Tag Archives: nutrition

Q&A: Ketogenic Diet

Q: Is the ketogenic diet helpful for brain health, remembering, clear thinking, etc?

A: Thank you as always for questions. I love hearing what nutrition topics are concerning everyone. With so much in the media, it is very hard to know what “real” people are focusing on.

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. Our body actually wants some level of carbohydrates for energy. Some organs, such as the brain, actually greatly prefer carbs to fats. If there are not enough carbohydrates, the body will burn fat and produce something called ketones. The brain can then use these ketones as a source for energy.

The ketogenic diet has been part of the treatment for epilepsy for many years. There are proven benefits for people whose epilepsy is not controlled well with medication alone. However, the diet needs to be closely monitored by a dietitian to ensure overall nutrient adequacy.

The ketogenic diet most people using it under generally “healthy” circumstances is really just another low carb diet like Atkins or South Beach. There are no proven benefits for weight loss or mental health or clarity. Many people do succeed with weight loss, but as with most diets, it is not sustainable when they go back to their traditional eating pattern.

Sorry this won’t give you the memory recall you hoped! Thanks again for the question.

Don’t forget you can always ask questions in the comments here or email me at kimberlykmarshgmail.com!

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Snicky Snacks

For a period of time when she was younger, my now almost 5 year old loved to call snacks “snicky snacks”. It was equal parts endearing and obnoxious, as many things with toddlers are.

Are you a snacker? For most people I’ve met, there is a clear divide here: those who snack and those who don’t. I am generally a moderate snacker – if it is available, I’ll snack. I LOVE snack foods and enjoy occasionally just making a meal of snacks. However, when I am pregnant and breastfeeding, my snacking is at Olympic training levels.

While to some of you that sounds delightful, sometimes it is hard. The trick with snacking is not over doing it and finding something “healthy”. And thinking about it as much as I have to in these scenarios is draining. I’ve been hearing a lot about decision fatigue lately, and I definitely get snack decision fatigue.

In honor of that, I thought today I’d share a list of some of my go-to healthy(ish) snacks. I hope they help you in any snacking ventures you are experiencing.

– Lowfat cottage cheese with fruit. Drained peaches canned in juice is my absolute favorite.
– Trail mix. I try to find one with plenty of dried fruit and maybe yogurt chips, no outright “candy”.
– Yogurt. With fruit, with granola, plain, I’m an equal opportunity eater. My personal favorites right now are Light and Fit Greek or Noosa.
– Popcorn. Home popped with a little Parmesan or the store bought white cheddar.
– Triscuits. Please try the fig and honey flavor.
– Veggies with hummus
– Cheesesticks with lunch meat. I try to keep this one sporadic as it is a bit of a salt bomb.
– Clif Zbars. Yes these are the kid versions. But I love them.
– Fig Bars.
– Leftover smoothie. If I can hide it from my kids, I usually make too much smoothie in the morning and love to save the extra for later.
– Muffins. I like to make big batches of 2 or 3 kinds of muffins and store them in my freezer.
– Avocado or almond butter toast.
– Tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole. This one definitely has to be in moderation. And I try to find salt free chips.

I’d love to hear some of your go to snacks. I’m always looking for variety. Happy snacking!

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Diets to Avoid in 2018

It is the end of February. That is crazy to me! Time is flying by. I hope you are doing well on any health (and other) goals you made for this new year.

I realized I forgot to post these earlier in the year. But a list of fad diets to avoid is always timely. Especially as I think we are all re-evaluating what has or has not worked for us in the last 2 months. If you are looking for a change-up in your eating routine, the British Dietetic Association (and I agree) suggest you AVOID these five diets: raw vegan, alkaline, Katie Price Nutritional Supplements, Pioppi, and ketogenic diet.

Here’s why:

Raw Vegan Diet: A vegan diet can be consumed safely if you are conscientious and take supplements for vitamins B12 and D. However, it is not going to magically make you lose weight. Calories are calories. And there is no benefit from consuming all foods raw. Some foods cannot be digested raw – like potatoes.

Alkaline Diet: The whole premise behind this diet is flawed. Our body has multiple processes that balance the pH of the blood. If you pH was off, you would be in the hospital. Changing your diet CAN change the pH of your urine, which is what you check in this diet. You may lose weight, but because you are eating more healthy. Not because of pH changes.

Katie Price Nutritional Supplements: Bottom line is you don’t need supplements to lose weight.

Pioppi Diet: This is an altered version of a low-carb Mediterranean diet. Save yourself time and money by following a traditional Mediterranean diet (which I talk about here).

Ketogenic Diet: This is a real diet that can be followed and helpful for people with epilepsy. However, it should be done under the guidance of a dietitian. For weight loss, it is basically a very low carb diet. In the short term, it may help you lose weight. It isn’t sustainable in the long term, which means the weight loss likely would not be either. Over restricting one food group is generally not a good idea.

For more on these diets, read the British Dietetic Association’s review here. Happy eating and not dieting!

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Eating in Real Life

A few weeks ago, postpartum hormones had me feeling a bit down. And I realized that I was semiconsciously getting depressed by comparing myself to bloggers I follow online. Guess what? Their lives aren’t my life, so comparing is pointless and painful.

In the spirit of being real, I have two shares today. First, here is a real meal from our house last week.

Call it Good Dinner

Pictured: two different kinds of pasta that I needed to finish boxes of, jarred spaghetti sauce, a random salad, and breadsticks I froze back and Halloween (hence the “bone” shape).

Not every dinner is scratch made at pretty much anyone’s house. And that is ok. We have a couple nights a week that are a little bit hairy at dinner around here. So I have to schedule things that are easier and faster. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make them as healthy as possible.

For this dinner, I sautéed onions, bell pepper, and carrots that I cooked into the sauce. I also threw in some Italian sausage. I love having big bags of Costco produce, so I can always at least have a salad at dinner. And when I make breadsticks, I always make a big batch if not a double big batch so I can freeze them. Then whole wheat bread is a few minutes in the oven away. Little planning and additions make the difference.

My second share is an unsponsored product review. Quaker doesn’t even know I exist to sponsor a post. Although I do admit to hearing about these in a sponsored post elsewhere. When I saw them on sale last week, I decided to try a couple to tell you guys about.

Quacker Overnight Oats

Quaker has a new(ish) product of these individual overnight oats containers. There is a fill line on the container. Put in milk (or a nondairy milk substitute) to the line, put in the fridge at night, and you have breakfast in the morning. Here’s what it looks like when you pull it out in the morning.

Quacker Overnight Oats

I got two flavors: Blueberry Banana Vanilla Bliss and Toasted Coconut Almond Crunch. My husband and I both ended up heating ours up, which is optional. My husband is a warm oatmeal eater. I wanted to try mine both ways. We both thought it took longer than suggested 30 seconds in the microwave. We both thought they tasted fine. But at the sale price of $1.50, to us, it isn’t worth it. We can make something as good or better on our own. It is fast and the taste is good. But I’ve posted before how you could make your own breakfast that is similar. Just without a cute container. A little more effort in measuring, but I think the overall taste and texture is worth it. Would I judge you if you bought these? Absolutely not! It’s a healthy breakfast. Go for it!

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What’s Saving My (Health) Life Right Now

It’s already February! And today marks the halfway point of winter. Woo hoo! We can do this.

How are your resolutions going? I heard someone say recently they love February because we can all get over our resolutions and talk about sweets again. I hope you aren’t in the camp because your resolutions are truly LIFESTYLE changes that you want to keep always.

Anne Bogel, on modernmrsdarcy.com, starts a discussion every year on this date about things “saving our lives”. It is easy, especially in dreary winter months, to focus on all the things going wrong. I had a day like that yesterday. To combat the negativity, it is important to focus instead on the things going right and making our days/weeks/lives better. I love this idea. I actually started my list a couple weeks ago when I was having a rough time. It made a huge difference in my attitude.

Baby Grins that Save My LIfe

This baby girl and her sweet grins are definitely saving my life. Today, I’m sharing 6 things that are saving my life in the aspects of nutrition/health/cooking.

1) Amazon Prime music playlists. I recently made my own playlist on Prime (something I didn’t know I could do). It is all my favorite workout songs. Now, I get excited to exercise and get pumped up during my video when a new song I like comes on.

2) Costco produce. I usually don’t buy many fruits and vegetables at Costco. My family isn’t very big, so I feel like we waste it. But it has helped me make better food choices lately. It’s magic. I can eat more vegetables at lunch when I have lots of salad ingredients or carrots around.

3) Smoothies. Part of how I’ve been using up all that produce is smoothies. I drink a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning lately. It helps me rehydrate after my workout. I can drink it while I feed my baby or tidy up the house a bit, so I can multi-task more. My current go to mix: frozen berries, milk or water to thin, banana, greek yogurt or an instant breakfast packet, spinach, baby cucumber. Yum!

4) Treat days. One of my resolutions this year was to only eat treats on two days a week. I’m not going to lie. This is not particularly easy sometimes. But I REALLY enjoy my treats on days I’m allowed them. And I find I’m eating a little less random stuff. When it is a treat day, I know EXACTLY what I want to eat. I’m not just scavenging random candy or fruit snacks I don’t even like from the cupboard.

5) Healthy snacks. To get through my non-treat days, I do allow myself to snack. Yogurt, popcorn, and trail mix (nuts, dried berries, and yogurt chips) are my go-to’s that help me satisfy my cravings without going crazy.

6) Pressure cooker. I am not cool and have an Instant Pot. I’d love one, but my stove-top pressure cooker works well enough I can’t justify that big of a purchase. But it makes food SO fast, which is helpful as our evenings seem to be busy lately. Rice, beans, soup, and chicken are some of my favs right now. I’ll be sharing recipes soon.

What’s saving your life right now, nutrition or otherwise? Share in the comments!

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Pre-shredded Cheese – yes or no

I recently made a recipe that said the sauce would be creamier if using self-shredded cheese versus pre-shredded cheese bought at the store. I’ve often heard people say they don’t like the pre-shredded cheese. I’ll admit I’ve gone in phases of which I buy. So is there really a difference?

The answer is yes. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-clumping agents, such as starch and/or cellulose, and often also with anti-molding agents. These make them last longer and not melt together into a large clump in the bag. But it can also mean they won’t melt together as well when putting them in a sauce or on a dish.

So what should you buy? That is a matter of personal preference. None of these additives change the nutrition to a level that matters. Personally, I buy big bags of pre-shredded mozzarella that I store in the freezer. Then I’m always ready for pizza or pasta, which are “back-up” meals for me. And I find mozzarella a pain to shred. I buy block cheese of other cheeses for cost and varied utility.

Happy eating!

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To comfort or not to comfort

Truth: sometimes we all have bad days. Today was one for me. Most people I know turn to comfort foods when times are tough. Desserts, ice cream, and candy are common. Or maybe it is take-out chinese food for you. I know someone whose comfort food is chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. I sometimes find a Big Mac comforting. We all have our food.

But does that food actually make us feel better? I can’t find the reference now, but I recently heard about some research done that indicates the answer is no. Eating a healthy food had the same effect as the comfort food. Some research has shown that not eating has the same effect.

I’m curious if this rings true for any of you readers out there. I have mixed thoughts on this.

1) I’m not convinced that a lab stimulated “depressed” mood from watching a sad movie is the same as how we feel after a bad day.

2) Not all comfort foods are created equal. No one food is the right answer every time (or any time if you believe the research).

3) I will admit that sometimes eating something healthy gives me enough of a positive boost (Hey look, I did something good for myself) to get through. And exercising can have the same effect as well.

4) Most of the time, the effects of anything, comfort food or otherwise, are fairly short lived on your overall mood for the day.

I’ll admit without shame that I ate some ice cream to help me through my rough day.

Let me know in the comments what your comfort foods are and if this research rings true for you or not!

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