More stories

  • in

    I Tried Jennifer Aniston’s Favorite Salad—Here Are My Thoughts

    As a regular content consumer, I’ll admit that I’m easily influenced by most products on the internet. And when it comes to convenient, nutritious recipes splashed across my feeds, you bet I’m writing down the ingredients and running to the nearest grocery store. So it should come as no surprise that when I discovered the Jennifer Aniston salad, it was an immediate “I must make this now” situation.
    You see, I was watching an excessive number of YouTube videos (anyone else obsessed with Vogue’s celebrity makeup tutorials?) when I saw a video recommended for me titled something along the lines of “I ate like the Friends cast for a day.” A “what I ate in a day” video combined with an iconic TV show? Intrigued is an understatement. In the video, I watched as the creator made this delicious-looking bulgur salad and reported that this was what Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow ate together for lunch every day on set for 10 years. I’m not sure I’ve ever committed to anything for that long, so obviously this salad had to be good. I’m never going to turn down the chance to try a new recipe—especially one that came from Jennifer Aniston herself.
    As I scoured the internet for an exact recipe, I learned that this salad was not in fact the one the Friends actors ate for 10 years (that, allegedly, was a doctored up Cobb salad). This salad, now known as the Jennifer Aniston salad, was what she shared when she did a takeover for Living Proof in 2015 showcasing a day in her life, including her meals. Regardless, that didn’t deter me from trying this at home, and here’s how you can too. 

    Source: Eating Bird Food

    How to make the Jennifer Aniston salad  
    Assembling the salad is pretty straightforward. I used this recipe and its measurements, but there are plenty of variations online. First, cook your bulgur according to the package directions. Bulgur is a hearty whole grain with a texture similar to rice. From personal experience, bulgur can be hard to track down at the grocery store, so I think that any other whole grain such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro would work well here. While the bulgur is cooking, chop your red onion, mini cucumbers, mint, parsley, and pistachios. Once the bulgur is finished and cooled, it’s just a matter of throwing all the prepared ingredients together, topping it with a can of drained chickpeas, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss the salad together and there you have it! 

    My review as a registered dietician
    Upon first bite, I was genuinely impressed. I would never have thought of pairing pistachios and mint together in a salad, but both flavors worked really well together. The veggies gave a nice crunch, and the simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil kept the salad feeling fresh and light. I ended up having seconds and then a few more bites after because it was just that good. I know this wasn’t the exact salad that the cast of Friends ate for 10 years, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eat it every day for lunch.
    I was originally interested in making this salad because not only did it seem super easy, but it’s also a filling, plant-based meal. The veggies and bulgur pack a fibrous punch, the olive oil and pistachios provide heart-healthy fats, and the chickpeas make a great plant-based protein source. Plus, if you want to make it completely vegan, you can omit the feta or use a plant-based cheese instead.
    What I really loved about this salad (aside from the fact that Jennifer Aniston eats it) is that it is completely customizable. While I love all the ingredients as is, I could also switch out the bulgur for a different grain, add additional spices, or throw in some more veggies. Given how easy it is to make ahead of time, it also makes for a great meal prep dish to add to your weekly rotation. 

    The final verdict
    It truly makes me wonder if the secret to Jennifer Aniston’s glowing success is healthy hacks like throwing together this salad. While I don’t think eating this salad daily or even weekly is going to turn me into her, a girl can dream, right? Regardless, I am definitely recommending this salad to everyone I know for an easy, nutrient-dense, meal prep recipe.

    I Tried Jennifer Aniston’s Self-Care Routine—Here’s What Happened More

  • in

    Why You Shouldn’t Have Cheat Days—And What To Do Instead

    Warmer days are upon us, and hot girl summer is on its way. With the mini skirts and strapless bathing suits that come this time of year, unhealthy habits can start to arise with the pressure about our bodies, like falling into the cycle of restrictive eating and cheat days (or using the weekend to “cheat” with food) as a means of eating 100% “healthy” for the rest of the time. Moralizing our food and rewarding ourselves on one specific day by loading our bodies with foods we’ve been restricting has become normalized in mainstream diet culture and caused quite the disconnect between our minds and our bodies. 
    Trust me: Whether you want to lose weight, develop a healthier relationship with food, heal symptoms, or get out of the vicious cycle of eating healthy all week just to load up on “junk” food all weekend, you can achieve any goal by appreciating your body and stopping with the restrictions and binges. In other words, you can achieve the lifestyle you want without cheat days. If you’re constantly asking yourself, “Will this chocolate chip cookie set me back?” or you’re always saying, “I’m craving a Big Mac, but I’ll just save it for my cheat day,” keep reading to find out why experts recommend stopping with the cheat days and what to do instead.

    Why do cheat days do more harm than good?
    What seems like one day or weekend taking a simple “no rules” approach can actually be a detriment to your overall well-being. “In the short term, cheat days can cause physical discomfort, digestive upset, lethargy, and negative feelings of shame and guilt,” explained Miranda Galati, MHSc, RD. “In the long term, cheat days can disconnect us from our body’s signals of hunger and fullness and make it more difficult for us to eat the right amount for our unique body.” Personally, the idea of a cheat day has never sat well with me. Holding out for a certain day of the week where I can indulge in anything puts all of the power into what I’m consuming and how it will make me feel versus me claiming my own power to make choices for myself that make me feel good.
    Plus, putting food in categories of what you “should” eat and what you’re only allowed to eat when you’re “cheating” not only takes the joy out of eating, but it can also instill guilt and shame as well as binges and cravings. “‘Planned binges’ lead us to eat way more of the food we’ve been avoiding all week than if we just allowed and normalized them on a regular basis,” agreed Alana Van Der Sluys, a certified intuitive eating counselor. 

    What to do instead of cheat days:
    We can get so consumed in what foods are healthy and unhealthy that we completely dismiss what it truly means to be healthy. The relationships that you foster—including the one you have with food—play a huge role in your overall health. It’s important to consider your health in its entirety when considering your goals. With that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind that can help with ditching cheat days completely. 

    Prioritize moderation over perfection
    “Our health habits are not determined by one choice or even by one day—it is about patterns,” explained Johna Burdeos, a registered dietician. We’ve heard it time and time again, but the saying “moderation is key” really is true. Of course, there are foods that are more nutritious than others, but the goal is to develop a lifestyle that can be maintained rather than forming an unhealthy relationship with food. Before swearing off any one item or food group, ask yourself, Do I really see myself never eating [insert your favorite junk food here] ever again? Odds are, you’ll find it’s not sustainable to give up any one thing, so instead, think about how you can enjoy it in moderation (rather than expecting complete perfection). “When we aim for perfection, we are setting ourselves up for burnout, guilt, depression, and disordered eating,” Burdeos said.

    Opt for nutrient-dense foods
    Even what was traditionally deemed your “cheat day” foods can be nutritious! Instead of focusing your attention on what you need to eliminate when you’re trying to be “healthy,” prioritize how any snack or meal can be more nutritious. “If your favorite food is mac and cheese, maybe choose higher-quality ingredients like organic, grass-fed cheddar cheese, unsweetened non-dairy milk, or pureed steamed cauliflower, and add in some greens and fiber like chopped-up broccoli or green peas,” suggested Tara Bassi, MSc, CNS, LDN. Opting for more nutrient-dense foods can ensure you’re satisfying your cravings, fully enjoying your meals, and fitting in the nutrients that make your body feel good.

    Eat mindfully
    Eating can feel so mindless when you’re doing it in front of the TV, while you’re on your phone, or sitting at your desk. Galati suggested enjoying what you’re eating without any distractions so that you can fully enjoy it and are able to stop eating once you’re satisfied.

    Adapt a food freedom mentality
    Shift from an “all-or-nothing” cheat-day mindset to a food freedom mentality. “A food freedom mentality is where all foods are allowed any day of the week,” explained Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD. “It takes practice, but once your mind has shifted, eating a balanced diet with occasional treats becomes effortless and is much healthier in the long run.” More importantly, being in a position where you can choose what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat is a privilege. Eating is not meant to be a punishment or a chore; it’s meant to be pleasant and satisfying.

    Take the pressure off
    What you eat is only one component of looking and feeling good—exercise, stress, sleep, and overall well-being are important factors to keep in mind that dictate your well-being just as much (if not more!) than what you eat. Speaking to yourself with compassion and approaching your health goals with gratitude for all your body can do for you works wonders for a sustainable healthy lifestyle. 

    A Dietician’s Guide to Mindful Eating More

  • in

    9 Things to Add to Your Coffee for Serious Health Benefits

    Whether or not you’re a caffeine addict like me, you can make your coffee work better for you with coffee additives. In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, “Everything in my life has something to do with coffee.” It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, I fall asleep looking forward to having a cup the next morning, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find a way to sneak in another cup (or two) somewhere during the day. My love for the delicious drink started in college whenever I needed a pick-me-up after late-night study sessions, and it’s stuck with me through my post-grad life for every early-morning meeting and midday slump. What can I say? I’m loyal. 
    I’m not exactly proud of my caffeine dependency, but since I don’t see my two to three cups a day going away anytime soon, I want to make the most out of them by adding in some extra nutrients when possible. If you too are looking for ways to add a healthy boost to your morning drink, continue reading for easy mix-ins that will have you ditching your daily trip to Starbucks. 

    1. Collagen
    We’re often told that collagen is the must-have ingredient to improve our hair, skin, and nails, but the benefits don’t stop there. Collagen is also an easy way to incorporate more protein into your diet. According to Healthline, our bodies begin to slow the production of collagen as we age, so adding a scoop to your morning cup of joe can also help support important functions like tissue repair, immune response, cellular communication, and cellular migration. Plus, Jennifer Aniston adds it to her coffee every morning, and we all know she’s #goals. Collagen powder is tasteless and fully dissolvable, so you won’t even notice it in your coffee, but if you prefer a more specialty-coffee drink, whisk in some flavored collagen creamer for added taste and froth.

    2. Cinnamon
    Cinnamon is already a pretty common coffee additive (hello, PSL season!), and for good reason. Not only does it taste like fall, but it’s also full of health benefits. According to The New York Times, cinnamon has anti-microbial properties and is full of antioxidants. A daily dose of the spice may also lower blood sugar, improve brain functioning, and aid in digestion. Sprinkle it on top for added benefits and taste.

    3. Butter
    Butter coffee, made famous by Bulletproof coffee, can have many benefits due to the healthy fats. Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof, recommends using grass-fed butter or ghee to get the most antioxidants and omega-3s out of your coffee or a coconut or MCT oil (if you avoid dairy). These healthy fats also help keep energy levels stable, meaning you won’t experience blood sugar spikes and ultimately that post-coffee crash that can come from sugary coffee drinks. Add butter or coconut oil to freshly brewed coffee and mix with a blender or milk frother to create a delicious, creamy latte.   

    4. Adaptogens
    While adaptogens have been all the rage in wellness trends, the use of adaptogens dates back to over 3,000 years ago and has been used in many cultures, including having roots in Ayurveda. While there are many different types of adaptogens, there are about six common ones with different purposes. Reishi mushrooms are calming and can help with sleep and stress, lion’s mane helps with focus and productivity, chaga supports the immune system, cordyceps can improve stamina and endurance, and turkey tail mushrooms aid in gut health. Research also suggests that ashwagandha can improve hormonal balance and has antibacterial properties. As with any change in diet or supplementation, make sure to talk to your doctor before consuming. 

    5. Cacao
    You don’t have to try hard to convince me to add more chocolate to my diet, but add in the health benefits, and I’m sold. Cacao dates back to early 1500 B.C. when Mayans drank cacao for celebrations and ceremonies. According to Healthline, it’s known to be rich in antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and improve brain function. Also, did I mention it’s delicious? To upgrade your coffee, add a spoonful of cacao powder. The taste of cacao is more bitter than chocolate (because it doesn’t contain the added sugar), so add your sweetener of choice for more of a mocha taste. 

    6. Turmeric
    This popular spice has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years and is native to southern India and Indonesia. Today, it is used all over the world for both flavor and health benefits, but did you know it’s become a common way to (literally) spice up your coffee too? According to Healthline, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It’s also full of antioxidants. Turmeric lattes (made with turmeric and milk) are also a great way to help cut down on your coffee intake while still enjoying a warm drink. 

    7. Cardamom 
    The spice cardamom comes from the dried, ground seeds of the cardamom plant and is a popular ingredient used in South Asian cooking and Scandinavian baking. While its flavor is more like mint, its benefits are similar to those of cinnamon. It’s high in antioxidants and can also aid in digestion. Since it has a minty taste, it’s the perfect spice if you’re a fan of a peppermint latte around the the holidays, and bonus: Goodbye coffee breath! 

    8. Raw honey
    We all know Kourtney Kardashian is a fan of the natural sweetener, and after learning more about its benefits, I can see why. It contains vitamins and minerals. The bee product is high in antioxidants and contains a variety of nutrients. My personal favorite benefit (as someone who suffers from year-round allergies) is that raw honey may help seasonal allergies, especially if it’s local.

    9. Vanilla extract
    Adding vanilla to your coffee may sound like an obvious suggestion, but we’re not talking about your standard vanilla syrup. Natural vanilla extract or vanilla bean (make sure it’s real, not imitation made from synthetic ingredients) contains powerful antioxidants and may provide anti-inflammatory effects. And, in addition to adding some flavor to your coffee, vanilla extract provides a dose of needed minerals to your diet in the form of magnesium and potassium.

    What 14 Nutritionists, Wellness Bloggers, and Doctors Add to Their Coffee More

  • in

    What Is The Pescatarian Diet — And Is It Even Good For You?

    Honestly, who can keep track of all the ‘tarians that exist these days? There are vegetarians, flexitarians, pescatarians. Don’t even get me started on pegans. But seriously—which one is best if you can’t give up spicy tuna rolls?
    Basically, if you like the idea of slashing your meat intake but have a LTR with salmon, the pescatarian diet may be for you. People who follow the plan eat a wide variety of plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts—plus fish and seafood.

    Whether you eat dairy and eggs on the pescatarian diet is up to you. Some keep them in their weekly rotation, while others opt out. Totally off the table: red meat, poultry and pork.
    This might sound similar to the popular Mediterranean diet, but there’s one major difference: Red meat is allowed (in moderation) on the Med diet. You’re also supposed to avoid packaged foods on that plan, while the pescatarian diet doesn’t have a specific policy on store-bought stuff. Otherwise, there’s a lot of overlap: Seafood, fresh produce, and plant-based proteins are mainstays of both eating plans.
    Is going pescatarian healthier than other diets?
    Unless you can’t live without steak, there’s a lot to love about the pescatarian diet. “You’ll reap the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as the nutritional benefits of fish and seafood,” says Emily Kyle, a registered dietician
    Basically, pescatarians get all of the antioxidant- and vitamin-rich produce vegetarians do, while also getting some nutrients (like complete proteins and omega-3 fatty acids) from seafood that are harder to take in on a strictly plant-based diet.
    For example, while many vegetarians and vegans may struggle to get their fill of vitamin B12 (found primarily in animal protein), “pescatarians are able to meet their daily requirements for B12 with a single serving of most fish varieties,” says Georgia Rounder, a registered dietician.
    READ MORE: 26 Easy Recipes for Protein Pancakes
    Also key: Seafood is one of the best sources of heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease inflammation in the body and lower both blood pressure and triglycerides,” says Rounder. You can get omega-3s from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, but it’s harder than just eating an order of salmon and calling it a day.
    “This diet has also been associated with decreasing the risk for other chronic diseases, including diabetes, dementia, and depression,” adds Rounder, thanks to the boost of omega-3s you get when fish is your main source of protein.
    Other people, of course, choose it for sustainability reasons, animal-rights concerns, or just personal preference, adds Kyle.
    Can the pescatarian diet help with weight loss?
    The jury is still out about any particular diet that champions sustainable weight loss. But eliminating a lot of meat can help create a caloric deficit that would lead to weight loss, especially when the diet is supplemented with vegetables.
    One literature review of studies that evaluated vegetables in weight loss found that “a higher vegetable consumption in a healthy diet may prove beneficial for weight loss in overweight adults.”   So if your aim is to lose weight, watch that your fish consumption doesn’t take the place of consuming a variety of vegetables and fruits.
    READ MORE: How Much Water You Should Be Drinking Daily, According To A Nutritionist
    What about all that mercury tho?
    One important thing to keep in mind: Being pescatarian doesn’t mean you have to load up your plate with fish each meal—you can actually eat a carnivorous diet and consume more fish (and more mercury) than someone who’s pescatarian. But if you do consume a lot of seafood—regardless of which diet you follow—you’ll want to avoid eating high-mercury fish all day every day to minimise your risk of mercury poisoning.
    Eat swordfish, tilefish, King Mackerel, and large quantities of tuna in moderation, says Rounder—especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
    That said, low-mercury seafood options, including canned light tuna, cod, clams, salmon, and hake are generally less of a cause for concern. “The most common fish that we eat on a daily basis are [low in mercury], meaning that in general the pescatarian diet is safe for most individuals,” says Kyle.
    READ MORE: This BBQ Pulled Pork Tortilla Recipe Is Delicious And Freezes Well For Meal Prep
    Whether you’re pescatarian or not, The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish a week. And mix it up so that you’re eating a variety of seafood—that will further reduce your risk of consuming too much mercury.
    The bottom line: Go ahead and try the pescatarian diet if you’re interested. For most people, the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet plus fish far outweighs the potential risks.
    This article was originally published on 

    READ MORE ON: Healthy Eating Tips Nutrition Nutrition Advice More

  • in

    7 Daily Rituals a Dietician Says Will Help You Eat Healthier—That Have Nothing To Do With Food

    When it comes to how to eat healthier, achieving your nutrition goals is rarely just about modifying your food and eating habits; there are many moving parts to becoming your healthiest self. Yes, choosing nourishing foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and making time for self-care are all important, but there is one component of health that is often overlooked: rituals. Unlike habits (which are performed for the sake of doing the action itself—think: brushing your teeth every day), rituals are a series of intentional actions that can lead to behavior changes. By incorporating rituals into your daily routine, you are creating a positive domino effect to allow other healthy habits to follow. The best part is that rituals don’t have to be difficult to make a difference. Read on for seven rituals that you can start doing today. 

    1. Set daily intentions
    Creating a ritual to write down a daily intention is an automatic way to set the tone for how you want to think, feel, or act each day—including what you want to eat and how to fuel your body. Intentions can align with your values or goals, but they can also help you get more clear on what you want out of your life and how food can help you get there (more energy to work on your business or go out with friends, etc.). And on days where you feel like everything is going wrong, you have your intention to fall back on. 
    To get started with setting intentions, think about what you want to get out of the day and what energy you want to attract. You could ask yourself questions such as “What attitude do I want to have today?” or “What do I need to focus on to reach my goals?” Examples of intentions could be “Today, I intend to open myself up to new possibilities” or “I am stepping into confidence today.” Connecting your nutrition goals to a greater purpose or desire helps to engrain them in your mind, which can set you on the path to becoming your best self. 

    2. Stretch
    I used to think that stretching was something you only did to become more flexible or improve your sit and reach test score in gym class (*cue the flashbacks*). Turns out, stretching has many benefits, including keeping your muscles flexible, reducing stress, preventing injuries, and counteracting the effects we feel from sitting. But most importantly, stretching gives you a chance to reconnect with your body by tuning in to what’s happening inside and out. The more in-tune you are, the more likely you are to live as your healthiest self. Luckily, you don’t need to dedicate an extensive amount of time to stretching to reap the benefits. All you need is a 5-10 minute stretching ritual first thing in the morning or at night before bed as an easy way to anchor your day, connect to your body, and remind yourself what you’re eating healthy for.

    3. Meditate
    Meditation can be great for improving your health, as some research has shown it helps reduce stress and boost immunity. But meditating can feel totally daunting and overwhelming for many people. I mean, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says meditation and why is it sitting in complete silence focusing on deep breathing? However, creating a meditation ritual doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence for long stretches of time. Meditation can be practiced in many different ways, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. One way to start a meditation ritual is through practicing visualization meditation. This can look like visualizing yourself completing a health goal, making a nourishing meal, or just generally feeling like your healthiest, most energized self. Picture what your ideal situation would look like and imagine it becoming a reality. 

    4. Gratitude journal
    When we express gratitude for what we have, it can make our life feel that much more fulfilling. Although thinking about what you’re grateful for is helpful, writing it down has been shown to reduce stress, lead to better sleep, and even improve interpersonal relationships. Keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be long or extensive. Start by jotting down three things you’re grateful for each day, anything from the weather outside to a big life event. While shifting your perspective to a grateful one can help increase confidence and intentionality that helps you stay motivated to eat healthy, you can also express gratitude for things related to your nutrition goals, like how you have access to nourishing food that makes your body feel energized, or gratitude for how your body can move. No matter how big or small, starting each day with a dose of gratitude can help create positive effects on your mental and physical health. 

    5. Limit phone usage
    We all spend way too much time on our phones. I often find myself down an Instagram rabbit hole, which sucks up a lot of time and energy I could be spending elsewhere. Setting an app time limit on my phone has been a game changer, especially in the morning. I personally have scheduled “downtime” on my phone so that I don’t wake up with notifications. This allows me to be fully present in my morning routine and helps set a positive tone for the day. While you can tailor your phone preferences to whatever best suits your needs, being intentional about how much time you are spending on your phone—especially on social media—can ensure that your energy is being spent where you intend for it to be and limits you from making those unintentional choices (looking at you, mindless snacking) when you’re distracted. 

    6. Use affirmations
    Affirmations are positive statements or phrases you can say to yourself as encouragement, and they’re different from intentions because they are a sentence to repeat to yourself when you need it rather than a goal or desired outcome. When we recite affirmations, we can improve our coping abilities and overall sense of well-being. You may be familiar with “I Am” affirmations like “I am strong” or “I am healthy,” but affirmations can take many forms, so choose one that works best for you. Start by saying affirmations out loud or even in front of a mirror as a part of your daily affirmation ritual. Some examples include “My actions are meaningful,” “I am healthy, I am happy, I am loved,” and “My body deserves optimal nourishment.”

    7. Connect with nature
    Spending time in the great outdoors has been shown to have many positive benefits for overall health including reducing stress and boosting your mood, which means less stress eating and more intentional food choices when we’re feeling inspired, happy, and less stressed. Nature also lets us connect to our bodies and helps us feel more in tune to its needs. Despite this, many of us are simply not getting outside enough. Finding ways to connect with nature as a daily ritual can be as easy as taking a break during the workday to bask in some sunlight, going on a post-work walk in your neighborhood, or even taking your work (or workouts) outside. 

    A Dietician’s Guide to Mindful Eating More

  • in

    Hate Veggies? Here Are 5 Hacks To Sneak Them Into Your Meals

    If there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on, it’s that vegetables are good for you. We all know that vegetables can help prevent disease, boost gut health, and protect vital organs. But despite their many benefits, most of us don’t know how to eat more vegetables. Even as a dietitian, it can be challenging at times to add enough color to my plate. But luckily, I’ve been able to find hacks and tips to incorporate more veggies in delicious and easy ways (even for those who don’t like vegetables). 
    Not too long ago, I loathed Brussels sprouts—no matter how many times I ate them, they still tasted too bitter to me. One day, I tried them prepared in a delicious shaved salad, and my relationship with Brussels sprouts was forever changed. All this to say, before you dismiss vegetables that have burned you in the past, it may be time to give them a second chance. And in the end, if you only find a few you enjoy, stick to them! Eating vegetables you love is better than eating no vegetables at all. But if you’re looking to sneak more vegetables into your meals for all the amazing health benefits (without sacrificing taste), these hacks are for you. 

    1. Think plant-forward
    Having a plant-forward mindset can help you be more intentional with adding veggies to your plate. Plant-forward isn’t about taking away food groups or eating completely plant-based; rather, it focuses on adding in plants to make meals more well-rounded. The easiest way to do this is to think about how to add vegetables to some of your favorite meals. Love tacos? Make your filling with half ground meat and half beans. If pasta is a weeknight go-to, try zucchini noodles mixed with whole wheat pasta or combine leafy greens, broccoli, onions, or tomatoes with the pasta itself. And if you’re opting for a complete plant-based meal (read: sans meat or dairy), there are plenty of delicious options here!

    2. Toss veggies into smoothies 
    Perhaps the oldest hack in the book is adding vegetables to smoothies—and for good reason! Blended together with fruit and other delicious add-ins such as nut butter, yogurt, and protein powder, vegetables are easily disguised and taste great while you still reap all of the nutritional benefits. Although tossing a handful of leafy greens into your morning smoothie mix may be an easy go-to, variety is the spice of life. So next time you’re DIYing a delicious a smoothie, consider adding frozen cauliflower, zucchini, or avocado (which is technically a fruit, but you get the idea). You might just discover your new favorite combination and sneak in some veggie nutrients without the veggie taste. 

    3. Try plant-based dips
    Why eat vegetables with dip when vegetables can be the dip? I mean, I’m all for dipping vegetables into vegetables too (carrots and hummus anyone?), but when it comes to adding more veggies in your diet, having great, plant-based dips on hand makes them an accessible snack or side. And in my humble opinion, dipping food makes it more fun. For convenience, store-bought hummus, salsa, and guacamole are great options (yes, they’re all full of veggies!). You can also make your own white bean dip, corn salsa, roasted red pepper dip, or pesto with minimal ingredients at home.

    4. Add to baked goods
    While a cupcake or cookie doesn’t necessarily scream “vegetables,” hear me out. Similar to blending in a smoothie, baking vegetables into timeless desserts helps pack in a nutrient-dense punch without compromising flavor. Beans are often the easiest to add to baked goods since they can be used as a fat replacement (like instead of butter or oil). A pro tip for adding beans is to opt for one lighter in color such as chickpeas, cannellini, or Great Northern beans. These beans have a more neutral flavor, making them a great base for baked goods such as cookies or muffins. And if you’re not sold on baking with beans, pumpkin muffins, carrot-apple cookies, and zucchini oatmeal bake make for delicious snacks or breakfast alternatives. 

    5. Opt for frozen vegetables
    I am a huge fan of frozen vegetables. Not only are they convenient, but they can be cheaper too (especially in winter months when some produce is out of season). Plus, they’re just as nutrient dense because they are frozen at peak ripeness. Since frozen vegetables have an unfortunate tendency of becoming mushy when prepared, it can be helpful to use them in dishes that lean into that texture. Examples could be casseroles, chili, pasta dishes, or soups. To make frozen vegetables taste better, try roasting or sautéing them and adding them into some of your favorite dishes like pasta or stir-fries. 

    8 Delicious Ways to Eat More Greens
    No Salads Required More

  • in

    A Dietician’s Guide to Mindful Eating

    You may think that you’re practicing mindful eating, but most of us are not. In today’s modern world, distractions are everywhere. Many of us frequently finish a meal without even remembering eating it because we were watching TV, scrolling on our phones, or responding to an email. And while enjoying a show with a meal isn’t inherently bad, constant distractions can turn eating into a mindless act, which can lead to overeating instead of eating for physical hunger and enjoyment. 
    As a dietitian, my goal is to help individuals feel empowered by their food choices. Food is meant to be enjoyed, after all! One of the best (and research-backed) ways to slow down and enjoy food is through mindful eating. Mindful eating is a popular term in wellness, but I often hear confusion over what exactly it means and how it differs from intuitive eating. Consider this article a crash course in mindful eating and how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle—starting today!

    In this article

    What is mindful eating?
    Mindful eating is a component of the practice of mindfulness, which is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the field of mindfulness, is largely to thank for popularizing the term that is trendy in secular Western culture today. Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” 
    Mindful eating is the art of intentionally paying attention to your food without judgement and utilizing all of your senses during a meal. Tuning in (in a non-judgmental way!) allows you to get curious about your eating behaviors and better understand your thoughts and cues that guide food choices. The intent of mindful eating is to focus on how you feel during a meal and to fully savor food in the present moment.  

    What’s the difference between mindful eating and intuitive eating?
    Mindful eating and intuitive eating are two phrases that often get used interchangeably, but they are not entirely the same. Intuitive eating is an approach to eating created by two registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, which utilizes your body’s inner wisdom to make food choices instead of external food “rules.” There are 10 principles to intuitive eating, which are aimed at helping individuals become more in tune with their bodies. We are all born as intuitive eaters, but this skill often gets lost as we age due to various external factors such as socioeconomic status, chronic disease, and largely in part diet culture. 
    While mindful eating is certainly an important component of intuitive eating, it is a different approach to food and nutrition. The main difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating is that mindful eating is focused on being present during a meal by utilizing the senses before, during, and after eating. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is about reconnecting with your body by rejecting diet culture mentality, honoring your hunger and fullness, and respecting your body. For the TL;DR version, mindful eating is paying attention to your food in the present moment without judgment and intuitive eating is a framework with the goal of making peace with food. 

    What are the benefits?
    Mindful eating has many benefits, but it’s important to note that mindful eating is not meant to be used as a weight loss tool. Medically, mindful eating has been shown to reduce binge eating and emotional eating behaviors in individuals as well as reduce symptoms of irritable bowel sydrome (IBS) and help patients better manage Type 2 diabetes. But beyond that, mindful eating can also help with:
    Digestion, since slowing down during meals helps reduce stress, allowing your body to relax during the digestive process. 
    Learning or relearning how to enjoy your food by savoring each bite and utilizing your senses at each meal.
    Getting back in touch with hunger and fullness cues, as practicing mindful eating can help you become more in tune with your body’s needs.

    How to incorporate mindful eating:
    Eating mindfully is all about bringing awareness to each bite of food. While this may not always be possible (I get it—we’re all busy and stressed!), these are some tips to help you incorporate mindful eating into your daily routine. 

    Pick one meal to practice with
    For those new to mindful eating, it may be helpful to choose one meal to practice more in depth. It’s unrealistic to expect to eat mindfully every single time, but the more you intentionally make time to eat mindfully, the more innate it will become. For example, if you can set aside a short amount of time to practice mindful eating in the morning, use the five minutes it takes to eat your morning cereal or scrambled eggs to put away distractions and eat mindfully. If your days are a rush from the minute you wake up until the end of your work day, turn dinnertime into a mindfulness practice. 

    Take a pause
    I know how easy it can be to instinctively reach for your favorite comfort food after a long, stressful day. But before grabbing a snack from the pantry, pause and ask yourself what you’re really feeling. Is it stress? Sadness? Frustration? Boredom? Or are you physically hungry? Taking a moment to identify what you’re actually feeling can help you make a more mindful choice. If your feeling is not related to physical hunger, try a different activity such as calling a friend, going for a walk, or journaling to help process your thoughts and emotions instead. 

    Remove or minimize distractions while eating
    When sitting down for a meal, removing distractions is essential for mindful eating. This means shutting your work laptop, setting your phone aside, and not turning on the TV. This may not be feasible all the time, and that’s OK! But when you are able to remove distractions, try to focus on the food in front of you or the conversation if you are eating with others. 

    Slow down
    Whether you are eating quickly to move onto the next task, wolfing down breakfast on a morning commute, or you’re simply a fast eater, eating mindfully is all about slowing down. Taking time to pause during meals can look like setting your fork down between bites, stopping to take a sip of water, or taking a deep breath to check in with your body to see if you are still hungry or comfortably full.

    Engage your senses
    Take a moment to really look at your food. What about it is visually appealing? What does it smell like? Notice how it feels when you take your first bite. What descriptions come to mind? Is it crunchy? Chewy? Smooth? Paying attention to your senses really helps you savor your meal. After all, mindful eating is not about judging your food but rather about being curious and bringing full awareness to each bite. 

    How To Spring Clean Your Diet
    According to a registered dietician More

  • in

    Why Your Post-Workout Meal Is Just As Important As Your Workout, According to a Nutritionist and PT

    That post-workout meal that you choose actually has a much larger effect on how your muscles recover – thank you might think. And choosing the right post-sweat snack can help reduce that pain from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness that you feel as you climb out of bed the next morning.
    But how exactly does that work? And how do you actually choose a meal that might make those muscle aches and pains subside? Well, we have the answers, so you finally know how and what you should be fuelling up on after your sweat sesh.
    But first, we need to school you on the science of muscle recovery. And here to teach you, is Candice De Mendonca, a South African sports nutritionist and personal trainer.
    READ MORE: Calories Vs Nutrients: What You Need To Know About Losing Weight
    What *is* recovery?
    Recovery is a metabolic process that ideally wants to return the body to homeostasis. This is achieved post-training, and post-workout is where anabolic growth happens in our bodies. When you’re in anabolic state, you’re building muscle mass. And when you exercise, you’re in a catabolic state which is when you’re breaking down both fat and muscle.
    So you can see why gym bros rush home to down their protein powders after their leg day; they are trying to optimise the amount of anabolic growth, or muscle building that happens. Because when you understand these processes and your overall metabolism, you may be able to manipulate your body weight.
    That’s also why recovery and rest is so vital to helping you achieve your goals. “Too little rest and your body becomes catabolic, breaking down muscle tissue,” sports therapist Barry Sigrist previously told Women’s Health. But there are many other elements to recovery, too.
    READ MORE: What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (aka DOMS) & How Should You Treat It?
    “Recovery is multi-faceted with much-needed elements of rest, refuelling through nutrition, rehydration, regeneration (repair), resynthesis, reduction of inflammation and restoration,” says De Mendonca. “This ideally equals homeostasis in our bodies.”
    But right now we’re focusing on something that often gets overlooked; how to get that post-workout nutrition spot on. 
    How does nutrition play a role in muscle recovery?
    It’s all about macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients that your body uses large amounts of. There are three types of macronutirents; proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
    “It is imperative that our bodies get these nutrients in for energy and to maintain our body’s structure and metabolic systems,” says Candice. “This is why we mustn’t cut out any macronutrients. Moderation and balance are key.”
    If you’re more of a visual person, this is what Candice means:

    READ MORE: How Much Water You Should Be Drinking Daily, According To A Nutritionist
    So which macronutrients matter most after you’ve done a workout?
    “When it comes to recovery post-workout, protein and carbohydrates work in our bodies like a lock and key system,” says Candice. 
    The protein provides the muscles with what they need to repair, regenerate and grow by means of protein synthesis (that’s the metabolic process in which amino acids enter the muscle to bind to skeletal muscle proteins). And carbohydrates provide your muscles with what they need to refuel and store by replacing electrolytes and storing glycogen in your muscles and liver.
    In a 2007 paper from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that ingesting carbohydrates with protein following exercise increases growth hormone levels  to a greater extent than when compared to ingesting protein alone. The researchers stated that this led to a more favourable anabolic environment. for growth and recovery. So that’s why digging into a single chicken breast post-workout might not be the best idea, carbs are your friend here.
    But what about the third macronutrient; fats? Well, there is no scientific evidence that proves fats help right before you exercise or straight after. That’s because fats take too long to digest and break down to provide quick fuel and quick recovery. 
    How long after your workout should you eat?
    When you exercise, blood is quickly transported to the necessary muscle groups you are using to supply energy and nutrients.
    This is actually where the infamous “pump” comes from and this pump will last about two hours, making it an ideal time frame to get a post-workout meal in, advises Candice. Or, you know, to get that perfect post-workout mirror selfie in. 
    So, for 30 minutes to two hours after your workout, you want to try and get in a protein and carbohydrate only.
    READ MORE: 26 Easy Recipes for Protein Pancakes
    What is the perfect recovery ratio to look for in a post-workout meal?
    There is no cut and paste to nutrition. However, there are general rules of thumb you can follow, especially if you don’t have access to a dietician or sports nutritionist. And you can apply this logic to your post-workout nutrition.
    The physiologically perfect recovery ratio is 3:1 (carbs to protein). 
    “Everyone is different and there is no cut and paste to eating. Your vehicle and fuel requirements are different to mine,” explains Candice. “The ratio range one can use can safely be between 2:1 and 4:1 depending on your physical activity, intensity, duration and goals.”
    “For example, a runner would use a 2:1 ratio but a rugby player would use a 4:1 ratio.”
    “A post-workout meal with protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a pragmatic way to achieve this.”
    How can you put this into practice?
    “Plan your nutrition because that is already 80% of the battle won, 15% is your physical activity and 5% is your genetics;” says Candice. “You can exercise till you are quite blue in the face but if you’re not eating right your results will be minimal and not optimal.”
    Luckily, there is a very tasty way to get the nutrients you need after you’ve closed your workout ring at gym. Research has shown that drinking low-fat chocolate milk after a workout aids in post-workout recovery and muscle protein synthesis.
    We know, right? Chocolate milk!
    One great option is First Choice High Protein Recovery Milk. It has a ratio of 2:1 with 22g of protein and 22g carbohydrates with added grams from sucrose and lactose bringing the total carbs to 41.3g.
    Plus, major soccer clubs like Cape Town City Football Club and Amazulu use it as part of their nutrition and condition plans. And they recently won best new product in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages category of the 2020/21 FOOD REVIEW/Symrise New Product Competition. So you know it’s legit.
    READ MORE: How To Adapt Your Fitness and Nutrition For Every Age
    But what does our sports nutritionist and personal trainer say? “HPR makes it extremely easy, rewarding, and delicious to get protein in. Especially post-workout, it’s premixed, no mess, no fuss, and extremely delicious,” says Candice.
    Some other snacks from Candice that you could try are: 1 banana and 2 boiled eggs (12g protein: 31g carbs), 2 slices wholegrain toast and 1.5 tablespoons peanut butter (12g protein: 32g carbs) or 120g quinoa and 60g chicken (17g protein: 55g carbs).

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Nutrition Nutrition Advice More