Whole grains have been advertised as being part of balanced diet for as long as I can remember. Specifically, bread and cereal companies are careful to emphasize their importance as a quality source for whole grains in their marketing messages. So, why are they so special and why are they essential for a balanced diet? I will get to that in a second, but first, let’s start with what is considered a “whole grain.”
The processing that a grain goes through is what determines whether or not it can be considered whole. When a grain is processed it is stripped of most of its outer shell and other nutrient dense components, leaving just the starchy inner layer that does not have significant nutritional value other than acting as a carbohydrate.
The anatomy of a whole grain has three important components to it, which include the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. All of these different parts have unique health benefits to them and they all need to be present for the grain to be considered whole. The outer layer of the grain is the called the bran and it is chewy and fibrous. It contains a large amount of fiber and other nutrients such as antioxidants, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. The next part of the grain is the germ, which is the base for growth for each whole grain kernel. Antioxidants, healthy fats, and B vitamins can all be found inside the germ. The last part of the grain is the endosperm. The endosperm is the soft and chewy middle part of the grain that is left over after the germ and bran have been stripped away through the refining process. This only has a small amount of minerals and B vitamins and mainly acts as a source of carbohydrates.
Grains that have all three components (bran, germ, and endosperm) can be considered a whole grain. If it’s missing one or more components, then it is considered a refined grain. An easy example would be brown rice and white rice. Brown rice is a whole grain because it is still covered by the bran and has the germ intact, making it more fibrous and tougher to chew. White rice is a refined grain because it has had the bran and germ removed leaving just endosperm which is soft and easy to chew.
Now that you know more about whole grains and how they are classified, let’s look at some of the health benefits of grains and why they are an essential part of a balanced diet. One of the major benefits of whole grains is their ability to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. The fiber in whole grains is essential for preventing cardiovascular disease, because fiber has been shown to lower triglycerides, cholesterol; it can also help regulate insulin levels. All of these different effects help to lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Whole grains can also be protective against type 2 diabetes; because whole grains are low on the Glycemic Index they do not cause your body to release a surge of insulin when eaten, rather they cause a steady release of insulin. The nutrients and fiber in the whole grains also help with insulin sensitivity which greatly help to reduce blood sugar spikes.
Health Bonus: Whole grains can also help with digestive health. All of the fiber and other nutrients in grains can help with healthy bowel movements and reduce the chances of constipation.
With all of these health benefits and disease fighting properties, whole grains should become a staple in your diet. Start to reduce your intake of refined grains and start looking for grains that labeled as being whole, such as: whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa. Your body will thank you!
Attention football fans: its playoff time, and with the playoffs comes squeezing into man caves, yelling at the television, eating pizza and wings, and drinking beer. But what if we could change how we hosted football parties to make them healthier for you and for friends and family? I’d like to offer some healthy alternative recipes to make your football events a blast for your friends without expanding your waistline.
First things first, always buy your own food from your local grocery store instead of going to the local pizza joint or fast food restaurant. Cooking at home with fresh ingredients gives you a lot more control over how food is prepared so that you might avoid extra calories or less-than-desirable ingredients that can come in fast food items. Also, always have a veggie/fruit plate handy! We all love to graze so be prepared for healthy grazing items for your fans. Now for some fun, and healthy recipes!
Ginger Garlic Shrimp
Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 Cup, Calories 110, Fat 1.5 Grams, Cholesterol 85mg, Sodium 234.5mg, Potassium 110mg, Protein 10.6g.
Teriyaki Sesame Chicken Skewers
Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 2 Skewers, 110 calories, Total Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 2g, Carbohydrates 2g.
Sweet Potato Skins
Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 Ounce, Calories 140, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 140mg, Carbohydrates 15g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 4g, Sugar 3g.
Notice how these dishes are very similar to regular party cuisine? Just tweaking a couple of ingredients can make a big difference to the quality of the recipe. If you compare the chicken skewers to buffalo chicken dip, the average amount of calories per serving size is around 1000 calories compared to 110 for 2 chicken skewers. These recipes are not only good for you nutritionally, but these recipes are a unique way to stand out from your other friends while rooting on your favorite team. Now get out there and give these recipes a try or try transforming YOUR favorites!
I’ve tried everything. Why doesn’t my diet work?
When you open your newsfeed, you see advertisements and personal testimonies from friends and family with weight-loss and dieting successes. That alone can be the motivation needed to give something new a try, but not everything works for everyone. Various weight-loss systems have time-sensitive supplements, complex counting systems, and other essential guidelines that you must follow strictly to be successful.
The next fad diet may work, but what happens afterward? Do you continue that system forever? Should you follow a program designed for weight loss if you’re no longer trying to lose weight? Diets seem to always pose more questions than answers, and the “I’m going on a diet” phrase will inevitably lead to failure.
Most people will transition “off the diet” when they reach their target weight, eventually returning to the previous eating habits that initially caused the weight gain. This up and down continues the yo-yo weight-loss cycle. This is why “dieting” doesn’t work.
Some people can see results by making a few healthy choices or decreasing calories. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, but the answer isn’t to further restrict nutrient intake. Long-term dieting can have a prolonged negative effect on metabolism, making it much more difficult for the body to use nutrients.
Most people prefer restrictive diets in which they decrease total calories or put a limitation on types of foods consumed. These include but are not limited to fat-free, sugar-free, no carbohydrates, gluten-free, or protein-free. Others try overindulgent diets in which they eat nothing but one type of food. These diets are like the cabbage soup diet, protein-only diets, or having nothing but juices or meal-replacement shakes. However, both restrictive and overindulgent diets contribute to inadequate essential nutrients.
Let’s be clear. A diet isn’t a restriction or an overconsumption of any foods. A diet consists of your daily intake of nutrients. To be successful this year, you need to ask yourself why you want to diet. Are you looking to temporarily lose weight, or are you looking for a long-term solution? If you’re looking for short-term weight loss, continue to check Facebook for inspiration. If you are ready to stop the yo-yo “dieting,” you are ready to make a healthy lifestyle change.
Rethink your daily diet to include foods that will satisfy your hunger and foods you’ll enjoy. Say goodbye to the old diet foods that you used to endure and say hello to flavorful, real, whole foods. Instead of depriving your body of the energy and fuel it desperately needs to function, feel free to eat a meal that consists of at least 300 calories. Just keep in mind that dieting alone never works for long. Take that as a sign to progress to the next step and gradually add activity and exercise into your daily routine.
For more nutritional advice, a NIFS Registered Dietitian can help give you direction and focus your energy in a positive way. The My Nutrition Coach mobile app allows members to interact daily with a Registered Dietitian at NIFS. You will receive feedback, suggestions, and information on ways to improve your nutrition and help you achieve results.
To get started with My Nutrition Coach, contact NIFS Registered Dietitian Angie Scheetz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 317-274-3432 ext. 239.
Shawna Kendrick, on Sat, Jan 24, 2015
Laura Zavadil, on Wed, Feb 19, 2014
Juicing is the process of extracting juice from the flesh or the pulp of a fruit or vegetable. This technique has been used for hundreds of years as a way to maximize nutrient intake by drinking only the juice of various vegetables and fruits. I wanted to get the New Year off to a healthy start and reset my digestive system, so I researched how to complete a “safe” juice cleanse.
The idea of a juice cleanse is pretty simple: all meals and snacks are replaced with juices made from (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables for three to ten days. The main health advantage of a juice cleanse is based on the theory that our bodies are more efficient at metabolizing and excreting toxins when our digestive system is freed from the burden of digesting solid food.
Additional Benefits of Juicing
Here are some additional benefits of juicing:
Trying a Three-Day Juice Cleanse
After much research, I decided to try a three-day juice cleanse. It wasn’t the best three days of my life, but here are some of my observations:
Disadvantages of Juice Cleanse
There are, however, disadvantages of juice cleanses. For example:
If your goal is to eat healthy, you don't need to juice as a way to cleanse or detox your body. Juicing can be an easy way to get in your greens (for instance, without having to eat fistfuls of kale), but juices should be used to complement a balanced diet that includes minimally processed foods, good-quality lean protein, and plenty of whole fruits and vegetables—which, ironically, are the real cleansers. The fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables act like a scrub brush for your digestive tract.
Juice Cleanses: Not a Long-Term Solution
Bottom line, although a juice cleanse could feel like a psychological jump-start to healthy eating, it is not a solution for long-term wellness. Simply put, being healthy is a lifestyle event, not a three- or ten-day adventure.
Shawna Kendrick, on Wed, Feb 5, 2014
This time of year many people are looking to drop excess weight. In their desire to see rapid results, many start a supplement program such as AdvoCare®. I’m writing to warn individuals who may be interested in trying this particular program. First, I will describe the program before sharing my professional (and maybe blunt) opinion as a Registered Dietitian.
The AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Program
AdvoCare® offers a variety of supplements and weight-loss programs, with the 24-Day Challenge being the most popular program. The 24-Day Challenge is the most popular program because it supposedly helps people “get skinny” in just 24 days. The program consists of a 10-day “cleanse” phase followed by an additional 14 days of a “Max” phase. AdvoCare® advertisements claim that the supplements taken during the “cleanse” phase will rid your body of toxins and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients. These supplements include an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and an energy drink. According to AdvoCare®, these supplements will help jump-start your weight-loss efforts by ridding your body of water weight.
The “Max” phase consists of a “metabolic nutrition system,” which claims to increase metabolism, control your appetite, and support core nutrition when the user consumes meal-replacement drinks and more energy drinks. Additionally, this phases includes a meal plan that emphasizes lean proteins (such as ground turkey and chicken breast), non-starchy vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes), and complex carbs (such as whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa).
Why the AdvoCare® 24-Day Challenge Is Bad For You
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let me break down the reasons why this particular AdvoCare® program should come with flashing signs that say “WARNING! DANGEROUS DIETARY HABITS AHEAD!”
Other Warning Signs About AdvoCare®
Those are my complaints as an RD; however, there are other warning signs that everyone should know. Numerous reports are popping up online in different forums warning other consumers about the safety of these supplements. People are reporting severe health complications such as gastric pains that require hospitalizations, organ failure, and adverse medication interactions. One of my own corporate wellness clients experienced a very serious medical scare while participating in the 24-Day Challenge. Not only did her blood pressure spike significantly during the program, but she also experienced kidney failure despite having no previous risk factors or pre-existing medical problems. Her doctor immediately told her to stop the supplements, and luckily her kidney function and blood-pressure levels were moving back toward normal after two weeks.
To be frank, I’m appalled that products like AdvoCare® are allowed to be sold in our country. It just demonstrates that although many supplements can benefit one’s health, they are not tested and regulated by the FDA.
I encourage anyone who wants to try AdvoCare® or a similar program to consider the warning signs of an unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) diet plan:
The old-fashioned way of losing weight will never change: eat healthy and exercise. Simple, but true.
This blog was written by Laura Zavadil, RD, LDN
Shannon Hendrix-Buxton, on Sat, Jan 4, 2014
I am a recovering perfectionist. It’s an ongoing struggle, but every day I get more comfortable with not being the best at everything. And every day, I feel a little happier because of this attitude. Here are my thoughts as to why.
From an early age, we are taught that 100 percent is the best. Those three numbers represent the perfect indication of success. We are encouraged to give 100 percent of our efforts and to be the best we can possibly be. Some people (myself included) misconstrue this message to mean anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable.
All-or-Nothing Thinking Can Derail Your Health
As a wellness coach, I often see clients mirror these perfectionist tendencies. For example, some may think their diet is ruined because they ate a donut for breakfast and therefore make poor eating choices for their other meals. Others feel it is pointless to lace up their running shoes unless they have time for a 5-mile run, and stay in and watch TV instead of going for a 2-mile run.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this type of thinking an all-or-nothing cognitive distortion. It’s an unhealthy perspective for one simple reason: No one achieves 100 percent of their goals 100 percent of the time. No one.
For perfectionists who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices (whether it be avoiding the vending machine at work or exercising a certain number of times per week), not achieving 100 percent of a goal can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. This is unfortunate because many people fail to give themselves credit for the healthy choices they do make.
The 65–85 Rule as It Applies to Fitness
My road to recovering from my all-or-nothing thinking patterns began with a simple rule:
Aim to be successful 65 to 85 percent of the time.
I can just imagine the looks of disbelief from my fellow perfectionists. Give me a moment to explain why the 65–85 percent successful rule is such a beautiful thing.
Personally, I believe adopting this 65–85 percent attitude has been one of best decisions of my life. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally eat too much chocolate because I know I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time. If I only have time to run 3 miles instead of 6 because I feel unusually tired, I congratulate myself for getting out the door in the first place.
I’ve found that I’ve actually become healthier (and most importantly, happier) by letting go of my perfectionist thinking. I hope reading my thoughts will persuade you to try to do the same!
Cody Parks, on Wed, Sep 4, 2013
Whether we like it or not, we have an epidemic on our hands. Whether you are overweight, obese or not, classifying obesity as a disease will affect you, if it hasn’t already. Changes are in order. Simply classifying obesity as a disease does not make the necessary changes automatically occur and I’ve already expressed my concern with the direction I think this could go.
Fructose is processed in our bodies similarly to ethanol (alcohol). Actually, chronic consumption of fructose shares 8 of the 12 side effects of chronic ethanol consumption. Fructose is like alcohol without the buzz. How do you make alcohol? Ferment sugar! Due to the fact that fructose consumption has no immediate side effects, the government will not regulate it. When the government won’t step in to make necessary changes, it becomes our responsibility.
In 2007, Yale University published a meta-analysis of 88 cross-sectional and longitudinal studies looking at the effects of soda consumption. They reported that consistent soda consumption correlates to an overall increase in average energy consumption (we eat more), increased body weight, decreased milk and calcium consumption, and decreased consumption of adequate nutrition. This even included studies sponsored by major soft drink companies, which had consistently smaller correlations vs. the independent studies. When the companies won’t admit fault and make changes, it becomes our responsibility.
We must make the changes. The supply won’t budge until the demand changes.
What are some things we can do?