Category Archives: Nutrition

What’s the deal with eggs?

Q: I just read this article about nutrition and eggs. While I don’t particularly like eating eggs, it was intriguing to me. What are your thoughts on the incredible, edible egg?

A: This was a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it with me.

On the whole, I think there is enough research out there that shows one egg per day is safe for MOST people. There are hyper-responders, as mentioned in the article, who may need to be more cautious. Eggs are a great source of protein. And they are generally a “filling” breakfast, which can be helpful for those trying to limit calorie intake.

I think this article points out something critical about almost all nutrition recommendations/advice. Very little in nutrition is black and white. Consumers are always looking for “eat this, not that” advice. But it isn’t that simple. There are better choices, but it always depends on what you are comparing it too.

I really like the quote from Dr. Willett at the end. “In terms of health, they {eggs} seem to be in the middle somewhere.”

So, enjoy your eggs occasionally. But that doesn’t mean you need to eat only eggs for breakfast forever.

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Put Your Best Fork Forward!

It’s March which means it is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme:

nationalnutritionmonth2017-2

I love the idea of putting your best fork forward. It means doing what is best for yourself, every day. Make choices that count, make you feel good, and help you become the person you want to be. Here are 3 tips for putting your best fork forward this month and any time.

1) Plan ahead. Good nutrition and health doesn’t just happen. Make a menu, write a grocery list, prep veggies ahead of time, join a gym, buy workout equipment, etc. Think through what it takes to eat and feel the way you want, then take steps to doing that. Set yourself up to succeed.

2) Move on from a set back. Did today get the better of you? Not feeling like exercising this morning? A party at work led you in the path of a bunch of sweets? It is OK. I repeat, it is OK. But move on. Don’t let one side step from your plan turn into a complete new path. Step back on track with you next choices and move on.

3) Start your day out right. Try to start you day with a good for you breakfast or exercise. A good choice first thing in the morning can really help set the tone for your day. I’ll admit, I don’t LOVE exercising. It’s work, guys! But, I do love how I feel the rest of the day when I do exercise and get myself going on the right foot.

And in that mindset, here’s a delicious smoothie I tried this morning that helped set me up for success today.

Berry-Beet Smoothie (Serves 3-4)

Berry Beet Smoothie

¼ cup orange juice
1 cup plain or vanilla fat free Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups frozen mixed berries
1 medium raw beet, peeled chopped into chunks
1 bunch beet greens, large stems removed
1 banana, frozen
Water or skim milk, as needed

1. Layer ingredients in order in a blender. Start blender on low, then gradually increase speed as needed to get smooth consistency. Leave blender on each setting at least 30 seconds. Add water or skim milk if needed to thin out the smoothie. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 158
Protein: 12 gm
Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: less than 1 gm
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Carbohydrates: 28 gm
Fiber: 5 gm
Sodium: 114 mg

Recipe Notes: I just squeezed a fresh orange and pulled some of the pulp in too. Bottled orange juice would be fine. I used plain yogurt. It tasted fine to me, but the kiddos around me were a little less thrilled. The vanilla yogurt with its extra sweetness would have helped them. I just used the greens from my bunch of beets, then roasted the extra beets up for my lunch. You might not need extra liquid; it will depend on how thick your yogurt is and how strong your blender is.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Q&A: Sources of Omega-3’s

Q: Is it okay to take a flaxseed oil pill and a fish oil pill (omega 3 fatty acid) both at the same time? Or is one a better supplement than the other?

A: Great question!

We need to first talk about fats. There are 3 kinds of fats for our discussion: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

Saturated fats: Generally bad for our health, we want to limit these kind. They are found generally in animal products and solid fats, like butter, whole milk, meat.

Monounsaturated fats: Generally good for our health. They are found in olive oil and avocados, among other foods.

Polyunsaturated fats: There are several kinds of polyunsaturated fats. These are generally good for our health as well, but we want to have the right “mix”. In our diets, we mainly talk about omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. As Americans, we eat too much omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetable oils. Omega-3 fatty acids also have several types, including ALA, DHA, and EPA. These are also found in some vegetable oils and fish.

Now, how much do we need to eat each day?

Saturated fat intake should be kept to less than 7-10% of calories. For an 1800-200 calorie diet, that would be 14-22 gm per day.

There aren’t specific recommendations for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake. However, total fat intake should be 25-35% of calories. If you account for saturated fat intake as above, that leaves 15-25% of calories for unsaturated fats.

The World Health Organization has recommend some daily amounts of omega-3’s. They recommend 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA and 0.8-1.1 grams of ALA daily for general health. For specific conditions, you can read more information here.

With all that information, back to the original question.

First, it is probably fine to take both supplements at the same time. However, I don’t know that it is entirely necessary. I’d compare the amounts in each one with the above recommendations.

I might say the fish oil is better DEPENDING on the composition. Flaxseed oil is high in ALA, but not EPA and DHA. Fish oil should have EPA and DHA as well as ALA. To truly compare them, I’d look at the labels and see the total amount of omega-3’s and types in each one.

AND, I would feel remiss if I didn’t say you don’t HAVE to take a supplement. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice weekly as well as other food sources of omega-3’s, such as tofu, walnuts, and canola oil.

Hope that helps!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Getting back on (or staying on) track

How are your New Year’s health resolutions (or word-solutions) coming along? Are you still on track, or did you fall prey to “Fall of the Bandwagon Thursday” and “Fat Friday” (mentioned in an earlier post)? If you aren’t where you’d like to be, never fear! Here are some tips to help you get back on track. If you you are still cruising along, great job! You can still use these tips as motivators to keep doing what you are doing.

1) Realize change doesn’t happen overnight. You aren’t going to magically not want chocolate, sugar, coffee, or whatever it is you are trying to avoid more frequently. You won’t lose 15 pounds in a month (if you did, go see a doctor because that isn’t healthy). You won’t love getting up early to exercise for the first little while (or ever). Change takes time. Hopefully, you set goals for 2017, meaning you have ALL YEAR to accomplish them. Cut yourself some slack.

2) Focus on the positive little steps you make rather than focusing on any missteps. Even if your progress is two steps forward, one step back, you are STILL getting one step forward in the net. I also like to think of “good” and “bad” choices as two separate accounts rather than one. That way, a “bad” choice doesn’t negate any good. It just fills up the wrong bank. I still have my “good” choices accumulating.

3) Know when to quit. Did you make a goal to exercise and you hate every minute of it and every day is a struggle? Maybe that goal or that exercise program isn’t right for you right now. Be ok to give up on that AND pick a new goal or routine. (That AND is very important). Not every goal is right for every person at every time. Learn about yourself and figure out what is right for you right now. For example, I used to run quite a bit. I had hoped to start running again. But I never can seem to get myself out of bed for a run. A workout video is a struggle, but manageable. So, right now, running isn’t for me. It was in the past, and it may be in the future.

4) Find intrinsic rewards. Exercise (generally) makes you feel more energtic and happier. Eating healthy food (generally) makes us have a more positive outlook. Look for these rewards in your choices rather than just the numbers on the scale, the distances/weight/time improvements, etc.

Hope these tips help you no matter where you are on the goal track. Happy health!

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Q&A: Leg Cramps

Q: I’m pregnant and have been waking up every night with horrible leg cramps. My researching online says I maybe need more magnesium. Do you have any suggestions how to work this into my diet?

A: Ouch! That is no fun. I had leg cramps with my second pregnancy, and I can remember how much those hurt.

The hard fact is that no one 100% knows why leg cramps happen, because there are lots of things that can lead up to them. Here are four common nutrients that are suggested or that I have seen be helpful. The good news is that many of these are found in the same foods (another reason it can be hard to identify exactly the cause/solution). Also good news, the same answers apply to pregnancy leg cramps or non-pregnancy related leg cramps.

1) Magnesium. As your researching suggests, magnesium is commonly recommended for leg cramps. In general, good sources are nuts, dark leafy greens (like spinach), and whole grains.

2) Potassium. Potassium rich foods are bananas, citrus fruits/juices, potatoes, tomatoes, yogurt, and dark leafy greens.

3) Calcium. Calcium rich foods are dairy products, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.

All three of these nutrients are part of normal muscle function. If one is depleted, it can cause cramps. Since all three work together, it can be hard to know exactly which one is missing, unless you are on a specific medication that we know depletes that nutrient.

4) Water. Water requirements in pregnancy can be hard to determine. You need a lot. Most say at least 8-10 cups a day, others will say up to 16 cups. I personally found that if I was better hydrated, my leg cramps went away. It’s hard, because we tend to not drink water late in the day so we aren’t up in the night using the bathroom. But I’d rather have to go to the bathroom than be up in pain.

Good luck! Hope this helps!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Fresh versus Canned Pumpkin

Over the last few years, I’ve met several people who SWEAR by fresh pumpkin. They tell me I should never use canned pumpkin because you can really tell the difference between fresh roasted pumpkin and canned pumpkin. Well, this year, I decided to test it out.

First, I used a “pie pumpkin”. This is a much smaller pumpkin. Prior to roasting it, I used it as a table centerpiece. I have heard mixed responses in person and online as to whether you have to use a pie pumpkin or can just use a regular jack-o-latern pumpkin. From my experiences with my baked pumpkin dinner, I think you’d be safer using a pie pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins sometimes have smooth, creamy interiors and sometimes are more stringy like a spaghetti squash. You wouldn’t want the stringy texture.

Here is a comparison of the purees. I roasted my pie pumpkin at 400 for about 45 minutes-1 hour, until it was fork tender. (I cut it in half and seeded it first). Fresh is on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Puree

You can see the canned is a much deeper orange color. And a slightly more watery, smoother texture. I could have added some water to mine to puree it to a similar consistency. I didn’t think it was necessary.

Here is the cookie dough. This is flipped from above – canned on the right, fresh on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookie Dough

This one is harder to tell a difference. The dough is a bit darker with the canned, but not too much. The doughs mixed up and baked pretty much the same.

And of course, the final product. Back to fresh on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookies

Any difference you see is in the lighting. There was not visible difference in the two cookies.

Taste? Well, I tried out both cookies on 18 people, not telling them what the difference was, asking if they had a preference. Most said they really couldn’t taste much of a difference. If they HAD to choose, maybe they liked canned better (although they didn’t know it was the canned one).

So my verdict: I’ll be buying canned pumpkin. To me, there wasn’t a big enough difference to justify the work and money of making my own.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Have your pie and eat it too

Thanksgiving Card

A fellow dietitian sent me that card. I found it very amusing.

I hope you are enjoying getting ready for Thanksgiving. I am now that my grocery shopping is over. And I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving full of delicious food.

How does this dietitian approach Thanksgiving? With very little thought to calories, more to strategy. My stomach can only hold so much without feeling sick. So, I prioritize foods I want. And I also keep my portions small. Why? Because I can eat more things that way. Like stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, turkey, Brussels sprouts, jello, homemade rolls, etc.

Do dietitians eat dessert? Heck yes. My annual white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake is on the menu, as are several pies. I plan to eat more than one kind. But, again, I will keep to small pieces. Again, this is more of a stomach space issue than calorie issue.

Holidays are not the time to think about calories. You’ll go nuts and be miserable. But try to focus on not gorging or making yourself sick. Feeling overly stuffed isn’t enjoyable either. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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