A Dietitian’s New Years Resolution

An RD's New Year Resolution 2013

The winter season is a great time to reflect on the past and resolve to make changes for the upcoming year. Despite well-intentioned efforts, many people make bold lifestyle changes that are unsustainable in practice, which is why most New Years resolutions are quickly abandoned and forgotten.

Although I am a Registered Dietitian, I am also human.  Living a healthy lifestyle still requires effort and planning, and New Years Resolutions are no exception. Rather than a complete overhaul of current habits, I recommend finding areas of your life that could use small improvements, and then making specific, purposeful, and realistic goals related to the area of concern. For example, rather than “get healthier”, this year I resolve to respect my hunger and fullness cues– a small but important healthy habit.

Are hunger and fullness cues something you would like to work on? If so, I highly recommend this book.

Being a Gastronomy (food studies) student, moving across the country to a new region with entirely different culinary specialty (hello, lobster rolls and clam chowder), continuing to experiment with recipes and hone my cooking skills, working in the food service industry, and traveling to places both familiar and unfamiliar have all led me to get caught up in the cycle of wanting to try EVERYTHING. While I don’t think there is harm in tasting, this year I resolve to improve my tasting skills. By that, I mean that I want to savor my bites rather than eating mindlessly, and make an effort to stop eating when full.

Haven’t read this one yet, but I have heard great things about it.

Strategies: As mentioned above, goals should be specific. In order to make a habit of respecting my hunger and fullness cues, I plan to implement the following specific strategies:

Before eating: Ask yourself…

Am I hungry? Sometimes I am not hungry, yet I find myself wanting food. Just knowing that there are Christmas cookies in the house makes the little piggy in me think “Oh well, they are here so I might as well eat them. Then there won’t be any left for me to eat anymore- problem solved!” Whoa, whoa, whoa, not so fast, Kelly.

  • One strategy I will use is to brush my teeth. Many a time have I easily said “No, thanks” to tempting treats from my parents or roommates, simply because I had already brushed my teeth, and frankly, I really didn’t want to brush them again. The fresh, minty mouth feel is also a great way to mentally signal the end of a meal, and let your body know that the kitchen is closed (note- this strategy will also help me achieve the ever popular New Years Resolution of improving dental care). When I am at work, I use sugar free gum to achieve the same effect.
  • Another strategy to prevent mindless eating is to keep a food log. Part of being successful when making dietary changes is being held accountable for what you eat. While I don’t see myself keeping a detailed diet log with complete nutrition facts, I do think its reasonable to jot down foods in a journal in order to stay accountable for what I eat. Feeling more ambitious than that? Studies have also shown that taking a photo of what you eat before you eat it is another way to stay on track with healthy eating. With food photography being so hot these days, this approach just might work.

Is this food special? Sometimes, tasting when you are not hungry can be justified IF the food is “special” and IF you limit yourself to just a taste. What do I mean by special food? Food that is new to you that you will likely not get to try again, such as exotic food while traveling, food at a really nice restaurant, or even your own wedding cake! Food that is not special is the candy or cookies that your coworker brought into the office. Learn to know the difference, and learn to say no in those situations. Special foods, such as cake, are fine eaten at a celebration (such as your birthday or wedding), but sometimes the only celebration is the fact that your roommate brought home extra cupcakes. You weren’t expecting them or counting on them, and you will be just fine without them. In situations where you are exposed to “special” foods when you are not hungry, remember just to have a taste. Savor your bites and take a mental note of the flavors. Do not feel the need to compulsively finish whatever you are given, even if there is still some left on your plate.

Is this what I want? Why am I choosing this food? Is this food going to nourish my body and contribute to my health? If not, is it something that I am truly craving? Am I just trying to fill a void (such as boredom, stress, or unhappiness), or is this food truly going to satisfy my senses (such as juicy watermelon on a hot day)?  How will I feel after I eat this food? Will I be satisfied? Remember to always eat with a purpose!

While eating: Ask yourself…

Does this taste good? If I food does not live up to my expectations, I sometimes keep eating it in hopes that the next bite will get better. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. Taste buds change over time, and I strongly believe that it’s important to periodically give foods you don’t like a chance. However, if you are eating something, especially something that is energy dense (high calorie), don’t waste your time on it if it doesn’t taste good. If the food isn’t what you really want, you will likely end up giving in to what you do want later. So spend your calories wisely, and eat with passion.

Am I still hungry? Americans tend to feel obligated to “clean our plates”, a habit instilled in us from a very young age. People rely on environmental and cultural cues to stop eating (my plate is clean, the package is empty) rather than relying on internal hunger and fullness cues. To combat this, I am going to take a mental assessment of my hunger level THROUGHOUT the eating process, rather than just afterwards. I resolve to stop eating when I am no longer hungry. One strategy I will use to more accurately assess my hunger and fullness cues is to eat more slowly. Sometimes I eat so fast that I don’t even realize how full I am until I have already left the table! I resolve to put my fork down between bites, enjoy the conversation of my dining companions, and not inhale my food. Additionally, I would like to challenge myself to leave a little bit of food on my plate, in order to set the habit of eating according to internal cues, and to avoid compulsive eating. This is much easier said than done!

After eating: Ask yourself…

How did this make me feel, both physically and mentally? Did eating this food make me feel energized? Give me a stomach ache? Keep me full for hours? Fill me up at all? Did this meal inspire me to make healthier choices throughout the day? Did it make me feel guilty? All of these things are important to make note of after eating, and will help guide you to the foods that work for YOUR body.
New Years Resolution from an RD

Now, if you need me I will be stocking up on Crest 3D White Toothpaste, electric spin toothbrushes, fresh journals and pencils, and rereading my copy of Intuitive Eating. What do you resolve to do this year? Will you be making any dietary changes?

– Kelly

New Years Resolution Planning: Strategies to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

For many Americans, the start of a new year signifies the start of a new, healthy lifestyle. Are you planning on embarking on a weight loss journey or making a healthy lifestyle change this January? Here are some of my favorite articles filled with strategies to help dieters lose weight and keep it off.

  • According to this CNN article, the 5 habits of highly successful dieters are to 1) be very specific, 2) create an ok-to-eat plan, 3) track your success, 4) be a realistic optimist, and 5) strengthen your willpower. To learn more about each of these strategies, read the full article.
  • According the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 4 strategies proven to keep the weight off include regularly weighing yourself, engaging in positive self talk, becoming a problem solver, and continuing with behaviors that made you a successful loser. Read this article for a more in-depth explanation of these strategies.

Healthy Instagram Inspiration

A few of my favorite Instagram images

  • Are you a fan of Instagram, the popular photo sharing app? Would you like to see healthy, inspiring images to keep you motivated throughout the new year? Check out Intigrative Nutrition’s list of 22 healthy and inspiring people to follow on instagram.
  • According to a recent health study, dieters that use mobile weight loss apps in combination with a diet and exercise education program are more successful at losing weight and keeping weight off than those that didn’t use mobile weight loss apps. Personally, my favorite diet tracking app is MyFitnessPal. However, there are plenty of health tracking apps on the market.
  • From gluten free to Vegan to Paleo to low carb to low fat, there is lots of health propaganda and fad diet talk in the media today. Do you know that your diet needs a makeover, but are unsure where to begin? Consider seeking the help of a Registered Dietitian. An RD will cut through all of the nonsense, and find a plan that works for you  using the latest in evidence based practice. To find an RD near you, you can use this search tool. Also, note that anyone planning on making a major health or lifestyle change should contact their physician.
  • Not planning on embarking on a weight loss program this year, but know a loved one that is? This article is a great read on how to support your loved one during their weight loss journey.

Are you making a healthy lifestyle change this year? As indicated by many of the articles mentioned above, tracking your weight, diet, and/or exercise is one winning strategy to lose weight and keep it off, and is also a great way to monitor health patterns, particularly for those managing chronic diseases. What winning strategies will you be incorporating this new year?

– Kelly

Weekend Highlights: Hard work, Harvard, and Healthy Pizza

This weekend the Massachusetts Dietetic Association hosted a spin class at Harvard, followed by breakfast at Clover Food Lab.  One of the Dietitians in MDA has been a spin instructor at Harvard for 9 years, so she was kind enough to help put the event together. It was such a tough workout!

Malkin_Athletic_Center_-_IMG_1766

Malkin Athletic Center- I can’t believe I got to go inside! Image via Wikimedia Commons

We went to the Clover Food Lab in Harvard Square, where I got a popover breakfast sandwich with tempeh. This was my first time to try tempeh, and it tasted great! Now I really want to try some of their lunch items as well! Although we went to the restaurant location, Clover started as a vegetarian food truck. It reminds me of Conscious Cravings in Austin, TX.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image via Drink & Dine Boston

The rest of the weekend was spent doing schoolwork. My roommate is also a BU graduate student, so we spent a few hours at the Boston Public Library studying. Bates Hall is absolutely majestic!

boston_public_library

Image via Time

Because it is finals time and I still have no food, I decided to call in a pizza. I was curious about Naked Pizza, because they advertise that their pizzas are made without added chemicals, preservatives, or additives. Additionally, I discovered that the dough is made with whole grain and prebiotics, the cheese is 50/50 skim milk and whole milk mozzarella, the pizza is made without adding sugar or butter to the dough or sauce, and the nutritional information is all online.

Naked Pizza

At the end of the day, it is still a pizza (still a significant source of fat and calories). But a lightened up pizza made with wholesome ingredients? That’s something that can definitely be incorporated into a healthy diet! I got a thin crust with artichokes, mushroom, garlic, and roasted bell peppers. The 10’’ is perfectly sized for 2 meals, especially if you enjoy it with an apple or a few raw veggies. My only complaint is that there was too much cheese. Next time, I will ask them to go lighter.

 

Hard work, Harvard, and a “Healthy” pizza. How was your weekend?

 

-Kelly

Healthy Gift Guide Part 2: The Nutrition Nut

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas shopping season is in full swing. Do you have any health conscious friends or loved ones still left to shop for? This gift guide is full of great gift ideas to inspire healthy lifestyle choices.

Part 2: The Nutrition Nut: As promised, here is part 2 of my holiday gift guide. These gifts are my picks for anyone with an interest in nutrition and healthy eating, including those in the nutrition field. I am sure that my fellow RDs would be more than happy to see any of these picks under the tree!

nutrition gifts

  1. “You are what you eat” T shirt, $22: I love the illustration on this fun and funky tee, which I first spotted A Piece of Toast fashion blog. Wear it with pride, and remind others that what you put into your body is a conscious decision, as well as a fun one.
  2. “An Apple a Day” 18×14 print, $29: This cute print is a cheery reminder to nourish the body, and would be a perfect inspirational piece for the kitchen. This would also look great in the office of any health professional.
  3. Caloric Cuvee Wine Glass, $20: While I don’t recommend pulling this out for important guests, this wine glass does make a great educational tool. Although this is not meant to encourage unhealthy calorie-counting fixations, it is a great reminder that alcoholic calories add up quickly, and should be accounted for when monitoring health.
  4. Vegetable iPhone Case, $35: This cute and colorful case is a great way to give veggies the attention they deserve. For something a little more cheeky, see this case. Available for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5.
  5. Rubbermaid Salad Kit, $13:  There are several different on-the-go salad containers on the market, but I love how this particular model has a tray for toppings in addition to a dressing container. I don’t have a portable salad kit yet, but with over 100 5-star reviews, this would be my pick.
  6. The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life (2008), $28: This James Beard and IACP award winner should be a staple in every healthy kitchen. My copy is bookmarked out the wazoo! Ellie Krieger is a Registered Dietitian, and provides ample nutrition information for each of her creative and flavorful recipes. She also has two newer cookbooks: So Easy (2009), and Comfort Food Favorites (2010).

Did you miss part 1 of my healthy gift guide? Then check out gifts for Farmers Market Foodies here. Happy shopping!

-Kelly

Becoming a Registered Dietitian

This week I passed the exam to become a Registered Dietitian.

What is a Registered Dietitian? Is that like a nutritionist?

Even Better!

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are experts in the field of nutrition that have met the requirements in order to hold the legal title of “RD”.  Requirements to become an RD include:

  • a Bachelors degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field
  • Completion of 1200 supervised practice hours through an accredited program
  • Passing the registration exam given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • RDs must then keep up with continuing education requirements in order to maintain their certification.
Although some RDs may consider themselves nutritionists, do not assume that all nutritionists are RDs. In many states, almost anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist”, regardless of education or experience.

For those of you that would like to learn more:

  • Here is more information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on what a Registered Dietitian is
  • Here is information on the internship program that I completed
  • Here is one way to find a Registered Dietitian in your area

-Kelly