The EALM Blog Shelf

While Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team work on some new and exciting projects, you may notice less posts on the Eating and Living Moderately Blog. We have created a “blog shelf” below to keep you entertained and educated. Get caught up on the latest nutrition education by clicking on each year below. We will send you nutrition updates, but we will not be inundating your mailboxes on a weekly basis. If you want weekly “love” and inspiration, subscribe to our Mom Dishes It Out blog for weekly posts and recipes. Mom Dishes It Out provides expert advice from mom Registered Dietitians and mom Speech Pathologists on the “how to” of health promotion!

LLC badge

The EALM Blog Shelf

Please feel free to peruse our posts organized by year below. Or take a look at the categories listed at the bottom of the page to find a post in the desired.

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

To Drink or Not to Drink?

Some Things to Keep in Mind Before Your Next Sip
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

In honor of Labor Day Weekend, we wanted to share the following blog on drinking and alcohol. We wish you a healthy and happy holiday weekend!

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

In 2010, the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans included a recommendation to drink alcohol in moderation. Moderation here is defined as: one drink or less per day for women, and 2 drinks or less per day for men. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes that one alcoholic beverage is equal to 14 grams of alcohol. That means, one 5-ounce glass of wine, one 1.5 ounce serving of liquor (tequila, vodka, gin, and so on), or one 12-ounce bottle of beer. Alcohol can affect every person differently based on your height, weight, health status, family history, age and how often/how much you decide to drink.

Alcohol clocks in at 7.1 calories per gram, which is more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, but less than fat. So, how does alcohol breakdown in our body and is it a health risk? Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is considered a fat, not a sugar, when it is broken down in our body. The thermic effect (energy needed to breakdown foods/drinks) of alcohol is 15-22% versus the 12% for food. That means, it takes your body more energy to breakdown alcohol than food. Does that mean that people who drink will burn more calories and have a lower body weight? No. The research examining alcohol consumption and body weight regulation is mixed. Some studies concluded that alcohol consumption in women was related to a lower body weight, but the study could not control for exactly how many ounces these women drank. Another study found no correlation between alcohol and weight in women, but concluded that men who drank had a lower body fat percentage but not a lower waist-to-hip ratio (the ultimate indicator for heart health and diabetes risk). Most studies did not address long-term consumption either, so there is no evidence to see how one’s drinking habits affect them in the long run.

Extensive research from the American Institute for Cancer Research (aicr.org) has uncovered the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk in women of all ages. The majority of the research found a 10% increased risk for breast cancer with every 10 grams of alcohol/day – that’s less than one drink. Alcohol is also an Oestrogen/Estrogen disruptor, as it influences the hormone levels and its receptors.

It’s also important to know that your body considers alcohol a toxin. When you consume it, all other metabolic processes slow down to get the alcohol out of your system more efficiently. And because alcohol is considered a fat (1 of the 3 macronutrients), other fat breakdown is significantly curbed at that time.  Now, we shouldn’t start drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, rather we should be mindful of the foods we consume while we enjoy our drink. Alcohol can affect our mood and our brain function, which can ultimately affect our food choices. That’s why being mindful when we enjoy our drinks and food is important. The second we feel out of touch with ourselves from a cocktail, it may be time to stop sipping and stay present.

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale via Compfight cc

 

For a useful tool on calculating the amount of alcohol in your drink, check out:

http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/ToolsResources/CocktailCalculator.asp

 

Most importantly, NEVER drink and drive!

Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services does not recommend drinking alcohol.

Don’t “Defriend” Fat

Don’t “Defriend” Fat
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

In the 70’s, we banned fat. In the 90’s we banned carbs – and neither really worked to improve our lifestyles and relationships with food. As new research comes out regarding the best ways to eat for a healthy body, heart health, brain health – you name it – our food industry adjusts accordingly to provide these foods for us to eat. But what if we simply had a neutral relationship with food and a positive relationship with eating? It seems we would be more likely to eat exactly what our bodies need and avoid the foods our bodies can do without.

Photo Credit: misterbisson via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: misterbisson via Compfight cc

Recently, an article was published in TIME Magazine with the title “EAT BUTTER.” There’s something that will catch the reader’s eye, but what is behind the cover? For over 40 years, Americans have been on a low-fat craze because it was believed to be the best way to preserve our hearts from heart disease. Turns out, the research was misleading and the way we interpreted the research was not any better for our bodies. According to Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, ideally we thought “that if people reduced saturated fat, they would replace it with healthy fruits and vegetables.” What really happened was people replaced those calories with processed foods and snacks like low-fat cookies, cakes, crackers and more.

We started regaling fats as “good” fats and “bad” fats, and we did the same with cholesterol. Giving these positive and negative titles to foods can lead to overeating and or food avoidance. It is important to understand that fats, like all foods, are neutral. They are essential in our diet for brain health, blood sugar regulation and for keeping us feeling full. Carbs (sugar, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy) are also essential in our diet for energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avoiding one or the other can lead to undernourishment and side effects like fatigue and mood swings.

Photo Credit: Pauline Mak via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Pauline Mak via Compfight cc

In 1996, Dr. Walter Willet published research concluding that removing fat from our diets and replacing that void with carbohydrates does not reduce our risk for heart disease. It just so happens that around the time this study was published, the Mediterranean diet started gaining popularity. All fats are important. All carbs are important. All proteins are important. There is actually research supporting Mediterranean diets with 40% fat. But the fat source is mainly monounsaturated fats. Remember, when you eat fats like dairy, oils, nuts, and so on, you are typically getting a bit of saturated and unsaturated fat. So while the jury is still out, stick with moderation and try to eat more wholesome nutrition the majority of the time.

Ultimately, the TIME article is not saying Americans should drop everything and start eating butter or loading up on saturated fat. The message seems to be implying that we should no longer be afraid of fat, and we can start incorporating all types of fat in moderation. It’s time we changed our thinking from exile to acceptance. Allowing ourselves to have access to all foods will decrease the desire to resist any particular nutrient or food group. We will all be healthier for it.

Aging Nutritionally and Gracefully

Aging Nutritionally and Gracefully
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

If there is one thing working against us when it comes to aging it’s..…TIME. It is true that as we get older, we age. While we can’t turn back time, we can try to keep our bodies as healthy as possible to help us feel better, stronger, and more energized. Here are three of our favorite books that discuss diet, health, and lifestyle recommendations that can help you feel younger by keeping your mind and body in a state of wellness:

 Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.49.31 PM

You Staying Young- by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz

This book describes the aging process in a fun, easy-to-read way. It does an excellent job of intertwining medicine and nutrition. It has tons of useful tools like the YOU Tool 2 “Ultimate Work Up”-a fantastic list of tests you should be sure to inquire about at your next doctor’s visit. You also offers a 14-day plan that includes dietary changes, exercise routines, meditation, and relaxation plans. This book reminds you that caring for the mind and body together are equally important. It also includes interesting little known facts. For example Roizen and Oz note that you should remove your dry-cleaned clothing from the plastic-wrap, as soon as you get home to prevent the chemicals from becoming trapped.  There is a great chapter on other toxins that you may find in your environment as well. I am going to head to my closet right now to remove the plastic from my dry-cleaning.

 Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.49.46 PM

Younger Next Week- Elisa Zied, MS, RD

In Younger Next Week , my colleague registered dietitian Elisa Zied points out that crash dieting is not the solution to aging. In fact she explains that crash dieting increases cortisol levels, leading to both weight gain and aging! Zied’s 7-day vitality plan offers manageable ways to make permanent lifestyle changes that can lead to improved health and wellness. This plan is supposed to be repeated weekly so that it eventually becomes a lifestyle. Elisa states “it’s about finding a sustainable balance in your food and food choices” (Page 189). Finding balance, not only in food choices, but also in our schedules is important. Elisa offers countless examples of structured meal plans, tasty recipes, and creative “stressipes” to get you started on living a more balanced life. I am really excited to try Strawberry-Walnut Cinnamon French toast (Page 216) for breakfast next weekend!

 Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.52.05 PM

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy- Dr. Willett

This book may look intimidating at first, but when you crack it open it has some very practical advice. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating is one of my favorites! Dr. Willett provides a review of some of the quick-fix diets and why they do not work. He also includes his own version of the USDA pyramid, which I find to be very useful. This is a great book if you want to learn about nutrition science. This book focuses more on the diet component of lifestyle changes and includes some really wonderful recipes, menus guides, and cooking tips to help you feel comfortable trying new ingredients. This book may be a little more of challenging read than our other two recommendations, but it is certainly worth it.

 

Ultimately these books can aid the work you are doing with your RD and/or MD. Remember to help yourself feel your best, make small daily changes in your life. Think balance not CONTROL! Aim for the middle ground – “The Grey Zone” – the healthy diet mentality should steer clear of black and white, all or nothing thinking. Healthy diets are learning which foods work for you. Try to think of these foods as  “everyday” foods and  “sometimes” foods, when meal and snack planning. Choose to exercise to help your bodies physically and mentally, not just to lose weight. Take time to relax  – again both physically and mentally!! Oftentimes quick fixes may be appealing when trying to become healthy, but this typically ends up backfiring. Instead, consider taking small manageable steps, such as meditating for one minute each night, to achieve permanent behavior change.

 

Want more information on nutrition and aging? Check out this recently published article by the Nutrition Society:

Jessica C. Kiefte-de Jong, John C. Mathers and Oscar H. Franco. Nutrition and healthy ageing: the key ingredients . Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S0029665113003881.

What Eating Right Means to the Future of Nutrition!

In honor of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s National Nutrition Month, we wanted to share our views on eating right. Read what eating right means to the women who make up the team of dietetic interns at Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services: 

IMG_0842

Courtney Darsa
Dietetic Intern at University of Delaware

When someone asks me how I define eating healthy, many different things come to mind.  Consuming a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy products, is only part of my definition.  The most important part of healthy eating is to have a positive relationship with food.  When a person enjoys the food they are eating, it can become a big surprise as to how much more satisfying eating can truly be.  Developing a positive relationship with food is not as easy as it sounds.  When you slow down to eat a meal, it becomes easier to savor and enjoy the flavors of the particular food you are eating.  This gives your body the time to recognize whether or not it is still hungry.  Another definition for this is Mindful Eating.

Mindful eating is defined as eating with awareness.  It is a great way to measure healthy eating because there is no right or wrong answer.   It is about realizing that each individual’s eating experiences are unique and cannot be compared to any other person’s experience.  Mindful eating is about listening to your body’s cravings and satisfying them.  It is about recognizing that there are no “good or bad foods”, eating food in moderation is important.  Yes, there are foods that contain more vitamins and minerals than others (these foods should be eaten more often) but it does not mean that foods that do not contain as many nutrients should be restricted.  Healthy eating is all about balance and listening to your body’s wants and needs.  By developing a healthy relationship with food, you will be come surprised as to how much more enjoyable your eating experiences can be!

banana walnut yogurt parfait MDIO

Laura Iu
Dietetic Intern at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Instagram: @dowhatiulove

As an alumna of NYU and now a dietetic intern, I’ve realized that studying in the nutrition field by no means makes me perfect in the way I eat; but the way I eat is perfect for me. I’m at my happiest and healthiest when I’m able to cook my own meals, which I prefer to do instead of dining out. I love knowing exactly what ingredients are going into my food which helps me eat healthier, and being in the kitchen is my go-to de-stressor. With every new experience, my definition of “healthy” is evolves. To simplify what “healthy” means to me, I’ll begin by telling you what “healthy” is not. Healthy is not about eating only low-fat foods, low-calories, or feeling guilty after enjoying something tasty. In fact, healthy means not feeling hungry, guilty, or deprived. Being healthy does not mean one must follow a specific diet (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc.) and it also doesn’t mean it must be expensive or the food always organic.

Eating right and being healthy is a balancing act! It requires us to embrace all foods in an amount that makes us feel good, fitting in physical activities for enjoyment, setting aside time for yourself to de-stress, or simply sleep! It’s about nourishing our bodies with wholesome foods—so that we’re not just satisfied, but also energized to live to the fullest today and to another tomorrow—for the people we love, the things we love to do, and most importantly, for ourselves.

granola-640x480

 

Valery Kallen
MS Candidate at New York University

Eating “right” means nourishing both my body and my mind. When I think of food, I don’t just think of calories or nutrients – I think of the whole mind/body connection. So when I try to eat healthy, it’s not just to maintain a certain weight, it’s also because I know that I will feel stronger, more focused, and more at peace with my food choices. And that doesn’t mean depriving myself either; it means eating mostly whatever I want, in moderation. So if I feel like having a scoop of ice cream while watching a Saturday night movie, that’s eating “right” to me. Eating healthy means not feeling guilty about the foods you eat. There are no good foods versus bad foods – it’s not a superhero comic book! When you eat a wholesome, balanced diet the majority of the time, you’ll find that you no longer feel shame over eating the occasional cookie, or two. And there’s something very “right” about that.

IMG_0995

Lindsay Marr
BS Nutrition and Dietetics, New York University

In my opinion, eating right doesn’t have to mean deprivation or limitations. In fact, I believe it means the opposite. Eating right is striving to eat all foods in moderation. As both a nutrition graduate and a person with dietary restrictions, eating right is very important to me. Throughout my time as a nutrition student, I worked to maintain a healthy diet filled with wholesome ingredients and balanced meals. To this day, I continue to do so. My version of eating right means reading labels on the foods I buy to ensure the ingredients are safe for me and checking the quality of the products I eat to be sure I am eating the most nutritional items. I eat a diet rich in fresh foods and make sure to enjoy all foods. Eating right is more than aiming for a certain number on a scale or looking a certain way: it is important to maintaining our health. I eat right to fuel my body with the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive. I eat healthfully to feel good now and to continue to feel good later in life. Most importantly, I eat right to enjoy life.

IMG_1159

Alyssa Mitola
Dietetic Intern at New York University

Eating right is all about balance, a balance of flavors, tastes, culture, and nutrients. I believe it is essential to nourish your body with adequate nutrients. It is also important to enjoy your food and feel satisfied. When feasible, I love to eat fresh wholesome foods. We are lucky that nature is abundant with so many delicious choices. There is nothing like a fresh tomato in season or a ripe apple picked straight off the tree. But it is important to remember that no food should be off limits when “eating right.” I believe we should eat with intent and take time to enjoy the smells and flavors of the food we eat. Living in NYC, one of my favorite things to do is taste cuisines from all over the world. It amazes me how similar ingredients can be made into so many different dishes. I love discovering new foods and flavors each day. Food and eating not only fulfill essential biological needs, but also social, psychological, and cultural needs. For me, eating right is about understanding all aspects of food and cultivating a healthy relationship with food. Eating right means purposefully choosing foods to fuel one’s mind, body, and soul! Happy National Nutrition Month!

 

I'm Blogging National Nutrition MonthTo learn more about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s National Nutrition Month, please click here to be redirected to their NNM Page. 

The Scoop on Coffee

Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 1.19.01 PM

The Scoop on Coffee
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

We’ve heard it before: “Coffee boosts your metabolism. Too much coffee causes dehydration.” But, do these sayings hold any truth? Does drinking a cup or two of java each morning really affect your metabolism? And what about your hydration? Research has linked coffee to numerous health benefits, including aiding in degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, boosting our mood, and the list goes on. We took to the books to find the scoop on coffee. Here is what we found.

Image courtesy of Puro Coffee
Image courtesy of Puro Coffee

Q: What’s the deal with caffeine?
A: Coffee stimulates our feel good hormones in the brain!! Makes you feel good (in moderation, of course).

According to a Harvard Health Letter published in Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications, caffeine is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine. It is then circulated throughout the body, including the brain. The caffeine circulation reaches its highest point roughly 30-45 minutes following ingestion. Once absorbed, caffeine affects the dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that involves thinking and pleasure. Think about it that first cup of coffee in the morning  – part of that morning rush is associated with caffeine stimulating our dopamine receptors just like sugar and even drugs.

Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 1.20.41 PM

Q: Can coffee be beneficial to brain function?
A: Caffeine is linked to better memory! 

A study published in 2012 tested the effect of caffeine on older adults with “mild cognitive impairment, or the first glimmer of serious forgetfulness, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease”2. The study found that those older adults with little caffeine in their bloodstreams were far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who had a few cups of coffee per day2.

 

Q: Is filtered coffee healthier than unfiltered coffee?
A: Choose filtered coffee more often.

If you’re drinking unfiltered coffee on a daily basis, you may want to consider switching to filtered. Coffee naturally contains a substance known as cafestol, which has been shown to stimulate LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. However, when brewed with a paper filter, the cafestol doesn’t transfer to the coffee. While drinking unfiltered coffee on occasion isn’t terrible for you, if you are someone with high cholesterol, filtered coffee would make the better choice.

Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 1.21.01 PM

Q: Can too much coffee be dehydrating?
A: Caffeine stimulates your bladder, while alcohol actually dehydrates.

A recent study published by University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom tested coffee’s effect on the fluid balance of habitual male coffee drinkers and found no significant loss of fluid balance in men that drank a maximum of 4 cups of coffee per day1.

 

Q: Does coffee consumption impact blood pressure?
A: Coffee can up our pump; think twice if you have already high blood pressure. 

It can. According to a study performed by Harvard University, continued caffeine consumption (via coffee) can lead to a slight increase in blood pressure. While coffee hasn’t been directly associated with an increased risk of hypertension, it is typically recommended that those with hypertension, specifically those who are finding it difficult to control, should switch to a decaffeinated coffee.

Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 1.21.13 PM

Q: Can coffee really boost our metabolism?
A: Coffee boosts our central nervous system, but it usually takes more than 1 cup.

A study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior, the metabolic rate of regular coffee drinkers was found to be about 16% higher than decaf coffee drinkers. The reasoning? Caffeine is known to stimulate the body’s central nervous system, which can increase both breathing and heart rate.

 

Q: So, what’s the takeaway?
A: We will see you at Starbucks!

As the research we’ve highlighted shows, coffee drinking can benefit our brain health, boost our metabolism, and even help improve our mood. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful – drinking too much coffee can increase our blood pressure and drinking more than 4 cups per day can negatively affect our fluid balance. Though, like most things, coffee can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. A cup or two of coffee per day could be beneficial to our health, but it is encouraged to limit coffee drinking to a maximum of 4 cups per day to avoid any negative side effects.

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 2.05.17 PM
Image courtesy of Puro Coffee

Laura recently traveled to Peru and came across a great coffee brand known for both their sustainability and commitment to the environment, Puro Coffee. Puro Coffee is sourced from Fairtrade co-operatives made up of hundreds of farmers together to grow the coffee naturally. They even use solar panels and recycle the heat from the coffee roasting process to power their factory!

For more information on Puro Coffee and their sustainable processes, please take a look at the following links:

www.purocoffee.com/us
www.purocoffee.com/uk/
www.facebook.com/fairtradecoffee
www.twitter.com/puro_coffee
or watch a great video on their story here!

 

References:

  1. Killer, Sophie C., Andrew K. Blannin, and Asker E. Jeukendrup. “No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population.” PloS one 9.1 (2014): e84154.
  2. Santos, Roseane M.M., Tracy Hunter, Nick Wright, Darcy R.A. Lima. “Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acids in Coffee and Effects on Selected Neurodegenerative Diseases.” J Pharm Sci Innov. 2013; 2(4): 9-17. 

Loving Chocolate This Valentine’s Day! – the latest scoop on cocoa!

ChocoPeru3By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Though we don’t encourage showing your love through food, we thought you would love to know the benefits of eating chocolate since we all know chocolate is the official food of Valentine’s Day! That’s right, chocolate has been shown to have numerous health benefits when eaten in moderation.

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 9.42.05 AM

1. A study performed in Sweden found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate weekly had a decreased risk of stroke when compared to women who ate less chocolate.

2. A study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association found that eating small amounts of “polyphenol-rich chocolate as part of a usual diet efficiently reduced blood pressure in healthy individuals”.

3. Eating chocolate can be beneficial to your skin? Dark chocolate, that is. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dietary flavanols from cocoa contribute to “endogenous photoprotection, improve the blood circulation and improve hydratation” of the skin.

4. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that cocoa can have both anti-clotting and blood-thinning properties. These properties were found to closely resemble the effect of aspirin.

5. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the fat in chocolate is composed of cocoa butter and contains about 1/3 of oleic acid; a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil.

 

chocoPeru1

ChocoPeru2

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 9.42.56 AM

Did you know, the average piece of dark chocolate contains almost double the amount of healthy monounsaturated fats than its milk chocolate counterpart? Dark chocolate contains less sugar (the average bar has about half the amount of sugar than milk chocolate) and roughly 4 times the amount of fiber than milk chocolate. For more information on the comparison of dark and milk chocolates click here for Prevention Magazine’s infographic.

 

ChocoPeru4

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 9.43.05 AM

  • Endangered Species Chocolate – this brand of chocolate has a wide variety of options from plain dark chocolate to dark chocolate with cherries. According to the company’s website the bars are made with ethically traded cacao and they donate 10% of their profits to conservation efforts.
  • Alter Eco Chocolate – with under 10 ingredients per chocolate bar, this chocolate brand uses sustainable practices and are certified organic. They also have a chocolate bar with quinoa inside.

 

Screen shot 2014-02-09 at 10.10.57 AM

Red Velvet cake actually has chocolate in it. In fact, unsweetened cocoa powder is one of the main ingredients. It is believed that the original red velvet cake got it’s red coloring from a chemical reaction caused by the cocoa powder and the acidity of the buttermilk. According to Chenected, a chemical engineering website, the anthocyanins found in natural cocoa powder create a reddish hue when they come into contact with acid.

 

ChocoMuseum
Pictures in this blog post were taken at ChocoMuseo in Lima, Peru. More information can be found here.

Lunching Revelations While With Your Nutritionist

Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc

Lunching Revelations While With Your Nutritionist
A client of Laura’s opted to go to lunch with Laura one day. Here are her notes on the experience:

A belated happy “Take your Nutritionist to Work Day”! Okay, so it’s not a real holiday…yet (give politicians or Hallmark a hot minute), but I celebrated it a few weeks ago.

 

See, I have this love-hate relationship with my office cafeteria. My midtown office “caf” is just like most office cafeterias. It’s run by one of the big companies that do these sorts of things, and they offer a lot of selections—hot foods, ethnic food days, taco stations, salad bars, soups and sandwiches. I’ve been eating at the caf off and on through five jobs and for a total of 17 years now. And the experience still stresses me out! So I decided to seek professional help and get nationally recognized nutrition expert and general fun person Laura Cipullo to help me out.

 

I’ve been working with Laura for a couple of years now. I’ve participated in her meal group (“Supper Club” we called it, even though it wasn’t at all like a Supper Club…starting with the “no alcohol” part) and seen her individually as a private client. While growing up, my parents always expected me to clean my plate. Now, I’m trying to get accustomed to “Mindful Eating.” But I’m getting better at it…and I have fewer food rules. I learned a great deal during our lunch together—both about how to navigate a caf lunch (as well as lunch generally) and my eating habits.

Photo Credit: alykat via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: alykat via Compfight cc

“Walk around,” Laura says, whispering like we are in a movie theater… without the popcorn smell or the movie! I tell her she doesn’t have to whisper; we can talk like grown-ups. She explains that at lunch, we want to get the most nutritional bang for our caloric buck. “Keep it basic,” she says. She tells me to skip the hot food—that it’s better to spend those calories on food when there’s a nice environment and I can really enjoy it. I like my desk, but she’s right. Even when I grab a minute and sit down to eat at a table (ideally with someone), it’s not the swankiest setting. “I want to savor my cornmeal crusted calamari at a fancy restaurant,” Laura says with a smile…and I agree. She’s right about these things!

 

Still in the cafeteria, I bump into some good friends and introduce Laura. By now, she is using a normal inside voice. She reminds me that there is no “perfect”— and that this is a choice, not a rule. Good thing, because I’m starting to feel a little stressed. She asks me about breakfast and dinner plans. We talk about what I have brought with me for a snack…or what I could pick up.

 

I end up with one of my regular go-to meals—a salad from the taco station made out of lettuce, black beans (a little soupy), mango, corn and jicama, mixed with a chipotle dressing. I get some guacamole added on the top plus about eight corn chips. She gets a salad from the salad bar with chicken and cheese as her protein. She notes the salmon and the steamed green beans that are the chef’s special along with wasabi mashed potatoes. Laura says that would be a good option if I passed on the mashed spuds. She also okays my go-to veggie burger (no fries). I do know that the buffalo chicken wings (available every Friday)—even if I put them on top of a nice bunch of arugula—are a “Sometimes” food, so I don’t bother to ask about them.

 

Laura and I then head over to the salad dressing station to talk about the hidden dangers lurking thereon. Later, she texts me that the little plastic dressing cup which looks so cute and innocent­ actually holds four tablespoons— TABLEspoons! The salad dressing station is like a little island of deceit! Laura recommended to stick with the oil & vinegar and limit the reduced fat dressings – they’re often higher in sodium and added sugars. Laura’s all about the olive oils!

 

We check out (I’m a privacy lawyer, so I’m using my anonymous credit card that’s not tied to anything that knows I’m me), and I can tell that Laura’s scanning the next aisle to start on a discussion about snacks. I’m glad; I need all the help I can get.

 

I long ago realized that my biggest issue was letting myself get way too hungry—generally for dinner. But by then, I’m not able to think rationally about portions…or listen to how hungry I am…or even to figure out what foods go together. While knowing the problem is always the first step to solving it, there are still times when I look up from my computer and realize that I have skipped having a snack. And then I’m beyond hungry and don’t have any snack with me!

 

Laura suggests that I eat half of my salad, take the other half back to my office, and then check in with her in an hour and a half to two hours. We chat about travel plans and what’s going on generally. (Uh, did she tell you that she authored a Rodale cookbook? Ahem!)

 

We spend 35 to 40 minutes eating—far longer than I usually put into lunchtime chewing if I’m on my own and eating at my desk. I confess that I’m satiated for now with the half-salad, but I wonder (out loud, she flits over my shoulder even when she’s not really here, for goodness sakes) how much of that is because I ate it so slowly…relatively slowly!

 

And back to the snack dilemma: Laura picked out a Kashi bar (yum) and a yogurt for snack options. I went with the Kashi bar and expanded my horizons (yogurt is my usual snack).

 

So to summarize:

  • Those little plastic salad dressing containers are not to be trusted unless you have measuring spoons.
  • Eating at my desk makes me eat faster and more.
  • I overthink lunch…and pretty much everything else too! “More healthy and less fancy,” Laura said.
  • Salad dressings are not to be trusted! Stick to the vinegar and oil.
  • As in so many things, keeping it simple is best!
  • And there’s still no “perfect”!

 

For more tips and tricks on navigating food choices in the office environment, take a peek at Laura’s blog on her sister blog Mom Dishes It Out by clicking here.

Eating Healthfully When Gluten-Free

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

Eating Healthfully When Gluten-Free
By Lindsay Marr, B.S. and Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

Are you eating enough folic acid? Is your gluten-free bread enriched? Are all gluten-free muffins created equal? Last Sunday, I learned the answer was NO. I had the opportunity to attend a presentation hosted by the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group. The main presenter was Cheryl Leslie, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and mother of two children, both with celiac disease. I learned a few very important tips to ensure a gluten-free diet was free of nutrient deficiencies.

When Comparing Labels:

Cheryl explained that she maintains a gluten-free household for her children and while she is constantly on the lookout for great gluten-free finds, she always inspects the nutrition labels. One of my favorite parts of the presentation was Cheryl’s breakdown of the nutrition facts label and her explanation of the steps she takes to ensure that she is comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. Let me explain:

  • Review the grams of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, and calories of three gluten-free blueberry muffins.
  • Note the weight of the products, as well as the serving sizes.
    • Identify if the muffins were of equal weights, how the nutrition components would change and what the facts would be.
    • Hint: Just because something is less in sugar and fat doesn’t mean it is better. It may be only due to the fact it is smaller.
  • Compare the nutrition facts of the three muffins if they were the same weight and determine which muffin you prefer.

Nutritional Shortcomings of GFD:

Cheryl then went on to discuss possible deficiencies in the GFD. Did you know the majority of flour sold in our country is enriched with vitamins and nutrients? According to the FDA, for a food to be labeled as “enriched” with a specific nutrient, it must “contain at least 10% more of the Daily Value of that nutrient than a food of the same type that is not enriched”[i]. In the case of flour, to be considered an “enriched flour” the FDA requires the flour to contain “specified amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and iron”[i].

The enrichment of wheat flour provides a good portion, if not the majority, of these nutrients in the average American’s diet. Gluten-free foods, however, do not require enrichment because they are considered to be supplemental. Therefore, by eliminating gluten from our diets and, in turn, eliminating enriched flours, we could potentially be missing out on the following key nutrients: folate, iron, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Here is a list of dietary sources containing the 5 nutrients most likely to be missing when maintaining a gluten-free diet:

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 4.47.26 PM

As a nutrition professional (future-RD), and someone with celiac disease, Cheryl reminded me how it is vital to maintain a balanced diet filled with fresh and whole foods. And as the chart above shows, we can get our nutrients from fresh and non-packaged foods.

Having to eat gluten-free can easily cause a person to feel restricted and may even cause people to reach for more of the packaged goods. It’s easy to think “I can’t eat my favorite bread anymore, so I deserve this gluten-free cookie.” While many of us love these convenient foods, it is important to compliment them with wholesome fresh foods for an optimal dietary intake.

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

As the saying goes, everything in moderation!! Educate yourself about reading the food label, not only for ingredients that may contain gluten, but also for missing vitamins and minerals, as well as, the weight of a serving size.  And, of course, be sure to eat fresh foods too.

 

References:


i “Are Foods That Contain Added Nutrients Considered “enriched”?” FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. <http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194348.htm>.

 

 

The Art of the Bliss Point

The Art of the Bliss Point
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

 

Beware of the bliss point this holiday season!! The term “Bliss Point” made headlines earlier this year when author Michael Moss’ book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat” was published. Bliss point, a term often used by the soft-drink industry represents the food manufacturers’ use of sugar, salt, and fat to increase taste and ultimately, the cravings of consumers. It is a specific term coined to represent the “specific amount of crave” which is smack in the middle of the sensory intensity (level)1.

 

Remember when Oreos were all over the news last month? A study performed by Connecticut College found that eating Oreos stimulate the same sensation in the brains of lab mice as drugs do, suggesting that Oreos may possibly be as addictive as drugs. “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” says Joseph Schroeder, the director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at Connecticut College2. “It could explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”2 While the study is yet to be officially published and undergo the peer-review process, it is likely that the Oreos caused the mice to reach something like their bliss point. It is important to recognize that this does not mean the food itself is addictive (check back soon for a post on food addiction).  If foods are eaten in combination with other foods especially proteins, the sensory experience of the food would be different and, therefore, not at the optimal bliss point.

 

Keep in mind, the food manufacturers are trying to achieve bliss point so the consumers continually buy and eat their products. This is a marketing ploy.  The University of Indiana highlights the Bliss Point on their website, stating that the bliss point is the combination of “just the right amount of sugar, salt, and fat”. They report the food industry attempts to prepare all foods with at least 2 combinations of the earlier mentioned nutrients3. In fact, Moss says there are some foods on the market today that cause our bodies to feel hungry even as we’re eating them1.

 

Take an example by Moss, from his article in the NY Times, just a half-cup serving of a popular marinara sauce brand has more than 2 teaspoons of sugar (that’s more than two oreos worth of sugar). Moss states, however, that having too much of one sensation (ie sweetness, fat, or salt) can actually be off-putting to the consumer. It is a term called “sensory-specific satiety,” in which more distinctive flavors overwhelm the brain, therefore reducing the desire to eat more. Thus, not only do brands look for the perfect mixture of tastes, but they also measure them accordingly to ensure that they don’t reach the “sensory-specific satiety”1.

Photo Credit: Wayan Vota via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Wayan Vota via Compfight cc

Can you think about a certain food like a potato chip or even an Oreo that has hit upon your bliss point? I can remember eating Pringles and one was just never enough. Even now, when I eat Oreos, having one is extremely rare. Rather I try to have Oreos with my lunch, or with milk or immediately after eating dinner to so that I get full from the other foods and also to prevent a blood sugar rollercoaster.

 

So what can we do, as consumers? As parents? We live in a busy world where too often convenience trumps nutrition. Despite having good intentions to eat locally sourced foods, time and lack of energy cause us to fall prey to packaged goods. It is truly a balancing act. Most important is that the consumer realizes this is happening and can make an educated decision regarding which brands to purchase, how often to eat packaged foods and to realize the body is not betraying you rather the big food companies may be!

 

Do you think food companies should be allowed to manufacture foods that achieve bliss point? Do you think overeating of these specific foods is the fault of the big food companies or the individual?

 

What food hits your bliss point?

 

Additional Reading: http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21568064-food-companies-play-ambivalent-part-fight-against-flab-food-thought

Additional Viewing: http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/

 

 

References:

  1. Moss, Michael. “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” New York Times [New York City] 20 Feb 2013, Magazine n. pag. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?_r=0>.
  2. Martin, Amy, and Deborah MacDonnell. “Connecticut College News.” Connecticut College News. Connecticut College, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
  3. “The Bliss Point.” The Bliss Point. Indiana University, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.