Gas it Up: Give your body the energy it wants

Let’s talk about how the body gets energy. “Glucose” is a fancy word for sugar, and it’s best known as a fuel for our body. All food is broken down into our bodies for fuel, but glucose is the body’s main energy source. Just like we need to put gas in our cars to go, we need to put gas in our bodies too. And just like we have different octanes of fuel for our cars, we have different octanes of fuel for our bodies.

Beneficial glucose

The best source of glucose is found in a macronutrient known as “carbohydrate.” And when you think of carbohydrate, you’re probably thinking about bread, rice or pasta. But in addition to these foods, fruits and a few vegetables are also carbohydrate sources.

These fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and lean proteins, are the best fuel to nourish our bodies instead of depleting our energy levels. These foods are permissible AND beneficial.

Less beneficial glucose

Processed foods, such as cake, doughnuts, cookies, sugary liquids and some white foods are among the types of foods that may be permissible but are not always beneficial. These carbohydrate sources are most often found in the center aisles of the grocery store. Let’s break down two of these foods/ingredients.

Enriched white flour

You see the word “enriched,” and you’d think this would be better for you. Bogus! Enriching means stripping the grain, removing most of its natural nutrients, then replacing some of those nutrients during processing.

When enriched foods came to the market, there were good motives. This food processing technique came about to better preserve foods for longer periods in order to prevent food famines. But now, when you see “enriched” on a food label, know that this will give you some quick energy, but your gas tank will quickly be on empty.

White sugar

Yummy in my tummy!—is what I always think when I think about foods made from white sugar or sucrose. Sucrose provides an immediate blood sugar surge. Your metabolic system lights up, and the body produces insulin and raises your serotonin levels (happy hormones).

Raised insulin levels can cause you to overeat while also causing you to be as hungry as you were before you started eating. In addition, your body will become more resistant to the sugar, causing you to feel the need for MORE sugar and unnecessary calories to elevate your mood while emptying your gas tank and causing you to crash just as quickly. What a vicious cycle.

How can we get more “good” fuel?

Focus on retraining your taste buds. Yes, you can retrain your taste buds! Try to remove or at least limit these permissible but not beneficial foods and then replace them with foods that will provide you with more clarity and energy, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Your body will thank you!

Enjoy Halloween Treats—Avoid Sugary Tricks

From vampire bats to Kit Kats®, Halloween is a long-standing tradition celebrated with tricks and treats. In fact, it’s one of my favorite holidays. I have always found humor in dressing up in non-traditional Halloween costumes, even at an early age. Luckily, I have great friends and family that are willing to partake in my couple/group Halloween costume extravaganzas. 

 Routine consumption of “sugary tricks” can lead to high blood sugars, hypertension, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, gut problems—and the list goes on and on.

There is no “healthy” candy

As a dietitian, the most common question I get this time of year is, “What is the best/healthiest candy to eat”? Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer. But don’t worry! This is not going to be your typical “don’t eat candy” Halloween post.  In my eyes, it’s perfectly fine to eat your heart out in candy for a night (or two). Why? Because we are a product of what we routinely do, not what we occasionally do. This applies to all aspects of life, but especially to our health.  

Everything in Moderation

What I mean by this concept is that it is perfectly fine to enjoy some less-nutritious foods, such as pizza, donuts and candy, occasionally. The problem is that most people enjoy these foods far too often than what their metabolisms are capable of processing. I am more concerned with the “daily candy” our youth and adults consume. Routine consumption of these foods can lead to high blood sugars, hypertension, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, gut problems—and the list goes on and on.

Breakfast Candy

Cereals, Pop-Tarts® and pastries are some of the best ways to start off your day…. If you want a sugar and insulin surge. These habits lead to fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin control throughout the day, disrupt concentration and can suck the energy right out of you. Lower sugar options include eggs, lean breakfast meats, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese and small servings of fruit.

Liquid Candy

Juice, soda, sweet tea and sports drinks are simply sugar in a liquid form. Perceived benefits of caffeine, vitamins and electrolytes are far outweighed by the consequences of the rapid absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Not only does this sugar tidal wave spike insulin levels, it also increases preferences towards high-sugar foods, so the cycle unfortunately continues.

Fake Candy

Often, people gravitate towards items that are “sugar-free,” such as diet soda or sugar-free snacks, with the assumption that these products are healthier. I firmly stand my ground that low-calorie, chemical versions of sugar are no healthier for you than real and processed sugars. They may have a reduced nutrient density, but research shows that sugar substitutes greatly damage our gut lining. This can lead to leaky gut syndrome, propelling a host of other disease conditions.

Fruit Candy

Fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks and fruit-fillings are not fruit. They are pastes and mixtures created to taste like fruit. While these foods may appear to be healthier choices than other snack foods, nutritionally, they are no different than Skittles®.

Dairy Candy

Milk and yogurt contain both natural and added sugars. Calcium intake is important but not at the price of 20 grams of sugar, which is what you may find in a standard serving of yogurt (even Greek) and especially flavored milk varieties. Opt for low-sugar calcium sources such as unsweetened milk substitutes, broccoli, spinach, cheese, cottage cheese or whey/casein-based protein powders.

What do you know about your sugar?

I recently attended the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference in Indianapolis. How great and refreshing it was to be with 3,000 other diabetes educators from across the U.S. At this conference, there was a great display from the Abbott Freestyle “Know Your Sugar Tour” bus, which is a cross-country expedition to raise awareness about the ill effects of sugar on the body. This tour, featuring one-of-a-kind sugar sculptures made by world-renowned Irish sculptors Brendan Jamison and Mark Revels, promotes the importance of understanding sugar’s effects on the body.

When there is extra sugar, it can be stored in muscles and liver for later use, but it also can be stored as fat.

We Need Sugar—to an Extent

Our body is fueled by carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods, but can also be added during food processing. Sugar is consumed in many different forms, but our bodies digest almost all of the sugar we eat into glucose. Glucose is the primary sugar our bodies use to create energy.

Our bodies do need a minimum amount of sugar every day to function properly. The reason for this is that glucose is the only source of energy for the brain and red blood cells. The human bloodstream normally contains only about 5 grams of glucose at any one time, which is the equivalent of just one teaspoon of sugar.

But Too Much Sugar Can Risk your Health

Sugar is not the enemy, as it is our fuel source, but too much sugar can be. So when we eat, this is what happens…

When there is extra sugar, it can be stored in muscles and liver for later use, but it also can be stored as fat. Additionally, if there is too much sugar, adverse effects start to occur within our bodies. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is the third highest risk factor for premature death worldwide, preceded only by tobacco use and high blood pressure. Additionally, consistent high blood glucose can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Steps for Managing your Sugar

Now, I’m not trying to alarm you! Insulin resistance, an effect of too much sugar in our bodies commonly known as type 2 diabetes, can be managed with healthy eating, increased physical activity and education and awareness. Complications in diabetes can also be better managed with:
• early diagnosis
• health professional support
• controlling glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• access to insulin, oral medications and monitoring devices.

You can get started on eating less sugar right away by making the following food choices:
• non-starchy vegetables
• whole-grain foods
• fish 2-3 times a week (fried fish doesn’t count)
• lean cuts of beef and pork
• removing the skin from chicken and turkey
• non-fat or low-fat dairy products
• water, unsweetened tea, coffee and calorie-free ‘diet’ drinks instead of drinks with sugar
• liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats (limit quantities)

In addition to changing what you eat, you can change how you eat. Consider making the following changes to your eating habits for better health and balance:
• eat a variety of foods
• eat small portions several times a day
• match how much you eat with your activity level
• eat few foods high in calories, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

I know this sounds like a lot, so to simplify:

Try to not go more than 3-4 hours without eating, get a portioned amount of carbohydrates and protein together and follow My Plate guidelines with portioning all types of foods. Strive to get some movement in daily. This could be going to a gym, walking, “chair walking,” water therapy, exercise classes—anything you want, really, as long as you’re moving! Don’t hesitate to also set up an appointment with one of the dietitians at Springfield Clinic, too.

5 Hidden Sources of Sugar

Cutting back on one’s sugar intake is always one of the best first steps to take towards healthier eating habits. However, sugar can be found lurking in every aisle of the grocery store. You know to limit sweets, soda and candy but watch out for some of these hidden sources of sugar that could be sabotaging your health.

Salad Dressing

You’ve heard the phrase that a perfectly good salad can be ruined by its dressing. This is especially true when that salad dressing is nothing but a spoonful of sugar. Believe it or not, a serving of salad dressing can have more added sugars than a candy bar. Beware of fat-free salad dressings as these are usually the ones with the highest amounts of added sugars. Classic ranch, Italian and unsweetened vinaigrettes are good low-sugar choices.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has become America’s excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast. You read that right. Most Greek yogurt options contain more sugar than ice cream. I know what you’re thinking. “But Amanda, I thought Greek yogurt was supposed to be healthy for me”. You’re right, it was when it originally debuted on store shelves a decade ago. However, most people couldn’t get past the thick, tart taste of natural Greek yogurt, so to boost sales and increase palatability, manufacturers began adding more and more sugar to their products.

Nutella

Nutella just sounds fancy and sometimes fancy-sounding foods are mistakenly taken as healthier options. There is nothing fancy about the amount of sugar found in Nutella. In fact, it’s nearly all sugar; it’s even the very first ingredient listed on the nutrition label. Putting Nutella on toast is no different than covering your toast in maple syrup. You’re much better off with toppings that provide protein and/or healthy fat like peanut/almond butter, mashed avocado or my favorite, an egg!

Granola/Granola Bars

Granola bars gained popularity decades ago because they were the perfect low calorie/low fat snack. Remember low-fat usually translates to high-sugar. Food manufacturers have known this for a long time. If you can’t flavor something with fat, you need to enhance taste with sugar. Even organic, whole-food bars fall victim to being high in sugar. Swap your granola bars for a low-sugar protein bar. Your insulin levels and waistline will thank you. 

“Energy” anything

In the world of food marketing, the word “energy” is code for sugar. Fancy labeling and flashy packaging may make items like energy drinks and energy bars look enticing (especially for athletes), they are simply expensive versions of soda and candy bars. Save yourself the $$ and blood sugar crashes and choose items that naturally provide sustainable energy such as lean proteins and healthy fats. Combine cottage cheese, cheese, nuts or hard boiled eggs with fresh fruit for well-balanced food choices.

 

Healthy Tricks VS. Sugary Treats

Trick or Treat! When we think of Halloween, yummy and sugary treats such as candy bars and caramel apples usually come to mind. Rightfully so, this is definitely a day to indulge! However, the amount of sugar in these delicious snacks can be astronomical!

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Just a few examples of the amount of sugar in some of our favorite treats:
Snicker’s Fun Size: 17 g, Blow Pop: 13 g, Skittles: 42 g, Dots: 21 g, Reese’s (2 cups): 21 g.

For comparison, this is how many sugar cubes are in 2 Reese’ cups:

reeses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Cheese

Cheese is a good source of protein and does not contain any sugar. Cheese sticks will be ok unrefrigerated for 2-3 hours, so kiddos may eat these later if needed.

Fruithalloween

If you have clementine’s (“Cuties”) and celery, you have a pumpkin! Peel each clementine and leave in its whole, round form. Cut celery into 1 inch pieces and place in the middle of the clementine as a stem. Clementine’s are a good source of vitamin C and can easily fit in a Ziploc baggy.

Photo from Frog Prince Paperie

Veggies

If hosting a party, make a tray of witch’s fingers! Simply take baby carrots or carrot sticks and place ½ of an olive (black or green) on the tip as a nail. This can be served with dip or by itself. Carrots are high in vitamin A and a great, crunchy snack.

Water

To help keep kiddos (and parents of trick-or-treaters) hydrated, buy mini or full-sized bottles of water. Create labels out of construction paper or use Halloween-themed paper to cover original water bottle label. Many drinks such as juice and punch are high in sugar. These spooky bottles will help quench their thirst!

 

DEVILED EYEBALLS
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Ingredients
  1. 12 large eggs
  2. ⅓ cup plus 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  3. 1 small ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  4. 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  5. 1 Tbsp minced scallion or shallot
  6. 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  7. ¼ tsp black olive slices
  8. 24 black olives
  9. red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a large pot with cold water, covering eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil; boil 1 minute. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs. Crack eggs and let sit in cold water 10 minutes or until cool. Drain, then peel eggs.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, then carefully remove the yolks, leaving the whites intact. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, avocado, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, and salt until blended. Using 2 teaspoons or a small ice-cream scoop, scoop yolk mixture into small balls and position in hollows of whites to resemble eyeballs.
  3. Press an olive slice into center of each yolk eyeball. Stir together 3 tablespoons remaining mayonnaise and a few drops of red food coloring in a small bowl for the "blood."
  4. Transfer colored mayonnaise mixture into a small sealable bag and snip the corner to form a pastry bag. Decorate eyeballs with bloodshot veins. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
  5. Make Ahead: Egg yolk mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Fill egg whites, decorate and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
Notes
  1. From kitchendaily.com
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/
Alana Scopel

 

 

 

Figge’s Summer Trends: Dieting Tips

With a new season comes new trends! Last week I introduced you to some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and in the yard for some outdoor fun! This week I’m going over the latest in tips to improve your diet.

Figge's Summer Trends- Diet Tips

Mindful Eating. We have been seeing a gradual decline in dieting this past year with a greater emphasis put on simply making better nutritional choices more consistently. The principle behind mindful eating is to emphasize whole, fresh foods and decrease consumption of processed foods, added sugars and restaurant-prepared menu items. Eating mindfully can help improve overall feelings of wellness as well as help with weight loss for many individuals.

Saturated Fat is Back Baby. Better late than never is my motto! Researchers have been speculating for quite some time now if fat, or specifically saturated fats, aren’t really that bad for us. Saturated fats can be found in foods such as eggs, cheese, red meat, butter, coconut, poultry skin, grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods. Scientists are more conclusively concluding that saturated fat is not as big of a demon we once thought it to be. While I do personally enjoy eating saturated fats, I do encourage caution on processed foods with saturated fats (grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods) as we are still unsure of those effects on the body. Keep in mind that these food sources are also not natural occurring saturated fats like eggs, butter and coconut are.

Anti-Sugar Movement. With the rise in popularity of fat, sugar is now being more closely scrutinized. This is all music to my ears, but I feel we have just seen the tip of the iceberg with this health movement. Sugars in the form of candy, sweets, juice and soda absolutely need to be minimally consumed; however we get excess sugar in our diet from grains, breads, cereals, potatoes, snack foods and sweetened dairy products to name a few. Excessive carbohydrate consumption has been linked to increased insulin levels, blood sugars and inflammation. Since it is hard to cut back on all of these items I do recommend cutting out three: fruited yogurt, juice and granola bars. Here is what you are actually eating:

  • Juice = soda with a squirt of Vitamin C
  • Fruited yogurt = adult pudding
  • Granola bars = glorified candy bars