Cereals With Too Much Sugar? Pick These Cereals, Not Those

sugar in cereal

When you look at a Nutrition Fact Label, you can see sugars noted on the label. The amount of sugar will be stated in grams of sugar from the product based on the serving size noted on the label. Here’s a quick fact to visualize what those grams of sugar look like if put into a teaspoon. For every 5 grams of sugar, that is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. So, if a cereal has 17 grams of sugar per serving, then that cereal contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. I think most nutrition professionals would say such cereals have too much sugar. At least this one would!

Cereal label showing sugar in cereal So, if you take a look at the Nutrition Fact Label, you can see that a serving of this cereal has only 2 grams of sugar. That sugar content is very low in comparison to most cereal products. It would be a good choice if you wanted to limit your sugar from cereals. While limiting sugars is important, a cereal should be providing other important nutrients such as fiber and iron. For many people, the amount of iron in cereal is particularly problematic and could potentially be harmful to their health.

Drawbacks to lots of sugar in the diet

Sugar is classified as a simple carbohydrate. It is a type of carbohydrate that has virtually no nutritional value other than calories. This is in direct contrast to complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates give us so much more than just empty calories. These foods are significant sources of B complex vitamins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of complex carbohydrates include potatoes, corn, legumes, barley, brown and wild rice, and whole grain derived products. In fact, the cereal chosen to eat for breakfast should be viewed primarily as a complex carbohydrate and should not be a significant source of the other carbohydrate-the simple ones.

While calories are an important nutrient, it is desirable to have our calories provide many nutrients, and not just energy. So, what ‘s the real problem with too much dietary sugar? The list could go on and on, but here are some highlights:

Cereals with too much sugar, 15 grams or more (3 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Frosted Flakes have 21 grams
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 19 grams
  • Raisin Bran has 17 grams
  • Lucky Charms have 17
  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 16 grams

Options with 11-14 grams of sugar (2+ teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cheerios Oat Crunch have 14 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Cereal Crunch 13
  • Great Grains have 13 grams
  • Honey Nut Chex have 12 grams
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 11 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Multigrain Toasted Berry Crisp has 11 grams
  • Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch has 11 grams

Options with less than 10 grams of sugar (less than 2 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch has 9 grams
  • Oatmeal Squares with Hint of Brown Sugar have 9 grams
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 9 grams
  • Life Cereal has 8 grams
  • Quaker Life Cereal has 6 grams
  • Multi Grain Cheerios have 6 grams

Cereals with 5 grams or less of sugar (1 teaspoon or less of sugar)

  • Grape Nuts have 5 grams
  • Wheat Chex has 5 grams
  • Special K (plain) has 4 grams
  • Rice Krispies have 4 grams
  • Crispix has 4 grams
  • Corn Chex has 4 grams
  • Wheaties have 4 grams
  • Corn Flakes have 3 grams
  • Kix has 3 grams
  • Rice Chex has 2 grams
  • Cheerios (plain) have 1 gram
  • Fiber One has 0 grams

Choosing the best cereal for your needs

So, none of us need to be loaded up with sugary cereal. It does not matter how old or young we are, we should be avoiding high sugar cereals! The one exception might be if you count it as a dessert (which I do occasionally). However, when choosing your cereal, it is also important to consider things like the iron and fiber content. For determining your iron needs and which cereal would be best for your individual health, just check here. This is actually quite important. Iron requirements vary by age and gender, and cereal is fortified for the population needing the most iron. Those needing the most iron are women of childbearing years. The rest of us may actually be exposed to excessive quantities of iron in cereal. This is particularly true for those that like extra large servings. Knowing your iron requirements should always be a guideline for picking a healthy cereal. For other cereal purchasing considerations, refer here.

Sometimes it’s not an easy decision on which cereal to pick. If cutting iron is critical, you may need to be eating a tad more sugar than desired. And, if fiber is a priority, you may need to comprise once again. But, knowing the nutrition facts on your favorite cereal choices can go a long way on choosing the best option for your individual or family needs!

Do you have a great cereal that you enjoy that is low in sugar with the right amount of iron and fiber? Care to share? Speaking of sharing, please share this post if you enjoyed it.

Does Your Cereal Have Too Much Iron? Check the Label and Know Your Needs

cereal with too much iron

This is an update to a popular blog written years ago. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem much has changed with regard to the iron fortification in cereal. Iron requirements for humans have not changed, and many cereals still have way too much iron for certain people. Many people do not need a lot of iron. Those people include all adult males and women who are menopausal. Women of childbearing age require the most iron and iron fortification mandates that this be taken into consideration when setting the amount of iron added to a food in the fortification process. So, some people win on this matter (women that need iron) but, other people are eating cereal and inadvertently eating way too much iron!

Excess iron from cereal and foods in general

Iron is toxic in large amounts. Once absorbed inside the body, it’s difficult to excrete. A healthy person will be able to defend against too much iron absorption in numerous ways. Typically, the body can prevent too much iron from being absorbed by trapping in intestinal cells and then shedding it through digestion. The iron exposure to the intestinal cells can, however, pose a risk for colon and rectal cancer. In healthy people, the hormone hepcidin also swings into action to prevent too much iron from being absorbed. For some with a genetic condition, these safety measures to prevent iron absorption do not happen. Iron overload (technically called Hemochromatosis) then occurs with symptoms of fatigue, abdominal pain, depression, and eventual liver failure, diabetes, and bone damage if left untreated.

For those healthy people that can defend against too much iron, even they can experience the downside of too much iron. Excessive iron is constipating. That constipation can prevent food from moving through the digestive tract efficiently. Food moving through the digestive tract too slowly poses a risk of increased exposure to food borne pathogens and toxins that are present in our foods. As those not so nice things in our food supply linger too long in our gut, we can get sick. It’s so much better for our food to move nicely through our digestive tract rather than taking days to move along!

Gender and age will determine your iron requirements

  • Adult males aged 19 to >70 need only 8 mg/day
  • Adult females aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg/day
  • Once an adult women reaches 51 years of age and older, requirements decrease to 8 mg/day
  • Children aged 1-3 need only 7 mg/day
  • Children aged 4-8 need 10 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 14-18 need 11 mg/day
  • Females aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Females aged 14-18 need 15 mg/day to accommodate growth and menstruation

Avoiding cereal with too much iron

Nutrition Fact LabelCereals with too much iron can be avoided by first checking the Nutrition Fact Label. If you walk down the cereal aisle and start looking at the Nutrition Fact Label on cereal boxes, you will see that some of the most popular cereals are often packed with 50 to nearly 100% of “the requirement”. Remember, iron requirements vary by gender and age. So, the Nutrition Fact Label must select only the iron requirement of the part of the population needing the most iron. Therefore, all the iron percentages on the label are based off the 18 mg recommended for 19-50 year old females as their requirements are the highest!

So, what about a man or older woman who chooses to eat multiple servings of a these cereals in a given day? They would be ingesting much more iron than they need, potentially placing themselves at medical risk over the long run. The solution to this dietary dilemma is to simply know your requirements and choose the cereal that matches your needs. The Nutrition Fact Label reading can get complicated, so I’ve gone ahead and looked up popular cereals and done the calculation to note the iron content per serving so it is easier to review what can work best into your own diet.

Updated iron content of popular cereals

Cereals with less than 3 mg of iron per serving

  • Puffins have < 1mg
  • Kind Healthy Grains (all varieties) have <1 mg
  • Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal has <1 mg
  • Cascadian Farm Cereal Berry Vanilla Puffs Organic have <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path EnviroKidz Panda Puffs Cereal Peanut Butter Organic has <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path Sunrise Cereal Crunchy Vanilla Gluten Free Organic has <1 mg
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 1 mg
  • Shredded Wheat has 2 mg
  • Kashi Whole Wheat Cereal Berry Fruitful has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes have 2 mg
  • Kashi Golean has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Flax Plus has 2 mg

Cereals with 5-9 mg of iron per serving

  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 5 mg
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal has 5 mg
  • Fiber One has 5 mg
  • Frosted Flakes have 5 mg
  • Golden Grahams have 5 mg
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 5 mg
  • Life Cereal has 7 mg
  • Cornflakes have 8 mg
  • Smart Start has 8 mg
  • Regular Cheerios have 8 mg
  • Kix has 8 mg
  • Wheaties has 8 mg
  • Great Grains Cereal Raisins, Dates, & Pecans have 9 mg

Cereals with greater than 10 mg of iron per serving

  • Corn Chex has 11 mg
  • Special K has 11 mg
  • Rice Krispies have 11mg
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch has 14 mg
  • Grape Nuts have 16 mg
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 16 mg
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal with Hint of Brown Sugar have 16 mg
  • Total Cereal has 18 mg

Serving sizes and cereal with too much iron

It’s important to take note that the serving sizes of most cereals are only 1/2 to one cup. If someone eats, say double, the above iron numbers double as well. Another little known fact is that if iron rich foods are eaten with a source of vitamin C, the absorption rate of the iron is tripled! Think orange juice with breakfast cereal. And, note that all fruit has vitamin C, so eating berries or melon with your cereal will also triple the iron absorption. This is great for those that have iron deficiencies, but not so great for those that need less iron. And remember, other popular foods are also either fortified with iron or are natural sources of iron. Pasta, bread, lentils, dried fruits, beef, and fish all contain iron. And, the more calories consumed, the greater the dietary iron consumed.

Key points on cereal with too much iron

Know your individual iron requirements. If you are male or an older female, you need much less iron than a younger woman. If you like large amounts of cereal (like me), then make sure you are eating within your recommended limits by picking a lower iron cereal. Cereal is really a healthy breakfast (and can be a creative good dinner, if I’m honest). It can be a great source of fiber and B vitamins, but also a source of too much iron for many except the anemic. Besides the iron content of a cereal, fiber and sugar content should be evaluated when you buy cereal.

If you want to see how your favorite popular cereal stacks up for sugar, click here.

Do you have any favorite low iron cereals you enjoy? If you found this blog post helpful, please share comments and the post itself!

Summer Salad: Kale with Quinoa & Penne Pasta with Feta

A summer entree salad is perfect if you are tired of BBQ cuisine at this point and want to swap your grilled burger for some interesting lighter food fare like a nutritious summer salad. These are two summer salads, kale with quinoa and penne pasta with feta are delicious. I have not personally made the kale salad, but have certainly enjoyed eating it! My friend served this kale salad at a recent gathering, and I asked for the recipe because it was not only delicious, but also loaded with anti-oxidants and potential health benefits. This salad is a wonderfully tasty way to consume kale and well worth the 45 minutes of prep time. Serve the kale salad with a slice of whole grain bread and a beverage and call it dinner. For a special dinner treat, consider making ice cream roll cake ahead of time and serving with your summer salads.

Kale quinoa summer salad- adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena, California

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

(Makes 4 servings, each serving has 420 calories)

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

1/2 cup quinoa

Salt

4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch

Champagne vinaigrette

3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese

10 to 12 strips finely julienne preserved lemon

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.

In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.

Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.

Penne summer salad with chickpeas, feta, and tomatoes. This recipe is from Cooking Light and modified by the chefs in the Rose household!  

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (try the tricolor version)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup shallots

3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 15 ounce can chickpeas

3 cups cherry tomatoes

3/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

pinch of freshly ground pepper

(1.5 cup serving has 350 calories)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for later. Heat a large skillet, add oil and then shallots and garlic; saute for one minute or less and constantly stir to avoid burning. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas, saute 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and the 1/4 cup reserved liquid. Cook for 1 minute until heated through.  Add the fat-free feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine and serve on your favorite serving platter.

I hope you enjoy my kale and quinoa and penne pasta with feta salads as an alternative to summer BBQ meals.

Guest Blog: How to Avoid Weight Gain on Vacation

 

Avoid weight gain on vacation

Don’t bring home extra weight from vacation!

Vacations are a time to relax and forget about everyday stresses. Invariably, clients going on vacation mention they are concerned about avoiding the dreaded weight gain that often occurs. For those who are working on losing weight and living healthy, vacations are riddled with challenges. Temptations are common on vacations, and sticking to your daily caloric intake can be difficult. However, there are some simple steps vacationers can take to ease these common travel challenges. Here are a few surefire tips to avoid weight gain on vacation:

Avoid air travel temptations to avoid weight gain

Before leaving for the airport, many travelers forget to eat. As a result, travelers often pick up snacks at the airport or eat food on the airplane. By setting aside time to eat a meal before heading to the airport, it is possible to avoid these temptations. In addition, healthy high fiber snacks can often help alleviate hunger on long flights. It should be noted, however, that most airports now have healthy options for travelers. The key issue is to be mindful of those healthier options and then keep your health goals in mind as you select your airport food.

Be careful in hotels 

Hotels often make it easy to sabotage your diet. Minibars do not stock healthy options so steer clear of them. Consider planning a trip to a local grocery store to purchase some basic foods. Assemble simple meals in a small crock pot or instapot. Zap a healthy frozen dinner in the microwave which will be lower in calories and sodium than most restaurant food. Or, make a sandwich made with whole grain bread and lean meat. Add fruit for a healthy meal.

Prepare for restaurants

Dining out is an essential and pleasant aspect of vacations, and travelers want to ensure that they take advantage of local cuisine. Before leaving for a restaurant, it may be wise to find the menu online and determine what you want to order beforehand. Check nutrition information if it is published online. Being aware of menu “watch” words is also very important. Avoid foods labeled as battered, bottomless, or buttered to help your waistline. Reading reviews of local restaurants from other travelers in the area can tip you off as to restaurants that might provide healthier options. Those who do some research can enjoy dining out without having to worry about eating too many calories. When researching menus, don’t forget to pay attention to alcohol calories as they can add up quickly.

Take intentional walks and plan your activities to avoid weight gain on vacation

Explore the area. Walk the beach or visit several local towns. Charge your Fitbit and go the extra steps. It’s usually more fun to get those steps on the beach or in a new area, so go for the experience. Consider packing light weight travel equipment. A jump rope, varying weight bands, and massage balls are the perfect light weight workout equipment to toss in your suitcase.

Vacations are essential for both mental and physical health. But, those looking to eat well to stay healthy will need to prepare. Fortunately, vacationers now have a number of tools to help them along the way, and travel does not have to mean that extra weight will follow you home.

How do you eat smart while traveling?

(Updated 2019 by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN) The previous guest blogger Cole Millen is an avid traveler and self-described “foodie” who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”

 

 

Color of Food: Hidden Secrets to Health?

Color of food: hidden secrets to health?

What does colored food mean to your health?

The color of food you eat can be a huge factor in determining the quality of your diet. The quality of your diet can hold the secret to great health. Foods can range in color from white to black, and everyone should think about how to utilize color when planning healthy meals. The types of chemicals found naturally in foods often determine the color of the food. These compounds are called phytochemicals, which is Greek for plant chemicals. What scientists have come to believe is that these natural plant chemicals serve to protect plants from disease. If we eat the plant, we also get some sort of health benefit. In fact, these phytochemicals are emerging in scientific research as key players in regulating health.

Phytochemicals color your food

The roles of phytochemicals are wide ranging- from protecting our genetic material to fighting inflammation, aging, and disease. In addition to imparting color to our food, they often confer the specific smell a food emits upon cooking, such as that distinctive odor from cooked broccoli or cauliflower. Like hot peppers or the flavors of onions and garlic? It’s all about the phytochemicals present in these foods.

Although we can use color to do a basic “decode” as to which phytochemicals are present in a particular food, it’s important to note that a given food item may have thousands of phytochemicals. For instance, a tomato may have 1000 or more identifiable phytochemicals. Scientists also feel that the phytochemicals found naturally in food actually work together. This would be an argument against taking individual phytochemical supplements. Additionally, it is unclear if supplemental forms of phytochemicals are absorbed as well as the compounds from food.

Color of food: a closer look at what the colors mean

Color of food: secret to your health

 

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Red foods

Lycopene colors foods red. All tomato based foods, pink grapefruit, guava, and watermelon contain lycopene. By acting as a very strong anti-oxidant and cancer fighter, lycopene protects your health. Early research studies have found that men who ate ten or more servings of tomato based foods or other pink/red foods weekly had a significant reduction in prostate cancer. Some studies also suggest lycopene protects against other cancers such as liver, skin, breast, and lung cancers. Newer research suggests the lycopene derived from tomatoes helped human subjects improve their cholesterol levels.

Heat and oil aid in increasing lycopene absorption. Therefore, Italian cuisine that has both tomatoes and oil is a great way to boost your dietary lycopene absorption.

Blue foods

Anthocyanin colors foods dark red to blue. Cherries, blueberries, purple grapes, raspberries, red cabbage, and cranberries are sources of anthocyanin. In addition to being anti-oxidants, anthocyanins also appear to reduce cholesterol production to help keep our arteries clear. Aiding immunity and boosting production of detoxifying enzymes are other possible benefits of anthocyanins.

Blueberries, in particular, have been evaluated for their impact on the brain. Years ago researchers fed chow rich in blueberry extracts to rats, and fewer age related mental changes were exhibited in contrast to rats that ate regular chow. This was the beginning of the “brain superfood” called blueberries. Current research continues to support adding anthocyanin rich foods to the human diet. One recent study supported incorporating blueberry juice concentrate into the diets of older adults of to aid brain function.

Black foods

Polyphenols, along with anthocyanins, help color foods black. Foods rich in polyphenols are also rich in anti-oxidants. Examples of black foods include prunes, dates, blackberries, figs, raisins, black beans, chocolate, and coffee. Dark chocolate is particulary high on the anti-oxidant chart. News every chocoholic loves to hear. And, our morning coffee? Studies have found that coffee polyphenols seem to protect against diabetes and certain cancers such as pancreatic cancer. If you need other beverages high in polyphenols, there is green tea and wine.

Orange foods

Beta-carotene colors foods orange. Beta-carotene is the plant derived form of vitamin A. Once eaten, it’s converted to vitamin A that can be used by the body. Beta-carotene rich foods include cantaloupe, acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, guava, mango, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Key health benefits are that it’s another anti-oxidant. It protects the skin, fights infection, regulates genes, and impacts reproduction. In particular, beta-carotene rich foods offer health benefits against various age related eye diseases.  

White foods

White foods like garlic, scallions, onions, and leeks contain the phytochemicals allicin and diallyl sulfide. The smell of garlic after cutting is due to the allicin.. Allicin may protect against certain cancers as well as decrease blood pressure. Diallyl sulfide also seems to offer protection against certain cancers such as stomach cancer.

Green foods

Green foods contain chlorophyll which may mask other colors such as the orange color of beta-carotene. It is safe to say that green colored foods contain a wide array of many types phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, green cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts) all contain sulforaphane. This phytochemial may act by detoxifying cancer causing compounds, limiting production of cancer causing hormones, and preventing tumor growth. Green fruits and vegetables are also sources of phytochemicals known to prevent macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the US in those over 60 years of age.

Color of foods: a menu planning tool

Menu planning for a healthy future must include a rainbow of colors. By making sure there is a lot of color in your diet, you are making sure you get a wide spectrum of phytochemicals into your body. As you age, you then decrease your chances of heart disease, cancer, infection, eye diseases, and cognitive decline. You can’t go wrong with a plate full of color. Its the easiest way to improve the quality of your diet.

Ice Cream Calories: 6 Tips to Lighten Up

tips to decrease your ice cream calories and not increase your waistlineIce cream is a special summer treat. For many of us, summer is the time we went to the local ice cream shop for a special treat on a hot summer day. We did this as kids, and now with your own kids, you may be repeating family traditions. But, if you are like many Americans, it might be advantageous to know how to lighten the calories to help your waistline. If you are not careful, you can easily end up with an ice cream calorie equivalent of a whole day’s worth of calories!

Here are six tips to carry on with your ice cream tradition without increasing your waistline:

Avoid premium ice creams altogether 

A single 6 oz. scoop of premium ice cream can cost you 500 calories. Oberweis chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate marshmallow, chocolate almond, butter pecan, butter brickle, chocolate caramel crunch, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake flavors can all claim that calorie content! After you decide on your ice cream, you need to pick a cone or cup. Waffle cones generally have more calories (120-160 calories) than sugar cones (60-130). Pick the paper cup instead and you’ve saved yourself some calories without sacrificing much of the flavor!

Eat like a little kid to lower your ice cream calories

kids eating ice creamCalories and fat will always follow portion sizes, so you can either have a bite of someone else’s treat, or get yourself a kid scoop. A kid scoop is roughly 2.5-3 oz., so you can assume the calories are slashed 50% from the adult version, translating to much more calorie and fat control.

Exercise caution with low-fat and dairy free options

Don’t assume because the ice cream is low-fat that it is fine to have a double scoop! The Oberweis single scoop low-fat flavors range in calories from vanilla at 250 calories to chocolate marshmallow at 300 calories. Do the math and you can see how you might still get into a calorie bind by having a double scoop.

Dairy free ice creams are the current hot rage as the demand for healthier frozen treats has spiraled. These dairy free ice cream treats are made from almond, soy, and coconut milk and some also contain pea protein. While the dairy has been removed, the calories have not. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream roasted peanut butter and strawberry jam flavor yields 17 grams of fat and 270 calories per 2/3 cup. Ben & Jerry’s almond milk chocolate chip cookie dough flavor has 16 grams of fat and 350 calories for 2/3 cup. A better choice would be Talenti brand dairy and fat free mango sorbetto which will satisfy your sweet tooth for only 160 calories.

Avoid the final touches to lower those ice cream calories

Dipping your DQ vanilla cone in chocolate will add anywhere from 100-200 calories to your treat, depending on the size of cone you opt for. Adding  the candy pieces, whipped cream, and nuts will also give you some additional “energy” to the tune of at least 100 calories.

Go for cold alternatives 

Most ice cream franchises have healthier lower fat and calorie options for consumers.Better options include sorbet, low-fat frozen yogurt, and sherbet. Single scoop servings of these frosty alternatives may also be significantly lower in calories. A 4 oz. serving of sorbet can run your calorie tab 80-150 calories. Many frozen yogurt flavors are 150 calories or less per 4 oz. serving. While sherbet is virtually fat-free, the calories can start adding up as a 4-6 oz. single scoop of orange sherbet can run as high as 260 calories. If slashing fat is the objective, sherbet is a good way to go, but the calorie tab may run higher than anticipated.

Go to the supermarket instead 

There are so many frozen treats at your supermarket to take advantage of if you are trying to stay slim this summer. Spend a few minutes looking at the nutrition fact labels and pick a product that suits your palate and nutritional goal. There are many ice cream-like products hitting the mainstream and specialty grocery stores all the time that are both tasty and fit into anyone’s eating lifestyle.

If your full fat treat is a once in awhile treat, enjoy it! But if you frequent ice cream shops, then you’ll help your waistline by paying attention to the type and portion size of treats selected.

What do you opt for at the ice cream store? Can you share the nutrition information of your favorite frozen treat?

 

Willpower for Weight Loss? Not the Best Strategy

willpower for weight loss does not work

If the cupcake was not in your house, it would not be an option.

Many of us think that it’s necessary to have willpower for weight loss. We think, “If only I am strong enough and determined, if only I exercise self-control with my diet and exercise, I will be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle and weight.” Such thinking can be mighty self-limiting. It converts a positive decision- to be healthy- into another reason to feel guilty if willpower isn’t enough to get the weight loss started and the goal achieved.

Think about your eating environment instead instead of willpower for weight loss

For this reason, if you are my client, I advocate a different approach. Namely, I believe that willpower is a self-defeating concept when it comes to losing weight or maintaining weight loss. Instead, I counsel my patients to control their eating environments. By sustaining a “healthy” eating environment, you can also assist in improving your own health and weight. Such an environment means limiting the high calorie and fat foods in your home, so that you are not tempted to succumb to their temptation, which in turn makes willpower at home irrelevant.

Strategies for weight loss without willpower:

Toss your leftover holiday or special occasion goodies

If you have trouble pitching them, give them to a skinny friend or bring them to your office. A moment on your lips can result in months on your hips, as the saying goes. Evaluate if it is worth the momentary gratification.

Be smart when you do your grocery shopping

Avoid putting high temptation foods in your cart in the first place. Self-control only needs to happen at the grocery store. Avoid impulse purchases with a planned grocery list that you stick to. And, as you have heard before, don’t grocery shop when you are hungry. It be a good idea to also not shop when you are pressed for time or tired.

Stock up on lots of health enhancing foods at the grocery store

These healthy foods are your “tools” for successful weight loss. If you are concerned about fresh foods perishing, remember, frozen foods are just as nutrient dense as their fresh counterparts! Here are some suggestions for keeping a healthy stocked kitchen.

Any treats in the house should be less than 150 calories

There are many desserts available that are pre-packaged and under 150 calories. These lower calorie treats can be great for curbing our sweet tooth. Here’s a list of 50 calorie treats providing protein, fiber, and help for your sweet tooth. If others in your household just have to have certain high calorie treats in the house, tell them to make them unavailable to you. In plain English, let them hide them.

Keep undesirable foods off your counter and out of your line of vision

Make these food items hard work to get to. Don’t keep the ice cream in the freezer; instead, if you want to indulge, make it so you have to go out and get your portion of ice cream. And if you do go out and indulge at the ice cream shop, think about some smart strategies ahead of time. A little mental preparation ahead of time can help you make the best choices for your health and waistline.

While there are always other eating and dining obstacles to be faced while trying to lose weight and keep ourselves healthy, take a step in the right direction by reducing your reliance on willpower and making your home a healthy eating environment!

Healthy Barbecues: How to Pull it Off!

Healthy BarbecuesWe are finally in full summer swing. Of course, this time of year is noted for sizzling grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs. Grilling can be a great way to entertain and not heat up the house on a hot summer day. It keeps overall calories low because there are no cream sauces or excessive amounts of fats added to the meats. However, the high smoke and heat of grilling has it’s own dietary pitfalls. But, by following some simple steps, we can still pull off healthy barbecues. According to a new report noted by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the goal is to prevent the heat and smoke produced in grilling to affect the food. The heat and smoke of grilling can cause cancer causing compounds to form on the food. By tweaking our grilling habits, it’s still very easy to pull off healthy barbecues.

According to the AICR, here are easy steps for pulling off a healthy barbecue

  • Vary your meat selection. Too much red meat (beef, pork, lamb) increases your risk for colorectal cancer. “Too much” is defined as more than 18 oz. per week and this applies to all red meats regardless of cooking method.
  • Always marinate. Cooking any meat on the grill causes the formation of cancer causing compounds. Marinating meat for 30 minutes reduces the formation of these cancer causing compounds. Using marinades with vinegar, lemon juice, and wine along with oils, spices, and herbs seems pretty key to a healthy barbecue.
  • Partially precook. By doing some cooking prep ahead of time, there is less time for cancer causing compounds to form from the smoke.The likelihood of cancer causing compounds forming with grilling decreases as grill time decreases.
  • Food safety reminder: get that partially cooked meat on the grill to start grilling immediately after the precooking. Otherwise, you run the risk of bacteria growing on the raw part of the meat.
  • Use a low flame. Lower heat will reduce cancer causing compounds by reducing the possibility of charring and burning.
  • Get colored foods on the grill. Try some grilled corn, sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Start adding color to your grilled menu with the fruit kabob recipe below.

More tips for healthy barbecues

  • Always wash your hands before handling food. Don’t handle raw meat and then handle something like raw vegetables that will be served uncooked.
  • Wash produce as well. Fruits and vegetables are a source of bacteria. Here are 7 tips for cleaning your produce.
  • You should consider using smaller cuts of white meats. By decreasing your portion of meat while increasing your fruits and vegetables (grilled or as a side), you are automatically providing for healthier barbecue menus. Charred sections should be removed before serving.
  • Invest in a good quality thermometer so that you can check the internal food temperatures of your grilled foods. This is key to keeping your family and guests free of food poisoning. Internal temperatures for properly cooked foods vary, so be sure to check the guidelines.
  • Separate your plates and cutting board to prevent bacteria cross-contamination. Do not reuse utensils, plates, or cutting boards that had raw meat on them.
  • After the food is grilled, do not let it sit out on a hot day for more than 1-hour. If it’s not an excessively hot day, then you have up to 2-hours. It’s never worth eating foods  handled incorrectly, as you could end up with food poisoning. And for some, that means a trip to the ER or worse.

Recipes to help you start your healthy barbecues

healthy bareques should add mango lime salsa

Mango lime salsa on lettuce leaves.

Try grilling some salmon or chicken and top with this mango lime salsa. My client provided the recipe and photo, and noted how delicious it was. She kindly calculated the calorie content as well (she’s a good student too)! Thank you Marie!

Mango Lime Salsa-makes 2 cups; prep time about 30 minutes; 50 calories per 1/2 cup serving

1 small red onion diced small
1/2 red pepper 1/4 inch dice
1 jalapeño (or to taste)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 mangos peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The salsa will keep 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with baked tortilla chips, or over any grilled fish or chicken. You can also top lettuce leaves with salsa and serve as a side dish.

Next, for a great healthy side and alternative to fatty side dishes such as creamy potato salad, try grilled fruit kabob to give that splash of color to your barbecue meal.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice from 1 fresh lime and lime rind
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, grated lime rind, lime juice, and cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved. Use any fresh fruit cut into one-inch pieces such as pineapple, apples, nectarines, melon, bananas, or large whole strawberries. Thread the fruit alternately onto metal skewers. Brush kabobs with butter mixture and place on barbecue grill. Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and brushing generously with butter mixture until the fruit starts to brown and is heated through.

Happy and healthy barbecue grilling

Enjoy your smaller servings of white meats more than red. Always marinate your meats and precook them prior to grilling to minimize charring and prevent cancer risk. Grill your meats to the proper temperatures for the best juiciness and thorough cooking to prevent food poisoning. Once grilled meats are cooked, serve hot and then refrigerate within 1-2 hours, depending on how hot the day is.

Make sure you keep all utensils, cutting boards, plates and work surfaces in touch with raw meats separate from other foods. You are trying to avoid food poisoning!

Last, but not least, add as many grilled fruits and vegetables (or raw) to your menu as possible. This will always increase the nutritional quality of any menu.

And, add a beer? Check out some of those health benefits here.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with a friend. I’d like to grow my readership.

 

 

 

 

Keto Diet: Healthy or Harmful? Depends Who You Ask!

Keto foods

Popular food choices for the keto diet. Is the keto diet really healthy or harmful?

We all know the keto diet is the rage, but is the keto diet healthy or harmful? Do you really want to put your body through the process of getting into ketosis? When I counsel my clients, I often point out that just being skinny is not what defines overall health. While their goal may be weight loss, you want to maintain or even improve your long term health in the process of losing weight. With that stated, it’s important to look at the keto diet through the lens of how healthy or harmful the diet is to your overall health.

Truth be told, I want to scream “keto diet, please leave and never come back.” I think there are many awesome (logical and scientifically based) reasons to consider skipping the keto diet and looking elsewhere for healthier weight loss strategies. It reminds me of the popularity of the Atkins diet. Twice in my professional lifespan the Atkin’s plan reared it’s “ugly” head. Once when I was right out of college, and then decades later. The “keto” style of eating with restricted carbohydrates is nothing new to the professional community.

Back in the late 1980s, medically supervised fasts gained in popularity and those diets also restricted carbohydrates and overall calories. The end result, like the keto diet, was to make the body go into ketosis. Newsflash, in 1980 those diets were supervised in a medical setting because going into ketosis was not considered to be safe without medical supervision. Now, no one thinks twice about it. This attitude is on trend with everyone being an “expert”, because everyone eats.

Keto diets: healthy, harmful, or somewhere in between?

Management of epileptic seizures by the keto diet has been going on for over a century. There is no dispute as to the efficacy of keto diets for seizures. “Keto” flu symptoms aside, the keto diet is an easy and mindless way to lose weight. Without sufficient carbohydrates available to fuel the brain and central nervous system, the body transitions to using ketones. Those ketones act as a natural appetite suppressant, making the weight loss process easy.

Eat the fat, sufficiently limit the carbs, make the ketones, and voilà the body fat melts away. This is the impression I get from all the keto diet fans out there. The questions I have are: can this be sustained, do you want to sustain it, are you going to be healthier in the long run? And, did you know that going into ketosis is meant to be a survival mechanism to stay alive?

keto diet

How much fiber is in this keto diet dinner? Not as much as you think!

Keto diets may be harmful for what they are lacking

Fiber

Sadly, for the keto junkie, fiber intake is too low. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are your only source of dietary fiber. There is no fiber in oil, butter, bacon, eggs, or anything meat related. Did you know that women need 21-26 grams, and men need 30-38 grams of fiber? This is why constipation is a problem. Sure, take some fiber pills. However, last time I checked, you need a lot of those pills to meet your dietary fiber goals.

Adding healthy fiber rich foods to your diet helps regulate both your blood glucose and cholesterol level. Colon cancer prevention and diverticulosis are two notable conditions that benefit from fiber. Fiber fills you up and helps you feel satiated, without ketones.

Food for your gut bacteria

Those carbs you are severely restricting are a significant food source for your gut bacteria. Fiber rich foods, which are found almost exclusively in complex carbohydrates, offer prebiotics for your probiotics (gut bacteria) to feed on. Probiotic bacteria need prebiotics as a fuel. If you haven’t heard it already, your gut microbiome is very important to your overall health status. Skipping carbs can affect the type of bacteria that grow in your gut. Feeding your gut bacteria with prebiotic rich carbohydrates is the best way to fight inflammation and improve your immunity. Sure, you can take a probiotic in pill form, but those probiotic bacteria need their own food and it should be from fiber rich carbohydrates. 

Micronutrients

Those carbs you are skipping contain significant sources of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Key micronutrients at risk include vitamin C, all the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. In fact, without your fruits and vegetables, it will not be possible to meet your potassium requirements. You cannot meet your potassium requirements in pill form without a prescription from your doctor. Blood pressure issues? Increasing dietary potassium can help lower blood pressure.

Phytochemicals

Fruits, vegetable, and whole grains have compounds called phytochemicals. The phytochemicals protect the growing plants from disease. When we eat plant based foods, we are also eating those phytochemicals. Most phytochemicals are thought to confer protection from heart disease and cancer.

What else is going on with all that protein and fat?

While you are losing weight on the keto diet, is your liver gaining fat? Too much animal protein and fat generally contribute to a fatty liver. Fatty liver can lead to death. At this point, there is not enough research to lean one way or another. In practice, decreasing dietary fat is always effective medical nutrition therapy for a fatty liver.

Are you living without a gallbladder? This keto diet plan will make you pretty uncomfortable and maybe even sick. The gallbladder stores your bile which is released in amounts needed to digest your fat. Without a gallbladder, one might not be able to handle the amount of fat consumed on this diet. You could feel pretty miserable as a result.

Too much animal protein can weaken your bones. And, if you have kidney disease, your kidneys could be strained dealing with all that extra protein. Got gout, the excess protein will aggravate it. So, is the keto diet healthy or harmful? The answer is probably somewhere in between. As a short term fix for weight loss, perhaps it’s ok if you enjoy eating fat. Long term, I suggest you rethink your options. Carbohydrates are healthy and let you eat like a normal person.

If you ask someone that has lost weight on this diet, they will most likely praise the keto diet and indicate it’s healthy because they feel great. My response is they probably feel great because they lost the weight. If you ask me, there are healthier, less risky methods to lose weight. There are many reasons to avoid the excessive fat on the keto diet and enjoy your carbohydrates. If you need more convincing, check this list out!

Do you have a keto diet experience? I’d love to hear any and all comments on short or long term experiences with this diet.

7 Health Benefits of Beer: Happy Dad’s Day!

Beer has health benefits

Enjoy your modest beer consumption. Beer has some health benefits!

I know a lot of great fathers and they ALL enjoy their beer. While everyone knows the downside of too much beer-the “santa claus” physique (known technically as central obesity) or the dreaded hangover, there are actually some nutritional benefits from drinking modest amounts of beer. For men, a “modest” amount of beer would be two or less 12 oz. cans of beer. If there was ever a time to toot beer’s horn, it would seem to be Father’s Day. Cheers to you, Dad.

 

7 health benefits of beer consumption (modest)

  1. It can actually decrease blood pressure if consumed in small amounts.
  2. Contributes B vitamins to the diet because beer is made from hops and yeast, both of which provide various B vitamins.
  3. Beer has a relatively high silicon content. Researchers have noted that dietary silicon intake in men aged 30-87 years of age was correlated with higher bone density.
  4. It is a modest source of selenium (an anti-oxidant), calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients are also important for strong bones.
  5. It can be a source of anti-oxidants. In fact, the darker the beer, the more anti-oxidants!
  6. It can thin the blood, thereby decreasing the potential for blood clotting which could lead to heart attack or stroke.
  7. It may lessen the likelihood of kidney stones, in part due to the high water content of beer.

For those dads with special medical problems that would generally require abstinence from regular beer, there are even non-alcoholic beers and gluten-free beers now widely available so you can imbibe without affecting your health! And for those dads trying to whittle their waist or needing to control their carbohydrate due to diabetes, beers come in a wide range of calories and carbohydrate content, so check the labels to find the beer that is best for you. Here’s a list of 20 low carb and low calorie beers that seem worth trying if you are trying to keep carbs and calories down.

So happy Father’s Day to all you great dads out there. Enjoy your beer and do some healthier grilling while you’re sipping your cold beer!

Nothing beats a cold “brewski” with a grilled meal on a hot summer day. Cheers to you.