Avoid These New Year’s Diet Blunders

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

By avoiding these common diet blunders, the New Year will bring a new you!

The New Year provides a chance to start fresh and dream big. Many people will be making resolutions for 2016, myself included.

If your resolution has anything to do with improving your health or fitness, you’re not alone. Over half of us will make some sort of health resolution. Unfortunately, 90 percent of us will fail to follow through with our goal by Valentine’s Day.

While we can blame lack of willpower, there are a few diet blunders that can easily be avoided to make sure you reach your goal. Don’t let these diet roadblocks ruin your New Year’s resolution:

1. Cut out entire food groups or nutrients.

Low-fat, no sugar, gluten-free—if you’re jumping on board with these elimination diets to drop a few pounds, you’re not going to get lasting results. After all, these diets do not build realistic lifestyle habits.

One of the most common diet trends is to cut out carbohydrates or sugar. First, let me just say that carbohydrates are not to blame. When you choose the wrong kind of carbohydrate (think cookies, candy, and soda) and eat excessive amounts then, yes, that will inevitably end a greater waistline. But it’s also important to remember that carbs are an important source of fuel for your body. If you regularly feel sluggish and fatigued, it may be a good idea to look at your carbohydrate intake and ensure you’re getting the right kind in the right amount throughout the day.

One serving of carbs is about 1 cup (or the size of your fist). Stick with carbohydrates that are a good source of fiber and provide protein as well. Here are a few suggestions: Ezekiel sprouted-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and bread, and Qrunch Organics quinoa burger. Of course, fruits and vegetables are always good sources of carbohydrates.

2. Skip meals or snacks to cut back on calories.

While it may seem easy to just cut calories by skipping snacks and meals, it’s important to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Go much longer than that and you’ll become hungry and angry, or “hangry” as us Millennials call it. Once “hangry” sets in, a salad with grilled chicken just won’t do.

Keeping healthy snacks on hand is the best way to avoid becoming “hangry.” Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Trail mix with nuts, raisins, wasabi peas, and dried edamame
  • Hummus with bell pepper slices and snap peas
  • Cottage cheese with a bit of salsa and 3 tortilla chips crumbled on top

3. Keep tempting foods in the pantry or refrigerator.

If your kitchen is anything like mine after the holidays, it’s littered with canisters of caramel popcorn and tupperware of homemade cookies. At this point, come to the realization that you’ve had your change to enjoy these indulgences and it’s now time to say goodbye.
The first thing to do when embarking on a health goal is to clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of any tempting treats that you know will sabotage your diet and instead full your fridge and pantry with delicious, clean foods you’ll be excited to eat. Be sure to put my staple items on your grocery list:

  • Fruit: Berries, Apples, Bananas
  • Vegetables: Lettuce, Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Snap Peas
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • Protein bars and shakes
  • Turkey or Ham Lunchmeat
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • 100% Whole-Wheat Bread
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Sparking water

4. Forget about exercise.

What you eat is about 70 percent of the weight loss equation. Exercise is the other 30 percent. If you want to reach your goals quicker and plan for them to stick for years to come, you cannot neglect exercise.

A couple things to consider:

  • Do a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training. Cardiovascular training will get your heart rate up and resistance training will build muscle fast (and in turn, boost metabolism).
  • Go shopping for fashionable workout gear. Use those gift cards you got from Santa to treat yourself to stylish apparel. You’ll be more motivated to workout hard when you feel good about yourself.
  • Don’t have a gym membership? No problem! Run hills at a park near by, check out doyogawithme.com, or follow workout routines found in health magazines like Women’s Health.

 

ABC segment

I loved sharing these tips on ABC 15 Arizona!

6 Health Food Myths Debunked

Don't fall victim to health food myths. Credit: Stiftelsen Elektronikkbransjen

Don’t fall victim to health food myths. Credit: Stiftelsen Elektronikkbransjen

Do you ever feel confused about what you should eat to be healthy or to drop a few pounds? With so much misinformation on the Internet and passed on by self-professed experts, it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition. In my first published article on Verily, I debunk six of the most trendy health food myths.

 

“Oh, I don’t eat carrots,” she said to me. “They’re starchy carbohydrates, and I heard they will make me gain weight.”

I looked down at the floor and cleared my throat to hide the grin and laughter bubbling up from my stomach. It wasn’t professional to laugh at a client during a nutritional counseling session.

Was she serious? This seemingly intelligent middle-aged woman really thought eating carrots would derail her weight-loss goals?

Unfortunately, she’s not a unique case. Too many people fall victim to diet myths that lack any scientific evidence to back them up. Some of these myths become so pervasive that some enterprising person even turns them into cringe-worthy diet trends.

It’s hard to place blame on the average consumer for believing in diet myths because of the suffocating amount of misinformation on the Internet. A tiny spark of fallacy can transform into a wildfire of lies in a matter of minutes. Before you know it, “low carb” dieters are turning down nutrient-rich carrots because their friend’s blog said they’re “bad.”

In an effort to help people make truly healthy choices, I’ve tackled six of the myths-turned-diet trends that dietitians hate most. 

To find out what they are, click here.

Navigating the Grocery Store: The Cereal Aisle

I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is just something about that delicious crunch and the sweet milk. Of course, I try to choose cereals that are nutricious and healthy; but with all the ticky labels and sneaky claims on boxes, it can be fairly difficult.

Next time you take a stroll down the cereal aisle, check out all the “claims” on the different boxes. You may see: Made with Whole Grains, Excellent Source of Fiber, or Can Help Lower Cholesterol. So which is best? Should you choose the cereal that promises you’ll “Drop 2 dress sizes in one week!” or go for the one that will give you “Long-lasting energy”?

Here is your cereal solution:

  • 100% Whole Grain. Check the label under “Ingredients”. Make sure the cereal has little to no refined grain. Many times  products say “Made with whole grains” which can mean “made with very little.” This rule goes for any whole gain product with exceptions for rolled oats, rolled wheat, and brown rice–which are always whole.

  • No More then 250 Calories Per Cup. Many people look at the calories in cereal, but they forget to consider the serving size. So a cereal may look alright because it is 200 calories, but then you realize that is only for 1/4 cup (this is the case for most granola cereals). Now if you are only going to eat 1/4 cup, then there is not a problem.. but I bet you’ll be appauled at how little the amount actually is when you measure it out. You will realize that is a lot of calories for such a small portion of food!

  • Fiber. You want to find a cereal that has 3-6 grams of fiber per serving. Now, research has linked increased fiber with lower heart disease and diabetes risk, but that is moreso with soluble fiber than insoluble fiber. Unfortunatley, there is no distinction between the two on nutrition labels, so you can’t be sure which you are getting. The bottom line is that you still want to try to get fiber, but dont always assume that the more the fiber the better.

  • Sugar Monster. This is where my blood starts to boil–the amount of sugars in some cereals is absurd. Take Kellogg Apple Jacks with 12 grams of sugar in one serving. Obviously, when it comes to sugar, less is best.

  • Protein. Few cereals contain adequate amounts of protein. Reserach shows that we should be getting about 30 grams of protein per meal in order to facilitae proper muslce maintenance and growth. Protein can also increase satiety so you feel fuller, longer. Some options to increase the protein of your ceral include: mixing in whey protein powder with the milk (vanilla makes it really yummy!), including hard boiled eggs on the side, or throwing some nuts in the cereal.

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Here is a list of my Top 6 Favorite Nutritious Cereals:

{From Top: 1. Kashi GoLean 2. Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted 3. Barbara’s Bakery Puffins 4. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats 5. General Mill’s Cherrio’s 6. Uncle Sam}