Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Nutrition: 10 Healthy Snacks for Road Warriors

travel_snacksWhether you are traveling for business or for pleasure it typically means most meals are eaten out or on the go.  This can be challenging to make the most balanced choices and keeping your eating on the right track.  You want to try foods special to that region, you are busy and grabbing the first thing that sounds good, you don’t have access to a grocery store for more fresh foods can all be challenges while traveling.

The following 10 healthy snack ideas can help to keep you satisfied between meals and allow you to make balanced decisions at lunch or dinner.  These are snacks that you can bring from home that don’t require any refrigeration or utensils.  These can be easily thrown in a purse, bag or suitcase and readily available for you to grab at snack time.

Trail mix – Grab a handful of your favorite lightly salted or unsalted nuts, a handful of dried fruit, and a handful of high fiber cereal and toss in sandwich baggies for a high fiber and shelf stable snack.

Fresh fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, and citrus fruits are great options to grab from home for a sweet and tasty snack.  If you are concerned about the fruit bruising or spoiling during traveling, consider grabbing the squeezable fruit pouches.  Just be sure to pick the ones with only fruit and vegetables listed in the ingredients. 

Peanut butter sandwich – These aren’t just for kids!  2 slices of whole wheat bread can provide 8 grams of filling fiber and 2 Tbsp of peanut butter can provide 8 grams of protein.  This delicious and portable snack is perfect for traveling away from home. 

Hardboiled egg – This snack will provide you with all of the essential amino acids your body needs.  They can go a few hours without being refrigerated, so try to eat them as a morning snack if possible.  Or if you have access to a refrigerator, they will stay good in their shell for up to a week.

Jerky – This portable protein snack comes in many options such as beef, turkey, chicken, venison, and bison.  They are typically low in saturated fat and calories.  However, these can be loaded with sodium and not so good for you nitrates.  Look for lower sodium varieties and jerky with very short ingredient lists. 

Nutrition bar – These prepackaged bars can be confusing since there are so many options on the market.  Check out my blog with tips and suggestions, but as a rule of thumb grab a bar with less than 15 grams of protein, more than 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams or less of sugar, and mainly heart healthy fats. 

If you forget to grab snack when you leave home, here are some options that can be available for purchase.

McDonald’s fruit and yogurt parfait – This snack size treat has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein.  Save 30 calories and 40 mg of sodium when you skip the granola topping. 

Starbucks protein box (1/2 the box) – The full box is 380 calories which is more along the lines of a meal than a snack, but if you have someone to split with or a fridge for the leftovers, ½ the box is a great snack option.  Apples, grapes, a hardboiled egg, multigrain muesli bread, cheddar cheese, and peanut butter are all included.  

Wendy’s small chili – At only 170 calories and loaded with 15 grams of filling protein, the small chili is a great snack option.  Beware of the toppings though…the cheese will double the fat content and add 60 calories to the cup. 

Subway apple slices and cheese slice – For a perfect combination of fiber and protein, grab a bag of apple slices and 2 pieces of cheese for a snack around 100 calories total. 

The most important tip is everything in moderation!  Enjoy your travels, try something new, and get out there and explore the new city!

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition: 8 Tips to Eat Smarter

eat_smartMany people don’t know where to start when eating healthier.  Here are eight tips to help you eating smarter.  You don’t need to do them all, but by incorporating just a couple of changes each week, you will find yourself on a path to better health in no time!

1. Snack Smarter

Start by changing the ‘snack ratio’ in the house.  Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies and baked snack foods around, rather than the typical, higher calorie, highly processed junk foods.  For instance, have at least three types of fruits and veggies (apples, carrots, grapes) on hand at all times to replace some of the cookies, ice cream or candy bars.  Don’t forget the almonds, nonfat Greek style yogurt and hummus too!

2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions

Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible sized food portions.  If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand, then in most cases, the amount of food you’ve chosen is too much.  Same goes for nuts, pretzels and pretty much any snack food.  Keep your plate full of fruits and veggies and limit the large portion sizes of meats, refined grains (like white rice, pasta and bread) and high fat dairy foods.  Check out choosemyplate.gov for a better understanding of portion sizes.

3. Slash Your Soda Intake

Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks.  The sugar and calories add up and can cause unnecessary weight gain.  Good alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water.  If you like the carbonation, try using carbonated water (club soda or seltzer) mixed with ¼ cup 100% fruit juice.

4. Go Easy on the Sauces

Choose low fat and low sodium versions of your favorite condiments.  Ask to have your sauces and dressings served on the side.  This will save many calories since you will be in control of how much is consumed.  Usually more sauce is poured on than what is needed.  Dip your fork into the sauce or dressing, and then dip your fork into the food.  This will give you the flavor with every bite, but without the extra calories and fat!

5. Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast is not the only tip, you must try to make it a good choice because it may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day.  A donut or muffin with coffee may sound good, but it won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much a s a protein-rich breakfast from eggs, egg whites, oatmeal with peanut butter, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), cottage cheese with fruit or nut butters with a whole grain bread.  If you are eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and 10 grams or less of sugar per serving.  Use skim or 1% milk to add additional protein.

6. Try Meatless Mondays

Or any day of the week really, but the point is to try to eat vegetarian one day a week to lower your animal protein consumption and increase your plant protein intake (beans, lentils, soy, tofu).  This will help to lower your cholesterol, increase your fiber intake, and is better for our ecosystem. 

7. Keep Variety in Check

The more variety of foods, flavors and textures you have to choose from the more likely you are to eat (think buffets).  So try to make a grocery list and stick to it, planning your meals and snacks everyday so you eliminate unnecessary food choices that may derail your diet. 

8. Make One Change at a Time

One way researchers suggest to conserve your daily willpower is to focus on only one positive diet behavior at a time, until that behavior becomes an automatic response.  If you try to do too much at once, or take your diet to the extreme, chances are you cannot stick with the routine long enough to provide lifelong changes in your health. Take is slow and steady and stay focused on your goal at hand!

Try a couple of these tips and find what works for you.  Small steps to a healthier lifestyle are key. What have you found works when maintaining a healthier diet? 

 

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Topics: healthy food choices healthy diet nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Six Foods to Increase Vitamin D in Your Diet

Are you struggling with the winter time 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 acquire your body’s Vitamin D needs then here are some other ways to get it in until we have some sunshine in the spring!

    1. Fatty Fish – salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines.  3 oz of salmon provides 450 IU of ojandeggsVitamin D…almost all of the 600 IU that are recommended daily. The canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, heart healthy omega 3’s 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.
    2. Milk – Almost all cows’ milk in the US is fortified with Vitamin D.  A lot of other dairy products are too, but not ice cream or cheese.  Typically an 8 oz glass of milk has 100 IU’s of Vitamin D and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6 oz container.  If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified but check the labels to be sure.
    3. Fortified Orange Juice – If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option.  Typically an 8 oz glass has the same amount of Vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU).  Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind!
    4. 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 IU’s. 
    5. 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 IU’s of Vitamin D.  Add that with the milk and you are close to 200 IU’s!  Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled fortified with Vitamin D.
    6. 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 4000 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 is due to the increase of being indoors compared to our parents and grandparents.  Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely plays 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. 

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Topics: healthy food choices healthy diet nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Top 5 Worst Snacks to Eat While Watching Football

football_foodIt’s that time of the year again: football season. With every year comes a clean slate for each team. Rosters are changed, stars have yet to emerge, and the underdog team is nowhere close to being discovered. With the changes the football season brings, have you ever considered your dietary habits for the season? Similar to the new football season ahead, do you plan to change your eating or drinking habits for football Sunday?

You really can keep nutrition and wellness in mind while enjoying a game party. Here are some of the worst snacks to eat while watching football, followed by suggested alternatives.

The Top 5 Worst Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Heavy or dark beer: Heavy or dark beer is loaded with calories and often has more alcohol per volume than a lighter beer. Consuming a six-pack of this type of beer in an afternoon can easily equal half of your daily caloric intake allowance and set back your hard work over the previous few months.
  2. Fattening ribs: Ribs are often loaded with fat and sodium, two culprits of poor heart health. Ribs tend to have flavorful dipping sauces and marinades that are primarily sodium infused. One serving of ribs can quickly tack on a load of sodium, which is known to cause water retention in the body.
  3. 7-Layer Bean Dip: Tortilla chips, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, and refried beans are all loaded with calories. If this is combined with ribs and some dark beer, it’s a diet’s worst nightmare.
  4. Original potato or tortilla chips: A one-ounce serving of original-style potato chips contains about one fifth of your daily fat intake. There is even more in tortilla chips. When combined with bean dip and fatty ribs, potato chips are the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  5. Nachos: Nachos often include ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, cheese spread or whole cheese, and olives. While this may sound appetizing to some, it can quickly add up to a weight-gaining mess. If you are eating out at a local bar for the Sunday game, avoid nachos as an “appetizer” because based on the total calories in one meal, it could be considered two meals.

 The Top 5 Best Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Light beer or wine in moderation: Light beer contains a fraction of the calories in dark brew. In addition, wine is full of flavonoids and contains fewer calories than a dark beer. Remember to exercise moderation when having any alcohol regardless of the “strength” of the source.
  2. Grilled salmon: Grilling does not always need to be bad for you. In fact, grilling can be a much better option than baking. Exchange ribs for a nice piece of salmon. Salmon is full of good fat and it can fill you up quickly.
  3. Fat-free onion or spinach dip: Homemade dip that includes fat-free sour cream and a dip mix can save loads of calories from entering the body. Try out your favorite flavor and mix it up frequently.
  4. Baked chips or sweet potato chips: If chips are going to be consumed, buy ones that are baked. Baked chips have less fat and less sodium than fried. If you are more inclined toward the healthiest option, try fat-free and low-sodium chips.
  5. Assorted vegetable tray: An assorted vegetable tray is a great snack for the game. Veggies can be dipped or used as a side dish. Swap out the nachos for veggies and try this as your appetizer instead.

For more tips for a fumble free football party, check out this article. For more help making healthy eating choices, find out more about NIFS Personal Nutrition Consulting.

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices

NIFS Nutrition News: The Carbohydrate Truth

carbsCarbohydrate sounds like such a dirty word these days. It’s that word that makes everyone cringe or slightly panic, but why? There’s the myth that all carbohydrates are bad, giving people the distorted thought that cutting carbs will help you lose that extra weight you might be carrying. The truth is that not every single carbohydrate is bad. The category of carbohydrates is very broad, so I am going to break it down for you. 

Let’s start with clearing up what they are. Carbohydrates are your best source of energy, fueling the cells in your brain and muscles. No, carbohydrates are not a food group, but a category with three different types of foods that make it up. This category consists of sugar, starch, fiber, and usual a mixture of these three. Sugar can be naturally found in foods like fruit, fruit juices, veggies, and milk. Table sugar is another form of sugar, found in a variety of processed foods that are not so healthy for the body, but they sure are tasty!!! The second type of carbohydrate is starches, which are several units of sugar bound together. A perfect example for this type of food is plants, which also provide a slow and steady release of energy during the day. Starches are the most common form of carbohydrate and make up about one third of the food you eat and contain fewer than half the calories of fat. Crazy, huh?! Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants and great sources can be found in veggies with skins, whole grain breads, pastas, beans, and lentils. Fiber is great for your digestive health too! If you need more examples of these types of food important to your health, then checkout this link about starches or this link about fiber.

But wait, why do we need carbs again? Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, helps prevent disease risk, and aids in weight reduction. Sugars or starches are both broken down into glucose, absorbed in the bloodstream, and fuels your body with energy for activities. Unused glucose can be converted to glycogen, found in the liver and muscles, or converted to fat. Fiber in the diet can promote good bowel health, reduce the risk of constipation, some types of fiber can reduce your cholesterol levels. Are you getting enough fiber in your daily diet? Starchy foods are low in calories, but can be wonderful source of fiber. Fiber keeps you full longer throughout the day and takes your body a long time to break down, helping with weight reduction. Cutting out carbohydrates completely does mean that you might lose some weight, but the minute you add them back into your diet you will gain it back pretty quickly. A balanced diet, taking in the proper calories and nutrients is your best bet! Is carbohydrates still a dirty world in your vocabulary or do you feel relieved that they are not soooo bad after all?

Are you still curious about how many carbohydrates you should eat, which ones should you eat, or if you can survive without carbohydrates? You can click this link to find more truth on the nutrient. Click here if you would like one-on-one help from NIFS with your nutrition and overall health. It’s never too late to improve your diet and become the healthiest you!

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Topics: healthy food choices nifs nutrition news

NIFS: Game Day Healthy Food Swaps

Article written by Alyssa Furman, Intern in Educational Services at NIFS.

footballThe countdown begins as the league’s top-ranked defense of the Seattle face the leading Denver offense on February 2nd. With the matchup set, there are no clear favorites this year, making this the must see game of the season. For football fans this means hours of what hopefully is a really great game. For food fans, this means a delicious feast to be shared among family and friends. If you are neither, well at least you can get a good laugh during commercials.

With a room filled with scrumptious eats and endless temptations, many people find themselves wreaking havoc on their New Year’s resolution diet.  Who can resist those mouth watering chicken wings or 7 layer taco dips? I know I sure can’t, but I also don’t want to spend countless hours filling up on greasy food, only to feel sick by half time.

I pulled together a few tips and swaps to help kick off your party. Your friends and family won’t even know the difference when you trade out for these healthy dishes (trust me I tested them on the pickiest of eaters) and you can indulge guilt-free all day long!

First off, some tips and tricks to make the best of your party:

1.    Workout on game day:

Score a first down by adding games that include physical activity.

  • Dance along with the music during half time or put on your own half-time show.
  • Take the fun outside and play a game of half-time tag football.
  • Make your own cheers with your favorite moves.

OR go on a morning run, leaving a little extra wiggle room for another sweet treat.

2.    Create a food-free zone:

Research has shown that if food is nearby and visible you are more likely to eat this food. Try to keep snacks and other party eats in another room, helping your guests cut back on unnecessary calories and mindless eating in front of the big screen.

3.    Downsize your dishes:

Instead of leaving out large bowls full of chips, try serving in small individual size cups so each person can stick to a serving on their snack instead of grazing over the bowl. Also leave out small plates making people feel they have a lot more than they actually do.

4.    Mindful eating:

Be mindful to not stand over the food table and graze. If you want to try a little bit of everything (like I do) fill up ¾ of your plate with healthy options, such as fresh veggies and fruit, and about 2 Tablespoons of dip. The left over ¼ of your plate can be used for sweet treats.

5.    Keep track of your drinks:

If you are going to drink, keep in mind that a beer or glass of wine has around 100 calories. So try and break up your drinks with a glass of water or low cal drink to save some calories.

Now for some food swaps… Whether you are hosting the party or simply a party guest, give these recipes a try (don’t tell your friends about the swap and see what they say) and eat guilt-free all night!

What are your favorite game day healthy treats?
Topics: nutrition football big game healthy food choices wellness