Posts Tagged ‘Treatment’

Tactics to Avoid the Trick and Enjoy the Treat

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Halloween can be a scary time for more reasons than the goblins and spooky ghosts. Halloween seems to kick-off the season of treats. Many parents dread Halloween due to the amount of candy that their child drags home after a long night of trick-or-treating.  This can be unwelcomed, especially if any member of the family is attempting to manage their weight.  Let’s take a moment and spin this into a learning opportunity.

Trick-or-treating is a great time to teach kids about moderation. Remember, Halloween candy is no different than other sweets and desserts.  There is a growing body of research that encourages families to mark no food as forbidden. Ellyn Satter encourages parents to help their children to, “Learn to manage sweets and to keep sweets in proportion to the other food [they] eat.” Moderation can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is a lesson worth learning. According to research, treat-deprived children often end up weighing more later in life due to hoarding forbidden foods, where as children who are permitted to enjoy treats regularly maintained a healthier weight. Additionally, authoritative food policies often encourage sneaking and hiding behaviors.

Brave parents may allow their children to manage their own stash of Halloween candy and possibly learn the hard way after a few belly aches. Other families may wish to combine the booty and sort through it together; allowing each member to identify the candies that they “love,” “like,” and can “do without.” Most people find it beneficial to throw out the candy that they can live without and enjoy the rest 1 piece at a time as part of a meal.

It is helpful to refer to published guidelines regarding added sugar to identify a healthy way to enjoy candy. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends a certain number of grams of sugar per day based on their age and gender. For reference, there are 4 grams of sugar in every teaspoon of sugar.

  • Men: 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 25 grams per day (6 teaspoons)
  • Pre-teen and Teenagers: 20-32 grams per day (5-8 teaspoons)
  • Children (4-8 years): (3 teaspoons)
  • Preschoolers (2-3 years): 16 grams per day (4 teaspoons)

In order to do your part and limit the extra sugar that enters your home, choose to hand-out the following candy alternatives:

Non-Food Alternatives:

  • Stickers
  • Glow sticks
  • Play dough
  • Rings
  • Toothpaste/Floss/Toothbrush
  • Pencil/Erasers
  • Post-it’s
  • Bubbles

Food Alternatives:

  • Sugar-free Gum
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Trail mix

So, with moderation in mind may, the force be with you as we forge into the season of sweets!

Food and Money- Too Good to Waste

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

Money may not buy love or happiness but it certainly has become a resource for better health in the present age. Many people believe that eating healthy costs more money and depending on food costs, it very well may. This is why it is vital to be strategic about how the mighty food dollar is spent and reduce waste.

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that 40% of all food in the United States is wasted. This amounts to $165 billion every year! So, what does this look like on the individual level? The report estimates that individuals waste about 25% of everything they purchase. The average adult spent $3240 at the grocery store in 2011 (7% of their income), so this means of that they wasted food amounting to $810. The average family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) spends $13,000 annually or $250 every week. If they also toss out 25% of what they buy, they waste $63 every week.  These wasted foods and funds can be reduced through the following 3 strategies.

Take stock before you shop

Try to get down to bare bones in the cupboard, pantry, refrigerator and freezer before hitting the store. This may require a thorough clean out of the kitchen first to ensure all foods are safe for consumption. Be sure to check the expiration dates on all packaged foods. If it’s expired, feel good about tossing it out. It is important to note that not all dates on packages are expiration dates. There are also “sell by” and “best by” dates and food may last long after these dates have passed.

When grocery shopping, bring a list and try to stick to it. Impulse buys are often the items that end up in the trash. Also, be weary of bulk items. It may be a great deal, but be sure you will eat it. Often times, bulk items get eaten faster when they are in less intimidating packages. Try to take some time to pre-portion these items, such as trail mix or snack foods into home-made 100-Calorie packs. This same method can be applied to chicken breasts, ground turkey and fish.

Get creative with your cupboards

Now that you and your family have a clean slate to work with, you will begin to form the habit of working with a few odd items as you approach grocery shopping time. Pretend that you are on Top Chef: the Family edition and you’ll be having fun before you know it!

When just starting out, try to keep the following staples for quick and healthy meals on-hand:

  • Grain/Starch: Quick brown rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread
  • Protein: Canned fish, canned beans, eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, nuts and seeds
  • Vegetable: Canned or frozen
  • Fruit: Dried, Frozen or canned in water

Give over-ripe produce a second chance

Before tossing out squishy, mushy produce, try to give it a second life. Be sure to inspect it for mold and give it a quick sniff. If everything checks out, toss it in one of the following items:


  • Over-ripe bananas or apples are great for baking
  • Fading berries work well in jam
  • Grapes, cranberries, and other berries are great to dehydrate
  • All others can be nutrient boosters in smoothies or home-made juices


  • Sagging carrots, celery and wilted greens are perfect for soup
  • Other over-ripe vegetables can be pureed into sauces or dressings
  • Spinach, kale, cucumber, carrots, and many others are great for juicing and smoothies

It’s also important to keep a close eye on these perishable items. If you notice they are aging quicker than expected, prepare them and then store them in the freezer for a quick dish later in the week…or month.

Make food last longer by being smart about Portions

Most of the food wasted in restaurants is due to the large portions. Try to be mindful at home and follow the recommended portions for your age range. In general, the plate method featured on is an easy way to practice healthful portions at home. Just be sure to start with a 9-inch plate- no platters.

Be diligent when dining out and either order what you can eat or plan to take some home. Turn in your card to the clean plate club and remember leftovers are your friend.

The bottom line is that healthy eating may not cost more money, but does cost more time and both are too precious to waste. Try to…

  • Take stock of your staples before you shop,
  • Get creative with what is in your cupboards,
  • Give over-ripe produce a second chance, and
  • Be smart about portions to make food last longer.

Food Combining: A simple solution for complex ailments?

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

The long-standing theory of food combining originated in the 19th century and is still touted today as a solution to common, complex ailments. The theory is based on the idea that different fuel sources, or macronutrients such as carbohydrate, fat and protein, are digested by different enzymes, in different locations, at different times. The assumption is that if an individual does not combine their foods in light of this theory digestion becomes inefficient and can decrease processes in the liver and promote toxins in the body. This indigestion is attributed to a variety of conditions related to:

  • Digestion: bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation or diarrhea.
  • Inflammation: allergies, asthma, and headaches,
  • Joints: arthritis and bursitis.
  • Mental and emotional health: behavioral disorders, fatigue, moodiness, and poor memory.
  • Reproduction: infertility and irregular menstruation.

This theory sounds like an easy solution to the illnesses listed above, but is it fact or fiction? Let’s explore the in’s and out’s of this dietary lifestyle in the context of confirmed physiology.

What do we know?

The digestive tract is a complex system that involves many organs and enzymes to process food over a 30 foot-long journey, which takes 24 to 72 hours. Digestion begins even before the first bite of food. The cephalic phase is initiated at the thought or sight of food. These senses excite the cerebral cortex, which sends messages along a neural circuit to ultimately increase acetylcholine to get the digestive tract moving, or contracting. This stimulation also increases several secretions that aid in digestion, including stomach acid, gastrin and somatostatin. This physical response increases an individual’s cues for hunger that are difficult to ignore (thoughts of food, smell of food, salivation, growling stomach, and perhaps mild stomach pangs).

Now the body is ready to eat! Digestion begins in the mouth via chewing mixed with saliva. Human saliva contains enzymes: amylase that is used to breakdown carbohydrates and lipase that is used to breakdown lipids (fat). This partially digested bolus then works its way to the belly by way of the esophagus.

When food arrives in the stomach there are increased contractions, further increases in stomach secretions (HCl acid, gastrin, pepsin) and a consequent decrease in pH to 1-3. The stomach’s role is to mix food with these secretions, store the food and then empty. The breakdown of food into very small particles takes about 3 to 4 hours before being moved into the small intestine. This rate of “gastric emptying” controls the rate that nutrients (fuel, vitamins and minerals) are absorbed and is being investigated. Slow gastric emptying (fewer bowl movements constipation) is associated with diabetes and GERD, where as a quicker rate (frequent bowel movements or diarrhea) is associated with obesity. The goal would be to achieve a normal rate of emptying (1 bowel movement everyday) into the intestinal phase.

The majority of digestion occurs in the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). It is here that the food mixture, which now resembles a milky substance called chime, is exposed to more enzymes secreted by the intestines and the pancreas, as well as, bile acids from the liver and gallbladder. The condition in the small intestine has a higher pH than the stomach, which creates a less harsh environment for these enzymes to work in.

Digestion of fats from butter, cream and plant-based oils (coconut, palm) begins in the mouth and ends in the liver. The majority of proteins from animals (meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs) are digested in the stomach and duodenum. Digestion of carbohydrates (starches, fruit, and non-starchy and starchy vegetables) occurs along the digestive tract from mouth to anus. Remember, carbohydrates are partially digested in the mouth and then, typically, de-bugged by the harsh pH in the stomach and then further digested in the small intestines by enzymes released by the surface of the duodenum (“brush-border enzymes”). Most of the carbohydrates that make it to the large intestine are fibers.

Absorption of these digested foods begins in the small intestine with the help of finger-like projections called villi. These villi are covered in micro-villi and with this increased surface area they are able to transport the nutrients to the liver to be “detoxed” via the hepatic portal vein.

The remainder of the food that is not absorbed continues to travel along the small intestine to the second (jejunum) and third portions (ileum). Iron, amino acids and broken down carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, galactose) are absorbed in the duodenum. The majority of vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the jejunum. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the ileum. Fat and water are absorbed throughout the small intestine.

The remnants are passed on to the large intestine, which houses the microbiota, the body’s probiotic community. These good bacteria work hard to ferment the leftovers and produce additional energy and unpleasant gas. The large intestine also is charged with absorbing fluid to create, house and emit a stool of normal texture. Too much fluid left in the large intestine can lead to diarrhea, where as too little fluid results in constipation.

As you can see food is certainly digested by different enzymes at different times and in different locations along the “GI” tract. The theory of food combining ensues that if two different nutrients (starch and protein) are being digested at the same time the process will be inefficient and incomplete due to the “competing” processes. The undigested foods will then end up in the large intestine, which is ill equipped to digest and thus the food will be fermented leading to what the theory coins as “toxic poisons.” The absorption of these “toxins” is what is thought to cause the ailments described above.

What does the Theory of Food Combining recommend?

The theory recommends the following dietary guidelines:

  • Do not drink during or close to meal times.
  • Allow appropriate time for digestion of individual food groups:
    • Fruit, 2 hours
    • Green vegetables and Starches, 5 hours
    • Plant-based protein (beans, peas, soy), 10 hours
    • Animal-based protein and fat, 12 hours
    • Drink milk alone and allow 10 hours for complete digestion.
    • Eat all fruit alone and allow 2 hours for complete digestion.
    • Green vegetables can be eaten with all food groups except fruit and milk.
    • Fat, Starches, peanuts and chestnuts can be eaten at the same time.
    • Cheeses, Yogurt, Avocado, Nuts, and seeds can be eaten with other fats.

If an individual was applying this theory to a typical day may look like the following:

  • Breakfast (8am): A serving of strawberries and raspberries
  • AM Snack (10am): A medium-sized pear
  • Lunch (12pm): Brown rice with green vegetables and raw peanuts
  • Dinner (5pm): Baked fish with green vegetables

Fact or Fiction?

The theory recommendations are not harmful, but are they helpful?

Fact- This dietary lifestyle may benefit a person due to the lower calorie intake, decreased frequency of eating, lack of processed foods, increased sources of dietary fiber and natural sources of vitamins and minerals. All of these factors can contribute to a decrease in inflammation in the body and better utilization of stored fuels. Additionally, not drinking with meals can force a person to chew their food better and not dilute the stomach secretions, which aids digestion.

Fiction- The grounds that the body is not equipped to digest two different fuel sources at one time is not true. There are an abundance of foods that contain several food groups that the body readily digests including breast milk (protein, carbohydrate and fat) and beans and peas (protein and carbohydrate).

Those are the facts and the choice is up to you. Good nutrition definitely has a role in preventing and managing many of the chronic ailments listed at the beginning, but the answer is not food combining.

Gluten: Friend or Foe

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD CD CPT

Gluten has been the target of criticism in recent months and many people have pin-pointed this grain protein as the cause of their many woes. Gluten-free diets seem to be all the rage; People avoid gluten for a variety of reasons including Celiac Disease, wheat allergy, gluten intolerance and weight loss.

Previously, celiac disease was the only valid reason to avoid gluten. Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease where the body reacts to gliadin, a protein found in gluten, which causes intestinal damage. The finger-like projections (villi) in the small intestine are damaged by this reaction and begin to bend. Damaged villi cannot absorb nutrients and thus cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Poor enamel on teeth
  • Fatigue
  • Poor growth

The cause of the disease is attributed to an interaction of:

Genetically, celiac disease is also associated with:

Celiac disease is not an allergy to wheat, although persons with a wheat allergy may be allergic to gluten and thus follow a gluten-free diet.  A wheat allergy is an IgE-mediated response to one of the four proteins in wheat. The allergic response is similar to celiac in that the body identifies a protein as something harmful and mounts an immune response, but symptoms differ:

  • Irritation in throat or intolerable choking,
  • Rash or hives,
  • Nasal congestion,
  • Stomach pains, nausea or vomiting, or
  • Anaphylaxis.

Wheat allergies are common in children, but typically outgrown before adulthood.

Currently, 3 million Americans, or about 1%, have diagnosed celiac disease and it is true that the disease is on the rise, but why? Hypotheses include:

  • Improvement in tests for screening and diagnosis- Tests have become more sensitive and specific
  • Increased awareness- People are more aware of the disease
  • Hygiene hypothesis– Children in ultra-clean environments are not exposed to antigens while their immune systems are developing increases their risk of developing an allergy or intolerance.
  • Antibiotic use- Some believe that the use of antibiotics early in life (0-5 years) can alter the microbial ecology in our guts leading to increased risk of intolerances and digestive inflammatory diseases.

In addition, to Celiac disease, additional cases of gluten sensitivity or intolerance are also increasing and researchers believe 1 out of 20 people may have it. The increase in this new disorder is attributed to the same causes of celiac disease, as well as, the agricultural changes to wheat.  In recent years wheat has been modified to contain higher amounts of protein, including gluten, which promote higher yields. Gluten also gives wheat products (breads, pastas, waffles, etc.) their flexible structures.

Gluten sensitivity is a condition where gluten increases the activation of the innate immune effector pathways, but without damage to the intestines. This adverse reaction occurs after eating gluten resulting and has symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), candidiasis (yeast infections, athlete’s foot), but with no damage to digestive tract.  Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Head and body aches
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Blistering skin disease that forms on elbows, knees and buttocks

Typically, symptoms of gluten sensitivity only last a few hours up to a day.  If individuals suspect celiac disease or gluten sensitivity it is best to try a gluten-free diet and evaluate if the problematic symptoms improve. It is important to note, however, that if someone is going in for testing for celiac disease or sensitivities they have to be actively consuming gluten.

All in all, gluten is friendly if you…

  • Do not have Celiac Disease,
  • Do not have a Wheat allergy, and
  • Are not intolerant to Gluten.

Gluten is a foe if you…

  • Have Celiac Disease,
  • Have a Wheat allergy to gluten protein, and
  • Are intolerant to Gluten.

Many people opt for a gluten-free diet to lose weight, under the assumption that gluten-free is low-carb. Most gluten-free products are made with refined carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index, meaning they are digested very quickly. A well-balanced meal plan with regular exercise is always the best way to achieve a healthier weight. Whole grains can be quite helpful in meeting daily fiber needs but also providing rich sources of b-vitamins and minerals, which are commonly deficient in gluten-free diets.  For additional tips on increasing whole grains see:  Whole Grains Pack a Powerful Punch.

The causes of celiac disease and gluten intolerance remain muddled, but the treatment remains the same. If you have questions regarding these dietary lifestyles and whether or not a gluten-free diet is for you be sure to contact a dietitian.

Supermarket Savvy: What’s for Dinner?

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD CD CPT

What’s for dinner is a question that most household cooks hear on a daily basis. Putting together a healthful dinner in a time crunch can be a difficult task. Thus, many people opt for simple just-add-water foods that do not provide good nutrition. Even more people with busy families swing by a local fast-food joint to provide a time-friendly feast.

I hope to convey some tips for the time-crunched family and the struggling chef, so that anyone can serve up a healthy, inexpensive meal in 20 minutes or less. 

Time-saving Tips:

  • Choose budget-friendly staples.
  • Make a grocery list based on meals for the week
  • Get creative with leftovers.
  • Cook ahead: eat now or freeze for later.

Healthy eating does not cost more money, but does cost more time or at least a few moments of planning. Inexpensive staples that pack a nutritional punch include:

  • Dry peas, beans and lentils
  • Eggs
  • Dry whole grains (Brown rice, Barley, Bulgur, Quinoa)
  • Fresh, frozen or canned (no salt added) vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Ground chicken or turkey breasts
  • Canned fish in water with limited added salt

The items above vary in cooking time. The dried peas and lentils are going to cook up a lot faster than the beans, but in a time crunch all would be best if made ahead of time and placed in the freezer. Additionally, the dried grains vary in prep time where brown rice and barley may take 45-60min to cook versus the bulgur and quinoa may only take 10-12 minutes. Check out the recipes below for ideas on how to compile these staples for family-friendly meals.

A proven method that can ensure a healthful dinner is meal planning, which can be as simple as making a grocery list. When crafting a grocery list be sure to use a few of the budget-friendly staples to create 2-3 weekday dinners. These dinners can feed you and your family throughout the week. The one catch with this approach is that you have to be a fan of leftovers. Leftovers do not have to be the same meal, but may include the same foundation. For example, grilling several chicken breasts on Sunday may provide Kebabs on Monday, Tacos on Tuesday, and pasta with chicken on Wednesday.

Since time is of the essence and lack of time is a common barrier for a variety of healthful lifestyle habits, cooking ahead and freezing for later can be very helpful. Most people have at least one day out of the week that is a bit slower than others. I recommend to set aside 1-2 hours on this day to cook up a few of the staples listed above or to even create home-made frozen dinners, such as frozen soups, stews, or casseroles. Another option is to cook up the meal, grains or beans in a slow-cooker or crock-pot during the day, so they are ready by the evening.

One Week of Nutritious, Delicious and Efficient Dinners:

  • Monday: Grilled chicken breast (from Sunday dinner) sandwiches on toasted whole wheat bread topped with vegetables, sliced avocado and melted reduced-fat cheese. Served with fruit salad.
  • Tuesday: Stir-fried frozen vegetables with chopped chicken breast served over made-ahead brown rice.
  • Wednesday: Made-ahead 3-Bean Chili topped with plain Greek yogurt or reduced fat cheese and raw vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, bell pepper)
  • Thursday: Baked potato topped with leftover chili, yogurt or cheese with a side salad as easy as bagged spinach topped with a few grape tomatoes.
  • Friday: Home-made pizzas with leftover vegetables from the week, a jar of low-sodium tomato sauce, reduced-fat cheese served on a whole wheat pita, tortilla or English muffin.

For additional cost-effective, time-sensitive and healthy recipes check out:

Supermarket Savvy: Power Lunch

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall, MS RD, CD, CPT

Taking a lunch break seems to be something of the past and many professionals brag about the years that have passed since they have “taken lunch.” Eating during the middle of the day, and for many the work day, can be just as difficult as ensuring one has breakfast before they head out of the door.  A healthful lunch requires planning, preparation and personal boundaries, as well as, strategies to overcome common barriers.

One step towards eating lunch is packing and bringing a lunch with additional snacks, which will accommodate the lack of time and/or healthful options that some people encounter. I encourage my clients to prepare their breakfast, lunch and snacks for the next day the night before while they are preparing dinner. This works well in a family setting because everyone can play a part. 

What would an RD-approved lunch look like? I’m glad you asked! Principles of a healthful meal apply to any meal of the day:

  • Choose food items from at least 3 food groups (Whole grain, lean protein, vegetable, fruit, and dairy).
  • Pack a sugar-free beverage or a water bottle.
  • Opt for foods that are nutrient-dense versus calorie-dense.
  • Prepare for the 3pm snack attack.

The most popular lunch items include sandwiches or frozen dinners. These can get mundane quite quickly for some people, and others do not mind eating the same thing everyday. For those who don’t mind a sandwich, top notch fixings include:

  • Peanut, almond or Cashew butter- Most of the “natural” products will contain only the nuts and minimal added salt.
  • Skinless chicken or turkey breast- 3 ounces, about the size of the palm of the hand, is a great lean source of protein with minimal added fat and sodium.
  • Hummus or baked Falafel- Vegetarian source of protein made from chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • Reduced fat Cheese- A serving of cheese can pack a hefty number of calories and unhealthful fat, so be sure to choose a light cheese option, which is similar to 2% milk versus whole milk. Choose the option with less than 3 grams of Saturated Fat per serving.

The frozen dinner section can be quite cumbersome and it is easy to be steered by price versus quality. The following brands are both nutritious and delicious:

  • Amy’s Light and Lean options are frozen or canned entrees that are typically lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Kashi’s frozen entrees include a source of whole grain and lean protein and are usually low in saturated fat and cholesterol. These entrees tend to be higher sodium than their counterparts.

Frozen dinners are great because you can grab and go, or store them at work. Most of these entrees do not keep people full for very long, so be sure to pack a serving of fruit, low-fat dairy, and/or extra veggies.

After we select the lunch “entrée” we move on to our “filler foods.” It is best to choose side items at lunch that pack a whole bunch of nutrition without the calorie cost. It also is best to choose items that provide lasting satiety via volume and fiber versus a quick burst of energy. If you’re looking to get outside the [lunch] box, try out the options below:

  • Half cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1 tomato and 6 low-fat, wheat crackers
  • Peanut butter pita with sliced apple or banana and celery and carrot sticks
  • Quinoa grain salad with raw vegetables and dried fruit
  • Chicken or Shrimp Kebab with grilled veggies in whole wheat pita
  • Vegetable burger on wheat bun with celery and 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  • Baked falafel in whole wheat half pita stuffed with raw cucumber with a serving of fruit on the side.
  • Yogurt parfait with light yogurt, low-fat granola and sliced berries
  • Large vegetable salad with 1 cup fresh fruit (berries, apples, pears), 2 Tablespoons nuts or seeds and 1-2 Tablespoons light dressing
  • Broth-based soup with half a turkey wrap (whole wheat tortilla with lettuce and tomato)
  • Leftovers from a nutritious and delicious dinner!

On to the middle of the afternoon! Many people report a 3pm snack attack, or a least a drop in energy that leaves them reaching for a sweet treat and perhaps a caffeinated pick-me-up. To avoid hitting the vending machines- where healthful choices may be difficult to find- I recommend packing a snack that you can be confident will keep you satisfied until dinner.  Also, many people work out before dinner and this snack can also be a time to fuel up before exercise. A healthy snack includes a source of energy (carbohydrate) with either a protein or a healthful fat, which helps to make the energy last longer. For pre-workout snacks choose a whole grain or fruit with a lean protein, which may be:

  • Light yogurt with a serving of fruit
  • Half a turkey sandwich
  • Small bowl of cereal
  • Glass of milk
  • Serving of crackers and light string cheese

Other healthful snack combinations include:

  • Dried fruit with unsalted nuts (1/4 cup serving)
  • Half a peanut butter sandwich
  • Raw veggies with low-fat yogurt dip or hummus
  • Baked chips with fresh salsa
  • Light popcorn (3 Cups)
  • Fresh fruit with 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

The recommendations above can help to provide stable energy and mental focus throughout the day, as well as, prevent over-eating during the evening hours. Planning and preparation are two essential strategies for healthy eating, but as mentioned previously personal boundaries are also important to protect lunch. Granting yourself 20-30 minutes to catch your breath, grab a bite to eat and mentally and sometimes emotionally prepare for the remainder of the day are vital to a healthy lifestyle. Please take this moment to remind yourself that you are worth it!

Supermarket Savvy: RD Approved Foods to Break the Fast!

Written by: Cassie Vanderwall

We have heard it over and over; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Despite this fact, breakfast is commonly missed by many. Therefore, it is vital to continue to tout the many benefits of breakfast and highlight quick, easy and healthful products that can help break the fast.

Researchers have confirmed that people who eat breakfast:

  • Have stable energy levels throughout the day.
  • Have improved mental focus.
  • Manage their appetite and tend to eat appropriate portions for the remainder of the day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

The breakfast food aisle seems to be getting longer and longer and is typically overflowing with colorful boxes, goofy looking characters and the rich smell of coffee. When venturing into the inner aisles of the grocery store, it is important to have a plan to ensure you are in and out without any unwarranted items in the basket.

The following are RD-approved products that are tasty, reasonable in cost, and use simple ingredients. The links provided will bring you to the products sites for further ingredient, price and nutrition information.

Uncle Sam’s Original® Cereal was created in 1908 and is an oldie, but a goody!  It is a simple cereal made with toasted wheat berries. This choice also has whole flaxseeds for additional fiber. It would be best if the flaxseeds were ground to provide additional omega-3’s.Uncle Sam’s has only 4 ingredients: whole wheat kernels, flaxseeds, salt and barley malt. Since it is unsweetened it is recommended as a topping, but after some taste bud retraining it can make a great breakfast! There are additional varieties, which help to boost flavor, including Skinner’s Raisin Bran®, which is simply Uncle Sam’s plus raisins.

Ezekiel® Sprouted Grain Cereals with almonds or flax are another option for cold cereal. These cereals are composed of a variety of sprouted grains and lentils to provide a rich source of lean protein, fiber and a natural source of vitamins and minerals.

For persons seeking a healthful gluten-free cereal, my vote goes to Erewhon® Crispy Brown rice and Corn Flake cereals. Crispy brown rice is an alternative to traditional crisped rice cereal. Both cereals are gluten-free and only have two ingredients!

These cereal choices provide a sound whole grain source for breakfast.  Pour on organic low-fat dairy, such as 0-1% cow or goat’s milk or a low-fat kefir for lean protein and add a whole fruit and before you is a balanced breakfast that takes minimal time, but packs a whole lot of nutrition!

Smoothies are quite trendy right now and are best if made at home. It is difficult to control the sugar content when consumed commercially. A simple smoothie recipe that will provide a boost of energy in the morning is: ½ cup low-fat milk or kefir, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 cup spinach and 1-2 Tablespoons of ground flax or chia seeds. This concoction provides 250 Calories, 6.5g healthy fat, 35g (2 servings) carbohydrate with 10g fiber and 12g protein.

Let’s not forget about the beloved toaster! Two slices of toasted bread or waffles can also be the foundation for a healthful morning meal.  Ezekiel® also makes a sprouted grain bread, which like the cereal is composed of an assortment of sprouted grains and thus is higher in protein, vitamins and minerals than other breads. However, this bread is typically more expensive and needs to be refrigerated.

Brownberry® Natural Wheat bread and Pepperidge Farm’s® Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat breads are comparable in ingredients, nutrition and price and are great runners’ up.

The best waffle is Kashi’s Heart-to-Heart® 7-Grain waffles. Most of the ingredient list includes a variety of vitamins and minerals used to enrich and fortify the grains. These waffles provide a good source of fiber without the card-board flavor and texture.

Most do not partake in dry toast or waffles, so I encourage my clients to spread on a heart healthy fat such as almond or peanut butter and top with a whole fruit such as banana, apple, or pear.

If there are a few minutes to spare, hot cereal is another hearty option. Rolled oats provide an ideal source of whole grain, fiber and b-vitamins. Three-fourths cup of oats soaked in water with 1 tsp lemon juice over night provides another quick option for the morning. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of nuts (almonds or walnuts) and seeds (ground flax or chia) for a healthy source of fat and protein for about 400 Calories.

That concludes my simple list of quick, easy and healthful breakfast items. I would love to hear from my readers, any top-of-the-line products that are a great way to start your day? 

Stay tuned for as we head to the aisles to compose a healthy lunch!


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