Holidays

Enjoying the Holidays….Without Guilt tips from a pro

We are days away from Halloween, which I think of as the gateway to the holiday season.  Many parties, get-togethers, work events, and other festivities will fill our time.  It is during this time we are often bombarded with articles and news stories related to “avoiding the holiday weight gain” or “healthy versions of traditional dishes.”  While these can provide us with good ideas and healthful recipes, they often aim to make us feel guilty for actually enjoying some holiday cheer.  I think we can be healthy, enjoy the holidays and all their traditions, and not feel guilty about it!

Here are some quick tips for enjoying your holidays, food and all!

  • Eat a healthy breakfast everyday.  Start your day with fruits, veggies, protein, and fat.  These foods will give you the energy to stay focused during this busy time of year.  
  • Meal plan!  If you have been following my posts for any amount of time, you know I am a huge advocate of planning your meals in advance.  This takes the stress out of weeknights while saving you time and money.
  • Drink water and lots of it. Period.
  • Move your body everyday.  Whether you hit the gym, walk the dog, wash the windows, or have a dance party- don’t stay still for too long.
  • Stock your fridge with easy to grab snacks.  Cut up veggies, fruit, and yogurt are great options.
  • Try to meet your daily fiber needs.  Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can get you there easily.  Fiber will keep your GI tract (where a lot of our immune system lies) healthy and will also keep you feeling full longer.  There are many other fiber benefits you read about here
  • Enjoy your desserts and other treats.  Don’t think of these foods as “off limits.”  Often we label foods as good and bad, which can lead to a restriction-binge type of cycle.  Just enjoy your dessert and don’t feel guilty.
  • Listen to your body.  You will thank me for this one.  If you feel full, stop eating.  Why be in pain?  Enjoy your foods, but just be cognizant of when you are satiated.  If we slow down our eating, we are often more aware of the signals our body sends.
  • When at parties, scope out the food choices before you fill your plate.  Figure out what you really want and be sure to eat those choices first.  If you are still hungry, go back for your second choices later.  This way you will eat those foods you love and not feel the need to finish the second choice foods from your plate.
  • Consume alcohol during meals.  Also having a glass of water after each alcoholic drink works well.  These both slow the alcohol from hitting the bloodstream, keeping you sober longer!  And always- don’t drink and drive!

 

Go ahead, eat grandma’s stuffing and have a glass of eggnog!  Enjoy the traditions the holidays bring us.

Cheers,

Rachael

 

Health

Fiber for Your Health

Are you getting enough fiber?  How much is enough?  What foods contain fiber?

First of all, why do you need fiber?  Fiber can help reduce the risk of developing various diseases such as colon cancer, diabetes, constipation, obesity, and heart disease.  It can help lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and keep the GI system healthy.   It also helps you feel full longer. Ok, great- that all sounds good, but how much do I need to eat each day?  The recommendation is 21-25g per day for women and 30-38g per day for men from food, not supplements. Americans generally eat about 15g, so there is clearly room for improvement.

Let’s talk food sources.  It is best to get fiber from whole foods, not processed foods.  High fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Fiber 25-30g per day (1)

 

 

What foods give me the most bang for my buck? Beans are very high in fiber per serving.  However, if you are not used to eating beans in large amounts, take it slowly.  Gradually work yourself up to a full serving so that you do not experience bloating and gas.  Also note that when increasing dietary fiber, be sure to also increase your water intake. This will decrease gassiness and help move the fiber throughout the digestive tract.

 

High Fiber Foods

 

A good way to see if you are consuming enough fiber is by logging your foods for a few days, taking note of portion sizes and fiber intake.  You can do this by hand and calculate yourself, or use one of the many free online apps.  The USDA has one called super tracker that is user-friendly. If you are low in fiber, remember to increase slowly and also drink more fluids.   Check back later this week for a high-fiber soup recipe, just in time for fall!

Cheers!

Rachael

Family Feeding, Food Allergy

Family-style Meals with Food Allergies: Part 2

To the many families living with food allergies, this post is for you.  I want to discuss different ways to address serving dinner in a family-style way when you have food allergies to deal with.  I understand that there are so many different situations out there and many ways that people deal with them.  What works for one family will not for another.  This is why I want to give several options.

First a talk on family-style meals.  What does it mean and why do I recommend it?  A family-style meal is when you serve food on the table.  Each person selects what they want and how much they want on their own.  Everyone serves themselves.  This is an important activity.  It teaches children table skills and manners.  It also presents food in a non-pressure environment.  Nobody has to take something they do not want to.  I know all you vegetable pushers are freaking out here, but listen.  Over time, this method is much more successful in developing healthy, diverse eaters, than forcing children to eat specific foods.  Do not be confused though.  I am not suggesting you cater to your children and serve them whatever they want- no, no, no!  You decide on the meal and serve it.  They decide how much they want to eat and what they want from what you offered.  This may mean they eat only pasta one night and hamburger the next.  It’s ok.  This is how they learn to try foods and listen to their hunger signals.  As long as you are providing healthy meals in a non-pressure setting, you have done your job.

As far as food allergy families go, family style eating can be more tricky.  I will first touch on the safest route. This means you avoid all allergens of anyone in your house.  If there are peanuts, fish and egg allergies, there are none of those items in your home.  Nobody consumes these.  Your home is a “safe” place for everyone.  This is especially ideal when young children are in the home and you are concerned about accidental exposure. In this instance, serving a family style meal should be straightforward.  Since all the foods are safe for everyone, any person can choose what they like from what is offered.

Another option is to allow foods that some family members are allergic to on your table.  This will likely result in having 5-7 food options at every meal to accommodate everyone.  This may not be appropriate if you have severe allergies and/or small children who can accidentally take an allergenic food.  I would recommend this for families who have a variety of food allergies that become overly restrictive when you remove all the foods that everyone is allergic to and also for those who are comfortable keeping food allergen foods in their home.  This is not for everyone.  This is also an opportunity for older children to interact with their allergic foods as they will have to do this outside of the home.  It is good for them to learn to identify their allergens and avoid them.

The third option is a bit of a hybrid between the two listed above.  This would mean permanently excluding certain foods (severe allergens) but allowing others.  I will give an example from my own house.  Our allergens include peanuts, tree-nuts, shrimp, pork, turkey, eggs, chicken as well as a dairy intolerance.  We never buy peanuts or shrimp.  While the kids have never had an anaphylactic reaction to either, they did react enough that we think they have no place in our home.  At dinner, we do eat chicken about 6 times a month.  The child who is allergic to chicken either eats multiple side dishes or a protein he can tolerate.   He knows he can’t eat it and has no desire to even touch it.  This works for us but it is a family by family decision.  I am very comfortable with my kids’ knowledge of their allergies and how to treat others with allergies different than their own (hand and face washing after eating, etc.)

I want to stress that all of these options are ok.  Every family has to decide what works for them.  Read this information from FARE regarding this here.  If having allergens in the house makes you a nervous wreck, do not do it!  If there have been severe reactions in the past, I also do not recommend keeping allergens in the home.  Unfortunately, past reactions do not necessarily predict future reactions.  Mild reactions in the past may still become anaphylactic in the future.  Again, if you do not feel comfortable, do not do it, it’s not worth it.  Always consult with your allergist and hopefully a registered dietitian nutritionist, who can help you navigate your specific food allergy situation.

Disclaimer
Rachael Costello, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian. The materials and content contained on this site (www.RachaelCostelloNutrition.com) are for general educational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Persons with serious medical conditions should consult a physician before beginning or modifying any diet, exercise or lifestyle program. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.
Health

Happy Independence Day, USA!

From my family to yours, Happy 4th of July!  May your celebrations be safe, and shared with the ones you love.  God Bless America.

Here are a few reminders to keep you healthy over the weekend:

  1. Drink water!  Being outside for long periods of time and drinking alcohol can dehydrate.
  2. Fill at least half of your plate with veggies.
  3. If there are lots of delicious looking options, take small portions of several so you can sample more without overdoing it.
  4. If you feel full, stop eating.  It never feels good to overeat.
  5. Don’t eat in front of the food table.  Make a plate and sit down to eat.  This will keep you from grazing all day.
  6. If you do eat or drink too much, be sure to get in lots of water and fresh fruits and veggies the next day to get you feeling better.
  7. If you are headed to a party, offer to bring a veggie or fruit tray, that way you know there will be a healthy option.

Have fun!

Rachael

 

Family Feeding

Starting Good Eating Habits Early

I am asked many times for “tricks” or “tips” to get kids to eat more healthy foods.  Unfortunately, a simple trick won’t do it.  Besides, the goal is for children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.  If we trick them into eating right,  they will never have really learned what it takes and what it means to eat healthily.  I do believe we can set them up to make better choices and develop tastes for healthier foods, but parents need to be engaged and committed to this idea.

Children are constantly growing.  Their nutrition needs are much greater than adults.  Growing is a lot of work, and work needs calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.  This means they can be hungry quite often.  Think about how frequently a baby nurses or bottle feeds.  They are at the most rapid growth stage in their life.  Children do slow down as they get older, however they still need to fuel those bodies for growth.

So if kids are growing so much and need so many calories, why is there a current health issue related to overweight and obese children?  Many factors play into this, including food and exercise but we will save that topic for a later post.  The point I will make is that kids need lots of healthy foods and guidance from family to try new foods.  Nutrient dense foods should make up the majority of their diet.

In an ideal situation, kids would be offered a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein sources (animal or plant), healthy fats and whole grains everyday, in a no-pressure, comfortable, reliable setting.  Treats or desserts would be included from time to time in moderate amounts.  Foods would not be used to reward or punish behavior.  Children would learn to serve themselves and listen to satiety signals from their bodies.  This is a great model to follow and can be the basis for a very healthy view on food and feeding.  This also takes work, as most parenting does.  It is completely worth it though.  Nutritionally, socially, and emotionally, this is worth it.

There is a lot to know about family feeding but it is attainable. The time you put in now to help your children develop healthy eating habits will benefit  them throughout their life.  I would love to help your family get on track today.  Follow my blog, instagram and facebook.  Send me an email to ask questions about nutrition education and if it is right for you. Make an appointment with me, we can discuss your family’s needs and put together a plan that will work for you.  We will talk about portion sizes, reading labels and healthy choices. All families are different and need different care.  I hope to hear from you soon!

Cheers

Rachael

Book an appointment today!

Recipe

Strawberry Watermelon Salsa

A little while back, I posted a picture on Instagram of this salsa, but I am finally getting around to adding the recipe.  I had to taste test it before I shared!   It is delicious and actually keeps well for several days in the fridge.  I thought it might get soggy but I was wrong.  This is a super healthy addition to any meal.  Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and fiber.  Watermelon also contains Vitamins A and C as well as lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant.

Here is a super-easy and quick recipe to push you into summer. Short post today but don’t worry I am working on a couple new ones for you all, stay tuned!

Strawberry Watermelon Salsa

1 cup diced strawberries

½ cup diced watermelon

½ jalapeno finely diced

¼c red onion finely diced

1-2T finely chopped cilantro

Juice of one lime

Salt to taste

 

Combine all ingredients.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Great on chicken or fish or served with chips.

 

Enjoy and Happy Summer!

Rachael

 

 

Family Feeding, Mini-series

Mini-Series Part 3: Healthy Kids

Welcome back for the final post in my mini-series.  Since this is just a mini-series, I am going to keep it short and simple with my top ten tips for feeding healthy kids!

 

Ten Tips for Feeding Healthy Kids

  1. Teach your kids to cook and let them help!  I mentioned this before but it truly is the foundation for healthy eating.
  2. Make dinner (or any other meal that everyone is home for) a priority as family time in your home. Eating together has an amazing impact on families nutritionally, emotionally, and socially.
  3. Offer variety, and try new foods.
  4. Do not force children to finish their meal.  They are learning to listen to their body signals.  If they are truly full, they should not have to finish everything.  This can lead to many eating issues down the road.
  5. Snack on fruits and vegetables and do not allow snacking close to meal times.
  6. Do not make foods “for the kids.”  Everyone should be eating the same foods at meals.  Kids may take a few tries before liking a new food, but they are very capable to eating and liking “adult food.”  Do not become discouraged when you offer something 5 times and they do not like it.  It can take many more attempts.  Just continue to offer new foods.
  7. Lead by example- eat healthy foods yourself.  Kids are very good mirrors…
  8. Allow treats from time to time.  If you restrict certain foods, there becomes a greater desire to indulge in them.
  9. Exercise!  Playing outside is exercise- promote physical activity.
  10. Menu plan- when you take the time to plan your weekly menu, you will have healthy choices ready every night, instead of grabbing that frozen pizza at the last minute!

 

Thank you for reading, and watch for my May posts about the upcoming Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 14-20.

Cheers,

Rachael