Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who likes Cereal?

I do! Cereal can be a perfect way to start your day. I am a huge advocate of breakfast. It not only gets you "jump started" for the day, but if also provides you with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, most breakfast eaters tend to have better nutrient intakes and tend to consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber over the course of their day. This applies to men women and children. Beware though, all cereals are not created equal....and i'm not talking about the obvious fruit loops versus cheerios. I want to make you aware of the cereals that "pretend" to be healthy. Their great marketing ads are deceiving you.

Let's first discuss why cereal is a good breakfast choice. For one, it is convenient! No hassle, no mess, no cooking required. Just grab a bowl and pour in the milk. Second, it is typically lower in calories than almost any other common breakfast option. Third, as mentioned above, cereal provides us with key essential nutrients. Many cereals are fortified with B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D. Just to make you aware of the difference in calories, lets compare a biscuit with bacon, egg and cheese to a bowl of cereal with skim milk. The average fast food restaurant sandwich biscuit contains around 420 calories, 23 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. A bowl of cereal and skim milk contains 160 calories, 1-2 grams of fat and 3-5 grams of fiber. The calorie and fat comparison is HUGE. And we wonder why so many of our children are obese! The American Dietetic Association found that frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights overall-including kids.

Recent media coverage regarding breakfast cereal has led many people to be confused. The Today show mentioned that "11 of the most popular cereals consumed by Americans contained 40% sugar by weight....similar to that of a glazed donut". It is true that many cereals have a high sugar content which is why we have to be selective. Aim for a cereal with 9 or less grams of sugar per serving. General Mills in particular has led several nutrition initiatives to reduce sugar content of many of is beloved brands. In fact, they have made a public commitment to reduce grams of sugar into the single digits. Here is a list of several great choice cereals.

Rice Chex, Wheaties, Fiber One, Cherios, Honey Kix

Beware that seemingly healthy Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Franken Berry Cereal have over 12 grams more of sugar than regular Cheerios.

In conclusion, cereal is a great option for breakfast. Just be sure to look at the nutrition label for the sugar content and portion size.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

don't bike on empty

Think biking on an empty stomach will improve your performance. Think again! Just as you would put fuel in your car before a road trip, you

should put fuel in your body before a race or even intense training. Our bodies need adequate fueling for the following reasons: to prevent

low blood sugar which can cause light headedness, fatigue, and blurred vision; fuel your muscles with carbohydrate as well as feeding your brain;

and help settle your stomach by absorbing gastric juices and warding off hunger.

You can play around with what pre-exercising snack works best for you. Each person reacts differently to different foods. Cyclists tend to have less gastro-intestinal problems because they maintain a more stable position than runners who jostle their intestines. Your best bet is to start with something simple and familiar to snack on along

with some type of liquid. Work your way up to 200-300 calories within the hour of your event/training.

Choose a snack that is primarily carbohydrate because it becomes more readily available for use by your muscles. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a snack/meal. Anything eaten within an hour might give you a jolt of energy and ward of hunger but it doesn't replenish your glycogen stores. If you are exercising for less than an hour pick a high carb, low fat choice, but if you are going to be training hard for over 60 minutes a little protein and fat will sustain your energy. Be careful when consuming soft drinks, jelly beans, gels or other sports drinks because the quick sugar may revert to low blood sugar and the symptoms that result. Be sure to allow for digestion time...more for higher fat foods and more for intense exercise. Most of all drink adequate fluids to keep you well hydrated.

Still not sure what to choose....let me give you a few examples.

Pre-morning workout - two slices of toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and banana or1 cup oatmeal with dried cranberries, honey, and chopped pecans

Pre-afternoon workout- homemade sports drink (see recipe below) and bowl of cheerios with lowfat milk

Homemade Sports Drink ( makes 1 quart)

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of hot water

1/4 cup of orange juice plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

31/2 cups of cold water

Be creative with different juices to keep things interesting!

200 total calories

about 50-70 calories per 8 ounce serving (comparable to

most sports drinks)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

National Nutrition Month

Every year, March is dedicated as National Nutrition Month. National Nutrition month is a national campaign that is designed to not only promote eating and exercising habits but also to increase awareness to the public and media about ADA (American Dietetic Association) as a reliable source of food and nutrition information. This year's campaign is titled "Nutrition from the Ground Up." ADA has encouraged dietitians to write what that slogan means to them. Well, for me, nutrition from the ground up means "filling our plates" with the basics-whole natural food from the earth and then as needed or if needed adding commercially prepared foods. When devising a meal plan for my clients i encourage as much consumption from natural foods as possible. Listed below are five steps that will help you eat healthfully.

1. When it comes to fruits and vegetables fresh is best but frozen and canned are suitable options too! Aim to consume 2 cups of fruit a day! Shoot for at least 2-3 cups of vegetables a day!

2. Whole grains, whole wheat pasta, brown rice are all excellent sources of the whole grains we need to promote growth and well being.

3. Don't forget dairy! Two to three servings of Low fat milk, low fat cheese or low fat yogurt will ensure you are getting the calcium and vitamin d that you need.

4. Choose 5-6 ounces of lean meat, chicken, fish, beans per day to help you to build strong muscles.

5. Fat found in nuts and oils are also essential to a balanced diet just watch your portion size since they are calorie dense.

Be sure to include physical activity into your schedule! Best of luck on building your health "from the ground up."

See for more information.