Food should always come first before deciding what supplement is right for you to have in your diet. You don’t always get optimal amounts of all the vitamins and minerals from food and pills do not contain everything that food has to offer. Remember that supplements do not compensate for bad eating habits, you need to eat right. Taking a multivitamin is a good safety net for days when you eat well, but know that you are not eating well enough. Some tips on choosing the right multivitamin include:
Select a broad range multivitamin and mineral supplement. Choose one that has vitamins A, D, E and K as well as all of the B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, and folic acid). Your multivitamin should also have the trace minerals (chromium, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc).
Ignore multivitamins that include chloride, pantothenic acid, biotin, potassium, choline, and phosphorus since the diet either already supplies optimal levels or the supplements contain too little to be useful
Look for a multivitamin that provides approximately 100% but no more than 300% of the Daily Value for all the nutrients provided.
All of the one-pill-a-day multivitamins are short on calcium and magnesium, so you might want to consider taking a calcium-magnesium supplement if you consume less than 3 glasses of milk and several servings of soybeans, wheat germ, or dark leafy vegetables each day.
For more information: Eat Your Ways To Happiness by Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD
When you look at a food label, it is easy to be persuaded to think a food product is healthy, when it really isn’t. For example, many grains on the grocery shelves might sound healthy, but are really not so nutritious. Terms on a label that do not mean anything when it comes to grains include:
with whole wheat
The only reliable label is when you read the ingredients on the back of the product and on the ingredients list is stated “100% whole wheat or whole grain.” Unless a bread or cereal says 100% on the ingredient list, do not believe anything on the front label. Always turn the package over and look at the nutritional panel and ingredient list on the back before even looking at the front! Look for 5 grams of fiber per serving for cereals and 2 grams per slice of bread or serving of rice, pasta, and any other packaged grain.
Your daily goal is at least 30 grams of fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes!
If you are feeling rushed in the morning to eat breakfast, you can still make breakfast convenient and fuel your brain! Here are some examples of convenient breakfasts: Remember to always have protein with your meals (Aim for 20 grams)
8 oz. skim milk, a banana and 1 Kind Bar (aim for a bar with at least 7g of protein, less than 8g of sugar and more than 3g of fiber)
1 low-fat cheese stick, mini whole wheat bagel, one piece of fruit
Hard boiled egg (cook the night before), 1 slice 100% whole grain bread and a 6 oz. can of tomato juice
6 oz. plain Greek yogurt with added granola or fruit
If you are craving a snack at night, have a snack 1 hour to 30 minutes before you need to relax or before going to bed. Limit the snack to 150-200 calories.
3-4 cups of air-popped popcorn (lightly salted) with sprinkled cheese
2 slices of cinnamon raisin bread with 1 tbsp. peanut butter/almond butter
100% whole wheat English muffin with 2 tsp. jam or peanut butter
5 graham crackers + 10 almonds
9 triscuits + 10 peanuts
1 thin slice of angel food cake topped with 1/4 cup berries
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains allows beneficial bacteria to dominate and inhibits the growth of harmful strains. Here are some general tips for helping microbes in our body, however more research is needed on what the optimal solution is:
Focus on fruits and vegetables: A plant based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes and high in dietary fiber and polyphenols seems to help the microbiota. These foods offer prebiotics.
Fermented foods may affect microbiota by influencing the gene expression of the bacteria that already exists. Yogurt and kefir are both naturally fermented foods with live active cultures and sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and raw vinegar are high in Lactobacillus bacteria.
Garlic and leeks contain natural sources of prebiotic inulin.
Focus on minimum processed foods and limit sugar and unhealthy fats.
Consider taking a probiotic supplement (L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, B. longum and B. bifidium) — during and after antibiotic use to help manage antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Antibiotics kill all bacteria (good and bad!), so it is helpful to take probiotic supplements two hours before or after taking antibiotics.
Food & Nutrition May/June 2015. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Good food safety practices are critical to preventing the spread of bacteria and foodborne illness.
It is a good idea to follow these steps to keep food safe:
Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom.
Wash food preparation surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after preparing foods.
Consider using paper towels to clean up. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of a washing machine.
Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Do not use soap or detergent.
Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water, or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
Keep books, backpacks, and shopping bags off work surfaces where food is prepared or served.
**Remember to refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to help keep foods safe. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40 degrees F or below. The freezer temperature should be 0 degrees F or below.
If you keep good food on-hand in your refrigerator, on the kitchen counter, and in your kitchen cabinets, you will eat good food. Spring cleaning can be a perfect time to rethink what you buy and what you keep in your kitchen. Some healthy food choices to keep on hand include:
100% whole wheat bread/tortillas/pitas: Most of the carbs in whole-wheat tortillas are complex carbs, so you don’t have to worry about a spike in blood sugar levels.
Eggs: You can eat eggs many ways, such as hard-boiling them as a snack or adding them to your salad you’re packing for lunch. Scrambled, over-easy, or fried eggs make for a vitamin and protein rich breakfast!
Milk: Whether it’s 1%, non-fat, soy, almond, rice, or other variety, milk is full of calcium we need to build strong bones and prevent bone loss.
Almonds/nuts/seeds: Nuts and seeds are full of protein and healthy unsaturated fats. They make a great snack or salad topping, and are a great added punch to your oatmeal or yogurt.
Peanut butter: Peanut butter is packed with healthy unsaturated fats and protein.
Produce: Fruits and vegetables should be an essential food staple in your household, whether frozen or fresh. Always have fruits and veggies readily available to grab and go!
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is packed with 18 grams of protein per 6 oz. serving. It is a great low-calorie and low-fat substitute for recipes in place of mayonnaise or sour cream.
Beans: Not only are beans inexpensive, but they are also a great source of protein and fiber. One cup of chickpeas has 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.
Quinoa: One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. This whole grain is also full of B vitamins. It makes a great grain supplement to add to a stir-fry, vegetable, or oatmeal dish.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal makes a great breakfast and is known for lowering cholesterol numbers and may also help control your appetite. Add protein to your oatmeal, such as nuts, seeds, or even peanut butter.
As warm weather approaches us, spring is a perfect time to take advantage of seasonal spring produce! Seasonal fruits and vegetables are at their highest quality and optimal flavor during the months of March-June. There are also more fruits and vegetables available in season, so they cost less at the grocery store or farmer’s market. What is better than healthy choices at great prices? Some examples of fruits and vegetables that are seasonal during this time are apricots, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Swiss chard, chives, mustard greens, mangoes, oranges, spinach, and strawberries! Spring is also a great time to think about growing your own food. Have you ever thought about having your own vegetable garden? Whether you start a garden big or small, there is nothing like picking fresh produce for you and your family in the summer. It also doubles as a great activity for you and your family to do, as well. No matter what time of the year it is, you can always incorporate a lot of healthy, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. The springtime is just a perfect time to jump start your excitement about eating and living well all year around!
Did you know that the month of May is National Egg Month? Eggs contain high quality protein to keep you full for longer periods of time and energized throughout the day. Eggs only contain 70 calories, making them a wonderful snack or part of a meal. When you think of eggs, think of them as a multivitamin. The nutrients found in eggs can play a key role in weight management, muscle strength, brain function, eye health, and can have other health benefits as well. Did you know that an egg yolk contains a higher percentage of the eggs’ vitamins than the white? It’s true: an egg yolk contains an entire eggs’ vitamins A, D, and E. Plus, egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Dietary protein influences muscle mass, strength and function for all different age groups. The six grams of high-quality protein found in eggs an help children and teenagers build and preserve muscle, and for adults, protein can help prevent muscle loss. Many Americans are in the habit of shying away from eggs because of dietary cholesterol; however, more than 40 years of research has shown that healthy adults can enjoy eggs without impacting their risk of heart disease. So, the next time you’re re-thinking having an egg as part of your meal, go for it! Their nutritional and health benefits are eggstraordinary!!
March is National Nutrition Month! This month, the theme is biting into a healthy lifestyle. I believe that all of us, no matter what age, should take control of what we are eating. It’s time to make healthier lifestyle changes and recognize how many chronic diseases we can prevent just from making small changes to our lifestyles! It’s time to focus on all colors of the rainbow from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) and making the healthiest choices for a better life. You will never have to “diet” again when you take control of your lifestyle and realize that the focus here is everything in moderation and watching portion sizes! You don’t have to give up any foods when it comes to living healthier, but just know the more healthier choices you make, the better off you will be. Once you start, you are going to feel much better and have much more energy!
Don’t wait to start living a healthier life– start today!!