, while appetite is a desire for something tasty. This is vital, especially today. We have so many tasty foods easily available to us that we have trained ourselves to feed both our appetites and our hunger. Noticing the difference, prioritizing and feeding hunger, and practicing other methods of addressing appetite can be a long-term game-changer for many in their quest to improve their health. Often, this requires help from a knowledgeable counselor (since “appetite” in the sense described here is very often fueled by negative emotions or depression) and Registered Dietitian.

 

3 Silliest Pieces of 1950s Nutrition Advice

  1. For women to know their height and weight, they must weigh while ordinarily dressed with 2″ high-heeled shoes. 😂 Men should weigh while ordinarily dressed but without their topcoat or hat.IMG_3013

 

2. “Do not drink large amounts of water at mealtime…nor one hour before or up to one hour afterward.” Why? Most of us are underhydrated and often mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water at mealtimes can help digestion and prevent overeating. Drink up!

3. In order to “reduce,” you must alternate your intakes between about 700 and 1200 calories per day, depending on your weight. Yikes! Under absolutely no normal circumstances would I recommend an adult eating less than 1200 calories per day (unless you are less than 5 feet tall). Studies show that drastic reductions in intakes and weight have long-term negative consequences on metabolism. Plus, you feel awful!

Hope you enjoyed this fun dive into the past as much as I did! Have a good laugh and a healthful day!


We have a winner! (1)

Your voices have been heard! The anti-inflammatory diet came out on top with more than double the votes of either of the other two options.

As a quick overview, there is not truly one well-defined and well-recognized “anti-inflammatory diet” per se, but rather we have a lot of research about how food affects inflammation in the body that we can leverage to decrease inflammation. In the coming weeks I will bring you information on what inflammation is, whether or not we really need to fight it with food, and what the research is telling us about lifestyle changes you can make to affect your levels of inflammation.

Sit back and relax because you’ll have plenty more info on anti-inflammatory eating coming your way soon!



Help meI’m gearing up for my next “diet” and I want to know what you want to know more about! Here are some suggestions:

Vegetarian Diets

There are many varieties of vegetarians, but in general, they don’t eat meat and/or animal products for either health or ethical reasons. Some vegetarians (called pescatarians) eat only fish and no other meats, while lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. Vegans avoid eating any food that is or contains animal-based products. More recently, the term flexatarian was introduced as a name for people who are trying to eat fewer animal products, but are not quite ready to make the leap to cutting them out entirely.

Gluten-Free for Celiac Disease

Gluten-free eating has been very trendy as of late, but originally the only people who focused on cutting out gluten were those who have a serious condition called celiac disease, in which their body has an auto-immune response to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye products.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

This is an eating style I recommend for people who are struggling with inflammatory conditions (anything from inflammatory bowel disease to arthritis to diabetes and more) to reduce the overall amount of inflammation in their bodies. In general, the principles of anti-inflammatory eating are beneficial for most Americans because our typical diets tend to be pretty pro-inflammatory.

Low-Purine for Gout

People who have an inflammatory condition called gout accumulate painful crystals in their joints in response to the amino acid purine. During a flare-up, they typically must follow a low-purine diet (and often times take medications) in order to help resolve the intense joint pain.

Low-FODMAP for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This tricky-to-follow but yet-so-worth-it diet can provide seemingly miraculous relief for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For many years, the causes of the digestive symptoms of IBS were not understood, and these people suffered for a long time. Thanks to Monash University in Australia, so much more is understood about IBS and following this diet process can lead to HUGE improvements in symptoms.

Comment on this post (or on Facebook or on Instagram) with the eating style you would like me to feature next – these are just ideas, feel free to suggest anything you want! The top three suggestions will be put in my next poll for voting.



Since I was a little stuck with progress on returning to my previously normal weight last month, I decided to start using a food tracker for the month of March just to make sure I wasn’t missing my nutrition goals accidentally. Food trackers can range anywhere from a pen and notebook to wearable devices that connect to apps and websites with huge searchable food databases. Tracking the food you eat has some major pros and major cons…and it’s important to understand both before deciding if (and what kind of) food tracking is right for you.

Photo from www.pinterest.com

 

Pros:

  • Accountability – The primary function of tracking is accountability for what you eat. By tracking, you can see what you have eaten compared to your recommendations, and keep yourself in check throughout the day. If you have a day that is “off the rails” you can easily see it, notice it, and adjust or monitor a little closer in the coming days (by the way, you don’t have to feel guilty – that’s not the point!).
  • Awareness – Tracking causes you to pay more attention to the actual contents of what you eat. Websites, apps, and food labels all provide information on calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and protein – all of which may be useful depending on your health goals. Most of my clients find some surprises when they start tracking (I never knew that had so many calories and so much saturated fat! I thought that food was healthy!). Tracking offers a learning opportunity that will help support you in lifelong wellness as you learn which foods fit best in your plan.
  • Convenience – One study found that those who used a smart phone tracking app that assisted with goal setting and behavior change were more likely to meet their goals and, in this case, lost more weight than those using paper and pen or a website to track.1

 

Cons:

  • Tedium/Obsessiveness – Particularly for those who are not so detail-oriented (or those with a history of eating disorders), food trackers can be more of a hindrance than a help. Tracking every detail can become overwhelming and exhausting, and people who are overwhelmed and exhausted are less likely to make good health choices or reap the benefits of tracking. If you fit in these categories, you’ll likely find more benefit using strategies other than food tracking.
  • Inaccuracy – Food trackers are only as good as their accuracy and the honesty of the person using them. If you’re going to track at all, commit to being thorough and including everything you eat or drink – don’t forget condiments, cooking oils, seasonings, and beverages! Studies have found paper-based and online food tracking to be equally accurate.2
  • Lack of Evidence-Based Support and Resources – Two studies of food tracking apps discovered that most apps do not assist with evidence-based skills that promote success like problem-solving, stress reduction, and improving motivation.3, 4 If you’re using a tracker, be sure to seek out other support for these important areas.

Many people I work with find using a food tracker beneficial, but also grow weary of the “cons” listed above. I encourage them to consider being flexible in their use of food trackers. Often, one can glean the benefits of awareness and accountability by tracking a few days per week or one week per month, and those benefits will often carry over for the remainder of the time. If you decide to do this, set a concrete goal of what days or how many you will track (example: I will track Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays or I will track the first week of every month).

If you’re looking for ideas for food trackers to try, consider My Fitness Pal, Lose It, My Plate Supertracker, or Google “food journal” if you prefer pen and paper.

  1. http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e32/?
  2. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01219-2/abstract
  3. http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(13)00426-1/abstract?cc=y=
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13142-011-0076-5


NationalNutritionMonth2017

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought I’d give you a few thoughts on how to put your best fork forward this month (and every month)!

  • Try a new recipe – some of my favorite recipe websites are from the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. Trying out something new can add variety and keep eating from being boring!
  • Work on enjoying natural flavors – Make a goal to decrease “extra flavors” like sugar, salt, and artificial flavors in order to really enjoy the full flavors of the foods, herbs, and spices you’re eating. Check out this post for more tips on flavor!
  • Explore fresh new cuisines – most of us are familiar with Chinese, Italian, and Mexican foods, but how about Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Indian, or Vietnamese? There are over 190 countries in the world, each with amazing, flavorful, and unique dishes. Plus, different countries’ diets have different health benefits. You might discover a new favorite and expand the variety of foods you love! Bonus tip: make a quick Google search about the type of cuisine you’re trying before you go to a restaurant. That way, you can have some ideas of any unique customs (did you know that at most Ethiopian restaurants, patrons eat with their hands?) and what to order in case you can’t read the menu!
  • Get rid of the “good” and the “bad” labels – We have a tendency to label foods as though they are good or bad, as if food and nourishment were totally black and white! All foods can belong in a healthful diet, and bodies are so, so individual! What may make one person feel terrible may be a great choice for someone else, and it is fairly rare that there is a reason to completely cut anything out entirely. Research has shown that this kind of labeling is detrimental to healthful diets and healthy relationships with food.1 Learn to love and moderate all kinds of foods, and avoid villifying anything.

As a special bonus for National Nutrition Month, I’m offering 10% off an initial appointment! If you’ve been thinking about getting started with an empowered, healthful lifestyle, this is a great month to start! Click here to schedule an appointment!

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779532/

I hear this from clients all the time: “It doesn’t matter what I do! My weight goes up and down and up and down. I’ll lose a few pounds and then I’ll gain two back and I just want to give up.”

Photo from www.offfindingsparks.com

Ahhh the scale…a mean mistress. It’s a rare person who has not noticed that, whether trying to lose weight or not, his or her number on the scale tends to fluctuate. This is true for just about everyone for a variety of reasons.

If you’ve been tracking my goal-getting journey, you know that one of my goals was to get back to my normal body weight by losing 7 lbs. If you haven’t been following along, well…now you know. So the first 4-5 came off in the first month or so. After that, things slowed to a screeching halt and began climbing…1 pound, 2 pounds, 3 pounds. I was sticking with my nutrition and workout goals for the most part, but it was still climbing.

How could this be, you ask? It’s actually very common. Read on and I’ll run you through a few reasons that your weight is not the “end all, be all”…or even necessarily a good way to measure your overall progress. It’s part of the equation, and it is certainly linked to health outcomes, but it does not warrant or deserve the intense focus we tend to put on it. Here are 7 reasons your weight may fluctuate that have nothing to do with eating too much or not exercising enough:

  1. Time of the day – Believe it or not our weight changes, sometimes pretty significantly, throughout the day. During the day we retain some of the water we consume, so we tend to weigh the most at the end of the day and the least first thing in the morning after we’ve used the bathroom. I have a pretty small frame and depending on the day I’ve clocked as high as a 4-5 pound difference from morning to evening.
  2. Hydration – Along the same lines as #1, the amount of water we drink during the day can affect our weights. On a day where we are sweating heavily or not drinking enough fluids, we will weigh less than a day where we are adequately hydrated.
  3. Bathroom/food status – Gross but true. If you haven’t had a bowel movement in 1-2 days, your bowels may contain at least a couple of pounds (sometimes more!) of fecal material. Your bladder can hold anywhere from .5 to 1.5 lbs of urine as well.
  4. Menstruation – Sorry ladies, but it can’t be helped. Most women retain at least an extra pound or two of fluid during menstruation.
  5. Fluid retention/swelling – This can be caused by many different things, but in healthy people it is most commonly due to high sodium intakes. Have you ever noticed that your pants don’t fit quite right or your fingers look like sausages the day after the Superbowl party? Sodium and water are friends, so when we eat a lot of sodium, our body hangs on to extra water for a day or two.
  6. Stress – In general, stress tends to make our bodies want to gain fat. Stress management is a very key component of overall health.
  7. Muscle/fat – Most of us have heard the adage, “Muscle weighs more than fat.” It’s true, and it’s also true that if you start a new exercise program you will be gaining some muscle as you lose fat so progress can be tricky to track. Be careful with this one though, because you usually won’t be gaining enough muscle to really affect your weight for the first month or two of a new exercise program.

For these reasons, I try to encourage (and beg and plead) clients to focus on their overall health and fitness, their habits, and how they feel, as well as assessments like weight, circumference, or body fat to assess their overall progress. Given the things listed above, going up a pound or a few every so often is normal and should be expected. Don’t let it stress you out or discourage you! If you feel like you’re likely to quit on improving your health if the scale goes up, I have a strong recommendation for you – don’t get on the scale!