You and Your Virus Stock Pile: Proper Food Storage and Safety

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With the pandemic spreading worse across the United States, it is becoming more important to stock up on food supplies.  Stocking up is considered important because it means you intend to go through the food at some point, instead of hoarding large amounts that will likely go bad before you are able to cook it.  Below is a food safety guide that will help you work through the tough times ahead, while remaining safe when it comes to storing and cooking your food!

When you purchase food that is going directly to your freezer, or you are packaging cooked meals for later, ensure that you label the food and put the date on it in some way.  What works easiest is usually a freezer bag with a sharpie or marker that is non-erasable. If you are going to freeze something directly before cooking it and you bought in bulk, a best practice is to break the food into smaller portions that will equal a single meal or one with leftovers.  This allows more room in the freezer for storage when you break things down in that manner. You should use the first in, first out method as well, making sure you bring the oldest food from your freezer to cook first. This will help to prevent freezer burn or ruining of the food. When freezing the food, ensure you use freezer storage bags, as regular bags will allow for freezer burn to occur, ruining the food you just cooked or bought.

For thawing food out that is either frozen prior to cooking, or cooked and then frozen: 

  • Refrigerate your food to thaw it.  Place frozen food in a cooler or refrigerator keeping its temperature at 41OF or lower.  
  • Running water can thaw your food as well.  Submerge the food in drinkable water at 70OF or lower.  The flow of the water should be strong enough to wash loose food bits into the drain.  
    • Avoid putting your food directly on the sink surface, as this is where a lot of germs reside. 
    • Recommend keeping food in the sealed container it was stored in (freezer storage bag) and setting the food in the sink, rotating it until it is thawed out and can be separated in the bag easily.  
  • NEVER let the temperature of the food go above 41OF for longer than 4 hours, including thawing, preparation, and cooling time.
  • Microwaving your food to thaw can be a quick way to do it, however it must be cooked in conventional equipment like an oven once it is thawed.  
    • If you thaw food in the microwave then attempt to store the food again, it is slightly cooking it, then putting it back into a cold environment which can cause botulism.  
  • Cooking the food is also a way that you can thaw it.  This is used for prepared and frozen hamburger patties most often than anything else.  This should not be used for pork or poultry items, as it likely will not get cooked through completely.  

Once you have your food thawed, the next important thing is preparation and cooking.  To make sure you do not get sick, it is critical that you cook your meat to the below temperatures:

165OF for 15 seconds – 

  • Poultry
  • Stuffing made with fish meat or poultry
  • Stuffed meat of any kind as well as stuffed pasta
  • Steaks/chops for a medium well to well done cook

155OF for 15 seconds – 

  • Ground or brined meats
  • Mechanically tenderized meats
  • Ground seafood
  • Shell eggs that will be held hot for serving

145OF for 15 seconds – 

  • Seafood
  • Steaks/chops for a rare done cook
  • Commercially raised game

145OF for 4 minutes – 

  • Roasts

135OF (no minimum time) – 

  • Vegetables, fruits, grains (rice & pasta) and legumes (beans, refried beans) 

Once your food is cooked there is a certain process that needs to be followed in order to cool your food down for either refreezing or storage.  Maybe you cooked more than you intended, or you planned to cook for future meals, either way the storing of your food is important.

First cool the food from 135OF to 70OF within two hours.  If this cannot be accomplished, then you need to reheat your food and then cool it again.  If you cool the food within two hours, you can use the extra time to continue cooling it to 41OF.  Once it is at 41OF then you can freeze it or store it away in your refrigerator.    

When you decide it is time to thaw the food utilize the above methods previously discussed and ensure that you cook it to the correct temperatures.

What should I know about Intermittent Fasting?

 

I know you have heard of Intermittent Fasting by now, Dr. Oz has even been talking about it recently. Dr. Oz thinks in 2020 we should just cancel breakfast completely and all take up fasting. But, Intermittent Fasting can be more than just giving up breakfast. There's a few things you should know though before you jump into this new craze!

There has been quite a bit of research regarding intermittent fasting. Multiple questions have risen on if
it is healthy, or if it is just another fad diet. There are several different ways to start the intermittent
fasting diet. If you do decide to do it, then there are several things that you need to know.

First is the fact that most people associate intermittent fasting with eating in an 8-hour window 8:16 and
fasting for 16 hours per day. Fasting can be 12:12, 10:14, 8:16, 6:18, or any amount of time you wish to
go without eating with the remainder of the 24-hour day as the consumption time. This may be
extremely challenging for a lot of people, especially at first. Things that should be considered, are that
your breaking of the fast, starts the timer for your consumption. When you eat your last bit of food for
the day, is when the fasting begins. If you start eating at 7am, and you are on an 8:16 ratio, then the last
time you can eat anything for the day is 3pm.

One of the next most important things to know is the short-term effects of the diet. Some of these
effects are changes in mood, extreme hunger, binge eating behaviors, anger, fatigue, low energy, and
confusion. Many different reasons for this exist; but most of them are psychological. Knowing that you
are restricted on eating, leads to thoughts of food crossing your mind, and affecting your thought
process. Knowing that you cannot eat, or that you are calorie restricted in certain times, leads to
frustration or anger as your body works to process the changes that you are forcing upon it. As your
body works through the initial weeks of the dietary change, the metabolism makes the change very
difficult for some.

As the consumption window opens, it is very easy for those that are not careful, to
overeat in order to make up for the times that they had not been able to do so.
Recommendations for beginning the intermittent fasting diet are to start slow and then work as your
body adjusts to a stricter diet. By starting with a 12-hour fasting period, and introducing your body to it,
then you can find the time that is optimal to start the ending of your fast in the mornings.

After fasting this time period for a month, work to increase the amount of time that you are fasting to figure out
what works best for your schedule and body.
Some of the long-term effects of the diet are reduced appetite, increased insulin response, and overall
weight loss if you can pair the intermittent fasting with a well-rounded diet plan.

Other key questions that are brought up regarding intermittent fasting are:
Can I eat whatever I want?
Can I still workout?
Do I have to do this forever?
Can I fast if I am diabetic?
While you can eat whatever you want, unless restricted for other health reasons, it is best to follow a
well-balanced diet.

While you can still workout, it will be difficult to predict how your body’s energy
levels will react, especially at first. It is recommended that all efforts are made to continue with the
normal habits of your daily life as you begin intermittent fasting. While it may not be feasible to
complete this diet daily; some research shows that if you fast two days a week, it can work to provide
slight health benefits. This diet program is not recommended for diabetics, type 1 or 2. The prolonged
periods of time that your body is needing nutrients can be detrimental, dangerous, and potentially
deadly.

Before starting an intermittent fasting diet, it is important to consult a doctor or registered dietician to
ensure that you can live healthily.

 

Have you ever tried IF or are you planning on adding fasting to your routine? Let me know in the comments!

Is my metabolism slowing down?

You've asked that question to yourself multiple times. Remember never having to worry about your weight when you were younger, but as soon at you hit your 20s it felt like everything was losing day, and not in a good way.

So, maybe your metabolism is slowing down?

Well, first, you never burn the same amount of calories every day, you never only burn 2000 or 1500 calories, our bodies and metabolism as flexible. Our calorie burn changes depending on our hormone levels, our own food intake, activity, if your sick or healing. All of these things play a role in what makes up and what our metabolism is like.

That's why I don't like calorie calculators, but that topic is for another time.

Our metabolism changes. Every day. Every second of our lives, how we run is a little bit different.

And, our metabolism can very easily slow down. It's not like it just slows down once you hit 30 or 40 or 50. Our bodies don't realize what age we are exactly, so it definitely isn't saying "hey, I just turned 30 today, time to become lazy!" Nope, that's not it.

What actually makes our metabolism change the most, besides if we are sick or changes in our hormone levels, is our food intake. We can handle a day or 2 of under-eating without making our metabolism freak out.

But what our bodies cannot handle is an extended period of time where we are under feeding ourselves. We may be burning 2000 calories a day, but your taking in 1200 calories. At first, you'll see a weight loss and it will seem like everything else is staying the same. After a while though, at a low calorie intake, our bodies start to know that it will be under-fed and that it needs to start getting creative with how we use our energy and how we function every day.

After a while of under-eating, you may start to have stomach and bowel issues. This can show up as frequent gas, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. We don't have enough energy as we need, so our bodies must cut corners with making hormones and other secretions to help with digestion.

Prolonged under eating will also have the body make changes on a cellular level. Our mitochrondia, the powerhouse of the cells, can make changes in the processing of information and function of the cell itself.

Our bodies stop making certain hormones or won't make enough of them to trigger a certain response. Gherlin is the hormone that helps to signal that our body is hungry, when we are in "starvation mode" our bodies will stop making that gherlin so you don't feel hungry any more. Leptin is what makes us have that full feeling, that also becomes diminished as the restriction continues.

You will stop seeing changes in your weight, and in your muscle mass as you get deeper and deeper into extended restriction.

In essence, our bodies are kind of shutting down a little. Going on strike because it's not getting what it wants.

That's why we CANNOT be a calorie deficit for many months and years at a time. We are not meant to live on 1200 calories a day. I have talked to many of you and many others, most have said that you have been trying to lose weight for years. One person said 20 years...

So next time you consider cutting your calories even lower or continuing/choosing a new diet to be on, why don't you consider a diet break? Add some food back in and give your body a rest. Everything that is suppose to happen will start to come back again and you'll begin to feel good.

Smarter Holiday Choices

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With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, the thoughts of many may quickly turn to the New Years’ resolutions of becoming healthier. There are several ways to approach this goal, without having to change drastically. Hopefully these tips will help to achieve not only short term, but lasting change in dietary habits. Some of the easiest ways include subtle modifications to what you consume around the holidays which will allow for more calories to be consumed in different ways.

One of the ways you can modify your appetizers is by replacing heavy cream cheese dips, or those with large amounts of unhealthy fats with a base of Greek yogurt. By adding certain ingredients to Greek Yogurt, you can change the entire tray of food into a healthy snack. The below recipe is one that is quick and easy to make!

Ingredients (for three servings):
16 oz. Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons of dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon green onion

Steps: In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients until well mixed. Cut desired
vegetables and place in a circle around the bowl for serving.

After your appetizer is all the rave, you can move on to the main course and sides! One
favorite of many families around the holiday seasons is candied yams. By swapping those
with roasted sweet potatoes, you can save almost half of the calories! For easy roasting
of sweet potatoes, the recipe below can be followed.

Ingredients:
2 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ in pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
freshly group pepper, to taste

Steps: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, arranging sweet potatoes in a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes, tossing to coat. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir around in the baking dish, continually stirring every 15 minutes until tender and starting to brown (may take up to 50 minutes more.) The amount of calories per serving is 92, with the total fat being 2g, carbohydrates 18g,
sugars 9g, proteins 1.2g.

For a great stuffing, that brings flavor and depth into your holiday meal, a great idea is to incorporate cranberries into it. This can bring in the antioxidant qualities of the berries, as well the whole wheat benefits of the grains and nutrients.

Ingredients:
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
10 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup whole water chestnuts
1 cup chopped apple (with skin on)
The serving size of this stuffing recipe is ½ cup. Although the taste may make it difficult
to eat just that amount! The calories per serving are 149, 2g of total fat, 28g of
carbohydrates, 7g of dietary fiber, 6g of protein, and 7 added sugars.
One of the hardest things for people to compromise on during the holidays season is desserts. Most of the time the amount of desserts at a gathering can be equal to the
amount of actual choices of main course items. For an easy swap on the dessert front, try making a tasty apple pie. One personal favorite is below.

Ingredients
Pie crust
1 cup dry rolled oats
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon water

Filling
6 cups sliced and peeled tart apples (about 4 large apples)
1/3 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Steps: To prepare pie crust, mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix oil and water together with whisk. Add oil and water mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until dough holds together. Add a bit more water if needed.

Press dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside until filling is prepared. To prepare filling, combine all
ingredients in a large bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes. Stir and then spoon into prepared piecrust. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 40 minutes, or until apples are tender. Each slice of this pie includes 204 calories, 8g of total fat, 4g of protein, 29g of carbohydrates, 4g of dietary fiber, and 3g of added sugars.

How to Prevent the Holiday Weight Gain

Did you step on the scale this week and think "holy crap, what have I done?" If you have, that's okay. You're not alone if you're seeing some fluctuations with your weight as you get in the midst of the holiday season. It can be a hard thing to see happening, but you're not the only one experiencing it!

From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, it's scientifically proven that we gain about 5 pounds, probably less than you were thinking, right? But, it is also proven that that 5 pounds is not a weight that comes right off. In fact, those 5 pounds you typically never lose. So, how much weight have you put on over the last couple years? Is it at least 5 pounds every year? Perhaps those 5 pounds are coming from your holiday routine!

But have no fear! I am here to help you prevent that 5 pound weight gain this year! There are 5 key areas I want you to focus on this year; let's jump in!

 

Self care

Self care is one of the first things we push aside during the holidays. We have so may obligations and things to do that we use the excuse that we can't make time for us to sit down and read a book or just relax. December is when a large amount of mental illnesses get diagnosed because of all the stress and anxiety that come with the holidays. This year will be different for you. I want you to look at your daily routine; do you find yourself endlessly shifting through store ads to find the best deal, or always running out to the mall to go shopping, scrolling through social media or watching every Christmas movie that ever existed but then find yourself saying you don't have enough time? If so, we've got to change somethings. You get the same 24 hours in a day that I do, you have to use them wisely. If you find that scrolling through Instagram only makes you upset, then let's set a time every night that you'll be putting your phone away. How about making time to read a book? Getting up 5 minutes earlier every morning and journaling. Make a gratitude journal. Say a prayer. Something that can help ground you every day and not make it feel like you're running around like a chicken with no head. Stress prevents us from losing weight, it raises our cortisol levels and the last priority that our body has is to lose weight. If you can de-stress nightly, get it done!

 

Activity

Activity is another big one that we always say we don't have time for, during the holidays and the regular times of the year. We constantly say we "don't have time" to get our butts to the gym or get moving in some way. Once again, you have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else does. Use your time wisely. What about Christmas shopping while you're on the bike? What about asking your coworker to go on a walk with you at lunch rather than watch Netflix? Can you get up and get moving every hour? Even if it's just to walk and get a drink of water? When we can get and stay active, it's a lot easier to keep the weight off during the holidays.

 

Stick to your Routine

When we are stressed and have a lot of things going on, it's so easy for us to ditch our routines completely because "we are too busy!". Of course we want to stay as active as we can, but there's more to routine than just that! When we are busy, it's easy for us to push off eating until later because we will be less busy then, but remember your body loves routine. When we can find a routine that we can stick to, we work best. So, if you know you have to run out the door early for an appointment, don't forget to have breakfast, pack a snack with you, make lunch and plan for dinner. If we stay on top of our eating schedule and continue to honor our hunger, you shouldn't run into times when you're feeling ravenous and eat everything in sight. Plan your meals ahead of time and stick through it! Same with sleep, get to bed at your usual times! You need your sleep to be able to perform at the top of your game. Remember 7 to 9 hours nightly is key.

 

Navigating the Party Spread

This is where it can all go wrong for most people! The first place I tell my clients to start is well before you get to the party. Just because you're going to a party and you're expecting some delicious food to be there, you still need to eat throughout the day leading up to it! If you skip all your meals and snack leading up to the party, you'll arrive feeling ravenous and end up eating way more than you thought you would. Start your day off normal, eat breakfast, have lunch, maybe a snack and teach the party like any other meal.

With appetizers, put what you'd like to eat on a little plate and walk away from the spread. It's easy for us to sit down, at the spread and mindlessly eat everything, but if we can portion out what we will have and walk away from the spread to eat it, we will be more mindful with how much we are eating. Grab the appetizers that have multiple food groups in them to get the most out of them, nutrient wise!

At dinner, don't feel like you need to pile everything on your plate all at once. Figure out what you'd like to have, start with the vegetables, have your protein then go with your starch last. The vegetables will provide you with fiber to help fill you up fast, the protein will keep you full and ending with the carbs will help to make sure you don't over do it! Remember, there is always left overs, so don't be afraid to pass on some things and bring it home for later.

For dessert, rather than making a sampler platter of a bunch of different options, pick one thin you're dying to have a give yourself the full size! You'll be more satisfied having the full serving, without going overboard on desserts!

 

Hydration

Lastly, hydration is a MUST! We often bloat a lot around the holidays because we are eating more high sodium foods and drinking less water, so our bodies try to hold on to as much water as it can. To prevent that holiday bloating, your should be aiming for at least half your weight in ounces of water every day! It will help flush the excess sodium and sugar out, keeping you hydrated and minimizing the bloat factor! I know its cold out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stay hydrated!

 

So there you have it, my 5 key things you should be focusing on this year to help you prevent the holiday weight gain! Practice self care, stay hydrated, get active, keep your routine and navigate the spreads wisely!

I want to know, how do you handle the holidays? Do you go in confidently or feel panicked all the time?

Food Label Claims and What They Mean

You’re walking down the aisle at the grocery store and suddenly, a bright red label sticks out among all of the products. You walk closer, and see the words “HEART HEALTHY” and “MAY HELP PREVENT HEART DISEASE”. You’re then drawn in, you pick it up and throw it into your basket and continue on your way. Your mom had heart disease so, of course is there’s a food that may help prevent heart disease and is deemed heart healthy, you MUST have it.

 

There are label claims EVERYWHERE. Pick up any “health” food or supplements and you can read an extensive list of all the claims that it has on helping you and all the diseases that it can prevent, and even that you can restore your brain health to be a teenager again! Labels can be the wild west. There are some label claims that are regulated, meaning they have certain criteria that they have to fit into to be on a label, and then others that seem like they have are just sticking almost any word combo they can on a label.

 

Let’s break down some of the regulated ones.

 

Heart healthy- In order for a product to say “Heart Healthy”, it must be low in cholesterol, low sodium and low saturated fat.

Low fat- Less than 3g of fat per serving

Low sodium- less than 5% of the daily value

Good source of ____- must be at least 20% or more of the daily value

Light- must have 1/3 less fat and half the calories that the original product has

Gluten Free- must have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten in the product

Organic- Must have at least 70% of the ingredients be organically grown to be considered organic

Not regulated claims- these are typically found on products like vitamins, minerals and other supplement products as they are not regulated

For example, a bottle of biotin may say- “Biotin is a B vitamin that helps supports healthy energy metabolism. Biotin and keratin support healthy hair, skin and nails.” But, underneath those claims, there will also be a statement that says “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”. This means that just because your biotin CLAIMS to give you amazing skin, hair and nails, they cannot guarantee that it will happen. When you see something like this, you cannot base your judgement and usage on these claims.

What label claims do you often see? Let me know in the comments below!

Why you’re getting those cravings!

When I was at my most recent engagement, just this past Tuesday at Barre 3 in Syracuse, I was asked a lot about CRAVINGS.

One lady was saying how she had lost 80 pounds over the last 2 years but as she lost the weight, her cravings for sweets increased.

She said that she can be disciplined and have only 1 or 2 pieces, but she finds that the next day, shes uses the excuse that she had some the day before so she can have some today and ends up bingeing on it.

Have you ever felt like that? You're good in the moment, but later on it comes back as a major craving for more. And, rather than saying no, I am good. You find the nearest sweet and DEVOUR it?

That's okay. It happens.

But, I have got some good tips for you to keep in mind.

Cravings occur because we are either lacking something in our diets or because of restriction. We are either telling ourselves no we can't have something, or we aren't eating enough of a variety.

One thing that may help, adding a multi-vitamin into your daily routine to help cover your micro-nutrient bases.

Another option, making sure you're getting carbs, protein and fat into your diet daily and from different sources. Remember, we are aiming for 3 different colors and 3 different food groups a day.

And then there's restriction.

We tell ourselves no, no, no and then we get to a point where we can't say no anymore and find ourselves without any self control and elbow deep into a bag of candy or chips.

It even happens to you on a cycle, it seems like every month you end up back at square one.

If that is you, on the restriction train, I want to challenge you to start incorporating those foods that you typically crave into your daily routine. Make it okay, give yourself permission, and just have it. Now, I am not talking eating an entire bag of chips or candy, but in a portion controlled manner and I like to recommend with lunch.

When you have it at lunch, you'll still be utilizing a lot of energy for the day so you can burn the excess off and it gives you a little pick me up when you're feeling like crashing.

Cravings can be hard, too, especially around the holidays with all the treats around but remember to enjoy and move on.

You can do it!

When your Lifestyle isn’t a Fad |by Jenny Bishop

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Imagine always feeling like there is a fog over your life, yet never knowing why.  Or having a rash that doesn’t go away. This was my life before I found out that I have Celiac Disease. From a young age, I had always had eczema, and doctors would give creams to help, but nothing really worked.  

In late 2015, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  It was a long road to finally bring relief and closure to a part of my life that I never could figure out.  It took advocating for myself in multiple doctor’s offices, finally finding the doctors that believed what I said; then went to work to put it all together.  I was very fortunate to find the support system that helped to diagnose my health issues, however I know many are not so lucky. The catalyst for my diagnosis was my youngest child being born.  After the birth, I felt like I was living in a haze on a regular basis. My primary tried blaming post-partum; and made me feel like I was crazy. I knew this was different and brought it up to my OB-GYN during one of my follow up visits.  She was very attentive, helping me to find a new primary that was within her group. My OB-GYN went to work right away, attempting to put together my symptoms, and analyzing the test results for the panels of bloodwork she had me perform. She referred me to a Gastrologist who scheduled a colonoscopy for me, which found the inflammation and solidified the diagnosis of Celiac Disease.  

After my diagnosis, I went into our pantry and realized how much gluten containing items I had been eating all my life.  My husband and I discussed the issue and we knew there could be no more cross contamination in the house. This was not difficult to accomplish, we just started buying the gluten free items and doing a lot of research on what it means to live gluten free.  That is when I came across the research showing that if you do not have a gluten allergy, then there are potentially no health benefits for you. The main thing that people should focus on would be portion control and the amount of preservatives that they ingest if they do not have an allergy.  

What it means to be gluten free for medical reasons is being ready to always read labels at the store while grocery shopping.  Companies can change the equipment that the process certain foods on, like dip apples that I used to buy for my children. One day my oldest was the one that caught it, the caramel that went with them was being produced in a facility that also handled wheat.  While they had labeled it, I hadn’t been checking consistently at that point to catch it since when I had started, it was gluten free with no cross contamination. The same goes for all foods that we buy, and any restaurant that we go to as a family. Going out to eat becomes an excursion that must be planned out.  I was recently glutened at one of our kids’ favorite go to restaurants, mainly because we went in the late afternoon instead of opening time like we normally do. Trying new places is hard for me, because I hate the sick feeling that it brings on if I do end up consuming something that was cross contaminated. It means researching online, not just by word of mouth; and comparing reviews, looking at the history of those reviews and even being worried when you walk in.  If I have a funny feeling about a place, I talk to managers about their process, and have left restaurants before because it was not worth the risk to me. It is hard sometimes, especially when you just want to go out for tacos, or make a quick run because you didn’t have time to cook, or are bored of the same of things; but to me I is worth it to not feel sick for days on end as my body works to process out the contamination.  

Expanding on my earlier comments, there have been multiple studies that have shown that if you do not have celiac disease, a gluten free diet does not benefit you at all.  I ask all to be weary if you are going to follow one, because the last thing you want to do is to starve your body of vital nutrients that it may need; which if you are not supplementing properly while on a gluten free diet, can be harmful to you.  For those people that do have questions, or are curious about your health, I recommend speaking with your doctor to find out for sure if you do have Celiac Disease. It changed my life, and I feel healthier than ever now that I know what had been wrong for the first large portion of my years.  If you do suspect that you have an autoimmune disease, do not quit trying to find out the answers. In my pursuit of answers, I found out that I also have two other disorders that affect my health, but with the right staff and doctors to help manage them, I live a perfectly happy and healthy life!  It is all about not being content or satisfied if you think something is wrong with your body.  

 

What does “Organic” even mean?

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I get asked this question a lot, "Emily, what does it mean if something is organic?"

Surely, you've seen the marketing that claims that organics are better for you, they will help you lose weight and that they can prevent you from being exposed to pesticides which are harmful to our bodies.

It is true that there can be negative side effects with over use over ingestion of pesticides at high does over an extended period of time, but it's not any thing you should be overly concerned.

So what does "Organic" mean?
If it's organic, that means that it was grown without the use of artificial hormones, chemicals or antibiotics. For it to be labeled "Organic", it has to comply with certain guidelines. Organic foods typically use more manure to fertilize the food, which can help with the nutrient profile of the produce. However, just because they use natural fertilizers, doesn't mean that they are safe for us to have in high quantity either.

Some studies have shown that some produce is higher in vitamins and minerals, however, there are equal amounts of studies that show that there is no difference in nutrient profile either.

Organic food typically costs more to grow as it uses more water during the growing process, as well as is more labor intensive for the farmer. If you simply wash your conventionally grown produce with water, you reduce the pesticide residue on the produce and reduce any risk.

Just because it's organic doesn't mean it doesn't use some sort of pesticides though. Often times, the pesticides are derived from heavy metals which can also cause problems. 

We have to remember that with any study that says some one the usual pesticides cause cancer, that it is typically in very high doses of it. The same is true with artificial sweeteners. However, with the end product we get, they are typically low in pesticides, therefore not enough in one sitting to cause issues.

We have to remember that organic, not as healthy food, is still not as healthy even though it is organic.

Some of the products are still highly processed, have added sugar, fat and sodium, just like the non-organic version. Often times, labels will say something is made with organic, natural ingredients, but we have to remember that in the end, it's still sugar, no matter what form it is in.

In the end, organics may have slightly more nutrients than conventionally farmed produce, but they are more expensive and can soil faster than non-organic foods. There are no clear cut answers on whether we should be eating organics or not, but in my opinion, if my grandparents were just fine on conventionally farmed produce, then I am okay.

If you're someone who would rather have organics, then that's your preference!

BMI or Bogus: Should I be Paying Attention to my BMI?

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You’ve probably heard of BMI, Body Mass Index before. Either your doctor has mentioned it to you, you see what your BMI is on your physical print out, or you’ve calculated it yourself. BMI has been around in the medical field for a while, but what exactly is it and should we be paying attention to it?

Body Mass Index is a height to weight ratio, Kilograms over meters squared, and then falls into 4 different categories. There’s underweight (18.5 or less), healthy weight (18.5-24.5), over weight (24.6 to 29.9) and obese (30.0 and beyond). There’s even certain classes of the obese category to break down the level of obesity as well. Obese class 1 (30-34.9), Obese class 2 (35-39.9) and obese class 3 (40.0 and above).

In the clinical setting, like hospitals and some doctor’s offices, BMI is used and tracked as weight and health trend, it can be used for diagnosing things like metabolic syndrome and billing for malnutrition and obesity care, and for interventions.

However, as a dietitian, I don’t like to use BMI with my clients. Some clients will say all they want to do is have their BMI be in the healthy range, but they don’t always realize that a “healthy BMI” may not be  the best measure of success.

Like I said before, BMI is just a ratio, 2 numbers are plugged in and a number is calculated. This is all subjective data and data that doesn’t even depend on the person at all.

What BMI doesn’t see is your muscle mass, muscle weighs more than fat does, so if you have more muscle that the average person, you likely weigh more than the average person.

BMI doesn’t know how you eat every day, you could be eating the healthiest and most nutritious foods out there, you could be in the best shape of your life, but your BMI is calling you overweight when you clearly are not overweight or unhealthy.

BMI doesn’t care if you put hours in the gym, have a low body fat percentage or if you have a perfect bill of health. I went to school when a guy who was very muscular, low body fat percentage and a high amount of muscle mass, but his BMI is Obese class 3! A very healthy and fit male is defined as obese class 3.

Instead of paying attention to BMI, you should really be measuring success with non-scale victories!

Start measuring your waist circumference, start seeing how your energy is throughout the day, how well your sleep is, how clear your skin is and your hunger signals. That is stuff that matters!

BMI is just a number, just like how the number on the scale is just a number. What matters more is you and how you feel. You won’t remember your BMI in one year, but you’ll remember how you feel.