National Nutrition Month + Healthy Ice Cream

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Happy National Nutrition Month! While I probably should have written this post for the beginning of the month, I figured it is still March so it is still acceptable. Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics runs a campaign for the month of March that focuses on the importance of “making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits”. This years theme: Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. The message: healthy eating can and should taste good. I am definitely a fan of this year’s theme because there is no way to have sustainable healthy eating habits if you do not enjoy what you are eating. With this in mind, I though I would share this healthy and delicious ice cream recipe that won’t break the calorie bank. Plus, you can make it will all natural ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

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Study abroad update: Dublin was absolutely amazing and is definitely near the top of my list of favorite cities. This week I’m headed to Prague, Czech Republic and Nuremberg, Germany 🙂

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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Vacation Eating and The Hunger Scale

Vacation usually means lots and lots of delicious treats! I love trying new foods so going to new restaurants and countries with new types of food is so much fun for me. Vacation also usually means a week or two of indulging and then its back to a relatively well balanced diet. My dilemma… I have quickly realized that this “vacation” is not just a week or two. I am abroad for over four months so having loads of sugary treats everyday is not the wisest decision. The past week has made me discover that just because I am in a foreign country does not means I can eat whatever I want, all of the time.

Over the weekend, some friends and I took a quick trip to Brussels, Belgium. I don’t know what you think about when I say Belgium, but the first things that came to my mind were chocolate, waffles, and French fries. With only 48 hours, we all took advantage of these amazing treats… so much so that we all felt pretty sick for the next few days. While a few days of salad, vegetable overload, and some trips to the gym got me feeling right back to normal, I have realized that this pattern of overeating and then “cleansing” does not make me feel my best.

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Belgian Waffles!

The biggest thing that I have forgotten about in all of this is the hunger scale. This guide here is a good way to know when and how much you (and I) should eat. If “1” is starving and “10” is miserably full, you should always be between 3 and 6/7. I know that recently I have been hitting 9/10 (and possible an 11 in Belgium!) way too often and it doesn’t feel good.

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It is probably going to be difficult to say no to the homemade cakes my host mom makes, along with the flakey chocolate-filled pastries on every street corner, but if I want to survive these four months without endless stomach aches, I have to remind myself that I am going to be here for quite some time, and I don’t have to stuff my face with everything that is in front of me. (But, of course, a treat or a bite here and there will never hurt!) I also have to remind myself how much better I will feel if I don’t go to bed feeling like a roly-poly every night.

Copenhagen, here I come! + blood sugar

Three weeks into school and I am knee-deep in homework, reading, and tests, but today was a surprising break from the daily grind. As I sat in my human nutrition class learning how various types of fiber influence blood glucose levels, an email notification popped up on the side of my computer screen. I usually ignore my emails during class, but this one couldn’t wait. The subject read “DIS Spring 2016 Registration Information”, and I nearly jumped out of my seat.

I was accepted to study abroad at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen next semester!

It has been a stressful two weeks since they received my application, waiting to hear their decision. Every time my phone vibrated this week, I anxiously hoped that it would be the email with my admission decision. Finally the anticipation is over and the countdown until I leave begins (Only 126 days, but who is counting?).

With all of the excitement, I could barely comprehend what the professor lectured on, but I did catch a few things about fiber. In many of my recipe posts, I discuss how high fiber foods are good at keeping you satisfied for long periods of time, but fiber also has other benefits. The one we focused on in class today was fibers impact on blood sugar.

I’ll try to keep this simple, but here is how it works:

  1. Food is consumed and the sugars are absorbed from the digestive system into the blood (blood sugar goes up)
  2. Insulin binds to the sugar in the blood and brings it into the cells (blood sugar goes down)

Having consistently high blood sugar (from eating lots of sugary foods) causes lots of insulin production. Too much insulin all of the time can cause the cells to become desensitized to insulin. This is a form of diabetes because the insulin is not able to reduce blood sugar levels.

How do you prevent this from happening?

One option is fiber (especially soluble fiber)!! When consuming a high fiber diet, nutrient absorption is slowed down, which means there are lower amounts of sugar in the blood after eating a meal. This also means less insulin is needed to absorb the sugar.

So make sure you get your daily dose of 28-35 grams of fiber per day (the average American eats less than half of that). Keeping blood sugar low is the key to managing the insulin response and reducing your risk for diabetes!

Here are some good sources of soluble fiber:
Broccoli
Carrots
Beans
Peas
Sweet Potato
Apples
Plums
Berries

*Note that intake of fiber does not cure diabetes, nor does it allow you to eat unlimited sugar, it just allows your body to have a healthier response to high sugar foods.

P.S. Look out for posts about my study abroad adventure as we get closer to my departure!