Nutritional supplements

How to Select the Best Supplements for Your Needs?

Nutritional supplements

In today’s fast-paced world, where convenience often compromises nutritional quality and consistency, many of us turn to dietary supplements to fill in the gaps. Whether it’s due to busy schedules, dietary restrictions, or simply wanting to ensure optimal health, there’s no doubt that nutritional supplements have become increasingly popular. But with shelves overflowing with options, how do you choose the best supplement for your individual needs? In this guide, we’ll navigate the maze of supplements, discussing common choices, their reliability, and offering advice on how to prioritize dietary choices.

Understanding Nutritional Supplements:

Nutritional supplements come in various forms, including vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and specialty supplements targeting specific health concerns. While they can be beneficial for some, it’s essential to recognize that they are meant to complement, not replace, a balanced diet. Before incorporating any supplement into your routine, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Common Nutritional Supplements:

  1. Multivitamins

    These are perhaps the most widely used supplements, offering a combination of essential vitamins and minerals. While they can be a convenient way to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirements, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality multivitamin with optimal levels of nutrients and minimal fillers or additives.

  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3s, found in fish oil supplements, are renowned for their heart-healthy benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. Look for supplements that contain both EPA and DHA, the two primary types of omega-3 fatty acids, and consider factors like purity, freshness, and sustainability when selecting a product.

  3. Protein Powders

    Popular among fitness enthusiasts, protein powders are a convenient way to boost protein intake, support muscle recovery, and aid in weight management. Whey, casein, and plant-based options like pea or soy protein are available, each with its unique benefits and considerations.

  4. Vitamin D

    Many people have inadequate levels of vitamin D, especially those who live in regions with limited sunlight or spend most of their time indoors. Vitamin D supplements can help support bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. Look for vitamin D3, the most bioavailable form, and consider getting your levels tested to determine the appropriate dosage.

  5. Probiotics

    Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that support gut health and digestion. They may also have implications for immune function, skin health, and mood. When choosing a probiotic, opt for a product with multiple strains and a high CFU (colony-forming units) count to ensure potency.

Assessing Reliability of Nutrition Supplements:

SupplementsWhile the supplement industry is regulated to some extent, it’s essential to approach product claims with a critical eye. Not all supplements are created equal, and some may contain contaminants, inaccurate labeling, or ineffective ingredients. To ensure reliability:

  • Research Brands: Look for reputable brands with a history of quality and transparency. Check for third-party certifications like NSF International or USP, which indicate that the product has undergone testing for purity and potency.
  • Read Reviews: User reviews can offer valuable insights into a product’s effectiveness and any potential side effects. However, be wary of biased or exaggerated testimonials and prioritize reviews from reputable sources.
  • Check Ingredients: Take the time to scrutinize the ingredient list and avoid supplements with unnecessary fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives. Look for products with minimal additives and focus on high-quality, bioavailable nutrients.

Prioritizing Diet over Supplements:

While supplements can be helpful for filling nutrient gaps, they should not be a substitute for a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Whole foods provide a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that work synergistically to promote health and prevent disease. Here are some tips for prioritizing dietary choices:

  • Eat a Variety of Foods: Aim to include a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet to ensure you’re getting a broad spectrum of nutrients.
  • Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prioritize foods that are rich in essential nutrients, such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. These foods provide more than just isolated nutrients; they offer a multitude of health-promoting compounds.

In the quest for optimal health, nutritional supplements can be valuable tools for supporting overall well-being. However, it’s essential to approach supplement selection with caution, ensuring reliability, and prioritizing dietary choices whenever possible. By focusing on a balanced diet rich in whole foods and using supplements strategically to fill specific nutrient gaps, you can create a foundation for long-term health and vitality. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, so listen to your body’s needs and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to break free from Yo-Yo dieting or establish a healthy eating pattern, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Calories Counting

Calories Counting: Looking beyond numbers

In the realm of dieting and weight management, calorie counting has long been used as a go to strategy. The concept seems straightforward: consume fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll shed those unwanted pounds. However, as many of us have come to realize that the reality is far more complex. Is calorie counting truly an effective method for achieving sustainable weight loss, or is it merely a numbers game that overlooks the crucial role of nutrients? In this blog, we delve into the debate surrounding calorie counting, exploring its limitations and advocating for a more holistic approach to nutrition. 

Calorie Counting

The Pitfalls of Calorie Counting:

One of the primary pitfalls of calorie counting is its disregard for nutrient density. Not all calories are created equal; a 100-calorie serving of broccoli provides vastly different nutritional benefits than a 100-calorie serving of soda. Focusing solely on calorie intake can lead to a diet devoid of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, ultimately compromising overall health.

Moreover, calorie counting can foster an unhealthy relationship with food, promoting a mindset of restriction and deprivation. Individuals may become fixated on arbitrary calorie targets, ignoring hunger cues and denying themselves the nourishment their bodies truly need. This restrictive approach often leads to feelings of guilt and failure when calorie goals are inevitably exceeded, perpetuating a cycle of yo-yo dieting and disordered eating behaviors.

The Role of Nutrient Rich Foods:

In contrast to calorie counting, which emphasizes quantity over quality, prioritizing nutrient-rich foods offers a more sustainable path to health and wellness. Nutrient density refers to the concentration of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients in a given food relative to its calorie content. Foods that are high in nutrient density provide a wealth of health benefits without excess calories, making them ideal choices for promoting overall well-being.

Nutrient Dense Foods

Fruits and vegetables are prime examples of nutrient-rich foods that should form the foundation of a healthy diet. These plant-based foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which play key roles in supporting immune function, preventing chronic disease, and promoting digestive health. Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks can help ensure a diverse array of nutrients and maximize health benefits.

Whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are also essential components of a nutrient-rich diet. Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, along with fiber to support digestive health. Lean proteins, including poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes, are rich in essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. Healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are vital for brain function, hormone production, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Beware of Empty Calories

In contrast to nutrient-rich foods, empty calories offer little to no nutritional value and can contribute to weight gain and poor health outcomes. Common sources of empty calories include sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates, processed snacks, and fried foods. These calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods provide quick energy spikes followed by crashes, leading to fluctuations in blood sugar levels and increased cravings.

Empty Calories

Furthermore, consuming a diet high in empty calories can displace nutrient-rich foods, leaving individuals deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. This nutritional imbalance can contribute to a host of health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weakened immune function. By prioritizing nutrient-dense choices over empty calories, individuals can optimize their health and well-being while maintaining a healthy weight.

 

For more guidance on successful weight loss, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Processed foods

Processed Foods: The dangers of it and 4 Ways to Make Healthier Choices

In today’s fast-paced world, processed foods have become a convenient option for many. However, their popularity comes at a cost – the potential harm they can cause to our health. Processed foods are often loaded with unhealthy additives, preservatives, and excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Consuming these foods regularly can lead to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The good news is that by making a few simple changes to our eating habits, we can make healthier choices and safeguard our well-being. 

Processed foods

What are processed foods? 

There are two different types of processed foods. Mechanically processed foods- such as cooked food – is not the unhealthy foods we are talking about. Examples of mechanically processed foods are ground beef and steamed vegetables. These foods have been “processed’ because they have been cooked. 

Chemically processed foods are the ones we are concerned with. They have chemically been altered by the addition of sweeteners, flavoring agents, and colors. Examples of these are: 

  • Candy
  • Baked goods – like Little Debbies and frozen pizza
  • Packaged breads and cereals
  • Crackers and chips
  • Sausage and chicken nuggets – any meat that has been reconstituted
  • Sodas or other sweet drinks
  • Fast food

Chemically processed foods are severely lacking in nutrients, high in sugar (which makes them addictive), and are very quick calories. Meaning, it doesn’t take much to chew it up and eat it. This allows you to consume a large amount of calories very quickly. 

Junk foods

What are the health risks of processed food? 

Processed food may not seem dangerous, but it kills more people each year than cigarette smoking. A new study states that 71% of Americans are obese- that’s about 100 million people. This same study shows that continually consuming excess calories can shorten your lifespan. When your body has to carry excess weight, it ages much more quickly and is at a higher risk of disease and illness. 

The reason processed foods are so dangerous is because of the amount eaten. They are filled with sodium, sugar and saturated fat. At high amounts, these substances are detrimental. Because processed foods are so easy and quick to eat, regulating portions is very hard. If your diet is made up of over 50% of processed foods, you’re putting your health at major risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 

Here are 4 ways to lower your processed food intake and make healthier choices: 

It doesn’t have to be as drastic as you think. A small caloric deficit of 50-100 calories a day (not enough to really notice!) can help you maintain your weight and lower your risk of obesity-related disease. 

1. Read Labels and Choose Whole Foods. 

When grocery shopping, taking the time to read labels is crucial. Processed foods often contain a long list of unfamiliar ingredients, many of which can have negative effects on our health. Look for foods with short ingredient lists that contain recognizable, whole-food ingredients. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and legumes. These unprocessed foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients, making them excellent choices for a balanced diet.

2. Limit Added Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners.

One of the main culprits in processed foods is added sugars. These sugars not only contribute to weight gain but also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases. They hide in various forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and brown rice syrup. Be vigilant when purchasing packaged foods like cereals, snacks, and beverages, as they often contain significant amounts of added sugars. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sugars found in fruits or opt for products with no added sugars. Be cautious with artificial sweeteners, as they may have their own set of health concerns. Moderation is key in everything. 

3. Reduce Sodium Intake.

Processed foods tend to be high in sodium, which can lead to elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Canned soups, frozen meals, and snack foods are common culprits. To make healthier choices, opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of these products. Whenever possible, prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients, herbs, and spices for flavor instead of relying on processed seasonings or sauces. By gradually reducing your sodium intake, you can protect your cardiovascular health and improve your overall well-being. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day can also help you offset high sodium levels. A good goal to aim for is half your body weight in ounces. 

4. Prepare Meals at Home and Plan Ahead.

Cooking meals at home gives you control over the ingredients you use and allows you to make healthier choices. When you eat out or order takeout, you have limited control over the quality and nutritional value of the food. By planning your meals ahead of time and preparing them at home, you can ensure that your meals are balanced, nutritious, and free from unhealthy additives. Cooking at home can be a fun and creative experience, allowing you to experiment with different flavors and ingredients.

The dangers of processed foods are real, but by implementing a few key strategies, we can make healthier choices and protect our well-being. Reading labels, choosing whole foods, limiting added sugars, reducing sodium intake, and preparing meals at home are all effective ways to improve our diet. Remember, small changes can significantly impact our health in the long run. By prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods and making conscious decisions about what we consume, we can take control of our health and enjoy a vibrant, energetic life.

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Health & Disease Prevention

Role of Diet and Exercise in Disease Prevention

In our fast-paced world, health has become a precious commodity. Chronic diseases increase as a result of various stressors, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy eating habits. However, the good news is that we possess the power to take control of our health and reduce the risk of many diseases through two fundamental pillars: diet and exercise. Let’s delve into the significance of using a balanced diet and regular exercise routine for disease prevention, and explore their transformative impact on overall well-being.

Health & Disease Prevention

Understanding the Role of Diet in Preventing Disease

1. The Power of a Nutrient-Dense Diet

A nutrient-dense diet is the cornerstone of good health. By choosing whole, natural foods over processed ones, we provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These elements are crucial for supporting our immune system, combating inflammation, and warding off chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Studies have shown that nutrition can be directly linked to diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and more. What we consume either increases our health or decreases it, and we make those choices every single day. 

 

2. Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

The leading cause of death worldwide, cardiovascular diseases, can often be prevented by making healthier dietary choices. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy weight, all of which significantly contribute to heart health. Unfortunately, we are plagued with advertisements from the food industry, constantly selling us products with little to no nutritional value. In order to lead a heart-healthy life, we have to put down the processed boxes of food and make room for more whole, fresh ingredients. 

Diet & Disease Prevention3. Controlling Diabetes through Diet

Type 2 diabetes, a growing global concern, is closely linked to poor eating habits and obesity. By embracing a diet that includes complex carbohydrates, high lean protein, healthy fats, and limited sugar intake, we can manage blood glucose levels and decrease the risk of developing this metabolic disorder. 

4. Cancer Prevention and Dietary Choices

Research has shown that certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, berries, and oily fish, contain compounds that may help protect against cancer. By incorporating these foods into our diet, we can potentially reduce the risk of cancer and enhance our body’s ability to fight off abnormal cell growth.

The Vital Role of Exercise in Disease Prevention

1. Strengthening the Immune System

Regular physical activity has been linked to a strengthened immune system, making us more resilient to infections and illnesses. As we engage in exercise, the body produces more white blood cells, which are critical for combating harmful pathogens and maintaining overall health. Rather than take a pill or supplement to improve the immune system, the answer is as easy as moving your body more. 

2. Improving Cardiovascular Health

Just like diet, exercise plays a central role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. By engaging in a consistent exercise regimen, we increase heart’s efficiency, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You can start small and build up gradually as your body gets acclimatized. 

Exercise & Disease Prevention3. Weight Management and Exercise

Obesity is a significant risk factor for various diseases. Exercise helps us burn calories and build lean muscle mass, making it an essential tool for weight management. When combined with a healthy diet, regular physical activity becomes even more effective in preventing and managing obesity. Muscle has been shown to increase longevity. If we have a good base of muscle, daily tasks throughout life are much easier to handle. Things like getting on the floor with your kids, carrying a heavy bag of dog food, or putting items overhead to store them in the attic all require muscle. Without muscle, we don’t have healthy movement, and we’re prone to injury and chronic pain.

4. Mental Health and Exercise

Apart from its physical benefits, exercise is a powerful mood booster. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Stress and negative emotions can weaken the immune system and contribute to various diseases, so maintaining good mental health is crucial for disease prevention.

 

The Synergy between Diet and Exercise

1. Achieving Optimal Health through a Holistic Approach

While diet and exercise are potent tools for disease prevention on their own, their synergy is even more powerful. When combined, they create a virtuous cycle, enhancing each other’s benefits and maximizing their impact on overall health. You will feel better, look better, and not constantly have to worry about chronic disease if you implement both of these components into your lifestyle. 

2. Building Healthy Habits for Life

The key to empowering our health through diet and exercise is consistency and sustainability. Rather than embarking on short-lived fad diets or extreme workout routines, adopting long-term, realistic changes is crucial. Creating healthy habits is a journey, and small, incremental steps can lead to significant improvements over time. 

 

Health is our most valuable asset, and we have the power to protect it through simple yet powerful lifestyle choices. By embracing a nutrient-dense diet and incorporating regular exercise into our daily routine, we can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases and enhance our overall well-being. Empower yourself today by taking charge of your health through the transformative combination of diet and exercise, and experience the life-changing benefits of disease prevention and longevity.

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Food labeling

Understanding Food Labels: What’s Hiding In Your Food?

Making healthy and informed food choices is essential for maintaining overall well-being. It’s important for us to know what’s in our food. It’s typically labeled on the package, but it can be confusing and hard to read. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Understanding food labels is a crucial step in ensuring you’re nourishing your body with the right nutrients and avoiding hidden additives that may negatively impact your health. Let’s delve into the importance of deciphering food labels and using valuable tips on how to make informed choices to truly know what’s hiding in your food.

Food labeling

The Importance of Food Labels

Food labels are like a window into the contents of packaged foods, providing valuable information about their nutritional composition and ingredients. They empower you to make choices aligned with your dietary preferences and health goals if you know how to read it! By reading and understanding food labels, you can:

  • Control Nutrient Intake: Food labels list essential nutrients such as calories, fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This information helps you maintain a balanced diet and manage calorie intake.
  • Avoid Allergens: If you have food allergies or sensitivities, labels can help you identify potential allergens and make safe choices.
  • Identify Hidden Ingredients: Labels reveal the presence of hidden ingredients like additives, artificial flavors, and colorings that may impact your health over time.
  • Compare Products: Food Labels allow you to compare different products and choose the one that best aligns with your dietary needs.
  • Make Informed Decisions: By understanding food labels, you can make informed decisions that contribute to your overall health and well-being.

Food labelsDeciphering Food Labels: What to Look For

  • Serving Size: Begin by checking the serving size, as all nutritional information on the label is based on this. A serving size isn’t meant to tell you only to eat that amount. It is there to tell you the amount of food that applies to the nutrition. Be mindful of portion sizes to accurately assess your nutrient intake.
  • Calories and Macronutrients: Pay attention to the calorie count and the amounts of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins per serving. Choose foods that align with your dietary goals.
  • Nutrient Content: Look for key nutrients such as fiber, vitamins (like Vitamin A, C, and D), and minerals (like calcium and iron) that are beneficial for your health.
  • Ingredients List: The ingredients list provides insight into what’s actually in the food. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so the first few ingredients make up the bulk of the product. Avoid items with lengthy lists of unfamiliar or overly processed ingredients.
  • Additives and Preservatives: Be wary of additives, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Some additives may have potential health risks, so opt for products with minimal or no additives.
  • Sodium and Sugar: Excessive sodium and added sugars can contribute to health issues. Choose products with lower sodium and sugar content.
  • Allergens: If you have allergies, carefully read the label for any potential allergens or cross-contamination warnings. Allergens are listed in bold under the ingredient list. 
  • % Daily Value: This percentage helps you understand how a serving of the food contributes to your daily nutrient intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Aim for products with higher percentages of essential nutrients.

In general, you want to look for labels that are lower in saturated fat (specifically trans fat), added sugars, and sodium

Food labels

. All of these have been linked to heart disease and chronic obesity when consumed in high amounts. The items that you want more of are fiber, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and potassium. A diet high in fiber helps lower cholesterol, keeps blood glucose level, reduces calorie intake, and promotes a healthy digestive tract.

What’s Hidden? 

There are several common food additives in food today. Research 

has shown that many have detrimental health affects while others can actually be good for you? An example of a good one is Guar gum. It’s added to food to bind or thicken products. Guar gum is high in fiber and can help increase the feeling of fullness, so you intake less calories. An example of a detrimental additive is high fructose corn syrup. It sweetens food, but in high amounts has been linked to obesity and diabetes.

Misleading Food Labels

Marketing can be a powerful tool, especially when it comes to food. However, a good bit of labels that are promoted as “healthy” are just buzz words. Without knowing exactly what they mean, you could be buying a product thinking that it’s organic and healthy, when really it’s the opposite of what you need. Here are some common marketing food labels and what they really mean. 

  • All Natural: there are no artificial ingredients or colors. It does not mean that the animal or product lives/was grown outdoors. 
  • Humanely Raised: common on animal products, but there is no legal definition for it. It can be put on products even in places where animals are raised in confinement systems. 
  • No Hormones or Steroids: It’s actually illegal to use hormones or steroids in all chicken products so whether it has this label or not, you’re getting the same product. 
  • Fresh: this just means that the meant never went below 26 degrees. Which is not always a good thing! 
  • Vegetarian Diet: Marketers can put this on a food label without it being true. There are no legal checks on farms to determine what is fed to the animals. 
  • Cage Free: one of the biggest misleading labels! All chickens raised for meat are cage free. So don’t buy the more expensive package just because it has this label. 

In a world saturated with packaged foods, being a conscious consumer is a powerful way to take control of your health. Learning how to read and interpret food labels empowers you to make informed choices, allowing you to understand exactly what’s hiding in your food. By paying attention to serving sizes, calories, nutrients, ingredients, and certifications, you can make dietary decisions that align with your well-being goals. Remember, the more you know about your food, the better equipped you are to nourish your body and enjoy a healthier, happier life.

 

For guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Foods on a budget

Three Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy eating on a budget can seem complicated, but it is possible. That is often the excuse we give – healthy eating is so expensive! And it sometimes can be. The cost of healthy eating can be astronomical unless you know where to look, what to cook, and how to make it work for you. These three tips will help you make healthy eating on a budget a reality- in any situation. 

Foods on a budget

Healthy Eating on a Budget Tip #1: Focus on The Three Macronutrients. 

Scouring Pinterest for healthy recipes can be fun, but more often than not, those recipes have a large list of ingredients. If you don’t already have a well stocked kitchen, you’re going to spend a fortune buying 10 ingredients all for one recipe. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or include tons of ingredients. If you plan your meals around the three macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fat – you’re going to save time and money. 

Healthy foods on a budgetSo, make a list of a few protein sources you like, a few carb sources, and a few fat sources. Use these to piece meals together. You can even bulk prep, and save time as well. For example, prepare a large batch of shredded chicken and ground turkey. Don’t season it until you’re ready to eat – that way, you can change the seasonings or sauce for each meal and not have to eat the exact same thing every day. Next, prep a large batch of rice or sweet potatoes, and have some tortillas on hand. For your fat sources, you could use olive oil and avocados. Now that all of these macronutrients are prepped, you can throw dinner or lunch together in a matter of minutes. And you can mix and match so that you’re not getting bored with what you’re eating. One day can be ground turkey tacos with avocado, one day can be shredded chicken tacos, and one day can be ground turkey rice bowls with any veggies that you like. If you stick to bulk prepping the three main macronutrients, you can eat very healthily on a budget. 

Healthy Eating on a Budget Tip #2: Cook at Home More Often

As you know, eating out and trying to eat healthy can be very expensive. Salads or food that isn’t fried can be some of the most expensive items on the menu. It can be very frustrating when a salad is $20, but a burger and fries is $7. That’s a hard choice to make! Cooking at home not only saves you money, but it saves you calories as well. With how food is made in restaurants, it’s often very high in fat and very low in nutrients. You’ll end up with a small amount of food that costs you quite a bit of your calories for the day. 

Healthy eating on a budgetBy buying food in bulk, and cooking it at home, you’ll be able to stick to your budget but still enjoy healthy food. With the plan listed out in tip #1, cooking at home doesn’t have to be time consuming or even hard. You don’t need master cooking skills to bulk prep rice and meat. The key is making food you like, and making it taste good. Keep the base ingredients simple – protein, carbs, and veggies – and then spice up each meal with different low calorie sauces or spices. Making it flavorful will keep you from getting bored with eating at home, which in turn, keeps your budget in check. 

Healthy Eating on a Budget Tip #3: Eat Less Processed Foods 

Unhealthy processed foods can be very tempting and can look like they are less expensive than healthy foods. However, you need to take a closer look at the price per serving. Let’s pick on a box of Cheez-Its. A box of Cheeze-Its at Walmart will cost you around $4, and a regular box has 12 servings. That’s about 0.33 cents per serving. Now, let’s look at bananas. Bananas are typically .19 cents each. Not only is a banana cheaper per serving, but it will also keep you fuller for longer. Cheeze-Its and other highly processed snack food is designed to make you want more and more. When is the last time you had just one serving of chips or crackers? It’s not likely, because it’s made to be addictive. So you end up eating more, which in turn will cost you more money. But no one over eats on bananas. 

To get the best bang for your buck, you need to watch out for buzz words when it comes to processed foods. Snack items that are advertised as healthy because they are gluten-free or organic can definitely be more expensive than their regular counterparts. That is why it is important to just stick with less processed foods overall. All fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free so you don’t need a fancy, highly processed snack if you are working towards a gluten-free diet. A good rule of thumb when grocery shopping is to keep to the perimeter of the store. Look for fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy to make balanced meals and snacks. You won’t be buying based on cravings, which keeps you on a tight budget. 

Healthy eating on a budget can be accomplished by sticking to these tips. Make a plan, stick to it, and you’ll save money and feel good about your eating. For more guidance on how to eat healthy on a budget, email Jalpa for personal coaching. 

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Macronutrients

The Macros and How To Eat Them to Get the Most Out of It

Macronutrients

You may have heard of “macros” if you’ve looked into any sort of dieting. Counting macros has become very popular these last few years – and for good reason. But it can also be confusing and overwhelming if you don’t understand what macros really are. 

In this blog, I will detail (in an easy way) exactly what macros are and why they are essential. Let’s make it make sense! 

What are macronutrients? 

There are three macronutrients and any food you can think of (any food in the world!) will be in one of these three categories. The three macros are protein, carbohydrates​​, and fats. You have more than likely heard of these. Each macro has an essential role for the body, and you’ll be happy to find out, you need all of them – even carbs! 

What makes a food a certain macronutrient is what it breaks down to in the body. Protein breaks down into tiny chains of amino acids. Carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules, and fats break down into fatty acid molecules. Each of these tiny molecules has different functions in the body. 

Protein and Its Role in the Body

Protein is mainly known for growing muscle and aiding recovery after exercise. But it has so many other important roles in the body, that you should be getting a good amount every day even if you don’t exercise.  

Macronutrient- ProteinProtein transports nutrients throughout the body, regulates fluid balance, and carries enzymes that are essential for bodily functions such as digestion and blood clotting. Important, right?! A huge role protein has is acting as a messenger for hormone function. Protein amino acids tell the body when to uptake sugar into the cell (insulin), and when to build more tissue, including bone (human growth hormone). 

The sources listed below are mainly animal protein, and that is because that is where you will find all the essential amino acids that you have to get through your diet. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can still get the protein you need through plants, you just have to mix and match in order to get all the amino acids needed. 

Protein Sources: 

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Tofu
  • Seafood and Shellfish
  • Eggs 
  • Egg Whites 

Carbohydrates and Their Role as Macronutrient

A carb’s main purpose in the body is to create energy. Your body takes in carbs, breaks them down into glucose molecules, then sends those glucose molecules through the Krebs cycle to create ATP (which is energy). Ever feel sluggish in the afternoon? Try eating some fruit or whole wheat toast for an energy boost instead of drinking caffeine. You’ll be surprised at the energy it can give you. 

The body can take fat or protein and turn it into energy, but it’s hard for the body to do. Carbs are the preferred source of fuel. In addition to creating energy, carbs also help spare protein so it can perform how it needs to. Fiber – a very healthy part of carbohydrates – is important for digestive health, controlling cholesterol levels, and keeping you full. 

Macronutrient - CarbohydratesCarbohydrates often get a bad rap for making people gain weight. But that is only true if they are overconsumed. If you are an athlete or have a very active job such as a nurse or construction worker, carbs will fuel the energy you need to perform well. Focus on high fiber, unprocessed carbs for the best results. 

Carbohydrate Sources: 

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Cereal
  • Popcorn 
  • Fruit 
  • Vegetables 
  • Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes 
  • Juice
  • Sugar
  • Most drinks like tea and soda, unless it’s diet 

Fat and Its Role as Macronutrient

Just like carbs, fat sometimes gets a bad rap for causing weight gain. Fat does not make you fat unless you overeat it. Fat is very calorie dense, but it’s not a bad thing as long as you’re aware. Fat is essential for brain health, cell protection, insulating organs, and storing backup energy. Fats also aid protein in hormone health. It’s what makes food taste good. Deep fry anything and it’s automatically going to be more scrumptious. That’s because fat is satiating and pleasing to the tongue. It’s also why it’s so easy to overeat. Anything packaged, processed, or fried is going to be higher in fat than its unprocessed counterpart. Consider using whole food fat sources rather than packaged or deep-fried food items to reap the health benefits fat can offer. 

Fat Sources: 

  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Nuts
  • Nut Butter
  • Seeds
  • Avocado 

Macronutrient - Fat

One of the biggest misconceptions is that peanut butter is a protein source. Just because the label says it has protein in it, does not mean it’s a good protein source. It breaks down in the body as fat- it is a fat source. This is one reason it’s imperative to know what macronutrients are and what foods to eat to get them. Don’t let front labels do the work for you- turn it to the back and look at what the food item is actually made of. All nutrition labels have a protein, carb, and fat count on the back. 

There are some foods that can fit into several of the categories such as dairy. Milk, yogurt, and cheese can have a good amount of all three – protein, carbs, and fat. All food offers different health benefits through the vitamins and minerals it has, so a varied diet should be considered. 

Any diet that completely eliminates one or more macros – like all carbs or all fats – is not a healthy diet. It may allow you to drop some water weight quickly, but it will not aid in overall health or long-term fat loss. 

Now that you know what macronutrients are, it’s time to learn exactly how much you need in order to fuel your body well. For that guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Nutritional supplements

Top 5 Essential Nutrients You Might Be Missing in Your Diet

It’s common for us to wonder if we’re getting all the essential nutrients, we need through what we eat. For most of us, we get stuck in ruts and eat the same thing over and over to get all our essential nutrients until we find a new menu item we like. We take a multivitamin and hope that it covers all our needs of essential nutrients. But a supplement doesn’t always cut it. It can be low quality or not the amount we actually need. A healthy diet is vital for maintaining good intake of essential nutrients and thus, maintaining good health and preventing nutritional deficiencies. But even if you think you’re eating a healthy diet, there may be certain nutrients that you’re missing out on. The list below covers the most essential nutrients, and how to get them through food. 

Essential Nutrient: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D also helps regulate the immune system and has been linked to a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and some types of cancer.

While vitamin D is found naturally in a few foods, such as fatty fish and egg yolks, most people get their vitamin D from sun exposure. However, many people don’t get enough sun exposure to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. This is especially true for those who live in northern latitudes or spend most of their time indoors.

If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure or your diet, you may be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, and bone pain.

To ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, you can take a vitamin D supplement or eat more vitamin D-rich foods. 

Food Sources of Essential Nutrient – vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel Essential Nutrients
  • Egg yolks
  • Milk and Milk products
  • Fortified cereals
  • Mushrooms

 

Essential Nutrient: Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions, including regulating muscle and nerve function, maintaining healthy bones, and supporting the immune system. Magnesium is also involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production and protein synthesis.

Despite its importance, many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. This is because magnesium is often lacking in the modern Western diet, which tends to be high in processed foods and low in whole, nutrient-dense foods. Magnesium is also one of the first minerals we lose when we strength train. As it’s very important for muscle and nerve function, it’s extremely important for athletes or people that strength train consistently to ensure they’re supplementing magnesium. 

Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, tremors, and fatigue. The best way to get enough magnesium would of course be through your diet. But supplementation is sometimes required if your diet doesn’t consistent of the items below. 

Some foods that are high in magnesium include:

  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Nuts, such as almonds and cashews
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains, such as wheat, quinoa, barley
  • Legumes, such as black beans and lentils

Essential Nutrient: Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also important for the immune system and cognitive function.

 

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, affecting over 25% of the global population. Symptoms of an iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

While iron is found naturally in many foods, it can be difficult to get enough from diet alone, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Iron from plant-based sources is less readily absorbed by the body than iron from animal sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, consider a supplement to ensure you are getting enough iron. 

Some foods that are high in iron include:

  • Red meat, poultry, and fish
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Legumes, such as lentils and beans
  • Fortified cereals and breads
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots

Essential Nutrient: Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in nerve function, muscle function, and blood clotting.

Many people don’t get enough calcium in their diet. By incorporating more calcium-rich foods into your diet, you can ensure that you’re getting enough calcium to support your bone health and overall health. But as stated above- you have to be getting enough vitamin D so that your body can absorb calcium. 

Some foods that are high in calcium include:

  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose low-fat or non-fat options to reduce saturated fat intake.
  • Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. 
  • Some foods such as tofu, soy milk, and orange juice are fortified with calcium. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are all good sources of calcium. 
  • Canned fish such as salmon and sardines with bones are also excellent sources of calcium.

Essential NutrientsEssential Nutrient: Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a number of reasons. Firstly, they play a crucial role in maintaining brain health and cognitive function, particularly during fetal development and infancy. Omega-3s are important structural components of brain cell membranes, and they also help to support communication between brain cells.

 

In addition to their role in brain health, omega-3s have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also help to support healthy skin, hair, and nails, and may even improve mood and mental health.

Some foods that are high in Omega-3s include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Brussels sprouts, seaweed, algae, spinach, and broccoli
  • Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds 
  • An omega-3 supplement is a great option if you know you’re not going to be eating a variety of fish, nuts or seeds. 

To sum it all up, instead of worrying about individual nutrients and if you’re getting enough, you should focus on a varied diet instead. A healthy diet should consist of a variety of fish, vegetables, meat, nuts, seeds, fruit and some dairy at least 80% of the time. You can go out and have fun with friends or family of course- a flexible diet is key to consistency. But for the majority of the time, put an emphasis on whole foods and you will cover the basis of nutrients you need to be healthy. 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Is Social Drinking Ruining My Health? 3 Tips to Practice Moderation

what does alcohol do to your body

A​lcohol consumption is a heavily debated topic among health experts. Some people can lead very healthy lifestyles while still consuming alcohol. And others demand that there is no healthy way to incorporate it. Social drinking is a popular pastime enjoyed by people around the world. It’s a part of almost every culture. It’s often seen as a way to unwind or celebrate big occasions. Wondering if social drinking is ruining your health? 

Due to the addictive properties of alcohol, social drinking can quickly take a turn into a habit that negatively impacts your health.

S​ome of the biggest concerns are:

  • H​ow much alcohol is “safe” to drink per day?
  • H​ow does alcohol affect the brain long term?
  • I​s alcohol preventing me from reaching my fat loss goals?
  • D​oes alcohol actually prevent fat loss or muscle gain?

Social Drinking vs Heavy Drinking

Before diving into health risks, we need to determine social drinking versus heavy drinking. How much is okay and how much is a deadly habit? Social drinking is consuming alcohol during social situations, such as a party or a dinner with friends. It is usually done in moderation – a small amount over a long period of time. Heavy drinking involves consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time- usually resulting in drunkenness or loss of control.

W​hen compared with heavy drinking, social drinking seems harmless. Most people know the risks of heavy drinking – liver damage, addiction, etc. Because social drinking is much “lighter” it can be hard to see or even care about the small risks. Alcohol – in any amount – is a toxin to the body. But there are some levels that have been deemed “safe”. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines say a moderate limit is 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. However, while binge drinking or heavy drinking is mostly thought of as a college behavior, studies have shown that people carry this behavior into their lifestyle post-college. The National Institutes of Health says that regular heavy drinking can damage the brain (specifically the frontal cortex), which will inhibit decision-making.

B​ut what if you genuinely stick to the “social drinking” guidelines and are truly a moderate to light drinker? Does alcohol still pose a risk to your health?

Social drinking vs alcoholic

Social drinking and your health

U​nfortunately, because alcohol is a toxin, there are still health risks even if you drink moderately. It may not seem harmful, because these effects are small and add up over time. If you have health goals whether it’s fat loss or muscle gain, these adverse effects need to be taken into consideration.

1​. Weight Gain – Alcohol contains a high number of calories and regular consumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain. We all love a snack post-drinking as well, which makes it much more likely that you’re going to eat more calories than you would if you weren’t drinking.

2​. Poor Sleep – A​lcohol always disrupts sleep. Even if you go to sleep more easily or it makes you tired, the quality of sleep you’re getting is not real. Alcohol prevents your body from going through all the important phases of sleep that it needs in order to recover well.

3​. Mental Health Issues – Regular alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

Three of the most important things needed for weight loss – a calorie deficit, quality sleep, and mental energy (willpower!) – are affected by alcohol. While it may be fun in the moment, social drinking may be what continues to derail your diet and your results.

B​ut don’t worry – there are ways to be flexible with it so that you can still enjoy social outings and continue to push for the results you want.

3​ Tips to Practice Moderation while Drinking

how much alcohol is safe to drink daily

1​. Set limits.

B​e honest with yourself and put parameters around your social outings if you’re serious about your health goals. If you know you’ll be going out for drinks with a friend on Saturday night, skip the drinks throughout the week so that the amount of alcohol you’re consuming isn’t adding up throughout the week. It’s also smart to know that you’re going to want or need food after a few drinks.

T​here are two food adjustments you can make that will help you stick with your weight loss or muscle gain goals while drinking. Because alcohol does contribute a lot of calories, make sure dinner is focused on protein and high-fiber carbohydrates such as vegetables. This will keep dinner on the lower calorie side, but will still be satisfying. If you lean more towards high fats and high carbs (like a basket of french fries!) it’s very easy to mindlessly eat them while drinking. By staying focused on protein and high-fiber carbs, you’ll be nourishing your body without the chance of overeating. 

You can also make sure to have a snack prepared for post-drinking. But have it already portioned. You’re likely to snack your way through a full bag of chips when you get home if you’ve had a few drinks. If you have individually portioned bags, you’ll keep calories under control. This snack can also be a high-fiber carb – like Skinny Pop!

2​. Keep it low in sugar

W​hile most people love sugary cocktails- these are full of empty calories. And they’re easy to gulp down. If you stick with a drink mixed with club soda vs sugary mixes, you’re going to sip it slowly. And the calorie count can stay low. 

3​. Take a break.

Studies have shown that your health and body can “reset” with a break from alcohol. It’s okay to go through a “season of no” to pursue your health goals. While taking care of your health isn’t always as celebrated like drinking is – it can absolutely be worth it. Just one month without alcohol can have effects such as:

  • Healthier skin
  • ​Better sleep
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved B​ody composition (less fat!)
  • G​I system improves (the lining of your gut that acts as a barrier to keep harmful pathogens out is repaired after just 3 weeks without alcohol)
  • Less brain fog

N​ot sure you could stick to a break while being peer pressured to drink? Just test the waters. Order a club soda with lime while at dinner with friends- so that you do still have a drink in hand – and see how it goes. You may be surprised at the support you receive when choosing to take a break.

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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