Making Your Eating Mindful

To say 2020 has been different than most years is putting it lightly.  Maybe you’ve found your eating habits have changed.  Maybe you’re eating different foods, eating more than usual, or maybe you’re eating less.  Or if you’re like me, you’ve made more batches of peanut butter cookies than you can count.  Sometimes we find our eating is not always related to our hunger.  Often times our eating is driven by emotions such as boredom, stress, or the array of emotions we experience when living through a pandemic.  During times of increased stress, our need to soothe feelings with food can increase.  And sometimes we find the opposite is true, during the time of increased emotions we lose our appetite. 

So how do we know if we’re eating due to hunger or some other reason?  There are a few things that differentiate true hunger from emotional-based hunger.  Often when we’re eating due to uncomfortable emotions, our hunger comes on quick versus if we’re truly hungry. True hunger usually comes on slower and we feel that familiar grumble in our stomach telling us it’s time to eat.  Usually, if we’re truly hungry and we eat, the need to eat is gone.  Typically when we eat as a result of emotions, food never fills the void.  It’s like the itch you can’t scratch.  There are several things we can do to help us recognize and reduce some of our emotional eating such as:

  • KEEP A FOOD AND FEELING JOURNAL:  Write down what you plan on eating before you eat it.  Also, write down how you’re feeling at the time.  Food journaling can help you recognize patterns in your eating such as frequent nighttime eating related to boredom or going too long between meals.
  • TAKE 5:  When you recognize you’re about to eat due to a reason other than hunger, take a 5-minute pause.  Choose something else to do during this time such as drinking some water, clean a small area of your home, or just step outside and change your environment.  Often doing another activity can distract us when we’re not truly hungry.  Sometimes just hitting the pause button before turning to food can give us time to step back and reevaluate why we’re eating and if we really need to eat.  And sometimes we need that food!   
  • EAT CONSISTENT MEALS EVERY DAY: Try to eat three meals every day and don’t go long periods without eating.  Eating regular meals helps us distinguish between true hunger and emotional hunger.

It’s not bad to use food to ease our emotions.  Many of us can think of a time we ate outside our hunger. Like snacking on a bag of chips during a TV show or indulging in some ice cream because it was a bad day.   However, if you find food tends to be your main coping mechanism and you’re having difficulty navigating your emotions, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.  At CHAS we have behavioral health specialists at our clinics that are here to help you.

One way we can recognize emotional based eating is to practice mindful eating.  Eating mindfully involves an awareness of our eating, recognizing in the moment without judgment what, why, and how we are eating.  The Center for Mindful Eating describes mindful eating as being aware of the nourishment opportunities available through food, acknowledging our food likes and dislikes in a nonjudgmental way, and honoring our physical hunger and fullness cues.1   Sounds pretty good but how do we start?  Below are some ways you incorporate mindful eating into your meals during the day.

PUTTING MINDFUL EATING INTO PRACTICE:

  • HUNGER CHECK:  Before you start eating ask yourself how hungry are you?  Maybe you ate recently and aren’t really that hungry.  In this case maybe you don’t need to eat as much as a full meal would provide. 
  • SLOW DOWN: When we slow our eating, we can enjoy our food and pay attention to when we’re getting full.  Try sipping water throughout your meal, chewing your food well, and setting your fork down between bites to help extend your mealtime.
  • TAKE A MEAL HALFTIME: Checking in with our hunger throughout our meal helps us recognize when we’re getting full.  One way to do this is to take a pause when you’re halfway done with your meal.  I like to call this a meal halftime report.  Halfway through your meal take a minute to put your fork down and sip some water.  Ask yourself how full you feel.  Do you need more and if so, how much?  Maybe you just need a few more bites or maybe you need the rest of your meal. 
  • ENJOY YOUR FOOD: Take time to slow down and truly enjoy the taste and feel of the food in your mouth.  Most of us can think of a food we truly enjoy and can imagine how that food smells, tastes, and feels in our mouth.  Take time to appreciate these aspects of your food in the moment when you are actually eating it.

Like anything else in life, eating mindfully takes practice.  Consider starting by picking one meal each day to focus on your mindful eating practice.  You may forget one day and that’s okay!  One of the main principles of mindful eating is nonjudgment and this applies to the actual practice of mindful eating.  The next meal or the next day is another opportunity to practice your mindful eating.

1. https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/

Jen Loweree, RD

What does a Dietitian eat in a day?

Ever wonder what a dietitian eats in a day?

From people wondering how to improve their diets and eat healthier I get this question a lot- what on earth do I eat? The answer is that it’s going to look very different from person to person! There is no “one best way” to eat or any such thing as a “perfect diet”.

In general a healthful diet:

  • is abundant in a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • contains foods from different food groups including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, proteins, dairy, and healthy fats
  • provides enough calories for an individual to thrive and maintain a healthful bodyweight
  • is tasty and enjoyable
  • is sustainable long term
  • focuses on water as the primary source of hydration
  • limits highly processed foods

Combining foods in different ways to make them tasty and enjoyable is one of the best ways to prevent food boredom and truly enjoy a healthy diet! One of my best pieces of advice is to get in the kitchen. The best, most nutritious meals can be made right at home using whole food ingredients and simple techniques.

Here is an idea of what I eat in a day- this is by no means prescriptive but instead a source of idea/inspiration on how fun and tasty it can be to eat healthy!

In the morning, the first thing I like to do is make myself a big jar of ice water and chug some. A couple of ways to make water more enjoyable:

  • make it extra cold by adding lots of ice!
  • add fresh or frozen fruit to add flavor- like strawberries, lemon, pineapple, mango, kiwi, limes
  • add fresh herbs like basil or mint
  • add a reusable straw (IDK why this helps me drink more but it does!)

Breakfast

Next comes arguably the most important meal of the day- breakfast! I hear from quite a few people that they don’t enjoy breakfast or don’t feel hungry in the morning. I’d encourage you to take a look at what other times of day you are feeling hungry. Are you extra hungry for dinner? Or find yourself snacking late in the evening? Evidence shows that eating a balanced breakfast every day can help prevent these feelings of “hangriness” later in the day. Breakfast eaters also have a lower incidence of obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. Score!

For breakfast- I recommend including quality protein, heart-healthy fat, filling fiber and fruit, or vegetables! My breakfast this morning was (my fave!) a slice of toasted sourdough bread with smashed avocado, chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, a sprinkle of feta, and a fried egg. On the side, I enjoyed some blueberries and strawberries and of course, coffee. This is brewed black coffee with about ¼ cup frothed oat milk to give it a bit of creaminess.

This breakfast covers all of the previously mentioned bases:

  • Protein- egg
  • Healthy fat- avocado
  • Fiber- berries and toast
  • Fruit or vegetable- strawberries, blueberries, green onion, avocado
  • And also, it was DELICIOUS.

Lunch

After a few hours of work and a hard workout, I was more than ready for lunch. Today’s lunch is another one of my standbys and perfect for the approaching fall weather.

For those of you who have gotten tired of steamed, mushy veg may I strongly suggest roasted!? Drizzling veggies with olive oil and seasonings and roasting them at high heat (425) for about 25 minutes gives them crispiness and deeper flavor that is simply irresistible!

Today’s lunch bowl included:

  • quinoa (a fabulous high-protein grain)
  • roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (roasted with olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and kosher salt)
  • 1/2 of an avocado and a handful of Kalamata olives (gotta love that healthy fat!)
  • a sprinkle of dried cranberries for chew and roasted pumpkin seeds for crunch
  • a vinaigrette made with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper

Snack

An afternoon of work flew by and I was feeling quite hungry by 4:30 pm. I knew I would be over-hungry if I didn’t have a little snack to tide me over till dinner so I snacked on some grapes and a Kombucha tea while making dinner. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is very low in sugar and calories and rich in probiotic bacteria- aka those friendly little critters that promote gut health!

Dinner

For dinner, I made a delicious lemongrass noodle salad! Tons of fresh veggies like bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, and scallions, tossed with thin brown rice noodles, peanuts, crispy tofu, basil, cilantro, and a zippy lemongrass dressing. I will link to the recipe below, I highly recommend- it was so flavorful and filling!

Recipe from Pinch of Yum

Dessert

I almost always save a little room at the end of the day for a small sweet snack like a piece of dark chocolate, some toasted coconut chips or a few chocolate covered almonds. Today was a little more indulgent with a homemade chocolate chip cookie.

I strongly encourage including portion-controlled sweet snacks in your diet. Including these foods instead of restricting can:

  • help you feel more satisfied
  • prevent the urge to binge
  • promote a way of eating that feels sustainable and realistic
  • I ate this cookie and enjoyed every single bite!

And that’s a wrap! A full day of eating. I didn’t show it in every picture but I did keep refilling my yummy fruit-infused water all day long and ended up drinking 90oz. The recommended minimum water intake is 64oz/day but it is certainly okay to exceed this, especially if you are active!

My motto in life is to “count colors not calories”. Mindful eating, appropriate portions, and an abundance of colorful veggies and fruits is how I stay on track and lead a balanced lifestyle. I hope this visual and comprehensive day of eating helps picture what types of foods and meals you’d like to incorporate into your day-to-day.

Drop any questions you have in the comment section- we love questions!

by Erica Baty, RDN, CDE

Five Healthy Habits for Summer

Five Healthy Habits to Incorporate this Summer

Summer sets the stage for creating healthy habits while having fun in the sun! Take advantage of these five tips to help you incorporate a healthier lifestyle that you may continue even beyond the summer months.

1. Get outdoors

It is no secret that spending time outdoors is good for many aspects of life, particularly for our mental health. There is no better time to get outdoors than during the beautiful summer months when the weather is warm and the days are long. Sun exposure is important for getting our daily dose of vitamin D, a vitamin that many of us are lacking. Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, all it takes is 10 minutes of direct sun exposure to your arms and legs.

2. Be more active

In the summer months, the possibilities are endless: walking, hiking, swimming, playing Frisbee, or even outdoor yoga. The important thing is to choose something you like to do, you can and will do. When you choose an activity you enjoy, it is much easier to meet the physical activity guidelines for Americans. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. If 150 minutes a week seems like a lot to fit in, consider breaking it up into smaller 10-15 minute bouts of exercise throughout the week.

3. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies

Produce is especially delicious in the summer months when most varieties are in season. Chances are fruits and veggies will be more locally sourced and more affordable during the summer months too. Eating more produces helps to lower your chances of developing chronic disease. Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits vegetables each day. Include at least one serving of dark leafy greens, reach for the real deal rather than juice and choose options prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

4. Drink more water

During the warm summer months, it is important to stay hydrated. Hydration is essential for supplying nutrients throughout the body, removing waste, blood circulation and maintaining body temperature. There is no one size fits all formula for daily water intake. The amount you should drink daily depends on your body, health conditions, medications and other factors like activity level. A good standard is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

5. Make time for sleep

Good quality sleep is more important than you may think and has many benefits beyond providing energy for the day. In the long term, getting enough sleep can help boost immunity, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease. For most people, enough sleep is approximately 7 hours but can range between 5-10 hours per night. Spending time outdoors during the day can promote better sleep quality as well as having a consistent bed/wake up time every day. To help you fall asleep faster, avoid strenuous activities, artificial light (electronics) and large meals an hour before bed.

The summer months set the stage for creating healthy habits such as increased physical activity, increased fruit and veggie intake, improved hydration and better quality of sleep. You will feel the benefits of improved mental, physical and emotional health. Get outside and enjoy all the fun that summer has to offer!

Alison Fenske, MS, RDN, CD

Healthier Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:


1 (8-ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts,
drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain of excess liquid
1 1/4 cups mozzarella shredded cheese, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 (4-ounce) can mild diced green chilies,
drained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the softened
    cream cheese, yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper,
    red pepper flakes, and onion powder until
    combined. Add the artichoke hearts,
    spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese,
    and green chilies and stir well.
  3. Transfer the dip mixture into a 1 1/2-2
    quart baking dish and sprinkle with the
    Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup
    of mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hot and
    bubbly. Serve with chips, crackers, chunks
    of crusty bread, or veggies.

Pretzel Turtles

Ingredients:


20 grid pretzels
20 chocolate covered caramel candies
(like Rolos)
20 pecan halves


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on
    a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place
    one chocolate covered caramel candy on
    each pretzel.
  3. Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is
    warm, press a pecan half onto each candy
    covered pretzel. Cool completely before
    storing in an airtight container.

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cashew butter
1 cup chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350°F
  2. Whisk the egg and sugar together until
    well, blended. Beat in the baking soda and
    cashew butter and then fold in the chips.
  3. I use a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop to scoop out balls of dough. Space them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Flatten the balls of dough just slightly with
    your fingers or a spreading knife.
  5. Bake for about 12-13 minutes. The
    cookies will puff up and just barely begin
    to get golden on the edges. They will look
    soft and a little underdone, but will firm
    up as they cool.
  6. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the
    pan, then transfer to a rack.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Directions:

Preheat oven as directed below. Glass baking dishes without crust require a cooler oven, and in most cases, a longer baking time.

Spray with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease bottom of baking pan or glass baking dish.

Whisk together the sugar, spices, eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk. Pour into pan or dish.

Bake as directed below or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Pan types:

9-inch-round glass pie dish: 325° F; bake for 55 to 60 minutes

10-inch-round glass pie dish: 325° F; bake for 45 to 50 minutes

8-inch-round cake pan: 350º F; bake for 45 to 50 minutes

9-inch-round cake pan: 350° F; bake for 35 to 40 minutes

8-inch-square baking pan: 350º F; bake for 45 to 50 minutes

8-inch-square glass baking dish: 325º F; bake for 55 to 60 minutes

9-inch-square baking pan: 350º F; bake for 35 to 40 minutes

Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This delicious take on a fall time favorite will make it your go-to soup this year. This is a quick and easy recipe in a stovetop, Instapot, or slow cooker.

Yield: 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil

1 sweet onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons red curry paste

3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

4 cups uncooked butternut squash (1-inch) cubes

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

1 lime, juiced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup torn fresh cilantro for serving

1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add coconut oil. Once it’s melted, add in the onions and the garlic with a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the ginger and curry paste and stir until it is incorporated. Cook the curry and onion mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and add the squash cubes. Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Once the squash is soft, turn off the heat and very carefully pour the entire mixture into a blender. Blend until the soup is smooth and pureed. Pour it back into the pot and turn the heat on to medium low.
  4. Add in the coconut milk, lime juice, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and cook the soup for 10 minutes until it’s completely warm. Taste and season additionally if desired. Serve the soup with a garnish of torn cilantro and crushed peanuts.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 230 calories, 11g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 245mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 4g sugar, 6g protein

Healthy Recipes: Zuppa Toscana

PREP TIME 10 MINUTES

COOK TIME 10 MINUTES

TOTAL TIME 20 MINUTES

SERVINGS 6

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb mild or spicy Italian chicken sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups peeled and chopped potatoes

32 oz vegetable stock

1/2 tsp oregano

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup half and half

3 cup chopped kale

Instant Pot Instructions:

1. Press the ‘Sauté’ button, and add the olive oil. When the pot is hot, add the chicken sausage and brown it until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

2. Add onion and garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, vegetable stock, and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Stir everything.

3. Lock the lid and turn the valve to ‘Sealing’. Press the ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ button and adjust for 10 minutes, pressure set to ‘High’. When the cook time is over, turn off the Instant Pot by pressing the ‘Turn Off’ button. Carefully quick release the pressure with a wooden spatula by turning the valve to releasing. Make sure you don’t hurt your hands from the steam.

4. Once the steam is completely gone and the metal pin on the lid drops, carefully open the lid and add half and half and the chopped kale to the pot. Stir everything, and serve warm.

Stove Top Instructions:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add onion to pot and let cook until soft, 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add vegetable stock and potatoes and cook over medium heat, until potatoes are tender, 23 to 25 minutes.

3. Stir in kale and let cook until leaves are tender and bright green, 1-2 minutes, then stir in heavy cream and simmer 2 minutes more.

4. Season with pepper, and serve.

March is National Nutrition Month!

National Nutrition Month (NNM) is celebrated every year during the month of March. It is a nutrition education campaign that focuses on the importance of providing science-based nutrition information to help people with making healthy lifestyle changes. It was created and promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics starting in 1973, originally in the form of National Nutrition Week.

Every year, a theme is chosen for NNM. Recent past themes have included, “Go Further with Food”, “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle”, and “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”. The theme this year is a simple one – National Nutrition Month. This year’s focus is back to the core purpose of NNM, which is “to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position registered dietitian nutritionists as the authorities in nutrition.” The key messages of the 2019 NNM theme are:

  1. Discover the benefits of a healthy eating style.
  2. Choose foods and drinks that are good for your health.
  3. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  4. Select healthier options when eating away from home.
  5. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  6. Keep it simple. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.
  7. Make food safety part of your everyday routine.
  8. Help to reduce food waste by considering the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  9. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  10. Consult the nutrition experts. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

 

As you can see, there is special attention on making the public aware of a most valuable resource for nutrition information…registered dietitians or registered dietitian nutritionists (RD/RDN).

 

What is a RD/RDN?

A RD/RDN is considered to be a food and nutrition expert, armed with a wealth of knowledge to share with those interested in making diet or activity changes to enjoy a more healthy lifestyle.

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

In order to become a RD, a person must complete certain requirements, which include obtaining a degree in a health-related field from an accredited college or university, completing a supervised internship, and pass an examination. The title “nutritionist” is not regulated and anyone with basic background knowledge of nutrition might call themselves a nutritionist. Just remember, every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a dietitian.

As part of NNM, we celebrate our RD/RDNs on National RD/RDN Day, which is always the second Wednesday of March. And did you know that CHAS has several dietitians on staff? We are armed and ready to help come alongside you to help you to achieve your health and wellness goals.