Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carbohydrates: a friend to you and me

I find carbohydrates frustrating.

First, carbs made us healthy. ("Eat your whole grains all day every day, and avoid fat!").Then 1 in 3 Americans became obese.

Simple carbs made us diabetic ("Too much sugar will raise your blood sugar levels!") In three years, the number of Americans with diabetes tripled.

Finally, all carbs made us fat ("Eat frittatas and you will live long and prosper!") Then people realized that their breath SMELLED and their energy levels were awful. Recent studies have even found increased risk of Type II Diabetes in people following a low carb diet, possibly due to increased red meat intake.

I'm going to set the record straight in a way that may not be shocking or newsworthy, but is the honest-to-goodness, final word truth:

Non-refined carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet. Non-refined means: has not been altered. Exists in its natural, as-grown state.

The best carbohydrate sources include:
  • Fruits- they are packed full of fiber and antioxidants, as well as natural sugar to help give you an energy boost
  • Whole Grains- In addition to being full o'fiber, whole grains like brown rice, barley, oats, and quinoa provide minerals we need to stay healthy
  • Sweet Potatoes- These guys are basically amazeballs. They pack fiber, antioxidants, and enough carbohydrate energy to get your through it (whatever "it" may be)
  • Corn- corn gets a bad rap from some nutritionists, but I feel that if it comes out of the ground, it's allowed in. (As to my mouth)
  • Unprocessed sugars- in place of refined sugar, try using natural sugars such as honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar.

How much should you eat?

Dietitians use the Plate Method to counsel patients on how to "eyeball plan" their portions.

To achieve a healthy balance in your meals:
Mentally divide your plate into fourths. Dedicate one fourth to a lean protein source, and another fourth to a healthy carb! Leave the remaining half to fill with veggies.

There you have it...the great, carby truth!

(Honestly...did you ever think a fresh, glowing honeycrisp apple the size of your head could really be evil?)

Me either :)

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ta Ta, Trans Fats

Excerpt from today's lunch break:
Intern 1: [munching a packet of 2 saltines]
Intern 2: Did you know saltines are made with hydrogenated oils?
Intern 1:(uncomfortably) er...yeah...but I don't worry much about 2 saltines (FYI...dietitians hawkeye what each other are eating. Guilty pleasure.)
Intern 2: No, but can you imagine how easily it would be to munch a sleeve of those? Most people wouldn't even realize they'd be getting half their daily limit of saturated fats right there.

Alright, so our convos are pretty lame-ola. However, this made a great intro for a post about...


Americans are becoming more knowledgeable about the dangers of trans fats. According to studies conducted in various universities, consumer awareness of trans fats increased from 84% in 2006 to 92% in 2007. The number of people acting on this knowledge (buying foods labeled "trans fat free") also rose from 32% to 37%.

This still doesn't make me skip.

Most of the increase has been attributed to media messages, news coverage, and food labeling promoting foods made without trans fats.

Despite increasing awareness about trans fat dangers, the study reported that
most people are unaware of the sources of trans fat. Only 21% could name 3 sources of trans fats, and a shmumpy 46% could not think of a single source.

The problem with relying on food labeling to tell you what to eat:
food manufacturers are not required to report trans fat content.

Seeing the words "contains no trans fats" is helpful, but wouldn't you like to just know for yourself which foods are good for your body?! All "We are Healthy People, Hear Us Roar"-like?!

Yes, I'm stubborn and idealistic.

Yes, you deserve to be, too.

Here's why:
  • Diets rich in trans fat cause fat redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and higher body weight, even when total dietary calories are controlled
  • Saturated fats and trans fats are the main factors in raising cholesterol
  • The American Diabetes Association reports that studies have shown monkeys fed trans-fats were more likely to develop diabetes
  • Based on a Harvard study, even 1 g of trans fat consumed daily may raise risk of heart disease by 20%





Alright, now sit back down on your couch, we're not done.

Trans fats are contained in partially hydrogenated oils, found in cookies, crackers, cakes, frosting, shortening, and fried foods such as chicken or fish, fries, donuts, or onion rings.

You can eliminate trans fats by:
  • Buying items that are baked instead of fried
  • Substituting hydrogenated oils or shortenings used in baking for butter or canola, soy, or cottonseed oil
  • Eating naturally-occuring, unprocessed foods. Stay in the perimeter of the supermarket!

Congratulations- you've just joined the twenty-some percent of people that can tell you why a baked chip is better than a fried one.

Smarty Pants :)

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Bang for your Produce Buck

What do you, I, and Teresa from Real Housewives New Jersey have in common?

(Besides our impeccable taste and killer abs)...

We're all strapped for cash! Groceries can be expensive, and although we all want to eat healthily, lets be honest: healthy is not quite so fun if you can't be healthy in a pair of brand new, shiny, thigh-high boots.

by Two Lips (YUM...I die.)

How can you afford both? Shop in-season!

Because we've grown up in the age of year-round strawberries and tomatoes, we are no longer trained to cook with in-season foods. However, buying seasonal produce may not only provide superior taste and vitamins, it will also help save you money.

Why are these foods cheaper? Much of the year-round produce is shipped and trucked from thousands of miles away, meaning we have to pay for the food as well as the cost of gas and transportation to get it here. Seasonal food, however, can be grown closer to home, meaning less dollars for us and less pollution for the environment. (I know, I know. As I jump into my car and drive down the block to the gym. I'm working on it.)

Besides the difference in the price tag, seasonal produce just...tastes better. When fruits or vegetables are grown in a hot house, they must be picked before they are ripe. They then either ripen in shipping, or are synthetically ripened using gas. Either way, the final color and flavor are little compared to the "real stuff."

Although no conclusive studies have been done, many think that these "fakely" ripened fruits and veggies lack the vitamins and antioxidants present in the old-fashioned, ground ripened produce.

If you have doubts, conduct your own experiment. Hold a hot house tomato in one hand, and a garden tomato in the other. One is shmushy. One is firm. One is crimson. One Keep in mind: the brighter the color of a fruit or veggie, the more antioxidants it contains...I will leave you to your own conclusions.

You deserve the boots, and you deserve the good produce :)

To see what produce is in-season in your area, check out the seasonal ingredient map from the folks at epicurious.

Happy pumpkin'ing! Squashing! Apple'ing! Cabbage'ing! (?)

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Monday, September 27, 2010

Calculating your Calorie Needs

Eating too many calories will eventually do a number on your waistline, but not eating enough will leave you mopey and moody!

How do you know how much food your body needs?

In a perfect world, we would all be able to rely on our hunger and satiety signals to tell us when we need to eat, and when we've eaten enough to properly fuel our bodies.

However, that perfect world doesn't include hormones, stress, or super models sexily chowing big macs on t.v.

These confounders can make it hard to tell exactly how much energy is enough for our bodies. Are we really hungry, or is that urge to munch a result of something else?

This post will give you the tools to calculate your daily calorie needs.

To do this, a dietitian first calculates the calories you'd require to literally stay in bed all day (your BMR).

The BMR equations are:
Women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in yrs)
Men: 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in yrs)

Now, for those of us planning on getting out of bed today (no judgement), we need to account for the calories we are going to burn in movements we make throughout the day.

To do this, multiply your
BMR by:
  • 1.2 if you get little to no exercise
  • 1.375 if you get light exercise 1-3 days/week
  • 1.55 if you get moderate exercise 3-5 days/week
  • 1.725 if you exercise hardcore 6-7 days/week
  • 1.9 if you have a very physical job and exercise hardcore daily on top of that (haha...right...)

The resulting number is an estimate of how many calories you need per day to fuel your body!

For weight loss of one lb. per week, either subtract 500 calories/day from that number or add in enough exercise to burn the extra 500.

For weight gain of one lb. per week, add 500 cals/day, preferably from lean protein, whole grains, and produce.

So...there it is. The secret.

P.S. No need to do all this fancy shmancy math by hand. Here's an easy-to-use online
BMR Calculator

Now before you get all anal on me, I would like to stress that calorie counting is not necessary for weight loss. However, if you would like to get a better estimate of your needs, this may be a useful tool!

So go ahead, re-evaluate that 8 P.M. tummy growl, and do what you must.

I promise I won't look :)

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recipe: Gluten Free Banana Bread

I developed a gluten allergy about a year ago, and have been gluten free ever since. At first, the diet was easy for me. Rice for every meal! Rice 'oatmeal' with almond milk and banana for breakfast! Salad with rice for lunch, and rice stir-fry for dinner! Rice, Rice, Rice!

Then, the inevitable happened. I got sick of rice. As in, I never wanted to see another grain of that tasteless, I-Can-Pair-With-Anything stuff again. I have no idea how the Asian cultures do it, but this kind of eating was just not feeding my creative monster. And it started getting

Cranky Bee on top of Sassy Bee is a scary combination.

Alas, a new, more adventurous chef was born! I gave in and bought all those fancy flours, the xanthan gum, the arrowroot...the whole nine yards.

I have not looked back since.

On request, here's my favorite recipe for
Gluten Free Banana Bread from Taste of Home. It turns out delish- perfect combination of crusty top and moist, bready insides!

2 c gluten-free all-purpose baking flour (I used Bob's)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 t salt
4 eggs
2 c mashed, ripe bananas (4-5 bananas)
1 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional. also optional to accidentally sub for chocolate chips)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

Perfect for keeping that Creative Monster happy :)

**Note: Avoiding gluten is only beneficial to those with Celiacs Disease or a gluten allergy or intolerance. In the general population, a gluten-free diet has not been proven to provide any health benefits over a diet rich in whole grains.

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Q&A: Ideal Blood Sugar Levels

I received the following question from FOODPICKER.ORG:

"I have diabetes, and my blood sugar is all over the map. Could you please tell me the ideal blood sugar level?" -Susan R.

Susan, congrats to you on taking an interest in controlling your blood sugar levels. This is an important step in diabetes management, as a prolonged uncontrolled blood glucose level can result in many complications, including damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and cardiovascular system.

Blood glucose recommendations for a person without diabetes are the following:
fasting/before eating: less than 100 mg/dl
at bedtime: 120 mg/dl
A1c test (blood sugar test taken every 3 months): less than 6%

Since a person with diabetes may have higher blood sugar levels resulting from lack of insulin production or insensitivity to insulin, the guidelines for diabetes aim to control high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

The American Association of Diabetes recommends the following blood sugar goals for a person with diabetes:
before eating: 90-130 mg/dl
1-2 hrs after beginning of eating: less than 180 mg/dl
A1c test: less than 7%

The guidelines of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (MD's specializing in disorders including diabetes) are similar:
before eating: 110 mg/dl
2 hrs after eating: 140 mg/dl
A1c test: less than 6.5%

It is important to remember that these goals are general guidelines, and the goals of each individual may vary with age, stress level, etc. It is important to discuss your own goals with your doctor or a Certified Diabetes Educator.

Peace, Love, and Veggies,

Signing In

Hello! I am Brittany Louise, or, for all blogging purposes, Bee.

I'm completely interested in all things health, nutrition, or fitness related. I earned my BS from the University of Illinois with a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition, and am currently working to become a Registered Dietitian by completing my dietetic internship at a hospital just outside of Chicago.

(Blah, blah, blah...) Basically, I know what I'm talking about, and if I don't, I'll know where to get the answer. [Future] Dietitian's Honor.

One cool aspect of nutrition is that recommendations and guidelines are always being formed based on results of new research. The downside to this is that it can be hard to stay "in the know." As if things weren't complicated enough, we are all bombarded daily with nutrition mis-information, "nutritionist" book authors, and diet fads running rampant in the media.

My purpose in this blog is to provide accurate, reliable information based on the facts, rather than the trends.

Besides my educational background, I also have experience as a full-time weight loss coach and certified Level I Raw Foods Chef.

I will be working as a nutrition editor and posting answers to questions for FOODPICKER.ORG, a website designed by nutrition professionals to help people with diabetes.

In addition, please send me your own nutrition questions- I will post the answers as soon as possible. Unless you ask me how to "be skinny," in which case, I will kindly not post an answer, and instead maybe post a picture of a bunny. Or a song from Spice Girls. Both would be just as effective as the elusive "How to Be Skinny" post.

Alright everybody. Godspeed! Send me those questions!

Peace, Love, and Veggies,