Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Angie Mitchell

Recent Posts by Angie Mitchell:

Best Snacks for Healthy Eating

ThinkstockPhotos-88749380.jpgSome people think that snacking can sabotage your healthy eating plan. However, snacking keeps your energy levels up and prevents you from becoming overly hungry, which can lead to poor food choices. Eating every three to four hours can also help regulate your metabolism, which ensures that you burn calories throughout the day. Strive for at least two small snacks per day, but try to limit yourself to 100 to 150 calories or less per snack.

Also, be sure your snack is balanced—that it offers complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building and repair, and a small amount of fat for satiety. You can ensure nutritional balance and prevent snack boredom by varying your daily choices.

Best Snacks for Great Nutrition

Here are some great snack choices:

  • 6 oz Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of berries
  • ¾ cup of whole-grain cereal, nut, and dried fruit trail mix
  • 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt smoothie made with real fruit
  • 1 oz. baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup bean dip
  • 2 oz. low-fat cheese on five whole-grain crackers
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 oz. melted cheese and ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 cup raw vegetables and 2 Tbsp. low-fat dip or hummus
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter on a banana
  • 1 cup berries topped with ¼ cup low-fat granola cereal
  • ¼ cup whole-grain cereal and ¼ cup raisins with ¼ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup pasta salad made with raw veggies, cheese, and low-fat dressing
  • ½ pita pocket stuffed with raw vegetables and 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat vegetable-bean soup
  • ½ turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • 1 handful almonds and ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • ½ whole-wheat English muffin toasted and topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese

The Benefits of Snacks

You might feel guilty about snacking, but snacks aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, mini meals several times a day can be beneficial. Here’s how:

  • Binge control. If eating several low-fat, whole-grain crackers, a few pretzels, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.
  • Extra energy and nutrients. Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.
  • Satisfaction for small appetites. Young children’s tiny stomachs can hold only small portionsof food at a time. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

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Topics: nutrition weight control fiber snacks protein healthy eating

Thinking of Going Vegetarian? Plant-Based Nutrition Basics

ThinkstockPhotos-520129642.jpgHave you been considering plant based nutrition, vegetarian diet? Approximately 3.2% of the American population currently follows this diet, with 0.5% of those following a vegan diet, which includes no animal products at all. This is very small when compared to India, where an estimated 42% of the population does not eat meat.

Why Eliminate Meat?

So why would you consider going vegetarian? There are many reasons, but the most popular are for health reasons, to help preserve the Earth’s natural resources, and for animal rights. However, when some individuals decide to eliminate meat and other animal products from their diets, they might not be getting in all of the essential nutrients that are important.

Proper Nutrition for Meatless Eating

Here are some nutrients to make sure you are getting in to guarantee that your diet is balanced.

  • Protein: Essential for growth and maintenance. Food sources include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are options for lacto-ovo vegetarians.
  • Iron: A primary carrier of oxygen in the blood. Food sources include iron-fortified cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole-wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruit (apricots, prunes, and raisins).
  • Calcium: Important for building bones and teeth, and maintaining bone strength. Food sources include fortified breakfast cereals, soy (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green, leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, and mustard greens).
  • Zinc: Necessary for many biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly. Food sources include a variety of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds; and milk products for lacto vegetarians.
  • Vitamin B12: Necessary for cell division and growth, and strengthens the immune system. Food sources include milk products, eggs, B-12–fortified foods (breakfast cereals, soy-based burgers, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast).

Vegans who do not have fortified foods and ovo-vegetarians who do not have fortified milk substitutes should consume the following daily:

  • 3–5 teaspoons vegetable oil (for calories and essential fatty acids)
  • 1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses (for iron and calcium)
  • 1 Tablespoon brewer’s nutritional yeast for B vitamins, especially riboflavin and B12

Tips for Plant-Based Meals

Some final advice for those considering this diet is to build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and quinoa. Don’t overload meals with high-fat cheese to replace the meat. Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. A variety of products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.

Most restaurants can accommodate modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat from stir-fry dishes, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order.

If you would like to schedule a personal nutrition consultation to help you decide whether switching to a meat-free diet is the right decision for you, contact me at amitchell@nifs.org.

Interested in meeting with a nutrition coach, click below to find out more!

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Topics: nutrition protein vegetarian vegan plant-based

Why should you shop at your farmer's market?

ThinkstockPhotos-526124862.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Why Should You Shop at Your Farmer's Market?

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your town's farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Path to Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store that enables you to participate in eating local. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

Not sure where to start on your path to a healthier diet?  Check out this quick read for how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach!  Click below.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: nutrition healthy eating eating local summer vegetables

Start Your Day Off Right with a High-Nutrition Breakfast

ThinkstockPhotos-dv2014027.jpgIf it’s the most important meal of the day, why do about 31 million people or 10% of the population still skip breakfast? Here are the top three reasons people give for skipping breakfast and how you can overcome those excuses to make eating a high nutrition breakfast be a part of your daily routine.

  • I’m just not hungry in the morning. You should wake up in the morning and be hungry. Your body has gone at least 8 hours without food, so it should be ready for some fuel. If not, take a look at your before-bedtime habits and check to see whether you are constantly having snacks like chips and ice cream late into the evening. If so, this can affect your hunger levels in the morning. Don’t go to bed hungry, but instead choose a reasonable snack around 100–150 calories like Greek yogurt or an apple with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter.
  • I don’t have time for breakfast. If you would rather hit the snooze button a few more times than prepare breakfast for yourself, you might find yourself without enough time to eat in the morning. The key is to aim for three food groups at a meal, so even if you grab a turkey sandwich and a banana as you run out the door, you are still starting your day right. The key is to combine some protein and whole grains to help give you energy and keep you full. Breakfast is also a great time to get in a dairy or fruit serving too! If time is an issue, use this recipe for Breakfast Egg Muffins to prepare breakfast for the whole week. Add an egg to an English muffin and grab a glass of milk or piece of fruit to go with it and you are set!
  • I want to save my calories for later in the day. Some people think if they skip breakfast it will help with their weight-loss efforts or it gives them more calories to consume at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A recent study compared two groups: one ate more for breakfast and the other ate more at dinner, with both consuming the same amount of calories. The breakfast group lost more weight and inches than the dinner group. Typically people who skip breakfast overcompensate the rest of the day by eating more calories than if they had started their day with a balanced meal.

Whatever your reason for skipping breakfast is, try to break that habit and start eating something every day for better nutrition all day. Start small with a glass of 100% juice or a piece of fruit and then work up to a balanced meal between 400 and 500 calories and at including least three food groups.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss breakfast snacks

Nutrition Tips for Brain Health

ThinkstockPhotos-635683954-1.jpgWe already know that the foods you eat can affect your weight, heart, blood pressure, and certain cancers, but we also know that food and nutrition can affect your brain health. Whether it’s just improving your memory or helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the foods you choose can help to make your brain healthier. Check out these six nutrition tips for brain health:

  • Mediterranean diet: Long known to be the best diet for heart health, researchers now know that this diet is also best for your brain, too. Compared to those on a low-fat diet, the individuals who ate more olive oil and nuts had better memory and thinking skills. Researchers believe the benefit comes from the high amount of antioxidants consumed in the diet, along with foods that help prevent inflammation.
  • Less red meat: You have heard that too much red meat (and other foods high in saturated fat like butter) isn’t good for your heart, but are those foods bad for your brain, too? Just as the fat in your diet can cause your arteries to clog, they can cause an increase in plaque formation in the brain, too. This buildup has been found to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Try to decrease your consumption of red meat to 1–2 times per week.
  • Fish: If you have been watching the news at all in the last 10 years, you know how much great press omega-3 fatty acids have gotten. This is mainly due to the heart-protective effects of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna and other sources like walnuts and flax. However, omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to be excellent for brains. From babies still in the womb all the way until death, omega-3 fatty acids are vital. They build brain cell membranes, reduce brain inflammation, promote new brain cell formation, and have been found to improve memory and mood.
  • Produce power: Antioxidants aren’t just for cancer fighting. They are also useful for brain health and can be found in any of the bright-colored fruits and veggies. Swap broccoli and dark leafy greens for typical dinner-meal sides. Reach for berries and other bright-colored fruits all day long to get the benefit of a memory boost.
  • Spices: New research is constantly being done about spices and their benefit. These have had some positive results when it comes to the brain: turmeric, saffron, garlic, cinnamon, and thyme. All of them are probably sitting in your spice cabinet now, so start adding them to your meals and reap the brain benefits.
  • Coffee and tea: One item that can be controversial is coffee due to the effect of caffeine. However, caffeine is actually good for your brain health. It can help increase alertness and attention; however, long-term studies are still inconclusive. So in the meantime, stick to the recommendation of 400 mg or less of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of 3 cups of drip coffee. Tea can give you caffeine along with the beneficial antioxidants, so consider switching your afternoon cup of joe to a cup of tea. (See this blog for the amount of caffeine in common foods.)

Most of these suggestions are also important for heart health, weight management, and an overall balanced diet. So if you haven’t been choosing these items on a regular basis, improving brain health is another positive reason to start!

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Topics: nutrition Omega 3 antioxidants brain health memory Alzheimer's Disease caffeine

What Is the Key for Weight Loss: Diet, Exercise, or Both?

ThinkstockPhotos-470754782.jpgLots of research has been done over the years to figuret out the best recipe for success when it comes to weight loss. Diet alone? Exercise alone? Or a combination of both? It should come as no surprise that the key for weight loss and keep it off is to combine a low-fat, lower-calorie diet with an exercise routine.

Results of a Weight-Loss Study

In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute in 2011, 439 overweight to obese postmenopausal women were assigned to four different groups: exercise only (45 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity five days per week), diet only (1,200–2,000 calories per day, depending on starting weight, and less than 30% of calories from fat), exercise and diet, and no intervention.

The yearlong study found that the exercise-only group lost 2.4% of their starting body weight, with the diet-only group losing 8.5% of their weight. However, the group that incorporated both a lower-fat and caloric diet and exercise lost 10.9% of their starting weight, which was an average loss of 19.8 pounds. One other thing that was significant in this study was that the women who lost the most amount of weight and body fat kept a daily food journal, writing down everything they ate and drank.

Tips for Losing Weight

As I said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a combination of more balanced eating and movement will lead to the most amount of weight loss. So here are some tips to help make this become a lifestyle for success.

  • Keep a food log. As the study showed, the most successful individuals logged what they ate. Grab a pen and jot it down, or use an app or an online program for tracking. Whichever way works for you, start today!
  • Focus on low fat. Aim for 30% or less of your intake from fat. Fat helps to make food taste more flavorful and helps to keep you fuller longer. However, aim for those good-for-you sources of fat such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, and salmon.
  • Move more. The individuals in the study did 45 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week, but any movement is better than nothing. Start walking, cycling, strength training, stretching, and just moving more each day.

More Help from NIFS

If you want to lose weight and are considering starting to decrease your calories or start exercising, hopefully this will help you to decide to do both! If you need more assistance getting started, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org to set up a personal nutrition coaching session to help meet your goals.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss NIFS calories nutrition coaching diet

Battling Wintertime Blues with Nutrition

Are you struggling with the winter blues? Is it cold and dark and dreary in your part of the country? When was the last time you felt and saw the sun? You could be lacking vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and a lower immunity to fight colds.

So, if you aren’t able to get your much-needed 15 minutes of sunlight each day to supply your body’s vitamin D needs, start battling wintertime blues with nutrition with these food ThinkstockPhotos-stk26325fls-1.jpgoptions:

  • Fatty fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines. Three ounces of salmon provides 450 IU of vitamin D—almost all of the daily recommendation of 600 IU. Canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, giving you heart healthy omega 3s and 150 IU of vitamin D per serving. Another bonus is the long shelf life if you haven’t been to the grocery store to get fresh protein choices.
  • Milk: Almost all cows’ milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. A lot of other dairy products are, too, but not ice cream or cheese. Typically an 8-ounce glass of milk has 100 IUs of vitamin D, and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6-ounce container. If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified, but check the labels to be sure.
  • Fortified orange juice: If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option. Typically an 8-ounce glass has the same amount of vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU). Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind.
  • Egg yolks: Eggs are a great way to get in vitamin D. However, you have to eat the whole egg and not just the whites to get the benefit. One egg yolk has 40 IUs.
  • Fortified cereal: Another way to double up on vitamin D is to choose a fortified cereal to have with your milk or glass of OJ at breakfast. 1 cup of Multi Grain Cheerios provides 90 IUs of vitamin D. Add milk to that and you are close to 200 IUs! Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled as fortified with vitamin D.
  • Supplements: If you still have trouble getting all of your vitamin D needs met through food and the sun, an alternative is to take a supplement. The upper-limit dose for individuals over age 9 is 4,000 IU per day. Consuming more than this can lead to higher blood calcium levels and increased risk of kidney stones. Always talk to your physician before starting a supplement.

Recent studies have found that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals have either a Vitamin D deficiency or borderline deficiency. Most of this because we spend more time indoors compared to our parents and grandparents. Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely play a part. Get outside, incorporate more of the foods above, and chat with your doctor about supplementing. All of this can mean a healthier immune system, stronger bones, and lower risk of some cancers.

Want to lose weight, gain muscle, manage diabetes, improve sport performance, reduce cholesterol, or just figure out how to grocery shop and prepare healthier meals?

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

 

Topics: nutrition supplements depression winter blues vitamins winter

Weight Loss: Take It Off, Keep It Off!

I love what I do—seeing people succeed with their weight-loss goals is one of the most rewarding feelings as a dietitian. However, it can also be very challenging when I see clients revert back to old habits and struggle to keep the weight off that they worked so hard to remove.

ThinkstockPhotos-527497433.jpgBest Weight-Loss Techniques

After checking out some research of highly successful dieters, I have found the best things that can be done to keep the weight off for good!

  • Keep a food journal. Individuals who keep food logs tend to eat 40% less because they are writing it down. Also, a recent study found women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn’t. Some excellent online food tracker sites include MyPlate and ChooseMyPlate. Highly rated free apps for your smartphone include My Fitness Pal and Lose It.
  • Practice portion control. As a society, we are terrible at eyeballing portions. The secret to success is consistently measuring food items to make sure you are eating the same amount you are journaling. The simplest way to do this is to use measuring utensils to dish out your meals and associate common items with certain portions. For example, a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, a baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse, a half cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, and a teaspoon of oil is the size of one die (from a pair of dice).
  • Don’t skip meals. Lots of people think if they skip a meal they will be decreasing the total calories they are taking in for the day. In reality, the opposite usually happens. When someone skips a meal, they typically end up overeating at a different time of day to compensate for missing out on the food that their body needed. Also, whenever you skip a meal it makes your metabolism work at a slower rate; and therefore, makes it harder to lose weight. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to stay on track.

Set Up a Personalized Nutrition Appointment

The more you follow these rules, the higher your chance of success in keeping off the weight. For more information or to set up an individualized nutrition coaching appointment, contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or click below for more information.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS portion control nutrition coaching food journals

NIFS Nutrition: Common Weight-loss Questions

ThinkstockPhotos-488214534.jpgAs the Wellness Coordinator at NIFS, I get to meet a lot of great clients and help them attain their nutritional goals. I have noticed some common weight-loss questions that arise during the sessions. Hopefully if you have been wondering the same things, these answers will give you some more insight.

How do I gain muscle and lose fat?

The best way to lose fat is to either increase the amount of calories you burn or decrease the amount of calories you consume. As you are doing this, you also need to make sure you are doing 2 to 3 days of strength training per week to build muscle.

To decrease calories, it is important to keep track of what you are eating and see where you can decrease. This might mean decreasing the amount of coffee creamer you put in your cup of joe or swapping the potato chips at lunch for some raw veggies.

Increasing your protein intake won’t automatically increase your muscle mass. If you are strength training 2 to 3 times per week, a simple calculation to know your protein needs is to divide your body weight in half and multiply by 1.5.

Can you give me tips on how to lose weight?

The first advice I always give to anyone wanting to lose weight is to start keeping track of your food. Studies have shown you eat 40% less when you write it down! This can be done with the apps available for your phone, using a website, or just jotting it down with a pen and a piece of paper. It will allow you to see when and why you eat and also will hold you accountable for what you are eating.

The other thing that can be helpful with weight loss is to look at what you are drinking. Are you consuming empty calories from flavored coffee drinks, soda, juice drinks, or alcohol? Most people tend to eat the same amount of food no matter how many calories they consume from their beverages. So try to stick to water, low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and 100% juices for the majority of your liquids.

How many calories do I need a day?

Every person is a different height and weight, and has varying levels of activity, so there isn’t one calorie number that works for all individuals to follow. Instead, use the simple Choose My Plate calculator that takes these factors into account to determine the proper amount you should be consuming. Not only does it give an overall number, but what is more important, it tells you how to get in that number. Recommended servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and beans, and fat are given, along with some “extra” calories for those every-once-in-awhile food choices!

Personal Nutrition Coaching at NIFS

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext. 239. Click below for more information on packages and pricing.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management NIFS apps strength training wellness nutrition coaching

Healthy Eating on a Budget

ThinkstockPhotos-494543333_1.jpgOne of the biggest reasons people give as to why they aren’t eating healthy is the cost of foods,
specifically fruits and vegetables. However, a study found that adults could eat the recommended servings of produce for $2 per day. Here are some ways that you can save money on your next visit to the grocery store while still getting good nutrition and practicing healthy eating on a budget.

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. A study from Cornell University found that shoppers purchased 19% more food and bought 45% more high-calorie snacks than those who had a snack prior to going shopping. This is an easy way to save 19% off your bill: have a handful of almonds, a piece of fresh fruit, or a string cheese before your next trip to the store.
  • Buy in season. Your produce will be cheaper if you are purchasing it during the time of year that it is most plentiful. The Indiana Fruits and Vegetables Harvest Guide shows what produce is most abundant at which time of year in Indiana. Also, take advantage of local farmers’ markets to get the best deals on locally grown produce. The National Farmers Market Directory shows when and where the closest farmer’s market to you is and makes eating local easier. During the winter months, you can purchase frozen fruits and vegetables, and they are just as nutritious and cost less than fresh.
  • Buy in bulk. It makes sense that when you buy more of something, the individual unit price will be less per product; and this is true with food, too. So instead of buying single apples or oranges, purchase bags of them. Or, instead of the single-serving packets of oatmeal, grab a container of oats. Over time the savings will add up. The other option is to join a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco that offers savings due to buying in bulk.

There are lots of other ways for saving money while eating a healthy and balanced diet—like shopping at discount stores such as Aldi, clipping coupons, and buying plain items and flavoring them yourself. The goal is to try as many of these options as you can so that you see the benefits to your health and your bank account.

If you have any questions about eating healthy on a budget, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext 239.  Need help with getting started in your healthy eating journey?  Download our quickread for my top four choices for healthy eating apps to get started!

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Topics: nutrition healthy eating saving money eating local