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

Employee Health: Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

healthy_breakfastHave you ever wondered how some people seem to have energy throughout the day and manage to work out after they get off work?  What’s their secret and how can you steal it?

It’s no secret; you’ll have more energy for physical activity if you are properly fueled and that starts with the most important meal of the day – breakfast.

To get from point “A” to “B” you need to fuel your car with gas or you won’t reach your destination; but if you haven’t checked the oil in a while the engine is going to have issues and your car will be in serious trouble. We put more thought into maintaining our vehicles then we do for caring for ourselves. Think of the food and water you consume as gasoline and oil. If you choose low quality foods and fail to drink enough fluids your performance will be compromised, you’ll become dehydrated, and won’t have any energy.

If you wait until lunch to have your first meal you’re more likely to make poor food choices and cave into eating whatever is most readily available simply because you’re too hungry to make a better choice. If you start your day off with a healthy breakfast you’ll be more likely to make other healthy choices. One good decision will lead to more good choices. You’ll be more likely to pass on tempting leftovers in the break room and instead choose to have a healthy lunch. The bonus is you’ll be able to work out because you’ll have the energy.

Lack of time, choices, and simply not feeling hungry are the common reasons why we skip breakfast. Planning ahead and having some quick no-fuss options in the kitchen or at your desk will save you time. Keep dry cereal, whole wheat bagels, a nut butter, or instant oatmeal on hand. If you still cannot manage eating a whole meal in the morning start with something small like a banana. Stay on track with your eating throughout the day.

See for yourself how eating breakfast can affect your energy level and increase your daily activity and let us know using #NIFS150 and #MoveMore.

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Topics: employee health wellness nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Malnourished and Loving It, Or Are We?

What is your food doing for you?  Is it fighting for you or is it fighting against you?  We often make fun of the party-goer who sticks by the vegetable tray and intentionally avoids the wings.  We try to persuade the guy who piles his plate at the potluck with the grilled chicken and veggies to have a little fun and eat dessert.  Most of us see food as either making us fat or helping us lose weight.  We see ‘bad’ foods as those that are high in fat and calories.  Good foods are those that taste like rabbit food or cardboard, but will help us lose weight.  Healthy seems to be synonymous with weight loss.  And to a degree it is.  But what most people do not realize is – healthy eating goes way beyond dieting and watching the scale.  Those ‘health foods’ aka fruits and vegetables also contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants that could actually help you lose the weight you want, give you energy that you feel you should have, and/or clear your foggy brain.  Many Americans are overweight, yet malnourished.  We can’t escape our addiction to the unhealthy food that feeds our emotions and pacifies our taste buds.  We fill our pantries with chips and cookies and our fridge with soda – all empty calories that end up hurting us on the inside way more than they do on the outside.  This junk food does not provide the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function and over time, our bodies react from the inflammation that processed, unhealthy food creates in our bodies.   

healthyfoodAnswer these questions:

  • Do you suffer from headaches?
  • Do you have joint pain or arthritis?
  • Do you have skin problems like eczema?
  • Are you tired more often than you think you should be?
  • Do you have digestion issues? 

What if you went to the doctor and instead of prescribing a drug, he wrote, ‘Eat 1oz of walnuts every day’.  Would you be mad?  Would you move to another doctor that would shell out pills?  What if we spent the money we use towards drugs on better food choices instead?  I’m going to guess it would be cheaper in the long run and a lot less physically impairing. 

Consider your diet as a contributor to your symptoms or maybe even the root cause of your condition.  If you were to discover the cure for your illness, wouldn’t you jump on board?  What if the answer was as easy as the food you eat?

Understand that supplements do not contain all of the phytonutrients and antioxidants that real food contains.  Are they a bad thing? No.  They may contain vitamins and minerals, but not the huge network of these phytonutrients and antioxidants that are the major ‘supporting actors’ making the movie a blockbuster, not just a great movie.  Take a look at the examples of super foods below and how they fight for your health. 

  • Broccoli:  Besides Vitamin C, fiber, and B Vitamins, broccoli contains lutein, sulforaphane, carotenoids, kaempferol, glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin.  Big words here equals big rewards for your body. These strange words are phytonutrients and antioxidants that help your body fight off cell damage that could lead to cancer.  They get rid of toxins that threaten inflammation and damage to tissues, protect your eyes from degenerating, and protect against inflammation to joints associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Walnuts : contain the amino acid L-arginine and the omega – 3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid, both of which help in the prevention of heart disease.  ALA works to prevent blood clots and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.  Walnuts also contain quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin. Pronunciation please!  What I can tell you – these antioxidants prevent cell damage and liver damage.  Walnuts also contain Vitamin E, folate, and melatonin to support optimal brain health.  Shall we say better memory?

These are just two examples.  Blueberries, kale, wild caught salmon, dark chocolate (72% or higher cocoa content), and beans are other examples of super foods that help your body fight inflammation and work at its finest.  Now, compare these to the ingredients of the foods you eat.  Do you see ingredients like monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated oil, sodium benzoate, red 40 or other dye colors, or acesulfame potassium in the foods that fill your plate?  All of these have been speculated as harmful to our bodies , not helpful. 

Questions to ask yourself at the end of the day:

  • Did you fill your body with disease and inflammation fighting foods or did you fill it with more foods that create inflammation and disease? 
  • Are there foods that could help you in your fight against arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic fatigue, etc?  What are they and how do I fit them into my diet?

It’s time to see food differently.  Food can be your functional friend.   Healthy food equals a better functioning body, mind, and spirit.  It’s worth the investment.   

For tips from our registered dietitians, follow #NIFSNutrition on Twitter!

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Topics: Food for Thought 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. 

Follow us all month long via social media for tips from our registered dietitians using #NIFSNutrition!

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Topics: healthy food choices healthy diet nifs nutrition news

NIFS Nutrition News: Beware of AdvoCare®, a message from Laura

In 2014, Laura Zavadil, one of our registered dietitians wrote a blog about her work with a corporate fitness client who had a bad experience with AdvoCare® products.  This blog has generated a lot of feedback, conversation, and comments. We want the readers to hear where she was coming from in sharing her opinion on the blog. We appreciate all the feedback and want to encourage positive dialog and sharing of opinions. Thank you for reading.
Check out this blog in regard to what's in your diet.  
Topics: diet and nutrition supplements nifs nutrition news

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 Nutrition News: Pumpkin isn't just for pie

One of the most versatile and healthy foods out there also happens to be a favorite for most when decorating this time of year.  Pumpkins are not only something that can be used to spruce up your front porch in the fall but is also an excellent addition that should be incorporated into your daily eating routine!pumpkins

Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin A, which helps with vision.  The carotenoid, beta carotene, in pumpkins is converted to Vitamin A for even more eye protection! This antioxidant has also been found to have a role in cancer prevention.  It is also loaded with fiber (3 grams for 1 cup), which we know is excellent for heart health.   One final perk of pumpkin is the amount of potassium it contains.  Electrolytes, especially potassium, are important after a hard workout, and 1 cup of pumpkin provides more potassium than a banana (564 milligrams vs. 422 milligrams).

Try these recipes to obtain all of the health benefits that pumpkin has to offer!

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Ingredients:

1, 15 oz can of pumpkin
1, 5 oz box of instant vanilla pudding, just the powder
1, 16 oz container of low fat cool whip
1/2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Mix pumpkin, pudding mix, cool whip, and pumpkin pie spice together by hand in a very large bowl and chill for several hours before serving.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve with fresh apples slices, vanilla wafers or ginger snaps.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 cup pumpkin (canned or freshly cooked)
1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground ginger

Directions

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

1lb ground beef
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
1 (15oz) can pinto beans, not drained
1 (15oz) can black beans, not drained
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, not drained
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Instructions

In a large soup pot, brown ground beef with pepper, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. As the meat and veggies are cooking, sprinkle over chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion, powder, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. When the meat is cooked through, and the veggies are tender, add pumpkin puree, undrained beans, and the tomatoes with their juice to the pan. Cover and simmer until ready to eat.

Pumpkin isn’t just for pie!  These recipes can be included anytime during the day. 

For more information on pumpkin or other super foods, please contact Angie Scheetz, RD at [email protected] or 317-274-3432 ext 239.

 

 

Topics: employee health active aging healthy diet nifs nutrition news angie scheetz