Class #2: Common Nutrition Myths – Debunked!
Written By: Maria C. Romano, MS RD CDN
With all the conflicting nutrition advice floating around these days, in magazines, on the Internet, in diet books, and on health and wellness TV shows, telling the difference between fact and fiction can be pretty challenging. This week’s BronxFit topic is “Common Nutrition Myths”. Here is a preview of some common nutrition advice that’s not as true as it may seem. For more nutrition facts, and to learn who is your best source for nutrition information, join us in our next BronxFit class!
Myth: Skipping meals isn’t so bad for me.
Fact: You may think skipping meals won’t affect your weight loss efforts, but studies have shown that people accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals instead of smaller, more frequent meals. Skipping meals typically leads to eating more food than you need at your next meal and throughout the day. Eating more frequently will help reduce bloating, control blood sugar, hormone levels, and manage hunger. Be sure to choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables to help your body get the nutrition it needs.
Myth: I’ll never lose weight if I eat “bad” foods.
Fact: While most cravings pass in about five minutes, research has shown that eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself, so long as you eat the not-so-healthy fare in moderation and keep it to a “once in a while” basis. So, you can have your cake and eat it too, but if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, you may want to add an extra 15 minutes of physical activity to your day. This will help you to burn the extra calories you’ve taken in, keeping in mind the importance of balancing calories in with calories out. Another option is to give your favorite foods a “nutrition upgrade”. The easiest way to do this is to take control of your food by preparing it yourself. Sprinkle sliced potatoes with some garlic powder and bake them for healthy fries. Use whole wheat pizza dough or pita bread, low fat mozzarella cheese, and tomato slices to make a healthy pizza. Top frozen, sliced bananas and low fat whipped cream with chocolate syrup for a low calorie “banana split”!
Myth: If a food package says “all natural”, it has to be healthy.
Fact: Even if something is labeled “all natural”, it can still contain high amounts of sugar, fat, sodium, or any other ingredients than can derail your healthy eating. To truly determine if a food product is healthy, be your own judge and read the food label and ingredients list. If you’re still not certain, choose something that you know is “natural” because it’s packaged in it’s most natural state….think whole fresh fruit or vegetables.
Myth: If I eat mostly low-fat foods, I will lose weight.
Fact: Research has shown that low-fat or reduced-fat foods may actually have the same or more calories than full-fat versions of the same food. This is because fat is often replaced with sugar or salt to compensate for flavor. In addition, knowing something is “low fat” or “fat free” sends the incorrect message that it’s okay to eat more of these foods, when that is not the case. Your best bet is to control your portion sizes and stick with a balanced, minimally processed diet, choosing foods that are closest to their most natural form most of the time. This can include healthy fats, which can actually help weight loss efforts by providing a feeling of fullness and keeping us satisfied longer so we don’t overeat. Almonds, walnuts, olives, avocados, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are all foods that are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to our overall well-being.
Myth: Frozen fruit and vegetables are not as healthy as fresh ones.
Fact: Produce that is picked and eaten within a few days contains more vitamins and minerals, and is therefore the best choice, but nutrient levels drop during shipping and storage. So in winter months when most fresh produce is traveling for days, if not weeks, before it gets to your local supermarket, frozen produce may be the better choice. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be just as healthy as freshly picked produce since they are picked at peak ripeness and frozen soon after harvesting to preserve their nutrients. When choosing frozen produce, remember to avoid those packaged in sauces, which only add sodium and fat or sugar and calories.
What to expect in Class #3… What’s the hype about whole grains? Next session we will discuss the truth about whole grains and why some carbohydrates are better for you than others.
Welcome to BronxFit Buzz, a nutrition blog dedicated to providing you with real tips that take the guesswork out of making healthy choices for your life. This week’s BronxFit class topic is “Healthy Eating and Living”. We will learn basic principles about what makes up a healthful diet and how to best plan our meals to achieve our nutrition goals.
Don’t Let Winter Put Your Exercise Routine on Ice!
Created By: Maria C. Romano, MS RDC DN
During the winter months, the short days, icy temperatures and snow-covered streets can make sticking to your exercise routine a challenge – but not impossible. When the weather refuses to cooperate, there are a lot of ways you can keep your exercise routine indoors. Try these suggestions so you can stick to your goals of getting and staying fit!
- Take the stairs! Whether in your place of work, your apartment building, the doctor’s office, or the mall, the stairs are an excellent indoor form of cardio activity. Start gradually if you need to by climbing the stairs for one or two flights and then taking the elevators the rest of the way. Add one floor per week, as you feel ready. Before you know it, you will be able to climb several flights of stairs without feeling winded and you will begin to notice your leg muscles firming up. On brutally cold days, a few trips up and down the stairs will be just what’s needed to keep your fitness routine on track.
- Hit the treadmill ! If you already belong to a fitness club, now is the time to get back into the routine of going back to the gym. Start by going once per week and gradually increase to twice per week, etc, as you are able. You can walk on a treadmill at your own pace and can gradually increase your speed, distance, and incline as you build up your stamina. If you haven’t yet joined a health club, now is a great time to sign up for one of WSPT’s membership plans that allow you to work out in a state of the art facility under close the supervision and guidance of highly trained fitness professionals. Who better to motivate you than a personal trainer who is just as dedicated to your fitness goals as you are?!
- Multi-task! While out running errands, take a few laps around the mall or walk the store aisles a few times. Take breaks from sitting at your desk to take a lap around your floor at the office. While home chatting on the phone or watching TV, march in place or pace back and forth to get your blood flowing, or pick up some weights to squeeze in some strength training.
- If you do head outside, dress in layers to protect yourself against the cold! Exercise can generate a lot of body heat, and wearing several layers of clothing will keep you from catching a chill as your sweat dries. Start with a shirt made of synthetic material so your sweat will be drawn away from your bosy and then add a cotton top and a fleece or wool coat. Pay extra attention to your extremities, making sure to keep your hands, feet, ears, and head extra warm!
The Holiday Season gives us plenty of opportunities to eat, drink and socialize. With all the festivities, all of the endless tables of delicious food, the wine and egg nog, we don’t realize how quickly we can pack on a few extra pounds. The average weight gain over the holidays is 1.2 pounds, which may not sound like very much. But when you consider that people rarely ever lose the weight over the following year, that can add up to 15 pounds in less than 10 years. How can you avoid this common dietary pitfall?
Start off with a plan. And the plan should include the following suggestions.
- Here is the most obvious, and perhaps the most rewarding tip: EAT WHAT YOU LOVE. Imagine your calories to be a debit account, and everything you eat causes a withdrawal from a limited amount of calories. Why waste any on foods you don’t absolutely love, or food that you can eat all year round? Stick with seasonal, food-that-makes-your-mouth-water treats. Eat those in reasonable portions.
- Avoid over-indulging on the trimmings. Really eyeing those mashed potatoes? Have some! But skip on the butter and the gravy. Don’t over-do it on calorie packed extras like nuts, cheese, cream-based sauces and dressings, gravy, butter or whipped cream. Try skipping appetizers, or munch on the available veggies like celery and carrots.
- Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is not only going to add additional calories to your evening, but it will lower your ability to pass up that second serving of pecan pie. Have a glass of water or diet soda in between glasses of wine.
- Wear snug fitting clothes. Wearing loose clothes will allow you to eat more; you won’t feel the belly bulge. A belly bulge is your stomach's way of letting you know it’s full... very full!
- Don’t skip meals that day. Start the day off with a high-fiber breakfast. Attending a holiday gathering with a ravenous appetite is the perfect recipe for disaster. Drink a lot of water to retain that full feeling. Adopting a starvation/binge-eating mentality is unhealthy and will not result in permanent weight-loss.
- Remember that the holidays are not just about food! Hang out and visit with family and friends! Plan to make the night more about conversation and closeness! It will help distract you from all of the tempting food.
- Contribute a healthy meal to the party! This will ensure that you and your family have a healthy alternative to a high-caloric, high-fat entree.
- Stay active! Add an extra 20 minutes to your cardio routine to burn off some extra calories, or add a workout to your week if you don’t exercise already! Physical Activity not only keeps you at a healthy weight, but is proven to help with a restful nights sleep and a decrease in stress levels.
Happy Holidays from WSPT!
Most of us are concerned with our weight. We live in a society that puts a premium on the ‘perfect body’, and for some of us, the pressure of looking good is what drives us to overeat. But a healthy body weight should not just be about looking good. Maintaining a healthy weight puts us at a lower risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes, Arthritis and certain types of cancer. That is something you have probably heard a million times, but it is one thing to know WHY slimming down is important, it’s another thing entirely to change habits, especially when food is such a big part of our culture and, well, it’s delicious.
One of the best ways to begin a ‘diet’ is to erase the term ‘diet’ from your vocabulary. Diet, in this situation, implies something that is only temporary - a means to an end - and once you reach the goal, the ‘diet’ is over, and you can go back to business as usual. That’s not going to work! Fad diets are so restrictive that your body almost believes it’s starving. That’s not a good thing! Humans have been around for so long that our bodies are biologically designed to anticipate periods of hunger; our bodies have not quite caught up to the times - we have more food than we need! So, if you restrict your calories, which seems to make the most sense if you want to lose weight, your body slows it’s metabolism down: it burns fewer calories, believing it needs to keep some in storage because it doesn’t think any more energy will be coming its way. When your ‘diet’ is over, and you have lost the weight you set out to lose, you have set yourself up for disappointment. You may be slimmer, but your metabolism is now slower, and those pounds will pile right back on.
So, what do you do? You look at healthy eating as a lifestyle change. Set realistic goals. If you want to lose 20 pounds, don’t panic and expect to lose them all at once. Losing half a pound to one pound a week has been proven to be the most effective way to achieve long-term weight loss. Why? Imagine for a second that food cravings have a mind of their own. Being conscious of food choices has never really been on your to-do list. Your body has grown accustomed to large amounts of high-fat, high-sugar foods. Suddenly, you eliminate those foods. Your body reacts like it would to a drug being yanked from its system. You don’t even notice yourself buying that cupcake - but there you are, eating one. And then another. Basically, if you deprive yourself of the things that make you happy, your brain will simply say, “NO!” and you will most likely binge on exactly the type of food you are trying to avoid. Treat yourself every day! They sell bite-sized candy bars for just this purpose, or maybe not JUST for this purpose. But they do the trick.
Portion control is very important, and it goes hand-in-hand with moderation. Here is a fun and interactive guide to choosing the right portions for your food!
The Food Plate is a great resource. A very fun, interactive version can be found here. Keep in mind that everyone’s dietary needs are different. The body needs over 40 different vitamins and minerals to function and thrive – feed it well with a well-rounded diet that includes the following: whole grains, fruits, veggies, dairy products, nuts and legumes, lean-meats like poultry, fish and certain cuts of steak and pork. If you have allergies, research alternatives to the foods you cannot eat.
And remember: there is no such thing as “bad” food – even fat is important! Certain vitamins are only fat-soluble. It is recommended that 30% of your daily caloric intake should come from fat. Of course, there are good kinds of fat and bad kinds of fat. Keep your saturated fat consumption down to 10% of your daily caloric intake – or lower! Here is a guide to good fat vs. bad fat.
Write it down! Time and time again you hear nutritionists telling you to journal what you eat. Why? Because it works! Keeping a log of what you eat not only helps you track problem foods (foods you are eating out of boredom, portions that can be reduced), but it forces you to take responsibility. Imagine keeping a food journal as the difference between using cash to buy something, and using a credit card. You are much less likely to spend all of your cash, because you can actually see the money and hold it, than you would be to run up a bill on your credit card, which you can forget about until later.
Make it fun! Try to new recipes. Become a part of the change you are making. Learn to love food without all the dressing. Experiment with different spices and flavors – you may find yourself leaving the fatty condiments like creamy caesar at mayo and the door.
It’s all about small, gradual changes that will last you your whole life! You don’t want a crash diet that will leave you fatigued, hungry, cranky, and bitter. You want delicious, healthful meals that leave you satisfied, energetic, and positive.
Don’t forget the importance of exercise! You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. That may sound like a lot – but if you shave off 500 calories a day by eating better and exercising more – it’s really not a lot AT ALL! There are so many options to get moving. Running, yoga, walking, Zumba… Increase your physical activity by 10% and you will see dramatic changes in your appearance, stamina, and confidence. Good luck!
Arthritis affects over 50 million Americans, a number that rises each year as the U.S population ages. It attacks joints such as the knees or hands, and can make everyday tasks painful or impossible. Living with arthritis is a day-to-day struggle, but there are steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms and prevent painful inflammation. They don’t require prescription or advanced medicines either, they are the cornerstones of healthy living: Diet and Exercise.
How does my diet affect my condition?
Many people who suffer from arthritis aren’t aware of how their diets can impact their condition. But recent research has shown that there are foods which can reduce in frequency and severity the harmful reactions that occur within the body that lead to arthritis aches and pains.
Popular Nutrition Questions:
People with arthritis often ask ‘Are there certain foods I should eat to improve my arthritis symptoms? Are there foods I should avoid to prevent my arthritis symptoms from worsening?’” says Maria Romano MS RD CDN, WSPT’s resident dietician. “These are million-dollar questions.” Maria notes that there are no studies that result in conclusive evidence of one food being more beneficial than another, but there are some studies that have revealed promising results.
A study at Mount Sinai medical center revealed that foods cooked at high temperatures, such as grilled meats, fried eggs and microwaved meals, increase levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are a naturally-occurring compound in the body that are believed to be linked to inflammation of joints and tissues. Replacing such foods in your diet with steamed, simmered or broiled options reduces the AGEs and, potentially, the symptoms of arthritis.
Omega -3 and Arthritis
The correlation (between Omega-3 and arthritis) has not yet been proven in clinical trials, but anecdotal data appears promising. Some foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include: salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, olive oil, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, avocados, etc.,” says Maria. She also recommends keeping Omega-3 fish oil supplements in the freezer to reduce unpleasant, fishy burps.
Another beneficial food for arthritis sufferers is olive oil, which was recently discovered to contain high levels of the same anti-inflammatory compounds found in ibuprofen. One Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia study found that 3 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil is equivalent to 200mg of ibuprofen.
What else can I do?
It is recommended that people with arthritis begin doing a warm-water therapy treatment. Aqua therapy is low-impact, increases strength and flexibility, and can provide a robust exercise session without wearing on joints and bones. The warm water also provides relief to aching joints.
WSPT recently launched the BronxFit
diet and exercise program, a 12-week course designed for people who are just beginning to work on losing weight and improving the way they eat. Maria Romano, MS, RD, CDN teaches 6 1-hour nutrition classes throughout the program and our Personal Trainer, Jason Bonilla provides 6 1-hour fitness sessions. The objective of the program is to deliver a well-rounded, accessible program for fitness beginners. The course involves a combination of:
- 6 1-hour Personal Training sessions
- 6 1-hour Nutrition classes
- Full Gym Access for the 12-week length of the program
Visit BronxFit for more information.