Thanks for all of your suggestions, everyone! Here are the nominees:

Whole 30

Whole 30 was created by author Melissa Hartwig and is promoted as a “nutritional reset button” in which you eliminate a list of certain foods identified by Whole 30 founders as potential causes of bloating, metabolic upset, and a myriad of other conditions. The Whole 30 website claims that cutting these foods out for 30 days can improve your relationship with food, regulate digestion, and balance your immune system.

 

28-Day Shrink Your Stomach Challenge

Championed by Dr. Oz, this 28-day challenge focuses on weight loss, reducing bloating, and shrinking your waistline. The plan involves a mild form of intermittent fasting, elimination of dairy, sugar, and alcohol, and includes basic frameworks for each meal and snack. It also includes a daily plank challenge.

 

Trim Healthy Mama

Trim Healthy Mama is a book written by sisters Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, promoted as the “easy does it” approach to eating well. The plan focuses on alternating fuel types by avoiding eating carbs and fats in the same meal. It also eliminates added sugar and encourages waiting 3 hours between meals.

Vote for your choice below and let me know how I can help you make informed healthy choices!

 

Which diet would you like Dietitian on a Diet to feature next?

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We LOVE pizza at our house – especially as Super Bowl season draws near! Unfortunately, our Seahawks didn’t make the playoffs this year, but we can still enjoy the spirit of the game with a few slices of pizza pie. Store-bought pizza sauces can sometimes contain added sugar or, more often, high levels of sodium. Not to mention the sodium in everything else that goes on your favorite pizza!

vita-marija-murenaite-484774If you’re looking to eat less sodium or simply cook more from scratch, this pizza sauce recipe is a great option! It’s very easy and fast to make – just stir it up in 5 minutes and spread it on your favorite pizza! The tomatoes, herbs, and spices add an antioxidant punch to any pizza-flavored dish.

Print

5-Minute Heart Healthy Pizza Sauce

If you're looking to cut sodium or simply cook more from scratch, this pizza sauce recipe is a great option! It's very easy and fast to make - just stir it up in 5 minutes and spread it on your favorite pizza! The tomatoes, herbs, and spices add an antioxidant punch to any pizza-flavored dish.

Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 16 kcal

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. canned tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp basil

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Recipe Notes

Contains 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 63 g sodium per 1/8 cup serving.


To Diet or Not to Diet

 

Floating around social media the last few days I’ve seen several articles on either side of the “diet” coin:

“Why you shouldn’t diet in 2018”

“Top 6 Diets of 2018”

“Don’t diet this January”

You may have a goal to be healthier and take care of yourself this year – many people do, and that’s great! So, should you “diet”?

A lot of nutrition and fitness coaches will tell you that diets never work and that you need only listen to your body, feed it when it wants food, and don’t when it doesn’t (often called intuitive eating). That works really well for people who are in tune with their bodies, have normally established hunger cues, and like to eat healthful foods. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many of the clients I work with. These habits and hunger cues can be learned, but it takes time and it’s a frustrating road for a lot of people. Everyone is different, which is why I’ve learned to avoid all or nothing statements like “diets never work.”

At some point, this kind of comes down to semantics.

You can call it a diet, you can call it a lifestyle change, you can call it an eating plan, but ultimately what matters is whether or not it works with and for YOU.

I’ve seen people try strict diet plans that don’t fit their lifestyles, fight tooth and nail to stick to them, and feel totally defeated when they can’t seem to make it work. I’ve also seen people try to eat intuitively without any boundaries or guidelines and flounder, frustrated that they don’t seem to be making any progress.

On the other hand, when people find the right balance of structure and freedom to fit their lifestyles – it’s magic. They have a plan that is tailored to work with their unique personalities, budgets, families, and favorite foods. They are achieving their goals and they’re happy and feel great doing it. This is the elusive magical unicorn of healthful eating.

It can be a daunting task to find your own magical unicorn, so I’ve compiled some tips to help you out. Without further ado, here are 5 ways to know if an eating plan is right for you:

1. It’s not miserable/exhausting.

It makes me sad that I even have to say this, but it happens all the time. People put themselves through psychological and physical torture because they think it’s the only way to achieve their health goals – not so! The right plan will not make you sad and miserable, or be so labor intensive that you can barely keep up. If you love all kinds of food, for example, paleo wouldn’t be a good choice – you’ll be miserable saying no to so many things you love. If you have eaten breakfast your entire life and are hungry every few hours, intermittent fasting probably isn’t for you (you can read about my experience with that here). If you hate numbers and don’t like tedious tracking, don’t count calories! You’ll hate it!

Choose or design a plan that works with your individual preferences and quirks.

2. You’re not hungry all the time.

We’re trying to make your body healthy and happy. Constant underlying hunger is not conducive to either of those goals. ‘Nuff said.

3. It doesn’t restrict your social life.

Your eating plan should work beautifully into your social life. You should never skip out on girls’ or guys’ night because you are “on a diet.” You may end up ordering differently than you have in the past (or not!) but your social life is a huge part of a healthy life too. Don’t let an overly restrictive eating plan intended to make you healthier screw up other aspects of your health. You can read about my experiences with a social life-crushing diet here. It’s not worth it, trust me.

4. It includes all the foods you enjoy except legitimate allergies or intolerances, at least some of the time.

There is absolutely no reason to cut out entire categories of foods to lose weight. Certain medical conditions excepted, you should never have a list of foods you’re “not allowed” to eat. First of all, psychologically, you’re setting yourself up for the trap of only wanting what you “can’t” have. Second, why be more restrictive than is necessary? The ideal plan is the least restrictive plan that still heads you toward your goals. You may eat certain things less often and in smaller portions, but avoid plans that label foods as “good/allowed” and “bad/not allowed.”

5. You’re making progress.

Obviously, your plan needs to be making you healthier or what’s the point? Now I need to stress something very, very important here. Very important. Huge. Please don’t skip over this:

Progress comes in many forms, and most of them are not on the scale.

Please, please, please don’t gauge your success or failure only on your weight. A healthful eating plan should improve your health in so many other ways: Are you eating more vegetables? Do you have more energy? Do you sleep better? Is your skin clearer? Do you find yourself snacking less after dinner? Do your clothes fit better? Is your mindset more positive? Do you have less pain?

All of these are potential benefits of improved eating habits, and they’re nothing to sniff weight can be a fickle mistress, but health is so, so much more than weight.

So before you start a new eating plan this year, make sure it fits these criteria. As always, if you feel overwhelmed or lost at the idea of trying to find an eating plan that works for you, find a dietitian who can help you find a plan that fits your life. If you’re in Washington state, I’d be honored to work with you! Click here if you’re interested.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

 


It’s day two of my goal-setting giveaway challenge! It’s not too late to join in – visit Dietitian on a Diet’s “Giveaway Alert” post on Facebook or Instagram to play! Yesterday we were dreaming big, today is a little less fun but just as important.
Today’s challenge: Assess your current reality. Where is this area of your life at right now?/Te honest, but also be fair to yourself. No need to be more critical than is true. Acknowledge the good parts as well as the parts where you’re not where you’d like to be – that’s where we find the best goals.
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Yesterday I told you about my dream to have a cookbook. The current reality is shown above…I have a folder of chicken-scratch recipes and recipe ideas. Several of them have been tested and finalized and I am really proud of them! Several others need more work or need to go from ideas to actual recipes. I have a vague idea of how I want to layout the cookbook but I need to “brain dump” some of those ideas onto paper and play with them.
Your turn: head over to Dietitian on a Diet’s Facebook or Instagram and lay out the true current reality of where your goal area is right now./Te kind to yourself, be honest, and lay it out there!

Of course you do!

Giveaway Alert!

 

 

Join me for a 2018 goal-setting challenge on Facebook and Instagram – play on both and you’ll DOUBLE your chance of winning! The challenge starts 12/26 and will run until 12/31. I’ll post some goal-setting tips, you’ll set a goal, and someone will win this beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal by The Simple Elephant and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens!

Like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook and follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram for all the details!



I’ve been busy researching, reading, and compiling more information from scientific studies done on intermittent fasting and its potential benefits. This is part two, but you can go here to read about more research on fasting or here if you’re not sure what intermittent fasting is all about.

Can intermittent fasting…

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Photo from oxfordlearning.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…improve blood sugars and prevent/manage diabetes?

  • Animals that ate intermittently exhibited resistance to diabetes and improved blood glucose and insulin sensitivity, even if they did not achieve caloric restriction (Anson et al 2003Duan et al 2003)
  • Animals on daily caloric restriction have lower fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin, reduced inflammatory markers, and improved insulin sensitivity (Lane, Ingram, Roth 1999Imai 2010Hursting et al 2003Lane et al 1995; Wang et al 2007Bonkowski et al 2006Okauchi et al 1995; Walford et al 1999; Walford et al 2002; Wang et al 2007Kalani et al 2006)
  • Human results on intermittent fasting are mixed:
    • One study found no change in glucose but lower fasting insulin after 22 days of intermittent fasting (Hielbronn et al Jan 2005).
    • One study found that, while fasting, subjects with diabetes had higher blood sugar levels (Saada et al 2010).
    • Another found that after 22 days of intermittent fasting, women’s bodies showed more difficulty clearing blood glucose but that there was no difference in men. Men also had a decreased insulin response, but women didn’t. (Hielbronn et al Mar 2005).
    • Another study found no change in glucose or insulin in men after 14 days of intermittent fasting (Halberg et al 2005).
    • Two studies found that in humans, insulin sensitivity is more improved with fasting than with caloric restriction (Varady & Hellerstein 2007; Harvie et al 2010)
  • Humans on caloric restriction showed lower fasting insulin levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and lower blood glucose. (Hielbronn et al 2006; Weiss et al 2006; Fontana et al 2004).
  • The boiled-down verdict: Animals show improvements in blood glucose, insulin sensitivity, and resistance to diabetes with both intermittent fasting (without caloric restriction) as well as caloric restriction (without intermittent fasting). In humans, research on intermittent fasting and blood sugars delivers mixed messages, which probably means there are other factors involved that we don’t understand yet. There might be a gender difference in the blood glucose response to intermittent fasting. Several studies showed that daily caloric restriction can improve fasting insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, and blood glucose in humans.

 

…treat asthma?

  • In one study, intermittent fasting reduced airway resistance, reduced inflammation, and improved the medicinal effects of albuterol in patients with asthma. (Johnson et al 2007)
  • The boiled-down verdict: We need more research, but intermittent fasting may have some promising benefits for those with asthma.

 

…decrease risk of heart disease?

 

…slow cancer?

  • Animals that eat intermittently exhibit slowed tumor growth, improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and reduced side effects of chemotherapy (Berrigan et al 2002;Lee at al 2012).
  • In mice, intermittent fasting without caloric restriction reduced the occurrence and growth of lymphoma (Descamps et al 2005).
  • Several studies show that animals with tumors had slower tumor growth and lived longer when calorically restricted with adequate protein, vitamin, and mineral intakes (Weindruch et al 1986Pashko & Shwartz 1996Pugh et al 1999; Imai 2010Hursting et al 2003); however, one study showed mice had no slowing of tumor growth when on caloric restriction (Keenan et al 1997).
  • Reviews of animal research conclude that the cancer prevention/slowing benefits are similar between intermittent fasting and calorie restriction (Varady & Hellerstein 2007).
  • The boiled-down verdict: Research on the benefits of caloric restriction for cancer is mixed. Intermittent fasting may slow tumor growth and improve the effects of cancer treatment in animals. We need more research to know how these effects may transfer over to humans.

How it Went:

I’ve still been so hungry in the mornings waiting to break my fast. This leads to crabbyness (the severity of which depends on who you ask…). Then, once I’m able to eat, I feel like I’m constantly eating to hit my macro goals. Eating when I’m not hungry leads to crabbyness. These are unfortunate happenings. During this week I missed my macros for a couple days and one morning hit a blood sugar low during my workout that forced me to realize I need more structure to get my macros in throughout the day. You can read about that here. After I created a more specific eating schedule, I was able to get my macros in a little easier, but I still felt hungry in the mornings and very full during my eating window./I haven’t really felt great at all since I started intermittent fasting.

On the flip side, my pants are definitely fitting better and I can tell that I’ve lost a bit from my waist overall. The measurements don’t reflect it this week because, unfortunately, this is the nasty week of water retention (or as my husband and I refer to it, the “natural disaster”). I expect that next week’s numbers will go back down again.

What I learned:

My fitness goal right now is primarily to gain strength and muscle and maintain cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. I’ve been using a heavy weight lifting routine (along with some moderate cardio and yoga) to achieve that goal for several months now./Lifting heavy and gaining muscle requires an increase in calorie intake to sustain muscle building and recovery, but I’ve found that I really can’t comfortably meet that goal in an intermittent fasting window./When I was eating normally, I didn’t have any trouble meeting that goal because/I had more time to digest food before eating again.

I lamented about my struggles to my intermittent fasting coach friend Emily Arger, who offered to let me try her 7-Day/Whittle Your Waist plan. The workouts included in her plan are designed to pair better with intermittent fasting than my heavy lifting plan, since I won’t need as many calories/macros. The main goal of the plan (as you might gather from the name), is fat loss. This is a shift from what my actual personal goals are, but I learned that heavy lifting/muscle gain is a very tricky thing to accomplish while intermittent fasting, at least for me. I started her new workout plan today, which includes 25-30-minute Tabata-style high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. My cat was impressed…and possibly confused.

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How I did and what changed:

  Goal Week #1 Week #2
# of days 16-hour fast was achieved 7 6 7
Average daily protein intake 90 grams 85.4 grams 82.2 grams
Average daily carb intake 225 grams 209 grams 205 grams
Average daily fat intake 60 grams 73.2 grams 64 grams
Weight change   0 lbs -1.2 lbs
Body fat % change   -.5% -.5%%
Waist measurement change   -1″ +.75″
Hip measurement change   0” 0”
Thigh measurement change   -1″ +.5″

This week I’ve been really struggling to get my macronutrients (aka carbs, protein, and fat) in during my

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8-hour eating window./I’ve just been too stuffed near the end of my window to get them in. For the past couple of days, I’ve been under my macro goals and I am really starting to feel it the next morning. Today, my workout was a struggle./I hit the worst blood sugar low I’ve had yet during my fast this morning, and it was rough.

I always like to make eating plans as flexible as I can while still hitting goals, but it’s pretty clear that trying to hit my macro goals while intermittent fasting isn’t going to happen without a bit more structure. I sat down, created an eating schedule by dividing my eating window up and scheduling meals and snacks, and dividing my macro goals amongst them. My first breakfast on this plan: egg and veggie scramble with low fat sausage and salsa, a slice of whole wheat toast, and a homemade muffin.

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My macro goals for this meal: 55 grams carbohydrate, 20 grams protein, and 15 grams fat.

Actual intake from this meal: 55 grams carbohydrate (on the nose!), 25 grams protein, and 25 grams fat (I gotta work on getting this down…).

I am STUFFED. I’m used to eating a little bit less than this and spreading it out more throughout the day. At least I got in all the macros I needed to with this meal (and a little bit more). We’ll see how the next few days go with hitting macro goals. I’m hoping it will help with my hunger and low blood sugar in the mornings.


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Today marks the completion of my first week on intermittent fasting! I’m sitting here waiting for my eating window to open, so I figured I might as well hammer out a blog post. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go here to read about my intermittent fasting experiment. Here’s a quick rundown on my week:

How it went:

It’s been a little rough, to be honest. I’m starving in the mornings waiting to eat, pretty much no matter what I’ve eaten the night before. My hunger was a little better when I hit my macros perfectly (or darn close) the day before. At the beginning of a day, it feels impossible to be satisfied once I start eating, then I find myself stuffed with only two hours left to go in my eating window./Then I’m feeling like I should eat because/my window is about to close and I know I’ll be starving in the morning if I don’t eat. As I am generally a promoter of intuitive eating (creating an eating schedule based around your body’s own natural hunger cues), this is totally backwards to me. I’m not eating when I am hungry, and I’m eating when I’m not hungry. Not to mention the fact that when I’m starving, I’m much less likely to choose healthy options. For me, my desire for Cajun tots and nachos with cheap, plasticky cheese is directly proportional to the length of time I’ve been hungry. Thus, I struggled to stay within my fat goal. Hunger cues are adaptable, so I’m curious to see if these issues improve in the next two weeks.

I haven’t been hungry most evenings, even though I stop eating at 6 pm and don’t go to bed until around 10 pm. That’s not too much of a surprise, since I’m typically hungry every 4 hours or so normally.

One pleasant surprise: working out while fasted has not been that tough. I like to work out in the mornings and did not want to change that schedule even though I was fasting, but I was worried. I get low blood sugar, especially when exercising, so I was really concerned about completing my normal workouts while fasted. Turns out, working out actually distracted me a bit from my hunger. I did schedule my workouts to end right at 10 am as my eating window opened, because/I’m always extra hungry right after my workout. That part has been going great!

What I’ve learned:

Intermittent fasting is probably a great option for a certain type of person – an intermittent fasting “candidate,” if you will. This person is probably not used to eating breakfast or can easily skip breakfast without too much notice, likes to eat larger meals, doesn’t have issues with high or low blood sugar, and has irregular or non-existent hunger cues.

On top of that, a good fasting candidate has a schedule that can work with their fasting instead of against it. Because/I work from home, I am mostly able to eat when my window opens, but I have thought about the fact that if I were working my former full-time job, it would be very difficult to follow intermittent fasting. I can’t imagine waiting any longer to eat than 10 am, and 10 am would not be a realistic time to eat at my desk job.

It’s also possible that this person has a sedentary lifestyle so they do not need to eat often to meet their energy needs. I often teach about matching energy needs with energy intake throughout the day, which is tough to do if you’re active for 12 hours but only able to eat for 8.

If these characteristics describe you, you may be a great candidate for intermittent fasting.

How I did and what changed:

  Goal Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
# of days 16-hour fast was achieved 7 6    
Average daily protein intake 90 grams 85.4 grams    
Average daily carb intake 225 grams 209 grams    
Average daily fat intake 60 grams 73.2 grams    
Weight change   0 lbs    
Body fat % change   -.5%    
Waist measurement change   -1″    
Hip measurement change   0”    
Thigh measurement change   -1″  

 

Even though my weight stayed the same, I did lose an inch from my waist and another from my thighs during this week. One of the claims of intermittent fasting is that it will promote fat loss, particularly in the abdominal area. My scant week on the diet shows that could be the case! Keep checking in for more updates on what the research says about intermittent fasting.