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Falling Back in Love with Fiber

27 Jan

Falling Back in Love with Fiber

In a New Year filled with weight-related resolutions, fiber is finally gaining some fans.

A story published this week in the Washington Post touted “Fiber: The least sexy weight-loss tool“.

Fiber might not be sexy – and even “gross and gassy” as the article’s authors proclaim -  but it’s a key component of a well-balanced diet.

Why All the Fuss About Fiber?

As a Registered Dietitian, I often hear clients complain about all of the foods they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat. When asked why I focus on fiber, I always respond that in a world of “eat less” messages, fiber is the rare positive part of our diet since it’s the one thing we can all stand to eat MORE of.

In case you need a reminder to fall back in love with fiber, here’s a quick list of the benefits of maintaining a high fiber diet:

  • Fiber helps promote satiety – the feeling of fullness – and feeling full more frequently means less over-eating and better chances at reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Fiber helps lower heart disease risk – fiber works full time to clear bad cholesterol from your bloodstream and even tells your liver to make less internal cholesterol
  • Fiber helps regulate blood sugar – high fiber foods take longer to digest than their refined counterparts, working to stabilize blood sugar levels – an important consideration for people with diabetes
  • Fiber is linked to better bowel health – a high fiber diet is tied to lower rates of certain types of cancer, including colon cancer, not to mention less digestive disorders such as constipation and hemorrhoids.

Finding Your Fiber Sweet Spot

If you are looking for a legitimate way to improve your diet, aim to get 30 grams of fiber per day. Keeping in mind that the average American eats only 12-15 grams per day, as a nation we have some serious fiber homework to do.

The best way to get your 30 grams per day? Aim for 5-6 grams of fiber each time you eat. If you can put down 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, 5-6 grams per eating incident will get you to 30 in no time.

And which types of foods are the most fiber friendly? Well, considering that the only foods that naturally contain fiber are plant foods, try to eat more plant and less animal foods, focusing on:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Putting more plants and 30 grams of fiber per day in your system is a great way to get your health up to speed here in 2016.

 

Auld Lang Fiber Snacks

29 Dec

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you may be banging your head on the kitchen counter deciding what to serve family & friends for the final festivities.

But don’t fret just yet – I’ve teamed up with Kohnstamm Communications to bring you a quick rundown of some high fiber foods that will blow your guests’ mind this New Year’s Eve:

Among Friends Baking Mixes

amongfriends

Looking for a homemade treat without the hassle? Among Friends hand-crafted baking mixes include gluten-free brownie, cookie and cake mixes that are loaded with whole grains and great flavor. Check out ‘Liv it Up Chocolate Cake Mix with its brown rice flour, gluten-free whole grain oat flour and 3 grams dietary fiber per delicious serving.

 

Angie’s Boomchickapop

boom

Fiber and fun collide in Angie’s Boomchickapop – an addicting, gluten-free, non-GMO popcorn snack. With flavors like Holidrizzle and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, you’ll love the way these simple ingredient snacks grace your plate. Check out the Lightly Sweet Popcorn flavor for 3 grams of fiber per 120 calorie serving.

 

Biena Foods

biena

Craving a crunch but over nuts? Biena Foods‘ protein-packed chickpea snacks are the answer. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Crunch flavor, slightly sweet but super savory – and 5 grams protein, 6 grams fiber per 120 calorie serving to boot!

 

Grainful

grainful

Are you seeking a smarter side? Grainful makes mouthwatering entrees and sides made with 100% whole grain steel cut oats.  Whip up one of these heart-healthy dishes like Tomato Risotto, Cheesy Oats, Jambalaya or Madras Curry (with 5g fiber!) that will torque your tastebuds.

 

Way Better Snacks

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Sprouted grains are going to be all the rage in 2016! Why not get a head start with Way Better Snacks’ delicious gluten-free chips in fantastic flavor profiles such as Sweet Chili, Sweet Potato and the special holiday edition Oh My Sweet Punkin’ Cranberry? Not only are sprouted grains easier to digest and increase nutrient availability, but these Way Better Snack chips also pack 3 g dietary fiber or more per serving.

 

For more tips on holiday entertaining, check out my “Give Guests What They Need – And Want” post available here.

 

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with Biena Foods and Way Better Snacks; I was not paid for any product mentions in this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post. 

The Science of Comfort Food

30 Nov

The Science of Comfort Food

As we hit the height of holiday celebrations, comfort food plays an increasingly prominent role in some people’s lives. But there’s an actual science behind why we perceive certain foods to be more “comforting” than others.

Food psychology expert and Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think author Brian Wansink describes comfort foods as “high calorie foods people consume when stressed and that are believed to relieve negative moods and evoke a state of pleasure.”

Last week I had the opportunity to appear on the San Diego PBS show Mid-Day to discuss the science behind comfort food. I was interviewed alongside Jordan Troisi, a psychology professor from Sewanee. Dr. Troisi’s research on comfort food was recently published in the journal Appetite, and his most recent paper found that:

  • Comfort food provides us with “social utility”
  • Our social needs are important in driving non-social factors (such as eating)
  • We have a need to exhibit social connection and can do so by choosing foods with certain associations

Although most comfort foods are of the higher-calorie, higher-fat nature, there are a few tips for keeping comfort foods in check this upcoming holiday season:

  • Eat unhealthy comfort foods less often or in smaller portions
  • Balance intake of less-than-healthy comfort foods with increases in physical activity
  • Make healthier swaps to lighten up comfort foods that preserve the integrity of the dish

Some ideas for healthier comfort food swaps this season:

  • If you’re a mashed potato maven – try subbing cauliflower for half of the mashed potato to cut calories without compromising taste
  • Mac & cheese your comfort food of choice? – use whole wheat pasta and reduced fat cheese or lower fat dairy ingredients in your home-made dish
  • For chilis and stews that warm your heart – swap in extra lean ground meat, bulk up with the beans and serve over whole grain pasta or brown rice for a nutritious bump

For more information on healthy comfort foods, check out these great comfort food recipes from Cooking Light and the PBS interview on the science behind comfort foods available here.

 

National Healthy Lunch Day

17 Nov

National Healthy Lunch Day

There’s a lot happening on the diabetes front this month – it’s American Diabetes Month and today is National Healthy Lunch Day, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

The intent of National Healthy Lunch day is to ignite a dialogue about the importance of healthy eating and moving the country towards healthier lunch habits – both today, and beyond.

One of the key tenets of good health and weight management is preparing more of your food yourself…while eating less food from restaurants and other prepared food establishments.

When you cook at home – YOU are in ultimate control. In fact, a study presented just last week at the American Heart Association’s 2015 scientific sessions found that eating more homemade meals may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In this study of 58,000 females from the Nurses Health Study and 41,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were followed for 36 years found that:

  • People who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day — or about 11-14 meals a week — had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate less than six homemade lunches or dinners a week.

Preparing foods at home helps you contain cost, contain calories, boost fiber intake and minimize unwanted weight gain.

So this National Healthy Lunch Day – get packing your own lunch with some easy-to-use tools available for download from the American Heart Association here.

 

 

Turn Your Tailgate UP

28 Oct

Turn Your Tailgate UP

Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds and KIND Snacks; however, this post is not sponsored by them.

Football season is in full swing – and that means tailgating food is in high demand.

According to one survey, when it comes to tailgating food:

  • 42% of tailgaters spend more than $500 a season on food and supplies
  • 95% of tailgaters prepare their food at the stadium
  • And good old-fashioned math tells us that a 13-ounce bag of Doritos has 1,820 calories

If you’re hosting a parking lot party or just game-watching at home, chances are you are filling up on not-so-good-for-you foods.

But I have 2 top picks this season to help fix your football food fails!

KIND Bars

KIND

  • I love working with KIND snacks because their products include real ingredients like premium nuts, whole grains and seeds
  • The KIND Nuts & Spices line has 50% less sugar compared to the average snack bar
  • Whereas your typical slab bar can have 20-30 g sugar per bar, KIND Nuts & Spices has just 5-6 grams per bar
  • There are no artificial sweeteners and the sugar in these bars comes from dried fruit and honey

Check out KIND’s Nuts & Spices and all of their bars at the KIND online store.

Pistachios

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  • Pistachios make a great go-to snack for any football watching party. They’re a good source of protein and fiber and come packed with good fats. In fact, almost 90% of the fats in pistachios are the healthy, unsaturated type.
  • I love pistachios because they are one of the lowest-fat, lowest-calorie snack nuts. In-shell pistachios can keep your hands busy during those nerve-wracking parts of the game – and the leftover shells provide a visual due for portion sizing.
  • Pistachios are delicious on their own, roasted and salted – or try them in other delectable flavors like sweet chili and salt and pepper.
  • A serving size of pistachios is 49 pistachios, which provides 160 calories and 3 grams of fiber; 49 pistachios works out to 1/2 cup of pistachios in shell or 1/4 cup shelled

You can learn more at getcrackin.com.

For more healthier twists on football tailgating, check out my segment on KRON4 San Francisco this week.