Diets and Restriction

My birthday was back at the beginning of July and I got this card:

First, can we all just admire how perfect it is for an aspiring Dietitian like me? It just made me so happy!

Ok, on a more serious note, it made me think a lot about how different people perceive food. Everywhere you go, you can find someone who doesn’t eat dairy, is vegetarian, is on a low carb diet, etc. On one hand, I am happy that people are becoming more and more interested in nutrition, but on the other hand, I cringe when I hear exaggerated news headlines become the basis for everyday food choices. One study on mice finds that bread made the mice gain weight and all of a sudden nobody will eat bread.

My guess is that the minute those “anti-bread” people walk into an Italian restaurant with fresh baked bread and butter sitting on the table, their “no bread” rule flies out the window and the next thing they know, they are 4 slices deep.

IMG_3533That’s because restriction leads to binging. When we restrict ourselves from eating bread (or any food/food group) we feel deprived. It is not practical to say you’ll never going to eat bread again. It is much more reasonable to allow bread in your everyday diet in smaller amounts. And guess what, you’ll probably end up eating less bread this way because you won’t sit down and devour a whole loaf like you would if you were deprived. You also won’t end up with any horrible guilt after you eat it.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t eliminate any food or food group from your diet. While some research might say bread is “bad”, I can almost guarantee that there is equally as much research stating the opposite. So, think twice before that news headline affects what you eat today.

I know it is cliché and I have said it before – everything in moderation, enjoy the foods you love, and no foods are bad foods.

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Healthy Holiday Tips

 

Did you know that the average American gains about 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per year with the majority of the gain occurring between November and December. Can you guess why? Yep! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are not very good at promoting healthy eating habits. All those chocolates, cookies, and endless buffets can make it difficult to avoid temptations, but it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips to have healthier holidays:

  1. Don’t skip meals: Have a big holiday dinner party tonight? Plan on eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, plus some healthy snack throughout the day and especially before you go. This will prevent you from becoming over-hungry and eating everything in sight once you get there.
  2. Keep your distance: Don’t sit yourself down next to the chips and dip, and choose the seat furthest from the buffet. This will make you less likely to go back for more.
  3. Fill at least half your plate with the healthy stuff: That means, at least half (more won’t hurt!) of your plate should have lean meat (white meat with no skin), non-starchy vegetables/salad (sorry, mashed potatoes don’t count), and whole grains.
  4. Be realistic: Don’t tell yourself to not eat any desserts at Thanksgiving dinner. When everyone is enjoying his or her pie, you are not going to want to sit empty-plated. You might also end up throwing your goal out the window and overeating dessert. Setting realistic goals (like only having half a slice of pie and some fruit) that are achievable can make you feel much better about yourself and encourage you to set and achieve your goals in the future.
  5. Don’t wait until new years to make a resolution: This goes right along with tip number 4. Set yourself some holiday goals to keep you on track, but don’t be unrealistic and set yourself up for failure. This is not the time of year to try to lose weight but maintaining your weight is manageable. Make some daily, weekly, and monthly goals to resist all the holiday temptations.

It is important to remember that it takes about 3500 excess calories to gain one pound (that means 500 extra calories per day for a whole week). One more cookie, an extra scoop of stuffing, or your favorite pie is not going to kill you, but it will add up. Pick and choose when to indulge and keep the rest of your days and meals light and healthy.

Finally, just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. Holiday shopping, cleaning, and cooking means lots of walking and time on your feet, which can help keep off the holiday pounds. Try parking in the furthest spot from the store, taking the stairs in the mall instead of the escalator, or taking an extra lap around the grocery store before you check out. It might sound sill but all the little things add up!

Happy Holidays!

Just because I am a nutrition student doesn’t mean I…

Wow, I am officially a senior in college! I just took my last final exam yesterday and now it is crazy to believe I only have one more year of undergrad. After spending the past three years learning all about the body and food, I have discovered that there are many misconceptions about (aspiring) dietitians. I thought I would share some with you that you might find surprising.

Just because I am a nutrition student doesn’t mean I…

  1. …Judge the foods you eat. Countless times I have been to restaurants with family and friends and they always feel obligated to give an excuse for why they ordered a burger and fries. I can’t tell you the number of time I have heard, “I have eaten very healthy all week” or “I’m starting to eat healthy on Monday”. This may be a shock, but you don’t need to qualify your dinner order, and I promise I am not judging you. I like burgers and fries just as much as you do; it is human nature to crave high calorie foods. We all have to make choices when it comes to what we eat, but without knowing your health or lifestyle goals, it is not possible or fair for me to judge your personal choices.
  1. …Don’t eat unhealthy food. Again, I crave chocolate chip cookies just as much as anyone else, and I eat more than just grilled chicken and vegetables. Just because I am interested in nutrition doesn’t mean I am not allowed to have pizza or dessert. You probably know just as well as I do that cookies are not so healthy. Fortunately, I have also learned about the importance of moderation and that cookie should be saved for special occasions.
  1. …Just help people lose weight. Yes, as a nutrition student, I am taught the importance of a healthy, balanced diet to promote healthy weight, but as a dietitian, that is only a small slice of the job. Majority of dietitians work in hospitals doing anything from creating diet plans to prevent cancer proliferation to determining energy needs of a premature baby with a feeding tube. People often forget that dietetics do so much more than just help people lose weight.

Study Abroad Update

I know I haven’t done the best job of keeping you up to date on my adventures, but that’s because I’ve been busy with all my adventures :). As my grandma says (hi Grandma!), this semester should have been called “Travel Abroad” instead of “Study Abroad”. While my actually classes may not have been difficult at all, there is no doubt that spending time in 21 cities in 10 different countries has taught me so much about cultures around the world. I have learned more European history than I ever learned in a classroom, and I have been able to learn about health and food from a completely new perspective. This experience has inspired me to write my senior thesis about the difference in food processing and manufacturing between the United States and European Union and how the different practices effect our health.

As I spend my last three days in Copenhagen saying goodbye to some amazing friends, having final family dinners with my host family, and spending my last few Danish Kroner in souvenir shops, I know that I will always look back on these four months as one of the best times of my life.

BUT! While the semester may be over, I still have another two weeks of traveling before heading back home. One final trip through Morocco and Spain before I’m back for a busy summer of volunteering, studying for the GRE, and trying to remember how to be an American again.