Ready…Set…Grill!

It’s that time of year again! Sun’s out, spatula’s out, and fire up that grill! For those trying to lose weight or just focusing on a healthier lifestyle, a backyard BBQ might seem like a diet disaster. Hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, soda,- it’s true that these food items can wreak havoc on the waistline, but who invited them to the party anyway?? With some healthy swaps and nutritious additions to the menu, your next barbeque will leave you and your guests feeling (and looking) good!

Sandwich Clipart

Appetizers:
One thing barbeques are known for is the array of delicious munchies usually provided before the grill is even fired up. With high calorie, high fat appetizers like chips and dip, you may find yourself finishing a meal’s worth of calories before dinner even reaches your plate.
Make it healthier: Keep the appetizers simple. Serve a tray of pre-cut veggies with low fat dressing or hummus for dip. Toss together a big green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Thread veggies, fruit, and one or two pieces of cheese on a skewer to make healthy kebobs. Can’t give up the chips and dip? Choose whole grain chips or pretzels and serve with fresh salsa, which is much lower in calories and fat than a creamy dip.

The Main Course:
Good news! Grilling is one of the healthiest cooking methods there is! Hamburgers and hotdogs have long been staples of the backyard barbeque- but it might be time to make room on the grill for some smarter choices.
Make it healthier: Fish and poultry are excellent sources of lean protein that taste wonderful on the grill. (Bonus: most seafood contains heart healthy omega-3s!) Salmon, tuna, shrimp, and white meat chicken are all great options.
Still pining after a burger? Try a veggie burger! Veggie burgers are gaining popularity for being low in calorie but bursting with flavor. If you choose to have meat, choose ground beef or turkey that is at least 90% lean; pork tenderloin is another lean option as well.

The Sides:
Creamy dressings, extra butter, and oversized portions are often the high calorie culprits when it comes to side dishes.
Make it healthier: Go for lighter options, such as a quinoa salad or grilled veggies. Lightly brush corn on the cob with olive oil and grill for five minutes to get delicious flavor without the need for butter. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, brush with olive oil, season, and grill for yummy sweet potato fries. For a healthier pasta salad, try whole wheat pasta, add lots of veggies, and use light Italian dressing. Get creative with the side dishes; it is usually possible to make a much lighter version of your favorite dish with just a couple substitutions!

The Dessert
Treats are fine in moderation, but if you know you’re going to be hosting or attending a bunch of gatherings, sugary desserts can add up fast and slow your progress.
Make it healthier: You might already know where I am going with this one… fruit salad! Summer means many delicious fruits are in season, and there is nothing prettier or more refreshing than a bowl of colorful, fresh fruit! For a little extra indulgence, dip a few pieces in dark chocolate or provide light cool whip for topping. This isn’t to say you can never have a cookie or brownie, just remember to indulge in moderation and choose a healthier option more often.

Get active!
Barbeques are a great time to gather friends and family and get active together! Toss around a football, put on some music for dancing, or take a walk together after dinner. Encourage kids to play outside, whether it is a game of tag, swimming in the pool, or going on a bike ride. Make screen time off limits during the festivities.

Barbeques are a great way to gather with friends and family and enjoy the warm weather. And with so many great options for the menu, there is no need to compromise your healthy lifestyle! If you are attending a barbeque and have less control over what’s served, contribute a dish to the event so you know there will be something healthy for you to have. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and smart choices. Happy grilling!

*Here are some great grilling recipes to get you started. Be sure to follow me on pinterest for links to more recipes!

What’s your favorite dish at a barbeque? Do you have any go-to recipes?

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

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Difficulty Losing Weight? Your Personality May be to Blame!

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When it comes to weight loss, a lifestyle change that is customized to you and your dietary habits is the key to success. Just as we all have different personalities, we also each have a unique weight loss personality. This is why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to weight loss just doesn’t work. Tailoring a plan to your lifestyle is necessary for both weight loss, and most importantly- weight maintenance following weight loss. Let’s discuss different weight loss personalities and identify strategies for each one to promote long term weight loss success.

The Personality: ‘Perfectionist’
Do you find yourself always trying to do everything right, all of the time? Are you hard on yourself when things do not go exactly as planned? If so, you likely have a ‘perfectionist’ personality. When it comes to eating, it is nearly impossible be perfect 100% of the time. Life is going to throw curveballs that require a bit of leniency in your diet; and while you may not be able to make the perfect food choice every single time, you can still lose weight and maintain a perfectly healthy lifestyle! Often with this personality we see over restriction and emphasis on ‘forbidden’ foods. Even one diet ‘slip up’ can cause feelings of failure or hopelessness and lead to a cycle of overeating followed by over restriction.

The Strategy: Stop the cycle! Work on learning to forgive yourself when you do have a diet ‘slip up’, and try incorporating a small weekly indulgence to your diet. Adding flexibility to your diet will not hinder your health or your weight loss efforts, and you will likely feel more relaxed and at peace with your new lifestyle changes.

The Personality: Impulsive
Do you get halfway through the bag of Doritos before you even realize you grabbed them from the kitchen? Do you take seconds at dinner just because the leftovers were sitting there? These are habits seen often with ‘impulsive’ personalities. Changing your lifestyle usually requires a bit of planning and thoughtfulness, especially in the beginning while getting used to new foods and eating habits. Those with impulsive personalities are more likely make a poor dietary choice in the moment and less likely to consider the feelings of guilt that usually follow. Impulsive eating often leads to poor dietary decisions, disregard of hunger cues, and overeating.

The Strategy: Get rid of temptation! Think about the food temptations you give into throughout the day and find a way to eliminate these temptations altogether. Stock your fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks and avoid buying sugary and salty treats. Contribute a healthy dish at the next BBQ so you know there will be something nutritious there for you to eat. Keep dinner leftovers on the kitchen counter or somewhere they will be out of reach. Making your food choices more planned and deliberate throughout the day will help you stay on track!

The Personality: Night Owl
Do you find yourself staying awake late into the night even when you don’t need to? The ‘night owl’ personality is a common one, and it can have a substantial impact on your weight loss efforts. Studies have shown that people who stay up later often engage in night time snacking and consume significantly more calories than those who hit the sack earlier. Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to clouded judgment when choosing foods the following day, and can also mess with your hunger and satiety hormones.

The Strategy: Commit to a bedtime! Choose a bedtime that is realistic for your lifestyle, preferably early enough to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and commit to it. To promote a more restful sleep, turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before getting into bed. Try practicing nighttime yoga or meditation to relax your mind and body. It will take consistency and patience while your body adjusts to the new sleep schedule, but I bet you will find the new rested you makes healthier choices throughout the day!

The Personality: All or Nothing
Have you started a nutrition or exercise program, strayed a bit off course, and then abandoned the program all together? This ‘all or nothing’ personality can sabotage weight loss efforts; any deviation from the plan will lead to feelings of failure and subsequent giving up. This personality often relies on a very structured plan for weight loss success. While structure can be helpful while losing weight, flexibility is essential for long term weight loss and weight maintenance.

The Strategy: Add flexibility! When you begin your weight loss journey, follow a structured plan while you are getting used to the changes. After a couple weeks, allow yourself to stray a bit from the plan. This may mean experimenting with one or two different meals a week, adding in a night at your favorite restaurant or enjoying a small treat at the Sunday barbeque. Adding flexibility to your plan will allow for continued weight loss while preventing diet burn out that can occur from too much structure.

The Personality: Short Attention Span
Have you ever given up on trying to lose weight after feeling bored with eating the same foods over and over again? Structure is important for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean the foods you eat have to lack variety! Someone with the ‘short attention span’ personality may find they get into a rut of eating the same foods every day that is not only boring, but is also unsustainable. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, and the greater variety of healthy foods you have in your diet, the more likely you are to feel satisfied and find success on your journey to weight loss.

The Strategy: Mix it up! There is no way to get around the fact that structure and planning are necessary components for weight loss. To add variety but keep structure, plan out a week of meals, Sunday-Saturday. Make sure these meals differ from day to day. Now, you have seven days of different meals that will help you stay on track without becoming bored. You can repeat these meals each week, or find new healthy recipes online or in a cookbook to swap with. Getting creative in the kitchen is a great way to stave off boredom while discovering new nutritious snacks and meals.

No matter what your weight loss personality is, the important thing to remember is that the changes you are making are lifestyle changes; they have to be sustainable if you hope to reach long term success. Once you identify your weight loss personality, work with the strategies that are tailored to you and your lifestyle (a registered dietitian can help you do this!).

Which personality do you identify with? Do you have a different weight loss personality that was not mentioned?

Visit me at www.erinpalinski.com to sign up for my FREE nutrition newsletter. Follow me on twitter @DietExpertNJ for all of my latest nutrition and fitness tips and like me on Facebook!

Nutrition Label Getting a Makeover?

The FDA has proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts Label that would put a greater emphasis on calories, added sugars, and nutrients such as Vitamin D and Potassium, while also reporting more realistic serving sizes. Unfortunately, obesity rates in America continue to rise, as does the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It is no secret that nutrition plays a huge role in the prevention and treatment of these diseases, and thus it is more important than ever to start paying attention to what’s on our plate!

So, what are the proposed changes? (click here to view the old vs new label)

    Greater emphasis would be placed on on calories.

o   Calories would be enlarged and bold at the top of the nutrition label. When trying to maintain or lose weight, paying attention to total calories is important to ensure that you are not exceeding your goals.

    ‘Added Sugars’ will be included.

o   Many foods, such as fruits, contain naturally occurring sugars. An added sugar refers to the sugar that was added during the production process. Foods high in added sugar include soda, sweetened yogurt, sports drinks, and candy. Over consumption of these foods has been linked to obesity.

    Calories from fat would no longer be included.

o   Research has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat. Total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat will continue to be listed. Limiting intake of saturated and trans fat is important for heart health.

    Serving sizes would be updated.

o   Serving sizes on the current label rarely reflect what people actually eat, as portion sizes have increased dramatically over the years. This may lead the consumer to underestimate how many calories he or she is actually eating during one sitting.

    Amounts of potassium and Vitamin D would be required.

o   Vitamin D is important for bone health, while potassium can lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Evidence suggests these nutrients can be very beneficial in the prevention of chronic disease

 

 The grocery store can be an overwhelming place, and reading a nutrition label is not as simple as it seems. It is quite common to feel unsure of what to look for when reviewing a nutrition label, and some people admit to skipping the label all together. The proposed new nutrition label is designed in a way that is meant to be more consumer friendly so that shoppers can make informed decisions about what goes into their shopping cart

 

The evidence is undeniable that eating nutritious foods can protect against many health complications and chronic diseases. The proposed nutrition label has many positive changes that would make it easier for shoppers to choose more healthful options, and it is encouraging to see the link between nutrition and disease being recognized. Whether the new nutrition label will be passed or not remains to be seen, but it is important to remember to always read your labels and stay savvy about what you put into your body!

What’s the Best Snack Choice for Your Child?

When choosing a nutritious after school snack for your child there are many things to consider. You may ask yourself “is this snack food too high in sugar?” Does this snack contain too much fat or too many calories” or even “Will this snack help keep my child satisfied until dinner?” With so many snack choices out there, it can be hard to know what will make the best choice for you child.

Here are a few tips to help you make the best choice when choosing an after school snack:
• First, look for a snack that contains a good source of whole grains, is high in fiber (3 or more grams), and contains little to no added sugars. For instance, if you want to give your son or daughter cheese and crackers after school, choose a cracker made from 100% whole grain, such as 100% rye crisps or stone wheat crackers.
• If you need the snack to keep your child full for more than two hours, choose a snack high in lean protein or healthy fats. Both protein and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrate, making snacks high in these nutrients long lasting. Consider snack choices including foods such as low fat string cheese, natural peanut butter, or even lean deli meats.
• Concerned about calories? If you child needs to lose or maintain their body weight, it is important to provide them with healthy, lower calorie snack options. However, to do this and still keep your child satisfied can be tricky. Aim for snacks that are large in volume but low in calories such as air popped popcorn (3 cups = 100 calories), fresh fruit (1 medium piece of fruit provides approximately 80 calories), or raw vegetables with 2-3 Tbs of hummus or low fat dip. Not only are these snacks low in calories, they are loaded with healthy fiber, helping to keep your child satisfied until dinner.
• Have a picky eater? Encourage your child to try new fruit and vegetable options by providing fun dip options such as applesauce, peanut butter, and low fat yogurt.

There are plenty of tasty, nutritious, kid friendly snack options available. With a bit of planning, you can find a variety of healthy snack ideas to please any child!

If you are looking to revamp your diet, lose weight, or get in shape- you’re in luck! I now offer online and phone nutrition coaching, E-nutrition Mail packages, Mini Meal Makeovers, and Custom Meal Planning. Contact me today for more information or schedule your session online: http://www.erinpalinski.com/counseling.html

Copyright ErinPalinski.com 2012. All Rights Reserved.

For more information, check out Erin’s website, America’s Belly Fat Fighter, at www.erinpalinski.com

Celebrate the Last Few Days of American Heart Month – Lower Your Cholesterol!

American Heart Month is coming to a close, but don’t let that be an excuse to forget about eating for your heart! Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. Here are five foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.

1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.

2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating fatty fish can be heart-healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. Doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in such fish as salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and halibut, to name a few. Be sure bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. According to the FDA, eating about a handful a day of most nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched. The FDA recommends using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.

Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.

What are your favorite ways to include these foods daily?

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrate American Heart Month! 5 Tips for a Healthy Heart

Although you might know eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

2. Choose low-fat protein sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites or egg substitutes are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.

Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are heart healthy because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides.

Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals; they are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits also contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.

4. Select whole grains
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.

5. Reduce the sodium in your food
Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon). People age 51 or older, African-Americans, and people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.

New Years Resolutions- Revisited!

Has your New Year’s resolve to adopt healthier eating habits already started to crumble? Part of the problem may be that you set yourself up for failure by deciding on some huge resolutions that you want to accomplish in a really short amount of time. A better approach is to start off with something simple, like increasing your daily water intake in a given week or vowing to stick to just one dessert at a family dinner. As you conquer each smaller goal, you’ll soon find yourself moving in the right direction more times than not!

It’s also important to be realistic with yourself and to keep variety in your diet. For instance, rather than eating the same lunch for a whole month, which will be hard to maintain, try incorporating different fruits or vegetables to avoid getting in a food rut.

Other common situations that can undermine a desire to eat healthier include feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of changing food habits, using food as stress relief, or needing to soothe a sweet tooth. Getting into the right frame of mind to eat better often starts by changing thinking patterns before you can modify your behavior.

Remember, too, that our minds are trained to adopt an “all or nothing” approach, and perhaps nowhere more true than with diet and exercise. So, instead of getting discouraged if you missed a gym session or overate at one meal, start making a list of your successes — however seemingly small — to help build your confidence. Realize that one snack, meal or even a whole day of unhealthy eating isn’t going to make or break your overall healthy eating goal – just as long as you remember to return to the routine.

What New Years resolutions have you successfully been able to reach? What worked for you?

For more information visit erinpalinski.com

Copyright 2012. ErinPalinski.com. All Rights Reserved.