Last week I introduced the topic of grocery shopping. I covered the first part (preparation) in a five-part series. Today I’d to talk a little bit about nutrition. Nutrition is a very controversial topic. Why? Because the science behind it is complicated!
Case in point: fat. You’ve likely heard a litany of recommendations on fat intake; eat a low fat diet for heart health, decrease your saturated fat, avoid trans fat like the plague, increase your monounsaturated fats, decrease belly fat by eating more polyunsaturated fats, and on and on and on we go.
While I’m not about to go into the science of fat intake, you should know that food companies use the latest and greatest scientific breakthroughs to sell you a product. A CocoaVia dark chocolate bar can improve your heart health, you can increase your fiber intake by adding Splenda to your tea () , and improve your digestion by eating Activia yogurt with a special probiotic blend. Do not be fooled!
The best nutrition advice I can give it to you is this: ignore the snazzy health claims plastered all of your processed food boxes. These “functional foods” are often injected with one element or another to give the allure of good nutrition but are often a mix of synthetic substitutes which are a poor second place for the real deal. Instead, start buying REAL FOOD. How, might you ask?
Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:
Whole grain cereal with fresh blueberries rather than a Blueberry Nutri-grain bar
Whole grain cracker with peanut butter rather than the bright orange peanut butter crackers in the cellophane packaging
Whole wheat pasta mixed with frozen veggies and marinara sauce rather than a Lean Cuisine
So here’s a challenge: take a look at the food you eat for convenience sake and see if you can turn it into a more nutritious, less processed option. I’m eager to see your results.
As a registered dietitian and nutrition therapist who treats eating disorders in Cambridge, I was intrigued by a recent article appearing on the CNN website. Harvard University Dining Services has decided to remove detailed nutrition information cards from their dining halls after parents and students raised concerns about their triggering effect for students susceptible to or struggling with an eating disorder. While the nutrition information can still be found online and at dining hall kiosks, a new emphasis will focus on the benefits of certain foods, rather than their caloric breakdown.
My response? Go Harvard! From my professional experience calorie counting and dieting lead to disordered eating patterns, an unhealthy pre-occupation with food, lowered levels of self-esteem, and a frustrated relationship with food. Rarely does it lead to lasting weight loss. While calorie counting may give you a reality check (particularly with restaurant foods), learning to follow intuitive eating signals is far more effective in the long run. So the next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself “am I actually hungry?”
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to grocery shop. I’d join my Mom on weekly visits to Basha’s grocery store. The spray of water descending on the heads of lettuce in the produce section, perfectly lined rows of canned chili and sliced peaches, and brightly lit displays of giant glazed donuts in the bakery was truly exciting. Yes, I discovered early on that I loved food. I love to look at it, shop for it, organize it, prepare it, and of course eat it.
Needless to say, not everyone shares my love of the grocery store. Rather, grocery shopping has been relegated to the list of dreaded yet unavoidable household chores. So, this blog posting is the first in a five-part series which attempts to provide a few simple solutions to navigating the place I love…the grocery store.
Part I: Preparation
I confess, I have some slight (ok, perhaps more than slight) OCD tendencies. Translation: I like my life organized! I promise that if you will spend a bit of time each week deciding “what to buy” your food life will be much more manageable. At least you won’t have to resort to Frosted Flakes for dinner. Here are four simple steps to follow:
1.) Post your grocery list in a visible place in your kitchen. My list happens to be organized by food group and tacked on to my refrigerator door (email me if you'd like a copy). When something runs out, it’s immediately added to the list.
2.) Determine what recipes you will be making that week (yes that will require that you look online, through cookbooks, or magazines) and write them at the bottom of your list. Having the recipes written down will serve as a useful reminder when you cannot quite remember why you bought that red pepper…. Add all of the ingredients that you will need for each recipe to your grocery list.
3.) Consider keeping a running list of recipes you’d like to try and “keeper recipes” for future reference. Again, email me if you’d like to use mine. Tip: keep them in a handy dandy 3-ring binder, along with recipes that have been torn out from a magazine or printed from the internet.
4.) Bring your list to the store and use it as your loyal guide. This list will aid you in your quest to select nutritious food (Part II), use your time wisely (Part III), and of course save money (Part IV).
Next week we’ll talk about what to buy in terms of good nutrition. Although Marion Nestle has written a fabulous book on the topic (“What to Eat”), you don’t have to read the entire 587 pages. In fact, it’s not as complicated as the food manufacturers make it out to be. I promise.
Most of my blog posts will fit into three categories: healthy eating and body image, culinary skills and resources, and exercise. Feel free to comment, ask questions, suggest topics of discussion, and visit often. Enjoy!