Citrus Foods Boost Immunity

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Connect for Health

We are living in a very weird time, and so much of that strangeness comes with the uncertainty of what’s next. And, I don’t doubt this will be something all of us will remember the rest of our lives. COVID-19 has affected everybody one way or another.

Though we’re flooded with images of people buying toilet paper and eerie supermarket panic, I see how extraordinary and resourceful people have been, finding ways to alleviate stress, keep connected, and keep the wheels of life turning. For instance, overnight, teachers re-invented the way to reach students, redefining education, finding ways to create lunch drop-offs. Libraries, museums, zoos, the Met Opera, Broadway … all have gone virtual, providing the world with a way to explore collections and stay connected through art. We can travel to Versailles! Even Michelin chefs are providing cooking lessons, free-of-charge, on Instagram.

Immunity Boosting Foods

In this health crisis, all “non-essential” health services have been cancelled. Which can be scary. Women are pregnant and need to take care of their bodies, with accurate information. People continue to work through eating disorders and chronic illness. Every health issue begins with good nutrition. And it’s imperative to have access to accurate information.

I want you to know you are not alone.

As a registered New York dietitian, I work with clients from all walks of life, from all over the world. Nutrition is the key to health, and during times like this, we all need give our bodies and immune systems an extra boost. So, steer clear of the toilet paper aisle, and stock up on these super immune-system foods:

Citrus Foods Boost Immunity

  1. Citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C.
  2. Papayas and kiwis have Vitamin C, potassium, folate and more.
  3. Bring on the broccoli. This superfood, though it lost a little of the spotlight to kale, is one of the best. Vitamins A, C, E, antioxidants, and fiber in these green stalks make this a no-lose choice. Steam it or eat it raw! (Wash well!)
  4. Garlic is proven to ward off infections. (Keep in mind we’re all in close quarters now, so you might want to make sure everybody indulges together!)
  5. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory (proven to help with sore throats) and can help with morning sickness (great in a tea for my prenatal clients), curbing nausea.
  6. Almonds are packed with Vitamin E, which is key to a healthy immune system. A half a cup of almonds provides your daily requirements of Vitamin E.
  7. Green tea has high levels of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) … which is, in other words, an awesome antioxidant. This boosts immune function. It also is a great source of flavonoids and the amino acid L-theanine. Stew a thermos of green tea and sip on it all day long.
  8. Kefir, kombucha and yogurt give your gut a much-needed immune boost. Remember gut health is also mental health.
  9. Go frozen!Remember frozen fruits and vegetables retain their nutrients. Blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries, broccoli, mixed vegetables … all are packed with nutrients and won’t spoil.Immunity Boosting Foods

Eating well is the crux of health. It is an essential service you do for your body. Another piece of the puzzle is to keep moving. Many of us are homebound for the next several weeks. Below are some great resources to keep moving in the house. Being active is key to immune health.

Immunity Boosting Foods

Covid-19 has been a humble reminder of our fragility and connection. Life continues. As a registered dietitian, I provide online prenatal, post-natal counseling, as well as work with clients who need clinical dietitian services. We’re just a phone call or internet connection away! Contact me. We can connect and keep your nutrition goals on track.

Stay healthy. Stay calm.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Learn yoga positions, get moving, while acting out a children’s story. (Really fun for younger kids or those who are young-at-heart.)

Yoga with Cassandra

7 Minute Workout

5 Tips from NYC Registered Dietitian on How to Put Yourself First

Nutrition, Exercise, and Self Care for Busy Women

The tiredness and fatigue are real. We’re stretched to the limits every day between work and family, social obligations and social work, and the pressure of trying to fit everything from exercise and PTA meetings to political rallies and Girl Scout cookie sales in a 24-hour time slot.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to commemorate the ongoing battle for gender equality. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual – an equal world is an enabled world. My proposal, as a mother, a grandmother, and a woman always searching for balance, is that we begin this battle for equality in our homes and with some very necessary self care.

How?

It’s time to get a little selfish and put yourself first this Interational Women’s Month (and always).

  1. Get radical at restaurants. When was the last time you opened a menu at a restaurant and chose what you wanted to eat? Almost all mothers will relate. Eating leftovers off everyone’s plate isn’t the ideal way to get your nutritional needs met. Plus, it makes restaurant eating not so fun. So, ditch the kids menu and choose something you’re excited about. This is also a great way to get your family to try new things. Pick a fun appetizer, something different, for everyone to try. Share entrees. This encourages adventurous eating for everyone and gives you a chance to eat what you want!
  2. Be mindful during meals. I work with many moms who scramble to fit everything in. It’s all too common to buzz around the kitchen, scooping in bites of salad, casserole … whatever … while helping a child finish a science fair project or sending last-minute texts to the office. Nutrition isn’t only about WHAT we eat, but also HOW we eat. Taking time out to sit to enjoy a meal is critical for health.
  3. Value rest. We’re in a mad society that values being busy over almost everything else. It’s become this all-American thing to always be busy. Challenge yourself to take a break. What does this look like? It could look like sitting down to watch bad TV. Reading a book. Taking a nap. Turning off your phone and computer. Just … sitting and looking out the window. Saying, ‘No.’ (This last one is a biggie.) Value down time because your brain and body need it. Don’t fall into the hamster, be-busy-at-all-costs trap.Relaxation as Self-Care
  4. Move… every day. Join a dance class. Find something that inspires you to move, whether it’s playing with your grandchildren in the park, gardening, joining a yoga class, or simply walking your dog. Movement is a critical element of health. Fall in love with your body again by valuing how it moves, how it works, and the magic of a machine it is.
  5. Improve your body self esteem. As women, we’re taught from a young age to hate our bodies. Turn off the 24-7 negative commentary in your brain. Celebrate your body, its beauty, and the amazing things it can do. You. Are. Beautiful.

International Women's Day - Beautiful Women

 

Valuing who we are as women is a critical first step toward the battle for gender equality. To do that, though, we have to learn to put our nutrition, our health, ourselves … first.

We deserve it!

Happy Woman

8 Tips to Train Clients with Kindness and Get Results from NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

#KindnessIsTrending in Personal Training

Last week I discussed how kindness should be an essential part of any fitness and nutrition program. Though the old school of personal trainers and dietitians are more akin to Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash than Danny O’Shea in Little Giantskindness doesn’t mean not doing our job. We must be able to help clients reach goals and get results.  

So, how can you train clients with kindness and still get results? 

  1. Be honest. A close friend of mine had stick-straight, long hair. She needed a change, picked a haircut she thought would be perfect, and went to an expensive salon. As soon as the stylist saw the picture, she shook her and said, “This woman has curly hair. You don’t. Your hair will not look like this. Ever.” Ouch. That honesty, though, saved my friend hundreds of dollars of disappointment. So much of what our clients want for their bodies doesn’t even take into consideration their body shape, their bone density, muscle density, stretch marks, sagging parts and more. Fitness and health are attainable for everyone. Fitting into a Size 2 dress by summer is not. 
  2. How can you be honest and not hurtful? 
    1. Shift the conversation from numbers to fitness goals. What does your client want to achieve? Instead of losing 20 pounds, perhaps they want to feel more energized, be able to go on carnival rides with their kids, feel better in their clothes etc. These latter goals are sustainable and real.
    2. If a client continues to focus on weight loss, be clear that your job isn’t to help someone lose weight, instead help a client build a healthy relationship with food and exercise. The by-product, of which, will often be weight loss.

  3. Build up body self esteem  Give clients tangible ways to build their body self-esteem. Have them keep a gratitude journal. Their goal is to write down five things they love about their body each day. (They can repeat). Invite clients to take a social media hiatus and note how they feel after the cleanse. Tell clients to be aware of their inner dialogue and judgements they make. Have them really listen to what their brain is telling them and make it shift its discourse.Happy Woman

     

  4. Help clients reconnect with their bodies Invite clients to reconnect with their bodies, the way they move, how they feel when they stretch, hold someone’s hand, to feel the cold of an ice cube in their mouth. We are often so disconnected, we’re not even aware of what our bodies are doing. Kindness training is about reconnecting with the essentials. This, also, will help clients learn to listen to their bodies and avoid injury.
  5. Influencer beware As certified personal trainers and dietitians, we’re competing with a beast of bad, and easily accessible, information. Many clients come in with some pretty far-out ideas about exercise and nutrition after scrolling through Instagram. Sit down with your client with a checklist. Ask them if they’d hire YOU without accredited qualifications. Provide clients with trusted websites and sources. Have them be critical of influencers, recognizing influencers are paid to promote. They’re human shopping networks, and oftentimes not smart. 
  6. Create thoughtfully structured goals with your client. Language is everything here. This will be your client’s North. It also is something your client has developed with you. These goals can be done monthly, and there should be real progression for each stage of the game. EG. By the end of the month, I want to be able to walk up six flights of stairs to my apartment without losing my breath. It’s specific. It has a realistic timeframe. It’s ACHIEVABLE. And not intimidating.Joy

     

  7. Do not be Mr. Miyagi. As dramatic as it is to fall into the mysterious ways of a coach like Mr. Miyagi, keep in mind this is much more successful for Hollywood than someone you’re training. Your clients must know the what, why, and how of everything. They will not wax your car or paint your fence (however tempting that may be). Explain the purpose of each exercise and how that exercise will help them reach the goals they set in number 6. 
  8. Get to the bottom of it. Understanding your clients’ underlying motivation is key to achieving goals. There are many layers to starting a fitness routine. If only every client came in and said, “I want to feel healthy and energized again.” Sigh. Some might be recovering from disordered eating and feel ashamed of their bodies and illness. Some might want to prove something to someone in their lives. Others might be using exercise and nutrition to make an ex jealous. Once you tap into these motivations, it will be easier to shift the focus to health and nutrition.  

Making your training sessions count. Tap into your clients’ needs, help them shift superficial expectations so they can reach attainable goals and develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise. It starts with being kind and helping clients realize how beautiful they are. 

Plus Size Model

How Kindness Should be an Integral Part of Training and Nutrition from NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

#KindnessIsTrending

I know. It doesn’t feel like it.

With a landslide of anger and negativity (yes, it’s an election year and we’ve ONLY just begun); with TV shows that make millions from the ugliest sides of humanity feeding off envy, vanity, competitiveness, and ire; there’s this overwhelming feeling of discontent … everywhere.

Enter social media.

A World of Perfect Lives (Lies). Perfect Relationships. And the perfect way to compare ourselves to thousands of strangers – friends of friends of friends – and it’s pretty easy to get lost in what’s real and what’s made up. We’re followers and likers and re-tweeters. We strive to be influencers. Because today the world is telling us that if we don’t have a public voice, we don’t matter. More is better. If we’re not more-liked, more-followed, more re-tweeted, we’re obsolete.

Plus Size Model

I see this with clients all the time. They come in with magazine pictures and “ideals”. They talk about friends who have lost weight and fit into those skinny jeans. They believe numbers define them (sizes, numbers on a scale, a BMI). As a dietitian and personal trainer, I’m often saddened by how much people hate their bodies. As if being human-shaped were a terrible, terrible thing.

A colleague and personal trainer, Andrew Schaeffer, recently wrote a beautiful post, I Want Mr. Rogers For My Personal Trainer. The essence of the post is something I’ve been talking to clients for years about: We are enough.

We. Are. Enough.

You Are Enough

And though the multi-billion-dollar fashion, beauty, and diet industries tell us otherwise, it’s true. It really is. By starting any new nutrition or exercise routine with this sense of wonder of what our bodies can do as they are; by sitting down and really assessing the essential, disregarding the noise of social media and falling into the comparison trap; by appreciating how truly miraculous our bodies are (our smiles, the wrinkles that show years of laughter, the c-section scars and stretch marks that show that life grew inside us) we will understand how beautiful we all are. At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy (it is Valentine’s Day in two days, so perhaps you can give me a margin-of-cheese), I really believe the foundation of success is love. Love for what you do, love for who you’re with, love for who you are.

Body Diversity

By tearing down those paper walls of comparison, we will learn to celebrate body and age diversity. Eventually, we might just begin to understand that we are enough. And this acceptance is essential to change negative relationships with food and exercise.

Body Diversity 2

Last year, Mr. Rogers was re-introduced to younger generations. His kindness and integrity brought something retro to the table, something that, perhaps, many young people have been missing – authenticity, and a sense of calm. It’s uncommon to meet someone so absolutely okay with who they are. And okay with who they’re with.  I feel like these kinds of individuals work on a different wave than others. They bring something fresh and vibrant to conversations. They’re fully present. They actually listen. They shift expectations of what it means to be human.

Valentines Day

#KindnessIsTrending. (It is!) And the best place to start is with each one of us – our bodies, our health, and really celebrating the beautiful we are.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

tips-to-effective-safe-weight-training-nyc-registered-personal-trainer

Tips to Effective, and Safe, Weight Training from NYC Registered Personal Trainer

Be Present, Be Aware, Watch Your Form to Build Strength and Stay Healthy

I’ve discussed mindfulness a lot over the last couple of years. Being aware of what’s on our plate, who we’re sharing a meal with, how we’re progressing our fitness programs, and how to cut through the noise of every day to find spaces to simply be. Mindfulness, too, is essential for safe weight training, and exercising in general.

tips-to-effective-safe-weight-training-nyc-registered-personal-trainer

That said, I often see people misuse gym equipment. Many choose weights too heavy for them, thinking heavier is better than repetition and quality. At the gym, it’s not uncommon to see people do weight training with poor form. Many clients tell me they learned how to lift weights from friends. This isn’t the safest way to begin.

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Weight training and strength training have taken the front seat in terms of what people seek to do to become healthier. This is a good thing – for anyone, any age. Building muscle helps prevent the loss of bone mass and density. It helps athletes improve performance. In fact, everyone should participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least two times each week.

That said, poor form can impact musculoskeletal health and the ability to build larger muscle. If you’re not doing the exercises well, they can not only be useless but also harmful.

If you’re embarking on a new weight training program, consult with a personal trainer, knowledgeable athletic trainer or fitness specialist, or physical therapist before diving into weights. Many think personal trainers are for Hollywood and high-performance athletes. Investing in health is for everyone. Likewise, if you’ve been weight training for a while, consider consulting with a personal trainer to check your form and update your routine.

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Wear good shoes with good soles to keep you from slipping, as well as protect your feet. Something as basic as appropriate footwear can make a huge difference in training.

Warm up with an aerobic activity before starting. Always. When lifting with cold muscles, you’re prone to injury.

Start with a lighter weight, one you can comfortably lift 15 times. Again, heavier isn’t necessarily better. Don’t let the weight wobble around. The National Federation of Personal Trainers suggests you lower the weight if you find your body swaying. For instance, if you need to swing your arm to do a bicep curl, the weight is too heavy. Lift a lighter weight. Build up to heavier weights. This takes time.

Form is everything. Good form ensures muscle targeting. That means you’re working the muscles you desire to. Learn how to do the exercise well. Be mindful of your body, your form. If you’re not sure if you’re doing the exercise right, ask a trainer or fitness specialist.

Breathe! Inhale just before lifting the weight, and exhale after letting it down. Keep your breathing steady, so as to keep repetitions steady. This is your rhythm.

Don’t rush. We’re so busy, and we’ve been taught by society faster is better. I love this TED talk by Carl Honoré, “In praise of slowness.” It really hits home. The same goes for exercise and weight training. If you don’t have a full hour, do fewer exercises well instead of all of them rushed. Rushing can cause poor form, which, in turn, causes injury.

Listen to your body. Rest, when you need to rest. STOP when you need to stop. And never ignore pain. Exercise should push us but never hurt us.

tips-to-effective-safe-weight-training-nyc-registered-personal-trainer

Weight training is a key piece of health. It helps build muscle, keep us balanced, maintain bone health, and keep us stronger and independent. The better our form when weight training, the more we get out of the program. It keeps us healthy and safe.

Consult with a registered personal trainer before you get started, to get the most out of your weight training program.

Body Fat Basics from NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Here’s the Skinny on Fat

It’s the New Year, and we’re two weeks into resolution territory. Many people have declared war on their pantries and, sadly, their bodies.

As much as I love the idea of making healthier food and lifestyle choices, I hate the extremism of the language and messaging of a billion-dollar diet industry that perpetuates the message that we are too “something” (usually fat) and absolutely not enough.

The idea that body fat should be the first to go is one that pervades much of our resolution thinking. It takes a very complex idea – body fat – and reduces it to something as simple as “this is bad.” This is problematic. As Andrew Schaeffer states In Defense of Body Fat, “There is of course still such a thing as having too much body fat. However, all too often losing body fat is viewed as always positive. This is an oversimplification. Body fat is not, contrary to popular opinion, bad by default.”

So how do we reconcile the fat mythology and drive to be lean – again driven by the billion-dollar industry – with maintaining a healthy body and body image? We get informed. So, today, I’m going to share some body fat basics with you: why we have body fat; why it’s important to have body fat; and how much body fat we should have (which is the million-dollar question).

 

 

Not all fats are the same.

Our bodies have many kinds of fat, each with a different function. Without getting too technical, it’s important to understand that some fats are essential for storing energy for later use, hormone function (estrogen, leptin, insulin, cortisol, and growth hormone), reproductive health, temperature regulation, vitamin absorption, among other things. Fats are found everywhere in our bodies – head to toe. (Well, probably not TOO much in our toes).

Essential fats are found in the brain, bone marrow, around organs, and nerves. Subcutaneous fat is stored under our skin (just as its name implies.) Pinch your side or under your arm. That’s subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is our belly fat. It’s pretty important, as it is the white fat that surrounds all major organs.

Basically, our bodies need fat.

 

How much fat should you have?

There is no magic number, magic percentage. A lot of people stick to this 12% – 25% range, relegating anyone who has over 25% to the “obesity category”. But, as Schaeffer explains, “these numbers are actually based on a misinterpretation of a World Health Organization technical report from all the way back in 1995. According to researchers who raised the alarm, the WHO technical report in question was actually referring to a Swedish study that reported average body fat measurements of middle-aged Swedes. The WHO never proposed these numbers as some kind of cut-off point with regards to defining obesity.”

Not all bodies are the same. And we seem to forget that. It’s easy to do when we’re bombarded with images of lithe models photoshopped to “perfection” on magazine covers. Moreover, we’re flooded with messages like this (what I gleaned from a quick google search – body fat resolutions):

Personal Trainer Reveals How You Can Drop Your Body Fat in One Week
Super-Intense New Year’s Resolution Weight Loss Miracle
5 Weight Loss Findings from 2018 That Could Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Uff. What your body needs depends on … everything. How much body fat you should have depends on your age, gender, and physical/athletic needs. The idea that all athletes need to be lean and fit is erroneous. Heavyweight athletes need more fat – lots more – than marathon runners. Though it seems obvious, it’s not the messaging we’re receiving. We constantly read and hear the refrain: fat is bad.

Too much fat is bad. That amount of “too much”, though, depends on each individual body.

In our drive for a no-fat body, we’re completely dismissing the importance of fats and how they play a critical part of the bigger picture. Our bodies are machines that need a balance of everything, including fats. But let’s not get carried away. It’s not about eating a dozen donuts and hailing praise to fats!

So, what’s the takeaway?

  1. Everybody, regardless of size or shape, will be healthier by making good nutrition choices and exercising. Period.
  2. Excess fat can be harmful. Just as too little fat can be harmful.
  3. Assessing how your weight impacts your health should be a discussion between you and your personal healthcare provider. Every body’s needs are different. You can’t rely on random numbers.
  4. Change our language – especially when we’re talking in front of children. Shift the conversation from weight and “fat” to health.
  5. Develop a positive relationship with food and exercise.

Stay informed. Don’t get sucked into the fads and memes. And, always, be healthy.

Happy 2020! I’m so glad to be back.

christmas-drinks

A Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Christmas Wishlist

Last Minute Holiday Shopping? Put these on your list!

christmas-drinks

Christmas is two days away! And if you’re anything like many people I know, you’ve got a list of things to do and limited time and money to do them. Don’t panic! Really. Don’t panic. Here’s my official NYC registered dietitian and personal trainer guide to last-minute holiday shopping. 

  1. Give time. Hiking, ice skating, going to storytelling at the public library, coffee excursions, doing a puzzle together, re-discovering local museums and more are great ways to spend the holidays with the ones you love. The time spent standing in line can be spent with the people who make the holidays matter.sledding
  2. Give memories. So much of the stuff we wrap up and stick under the tree gets shoved in a closet and forgotten. Turning the focus from giving stuff to making memories. Plus, it’s way more sustainable. Consider giving baseball tickets or a city membership to the soccer club. Movie passes and museum passes are a great way to build relationships and memories.
  3. Give tradition. Teach your children, nieces, and friends your favorite family recipes and crafts. Create new traditions! Instead of wrapping gifts in paper or bags (that aren’t eco-friendly or recyclable), use brown paper and write the things you love most about the person. Small things make a big difference.christmas-gifts
  4. Give compassion. Have your kids take charge of a food drive, book drive, or organize a Christmas Caroling expedition in the neighborhood. This teaches compassion and gratitude. It makes a difference in the lives of others and builds community. We could all use a little more of that.
  5. Give learning. When our brains are active, we’re active. Share stories. Read together. Laugh together. Do crosswords. Sign up for a science club, astronomy club, art club, knitting club, or music classes. Find spaces to stretch your mind!
  6. Give health. Treat yourself or someone you love to an appointment with a dietitian or personal trainer in the New Year. Join the local YMCA, indoor pool, or local club – get a family membership. Make activity the gift.

Here’s to a healthy, happy, peaceful holiday and New Year. I’m so excited to share new ideas and information with you in 2020.

happy-new-year

hot cocoa

4 Ways to Keep Your Immune System Strong During the Holidays

Give Yourself the Gift of Self Care

hot cocoa

It’s the most “germiful” time of the year. It always seems somebody is sick during the holidays. And, it’s no wonder. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and stress – be it about time, finances, family – the holidays are a magnet for germs. And with all of the aforementioned problems, our immune systems take a hit.

One of the best gifts you can give yourself this season is the gift of self-care.

Here are 5 ways to keep your immune system strong under the barrage of bad weather and holiday stress:

  1. Recognize your triggers. Holidays can be really hard. While it seems like everybody is jingle-belling, many people feel a heavy sadness or anxiety. Recognize what causes you stress. If you hate long lines, try online shopping. If you feel pressured into cooking big meals or baking all week, consider a potluck, a cookie swap, or simplifying – baking a favorite batch of cookies and calling it a day. Money can be a huge stressor during the holidays. Be honest about your limitations and stick to them. Finally, say, “no.” It’s okay to not attend every holiday invitation you’re extended. Stay at home watching bad movies, sipping a hot cup of vegetable turkey soup, and relaxing.
  2. Get your zzzzs! Visions of sugarplums should be a priority every single night. Getting a good night’s sleep goes hand-in-hand with health, reducing stress, and fending off sickness. How we eat affects how we sleep. So developing a healthy sleep hygiene will make a big difference in our everyday life. Try high-potassium foods like bananas or sweet potatoes for an evening snack. They’re natural muscle relaxers. Steer away from high-sugar breakfasts. They can set our bodies up for a rollercoaster ride. Eat smaller portions, steer clear of alcohol a few hours before bed, and consider cutting out caffeine in the afternoons. These small changes can make a big difference in your sleep habits. And for those whose brains go into high-gear as soon as your heads hit the pillow: try writing down a list of things to do the following day. This will give you release and allow you the rest you need.salad
  3. Eat well!Vitamin pills and supplements don’t have near the impact on immunity as good, regular nourishment. Scientists have proven that people who are malnourished are more prone to infectious disease. During the holidays, we tend to eat more irregularly, indulge more in high-sugar, high-salt, high-fat foods, as well as drink more alcohol. I think we should indulge, as long as we’re taking care to continue with healthy eating habits. Every bite counts! There are foods that can give us an extra boost we need, in particular:
    • Instead of reaching for the Vitamin C (most people overdose, which is unnecessary), look for foods high in antioxidants that are high in free radicals that protect the body from aging and protect cells from damage by free agents. These foods, too, usually have a higher amount of fiber to keep your gut healthy.
    • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to help boost your immune system. Think in-season! Winter squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and green peppers, kale, and dark leafy vegetables all have high levels of antioxidants. Make winter salads with walnuts and roasted chicken to give you the healthy antioxidant boost your body can use!
    • Kefir, Kombucha, and yogurt can give your gut a much-needed boost. Gut health is mental health and body health.couple hiking
  4. Exercise … enough. Stay active, warm, and fit during winter months. Moderate exercise boosts immunity, as opposed to high-intensity exercise that can lower it. Bundle up and walk (to the store, the park, around museums and more). Try an indoor activity like salsa dancing or Zumba. Instead of watching TV, play board games, do a puzzle together as a family … because when our brains are active, we’re active.
  5. People over 60, toddlers, and pregnant women … take care. If this is you, you’re more vulnerable and have a weaker immune system. Be aware and take extra steps to stay healthy.winter squash

This is a demanding season for many reasons. By maintaining an active lifestyle, eating well (don’t fall into the supplement trap), getting enough sleep, and keeping stress levels as low as possible (I know that’s a tall order), you’ll keep your immunity up.

Happiest of happy holiday seasons to you!

6 Tips to Eat Your Way Through the Holidays Guilt-Free from NYC Registered Dietitian

Make the Most of Your Holiday Meals

They’re here!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and then it’s a steep slide into Hanukah, Christmas, New Year, and all the days that happen in-between: office holiday parties, end-of-the-year encounters, cookie swaps, neighborhood caroling and more. And most people’s holiday family recipes don’t include raw carrots and hummus dip.

Here are some easy-to-follow holiday eating tips.

1. Shed the guilt! What an exhausting, horrible feeling when dealing with food. Our relationship with food is the same year ‘round. There are no goods and bads (okay, except for those highly processed Frankenstein foods). There’s just food. I often hear clients say, “I’m cheating this month.” You can’t “cheat” on food. You simply have to enjoy it. When we take away that guilt trip and stop looking at food as a reward or punishment, we can really enjoy, relish, taste, and appreciate the food on our plates and palettes.

 

2. Eat like the French! (Or Italians, Spanish, Greeks). Europeans cultivate a beautiful relationship with food. Food is a celebration!

3. Be mindful when eatingOvereating often happens at the holidays because we’re hungry and feel guilt for wanting to be decadent and indulge. 

a.  Scan the snack line for the treats that look most enticing – perhaps something that reminds you of home, or something entirely new. 

b.  Ask about the food, its history, who made it. Food is such an important way to connect with others.

c.  Appreciate the flavors. One of the best parts of the holidays is trying interesting foods. You might not always like them. Try them anyway. Then try something else!

d.  When you feel full, put your plate down, grab a glass of sparkling water, and enjoy the people you’re with.

4. Beware of the beverage! It’s easy to get lost in a frothy cup of hot cocoa. It’s part of the fun. Often, though, people indulge in sugar drinks because they might have low blood sugar from not eating enough foods that provide energy, like carbohydrates. Listen to your body’s cues because it’s important to eat during the holidays. Also, it’s important to have food in your stomach if you’re going to drink any alcohol. Stay hydrated! If you feel like you’ve had too much holiday sugar or *cheer*, drink sparkling water with cranberries and lemon Enjoy a sprinkle of nutmeg in your coffee or on top of a cup of hot chocolate (made with dark chocolate). 

5. Don’t skip meals. Anticipating a delicious meal later in the day is no reason to skip your regular mealsIt just sets your body up for starvation mode and overeating, which is not healthy. Give yourself permission to try everything! Stay mindful of the flavors and enjoy. Indulge in your co-worker’s famous latkes since you only get to taste them during this time of year. Research supports that guilt-free eating reduces overeating.

6. Enjoy traditionThe holidays are about family history, tradition, and passing that along from generation-to-generation, bite-by-bite. What better way to learn about your grandmother’s history than through the tastes she shares from her childhood? The same goes for coworkers! Sharing a meal is a beautiful way to share one another’s stories and honor them. You can go a step further and create a family (office, classroom) cookbook with favorite recipes, something everyone can cherish.

I am grateful for you, my readers.

I am grateful for my family, my work. I am grateful for the meals we share.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

 

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How Gratitude Can Improve Your Exercise and Eating Habits from New York Dietitian

Take Time to Give Thanks

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It’s November. Gratitude is trending. Which can feel like the kale craze without the bitter aftertaste. It can also feel a bit … forced.

I’m not being cynical. But I think it’s important to be real. Some days are simply … hard. And searching for that silver-lining is maddening. Also, some days, it’s just fine to be grumpy. But grumpy doesn’t negate gratitude.

Gratitude is defined as a “strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what that person or thing has done to help you.” What makes gratitude complex is that it takes mindfulness. Gratitude is pausing to notice. In a world that runs non-stop, this moment of pause, this moment of awe, can be hard to grasp.

A big part of health is not only what we eat, but how we eat. It’s not rushing to exercise, instead being aware of our bodies while we exercise to progress and get stronger.

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This takes mindfulness. Mindful eating and exercising can become part of our daily health habits. Mindfulness leads to gratitude – becoming aware of where our food comes from, thankful for the hard work people did to grow, harvest, and bring it to us. It’s about being aware of our bodies, their movement, their potential.

Gratitude, then, becomes an intrinsic part of our daily life – every time we move, eat, drink, play. Every bite and movement nourish us, and this is something to celebrate, even when we are grumpy. And by doing so, we improve exercise and eating habits. We shift from auto-drive to meaningful living.

How?

  1. S.T.O.P.: Stop. Take three breaths. Observe. Proceed. Digestion improves when we eat in a calm state. This means taking the time to sit down and eat breakfast, instead of taking everything to go, on the go. Everybody has time to sit and eat. I refuse to believe that we’re all so busy we can’t find those quiet spaces. There’s a Zen proverb: When walking walk. When eating eat. It’s pretty basic and fundamental for health.kindness
  2. Mindfulness reduces cravings. When was the last time you sat down to watch TV and eaten through an entire tub of popcorn or bag of chips? You probably don’t even remember eating them? When we take the time to look at our food before putting it in our mouths, we curb cravings. We listen better to our body signals. And we put the bag of chips down.
  3. The five senses. Think about the colors, textures, flavors, sounds, and smells of the food on your plate. Enjoy the cool, bumpy feel of celery and watery crunch in your mouth. Taking the time to really notice food is a great way to appreciate every bite.
  4. Listen to your body! Your body is talking to you all the time! The craving for movement (many athletes get that tingling feeling telling them to get out and run!), the tension and stretch of muscles while doing yoga, the slight burn when exercising, even the growl of your stomach when it’s hungry. Being in tune to what our bodies need and responding is key to better movement, better health.
  5. Be kind to yourself. November 13 (TODAY!) is World Kindness Day. Start with being kind to yourself. That inner voice in your head? Talk like a 4-year-old wearing a Batman T-shirt. You’re invincible and beautiful! All that other stuff that’s piled up over the years in your brain telling you otherwise needs to go in the trash.kindness

Gratitude is critical to appreciating our bodies – what they do for us every day. We are diversely abled, but I think all my readers can relate to many of these things: Our hands allow us to squeeze our favorite toddler’s hand; our arms allow us to hug;  our legs allow us to walk, run, jog, dance, play tag, zombie stomp; our eyes allow us to appreciate the colors of fall; our noses allow us to take trips back in time to our grandmother’s home, to the first time we held a puppy, to a backpacking trip.

So, raise your glass (cup) to gratitude. Even if you are feeling surly!