Yes, Keep Eating Fruit

Yes, Keep Eating Fruit (@kellytoupsrd)

Fruit is bad because it has so much sugar, right?

Aren’t bananas fattening?

Shouldn’t you cut back on fruit if you’re trying to lose weight?

I get questions like this all the time. No seriously, I do. While it’s upsetting to think of how the media and food faddists have led well-meaning dieters astray, it’s actually pretty liberating when friends and clients realize just how easy good nutrition is. More fruits and veggies, less junk food. It’s that simple!

Think about it logically. America doesn’t have an obesity problem from eating too much fruit. It’s our ever-increasing portion sizes, penchant for sugary beverages and endless snacking that did us in.

Yes, fruit has sugar. But it also has loads of vitamins, minerals, water, and most importantly, fiber. The fiber in the fruit will slow its release into your bloodstream, so that you don’t get the spike and crash associated with other sugary foods (such as soda or candy).

However, do not confuse fruit with fruit juice. Juice lacks the fiber and some of the micronutrients of the whole fruit. While a cup of fresh fruit is a healthy, low-calorie snack, do not be fooled into thinking that juice is a low calorie or no calorie beverage. Many juices pack just as much sugar and calories per cup as soda. And without the fiber (and additional water in whole fruits) to trigger fullness cues in your stomach, it is much easier to overindulge in fruit juice than fruit. Additionally, the amount of juice you drink has a direct relationship with diabetes risk, but the amount of fruit you eat actually decreases the risk of diabetes.

Next time you find yourself unsure of what to eat, remember the sweet truth and fill up with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

– Kelly

Smoothies vs Juice

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‘Tis the season for new years resolutions! For many, that means detoxing from a season of indulgence with a juice fast. But is juicing the healthiest way to load up on antioxidants?

When cutting back on soda, some people use juice as a “healthier” way to satisfy their cravings for sweet beverages, as well as a tasty way to sneak in some extra vegetables. While juice is a natural source of many vitamins and minerals, and definitely a step up from soda, it is not a necessary part of a healthy diet, and in fact, is less healthy than eating the fruits and vegetables themselves.

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By discarding the pulp and solids (the difference between juicing and making a smoothie), you are missing out on the fiber and some of the micronutrients. This is one reason that I am not a huge proponent of “juice fasts”. If you are looking to consume a diet high in fiber and antioxidants, don’t just sip nature’s sugar water; eat the whole fruit! Additionally, do not be fooled into thinking that juice is a low calorie or no calorie beverage. Many juices pack just as much sugar and calories per cup as soda.

Smoothies, on the other hand, contain the whole fruit, rather than just the sugary juice. And contrary to popular opinion, blending fruits and greens up in a blender does not make the fiber disappear. The tip to keeping a smoothie healthy is to keep the ingredients healthy: whole fruits (berries, bananas, mango, etc), greens (kale, spinach), and optional healthy extras (organic, plain yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, organic cottage cheese, chia seeds, ground flaxseed). Don’t add juice or sweetened yogurt to your smoothie, as that defeats the purpose. With all of these solid ingredients, a heavy duty blender (such as a Vitamix) works best. However, I make smoothies in my knock-off magic bullet, and it works just fine.

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Looking for healthy smoothie recipes to get you started?

And for those of you that would still like to give juicing a try, these six fruit and veggie combos look delicious!

– Kelly

Which beverages are worth the buy

A colleague of mine recently told me that one of her clients spends hundreds of dollars a month on beverages. Just beverages! This is absolutely absurd to me, because the most important beverage to our health is practically free. Do you spend lots of money on beverages? Read on to find out where your dollars are best spent.

Soda and “fruit drinks”

We all know that soda is bad for our health, so this is the first and most obvious place to cut back. Soda is simply empty calories. Liquid candy that provides absolutely no health benefit. The same goes for “fruit drinks” such as fruit punch, lemondade, or Sunny Delight. While there may be some real fruit in these beverages (although oftentimes, not) the main ingredients are sugar and water.

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Water

For anyone that argues that soda is cheaper than water, why are you paying for water in the first place? At home, invest in a water purifier or drink from the tap. When dining out, ask for tap water or a cup of water (not a bottle). When out and about, bring your own refillable water bottle and fill up at water fountains. We are lucky that public water is neither expensive nor largely dangerous in this country. In What to Eat, author Marion Nestle explains that “under current federal regulations, bottled waters do not have to be tested as rigorously as tap waters or disinfected to the same extent,” and that tap water and bottled water often comes from the same place anyway.

Juice

When cutting back on soda, some people use juice as a “healthier” way to satisfy their cravings for sweet beverages. While orange juice is a natural source of many vitamins and minerals, and definitely a step up from soda, it is still unnecessary. As trendy as they may be, even 100% juice, or “superfood” fruit and vegetable juice blends are not a necessary part of a healthy diet, and in fact, are less healthy than eating the fruits and vegetables themselves. By discarding the pulp and solids (the difference between juicing and making a smoothie), you are missing out on the fiber and some of the micronutrients. This is one reason that I am not a huge proponent of “juice fasts”. If you are looking to consume a diet high in fiber and antioxidants, don’t just sip nature’s sugar water; eat the whole fruit! Additionally, do not be fooled into thinking that juice is a low calorie or no calorie beverage. Many juices pack just as much sugar and calories per cup as soda.

Sports drinks

Many people buy sports drinks thinking that they are more hydrating than water and a necessary component of an athletic lifestyle. While sports drinks can definitely provide an advantage for long duration exercise, do not be fooled into thinking that sports drinks are necessary for the everyday fitness enthusiast. If you are exercising for 1 ½ to 3 hours, sports drinks can help improve endurance. After the first hour of exercise, aim for 100-250 calories per hour to keep your body going, mainly from carbohydrates (such as from sports drinks, but could also come from crackers, pretzels, or nutrition bars). Your body won’t rely on the sports drink until the end of your workout, so it is best to stick with water for the first 30-60 minutes. Sports drinks will also help to replenish any electrolytes lost in sweat (as will salty snacks, such as crackers). That being said, for most workouts less than 1 ½ hours, water is your best bet.

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Milk

Milk is a beverage of considerable debate. It is the beverage with the highest amount of naturally occurring protein, and has a great combination of nutrients to help support growth and development. However, despite the importance of calcium and other minerals, one cannot ignore the fact that countries with the highest levels of dairy consumption also suffer from the highest levels of osteoporosis. Additionally, milk has been associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and acne. Much more research is needed on the effects of dairy foods, and until these connections get clearer, here is what I suggest. Two cups a day for children and three cups a day for adults is the most that we need, and that number goes down if you consume other calcium rich foods such as yogurt or cottage cheese. Nonfat milk is an excellent source of lean protein and can definitely be included in a healthy diet, but remember that you can still be perfectly healthy and osteoporosis free without consuming dairy foods; you will just need to make sure to obtain calcium and riboflavin from plant foods such as broccoli, almonds, and legumes. Nowadays, there are many different milk substitutes on the market. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, remember that none have as much protein as cows milk, and that not all nondairy milks are fortified with the micronutrients found in milk. So read the labels carefully.

Tea and Coffee

Many adults like to start their morning with a cup of tea or coffee; a ritual so engrained in routine and productivity that it is unlikely to be discarded. If coffee or tea is a part of your routine, save money by preparing it at home, rather than buying elaborate coffee drinks at cafes or coffeeshops. Oftentimes, many offices also have complimentary tea or coffee, so take advantage of that if your place of work offers such benefits.

Alcohol

This is one a no brainer, but it’s still worth a mention. If you are looking to cut back on your food budget, don’t forget to look at your alcohol spending. Not only is alcohol considerably more expensive than other beverages, but it is also unnecessary for health.

When trying to cut back on unnecessary spending at the grocery store, the easiest place to start is with beverages. Somewhere along the way, Americans got accustomed to drinking their calories. Getting back to the basics and enjoying water with most meals is healthier for both you and your wallet. Additionally, drinking water with meals is shown to encourage healthier food choices. Cheers!

Images: 1 // 2 (purchase bottle here!) // 3//  4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

-Kelly