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This recently appeared on USNews.com's Eat + Run blog.

As an Eat + Run blogger, I’ve written about everything from sleep to fitness trackers and apps, from food and fitness trends to so much more. Today, I decided to get personal and share what recently happened to my mother, how it impacted me and how I got through it without falling apart.

Exactly five weeks and two days after my mother reveled in my glory at the launch of my latest book, "Younger Next Week," at our local Barnes & Noble, she developed a sudden and severe headache and passed out. My father, who was by her side, immediately called 911. In minutes, an ambulance took my mother to a local New York City hospital. And within the next few hours, my mother underwent – and survived – one surgery to relieve pressure in her brain and another to coil a brain aneurysm that had leaked. We later learned that half the people who go through what my mother went through don’t make it to the hospital. So I guess you’d say that she – and we – are truly blessed.

Of course, all this happened the night after my husband and I and our two sons landed in Utah for President’s Day weekend. Earlier that day, I had spoken with both my parents. In fact, my mother – being the Jewish mother that she is – warned me about avalanches. Now we joke that the real avalanche any of us needed to worry about was the one that would erupt in her head!

Although my father called me when my mother was at the hospital, we were out to dinner and I didn’t answer the phone. When we got back to the hotel, I fell asleep early, forgetting to check my phone (talk about Jewish guilt). Since my father had just gotten his very first iPhone and didn’t input my husband’s cell phone number or know the name of our hotel, he wasn’t able to reach me until early the next morning. When we finally spoke, my mother had just gone in for a second surgery. (I’ve since learned it was then the surgeon told my father that he might want to say his goodbyes. Instead, he simply said, “See you later, sweetie.”) Not wanting to end my boys’ vacation just when it was getting started, and knowing that it would be easier for me to fly home solo, my husband immediately bought me a plane ticket. After a quick breakfast together, I headed back home to be with my parents.

The author and her mother at a recent book signing.

My mom and I at my January 9, 2014 book signing.

Before my mom had the aneurysm (“BA,” as I like to call it), I was a wife, a mother of two, a daughter and a self-professed workaholic. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder and president of my own nutrition communications company, Zied Health Communications, LLC, I – like many women – was a champion multitasker at work and in life. For years, I had written several books, blogs and presentations, did spokesperson work, shot videos and TV segments, and granted interviews for newspapers, magazines and websites, all while raising my sons. While I rarely took a full day off, I’ve always had a very flexible work schedule that has enabled me to spend a good amount of time with my children. Even if that meant working late at night, on weekends and on vacation, I always seemed to get a lot done on all fronts. Did I do it gracefully? Did I smell the roses? Probably not. But that’s because, for better or worse, my work – which I have always been so passionate about – defined me, at least in my own mind. To my surprise, when my mother fell ill (I call this period “AA” for “after the aneurysm”) – my all-important work suddenly wasn’t. Without hesitation, I immediately bowed out of several upcoming projects and told my editors that I needed to take a hiatus to be there for my parents. I also vowed that I would care for myself the best I could and without guilt, not only to preserve my own health and sanity but to be there in mind, body and spirit for my parents, husband and children.

Before any of this happened – and not long after my 40th birthday – I suffered from “post-traumatic 40 disorder.” While I’ve always embraced and enjoyed each of my birthdays, a few things threw me for a loop – a painful wrist injury that led to six months of physical therapy, surgery and then more physical therapy; the first of several breast biopsies (all benign); and the removal of a suspicious (but benign) mole from my back. While I was going through these personal challenges, several close friends struggled with health scares, job losses, marital troubles, deaths of family members and money problems. It all made me wonder: “How are we all going to get through these tough times without letting our health and well-being go to pot?”

Always one to care for myself, I eventually snapped out of my funk. When I did, I realized that no matter how good things may seem, for any of us the ceiling can crash down and life can change at any time. But no matter what, we owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to find a way not only to survive, but to learn from the challenges – and even thrive – in spite of them. So for the next two years, I would use my personal and professional experiences to create a roadmap to help women nurture themselves nutritionally, physically and emotionally, and to look and feel their very best no matter how stressful life becomes. That roadmap became "Younger Next Week."

While I’m extremely proud of my book and its messages, it wasn’t until now that it truly resonated with me. Little did I know while researching and writing the book that it would provide me with my own personal GPS to stay centered and relatively sane during my most challenging time yet.

I feel fortunate every day that I was and am still able to be there for my parents and the rest of my family. When this all began two months ago, I knew that I could financially afford to put my professional work aside. I’ve also had weekday household help (which includes cooking, cleaning, laundry and childcare when needed) for most of my boys’ lives. During this especially tough time, having help has truly been a gift that has enabled me to spend a lot of time with my mother without disrupting my family’s daily routines. But like anyone going through a crisis, I cried a lot (usually late at night or while showering) and had moments of utter exhaustion (like when I lost forever, without even realizing it, one of the earrings my husband gave me 10 years ago that I had worn every day since). Nutritionally, I didn’t always eat the way you think an expert like me would – sometimes, only chocolate, French fries or frozen yogurt topped with peanut butter cups, whipped cream and chocolate sauce would do for dinner or otherwise. And dare I say, after breaking up with Diet Coke two years ago, I went back to drinking one 20-ounce bottle a day, both for the caffeine and the comfort. Still, during this time, I did the best I could to care for myself even though I had what many would consider the perfect excuse to let my eating, fitness and lifestyle habits completely unravel.

I’ve shared below some of the ways I was able to cope during my mother’s five-week hospitalization and stint in rehab. I hope that if and when you’re confronted with similar challenges or circumstances, you too will feel empowered – and give yourself permission – to care for you. It’s vital!

I ate regularly. Even though lunch and dinner times varied daily, my usual routine of having breakfast with my kids stayed intact, mainly because my dad usually took the first shift (8 a.m. to noon) to care for my mother. Some of my favorite easy breakfasts included whole grain, high-fiber cereal, nonfat milk and banana; scrambled eggs with cheese and low fat chocolate milk; or Triscuits with cheddar cheese and grapefruit sections. For days when I was with my mother from noon to 5 p.m., I’d bring some snack foods (such as mixed unsalted nuts, granola bars, bananas and single-serve portions of peanut butter) to nosh on as well as bottle water. On days that I took the earlier and/or later shift, I’d have a more hearty lunch that I’d make at home or grab out with a friend followed by a light snack-like dinner (sometimes just a simple bowl of cereal). Lunches included things like a tuna salad or turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain or seedless rye bread, smoked salmon and cream cheese on a scooped out whole wheat bagel, or a romaine salad with turkey, cheese, tomato and other vegetables). On those days, dinner might be any combination of a banana or apple slices with peanut butter or a few nuts, a low-fat chocolate milk, popcorn popped in canola oil, and/or a cup of cooked carrots or Brussels sprouts. As for treats, sometimes I’d have mini chocolate bars or Swedish fish (sold in the hospital gift shop), enjoy an occasional bag of Doritos, or have some ice cream. But I usually paired these high-calorie, nutrient-poor comfort foods with something nutritious (such as nuts or fruit), and I’d make sure to consume small portions.

I fit in fitness. Because I rely on exercise – especially power walking – to stay calm and carry on, preserve my bones and muscles, energize myself and manage stress, I knew it was vital for me to continue to move it – #moveitorloseit as I like to say – especially while I’d spend hours and hours each day hovering over my mother who mostly laid in a hospital bed. Always one to sport wedge heels, I immediately switched to flat boots – a fashion flip that enabled me to comfortably walk to and from the hospital (a 14-minute walk each way from my apartment) and to run errands or simply clear my mind without hurting my shins and calves. Score! I also walked on my treadmill, walked in the park when the weather permitted (sometimes with a friend) and walked long distances to run an errand or get a yogurt and clear my head. I also continued with my usual fitness routine that included lifting weights, working my core, doing leg exercises and hula hooping. I even did lunges and squats or danced to music I played in my mother’s room. I also took a few hip-hop dance classes with friends. In January, I signed up to walk at a comfortable walking pace my second More/Fitness Half Marathon – and my third half-marathon. Because I registered with a friend – fellow Eat + Run blogger Rebecca Scritchfield – I decided that as long as my mother was on the road to recovery by race day, I wouldn’t let Rebecca – or myself – down. On Sunday, April 13 – eight weeks after my mom landed in the hospital – Rebecca and I proudly crossed the finish line in less than 3.5 hours.

I stayed connected. When I headed to the airport after learning about my mother’s hospitalization, I took to Facebook. Without getting into details, I asked my friends to pray that her surgery (her second that morning) would be successful. Although I wasn’t up to talking about it in person or by phone for several days, I texted and emailed my nearest and dearest friends and family members to get support and to apprise them of what was happening. Not wanting to go it alone, having the support of others – even a simple text – really helped. As that first and very long week progressed, I began to accept some requests from friends to come to the hospital – even for just a few minutes – or to meet for a quick meal or a walk. I eventually made myself go for a manicure, have a nice dinner out or go to a ballgame, and do some other usual activities in-between hospital visits. Although I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my mother, and be there for my father as well, staying connected with the world, whether in person or via email, text and sometimes telephone, really helped me refresh and rejuvenate in-between hospital visits. At times, I did retreat and be by myself. But I knew that staying connected with others – but on my own terms (which sometimes meant not answering the phone or getting back to others right away) – was important. Allowing others to show their love and support also made me – and my family – feel like we weren’t alone. It also helped my mom recover.

I slept. Ever since I gave birth to my sons almost 16 and 12 years ago, sleep has been a very high priority. When one of my best friends picked me up from the hospital on day three of my mother’s 2.5 week stay in the ICU, I mentioned that my dad and I didn’t want to leave her side for even a minute but that we’d get next to no sleep there at night because of all the sounds and alarms in her room and in the unit. When my BFF suggested we look into getting an overnight aide, it was like a light bulb lit up! The next day, we contracted with the hospital nursing service to have an aide nightly from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. This was a godsend and allowed both my father and I to go home at night, decompress and get the sleep we desperately needed. This no doubt kept us feeling energized and on a more even keel so that we could help my mother as she recovered.

Very lucky to be alive, my mother is doing amazingly well. I continue to see her and spend time with her daily – how lucky we are to live across the street from one another! As she heals and gets accustomed to her "new normal," I continue to eat, move and live the best way I can and to manage my stress in mostly positive and productive ways. I’ve learned to slow down, smell the roses and be in the moment. And I’m back to blogging and will figure the rest out work-wise as I go along. Although my mother didn’t choose to have a significant brain bleed, I look at it as a gift for both of us. It allowed me to become the less selfish and more attentive daughter I always should have been. It showed me what remarkable people both my parents are. It also allowed me to put into real action and really practice the self-care that I preach in my new book and in all the work I do. I’m happy to say that, at least for me, I’m convinced there’s something to all of it.

Have you recently had a transformative life experience? How did you cope?

 

Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, is the founder and president of Zied Health Communications, LLC, based in New York City. She's an award-winning registered dietitian, nutritionist and author of the new book "Younger Next Week," along with three other books, including "Nutrition At Your Fingertips." A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, Zied inspires others to make more healthful food choices and find enjoyable ways to "move it or lose it" through writing, public speaking and media appearances. She writes the twice-weekly blog, The Scoop on Food, for Parents.com. You can connect with her on Twitter (@elisazied) and through her website www.elisazied.com.

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Forever-Young-banner2 (2)Aging is an inevitable part of life. I actually enjoy some of the perks of getting older—seeing my children grow and experience life, feeling more centered and getting more clarity about myself and life in general. But do we have to surrender to looking and feeling worse, physically and mentally, and having less energy, vim and vigor as the clock ticks? No we don’t!

To help you look and feel your very best, I’m thrilled to be one of more than 15 experts featured in the Forever Young Interview Series, hosted by wellness coach Karie Millspaugh. All the experts, including the fabulous Dr. Lori Shemek and fitness guru Joel Harper (who was recently featured in the Spring issue of my Stressipes® EZine) share years of research and experience to help you manage cravings, achieve and maintain a healthier body weight, fight disease, boost your sex appeal and more.

As a midlife woman, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Younger Next Week—a stress-management, vitality-promoting, anti-aging book—speaker and spokesperson, you know I devote my professional life to helping women (and even men) find ways to eat better, get and stay fit and fight stress in healthy and sustainable ways. And I’m honored to have shared some of my secrets in this summit to help you live your very best life.

Starting on Monday, April 21st, 2014, you’ll have full access to my interview—and those of several incredible experts—to help you get on the road to true vitality.

I truly hope you’ll participate in this FREE and fantastic event. To register and learn more, click here. And please share the link with others who you think will enjoy this fabulous series. Thanks for your support!

Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN is an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist. The author of four books, including Younger Next Week, Elisa motivates and inspires others to destress, eat better and #moveitorloseit with her Stressipes®, articles, blogs, quotes, videos, talks and other appearances. She is frequently quoted in newspapers and magazines and has provided nutrition and lifestyle tips on Good Morning America, Today Show, The Early Show and on other TV shows. She is an advisor for Parents Magazine and writes The Scoop on Food for Parents.com. She also blogs for Shape.com and USNews.com. To learn how to live a more vibrant life, visit Elisa's website.

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Stress doesn't just impact parents; kids feel it too! Here's my new post for The Scoop on Food, Parents.com, to help you help kids stress less and take better care of themselves.

If you’ve ever allowed stress to make you reach for a cupcake, bowl of ice cream or jar of peanut butter—even when you weren’t hungry—you’re not alone. Several studies suggest that while not everyone eats in response to stress—in fact, some say they skip meals when stressed—it’s quite common to turn to food to cope. I know I have! Using food for comfort every once in a while certainly won’t derail an otherwise healthful diet. And sometimes, having that donut may just be what you need to settle down! But doing it often—especially if the foods we turn to are high in calories and easy to overdo—can set us up for unhealthy weight gain and its many consequences. And when our children see us use—or abuse—food to temper stress, it’s more likely they’ll model that behavior and suffer similar consequences....read more here.

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english muffin milk

Disclaimer: I’m a spokesperson on behalf of The National Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign for their #gotmilkgotprotein campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here.

Over the last week, I’ve enjoyed working with the lovely Tina Seitzinger, the popular Life Without Pink blogger, to help her improve her eating habits and nutrient intake. You can read about our first conversation and tips I provided with her right here.

As an overextended wife and mother of two with a vibrant career, Tina—like many in a similar boat—was anxious to find ways to feel more energized throughout the day. She knew making some tweaks in what and when she ate would not only help her be more productive at work, but would help her keep up with her two young sons not to mention everything on her extensive to-do list. One of the dietary additions would be having nonfat milk as part of her morning meal. Milk is a great source of filling, satiating, high-quality protein not to mention 8 other essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D to strengthen bones and B vitamins for energy.

When I first spoke with Tina, she described her typical eating routine; breakfast was seldom part of it. Of course Tina always makes sure her sons start their day off with a morning meal, but up until now failed to put herself—and her nutrient needs—in the equation. But that’s in the past. Tina is now having breakfast daily and really feels the difference. She says, “I feel so much better now that I’m making it a point to eat something first thing in the morning. I used to drag mid-morning and now I find I’m pumped up and energized, ready to take on the day.” On most weekdays, she eats breakfast with just her older son (her younger son usually sleeps later because his school starts an hour after his older brother). On weekends, she enjoys breakfast with all her boys, including her husband.

Some of Tina’s recent breakfast picks have included eggs once or twice a week, a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter or a smoothie. But no matter what she chooses, Tina makes sure to include some refreshing nonfat milk. When we spoke, Tina also told me she feels much less rushed in the morning, especially because she’s making an effort to implement some of the time saving strategies we discussed. These include packing her kids’ lunches the night before, planning meals ahead of time, pre-washing berries and stocking up on things like frozen unsweetened berries and nuts.

Tina knows that while it’s great she’s becoming a regular breakfast eater, she still struggles with eating enough throughout the day to keep her energy level in high gear. Not a big meal eater, she says she often grazes by day and makes dinner her biggest meal. Although Tina is at a healthy body weight, I explained to her that becoming more of a daytime eater and giving her body enough calories and nutrients when she’s most active and needs it most can really help her stay energized and alert. I encouraged her to cut her usual dinner portion by one third and to instead make sure to include those extra calories to have a bigger lunch or a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Having a smaller meal before bedtime can also help her sleep better, another goal she has.

As for exercise, Tina is doing 45 minutes to an hour on her treadmill 2 to 3 times a week, usually in the evening, and plans to increase this. Although it’s great she’s fitting in some exercise, I encouraged her to try to be active earlier in the day (since activity before bedtime can keep her body temperature elevated, and that may interfere with her sleep). I also recommended that Tina make sure to fit in a little bit of fitness throughout the day while she works at her desk by getting up frequently—even for 5 or 10 minutes each hour she sits—to climb stairs, dance, do jumping jacks or something else that’s active.

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I really enjoyed working with Tina on the #gotmilkgotprotein campaign and hope the simple breakfast tips and other dietary and lifestyle tweaks Tina has begun to implement will inspire you to make some yourself. As a special treat for you, Tina and I worked together to create the 7-Day Breakfast Menu below that she—and hopefully you—will pick and choose from to start each day. Each meal includes items from at least 3 food groups and provides at least 20 grams of filling, satisfying protein.

7-Day Breakfast Menu

  • One toasted whole-wheat English muffin with each half topped with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1/2 sliced banana + 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk
  • One third cup whole-grain, low-fat granola mixed with 1 ounce (24 whole or 4 tablespoons chopped) almonds and 1/2 cup strawberries and blueberries + 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk
  • Half cup (uncooked) quick-cooking oats made with 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 ounce (14 halves or 7 whole or 4 tablespoons chopped) walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon plus + 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk
  • A breakfast smoothie made with 1/2 cup (4 ounces) nonfat milk, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 banana, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 teaspoon honey and 5 ice cubes
  • One cup (up to 200 calories worth) whole-grain, high fiber cereal* topped with 1 ounce (24 whole or 4 tablespoons chopped) almonds and 1 banana, sliced plus 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk
  • When you have more time option: One open-faced whole-wheat pita topped with 2 large eggs, scrambled in 1 teaspoon olive oil with ½ cup chopped red, orange and yellow peppers and mushrooms + 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk
  • Grab and go option: One hard boiled egg, 1 ounce (28 whole or 3 tablespoons chopped) peanuts + 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk

*Choose cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than double that amount of sugar per serving.

Here’s a recipe from my new book, Younger Next Week that Tina plans to try. Created by Robyn Webb, this Strawberry Walnut Cinnamon French toast is so delicious. It’s also even more protein-packed when you pair 2 slices with 1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat milk.

 

Strawberry Walnut Cinnamon French Toast

Makes 4 1-slice servings.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients: 

Butter-flavored cooking spray

1 large egg

1/4 cup nonfat milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 slices whole-grain bread

2 teaspoons non-hydrogenated spread

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

 

Directions:

1. Coat a large skillet with butter-flavored spray and heat it over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, beat together the egg, milk and vanilla. 

3. Dip a slice of the bread in the egg mixture and turn it to coat evenly. Place the bread slice in the skillet and cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat this procedure for each slice of bread, cooking the French toast in 1 or 2 batches.

4. Mix together the buttery spread, honey and cinnamon in a 3-inch ramekin or a condiment bowl. Spread the honey-butter spread on each slice of French toast and garnish with strawberries and walnuts. Serve at once.

Vital Stats (per serving): 170 calories, 8.2 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 7 g protein

One serving counts as: 1 STARCHY CARB, 1/4 FRUIT, 3/4 PROTEIN, 1/2 HEALTHY FAT

 

Disclaimer: I’m a spokesperson on behalf of The National Milk Mustache “got milk” Campaign for their #gotmilkgotprotein campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here. http://elisazied.com/disclosure/

 

 

 

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Disclaimer: I’m a spokesperson on behalf of The National Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign for their #gotmilkgotprotein campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here.

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When I was asked to work one-on-one with a blogger to provide nutritional counseling on behalf of the #gotmilkgotprotein campaign in the New Year, I jumped at the opportunity. Since I’m an avid milk drinker (as is my husband and both of our sons), I’m always excited to share positive messages about what drinking milk can do for you. Little did I know I would get the chance to work with the lovely Tina Seitzinger, someone I could relate to on so many levels. Chatting with her was like taking a trip down memory lane with my own sons and career. I’m excited to help Tina during the month of January on her journey towards making small dietary and lifestyle changes to help her improve her nutrient intake, boost her energy and help her look and feel even greater than she already does!

Tina is a happily married mother of two sons, aged 7 and 5. I, too, am happily married and have two sons who are now 15 and 11 (though I remember those days when they were little like they were yesterday). Tina, also a writer, pens her popular Life Without Pink blog from the comfort of her couch. I, too, have worked from a home office for the last 7 years while raising my two sons.

Tina Seitzinger

Tina Seitzinger

When Tina and I began our conversation, I realized that besides us having a lot in common, Tina’s typical weekly schedule, best described as hectic, would be relatable to so many moms. Describing a routine that included waking, feeding and getting her sons off to school—and home after school—at different times each day, and having an active and busy work life that includes blogging, TV appearances and so much more, it made perfect sense why making time to eat a healthy breakfast was such a challenge for Tina. Of course each morning, the doting mom packs lunch for her boys and feeds them breakfast (which often includes a bowl of cereal with milk or waffles). But seldom does she make time for more than 2 cups of coffee (with a little bit of milk and a hint of sugar) to get her day going. In my mind, that’s not a recipe for a productive day!

Tine and her testosterone-filled family.

Tine and her testosterone-filled family.

While she’s never been a big breakfast eater, Tina noticed that since the school year began, she has seldom taken any time to eat anything in the morning. Also, she has admittedly slacked off on exercise, and seems to always put caring for her family and working before meeting her own dietary and lifestyle needs. Her failure to prioritize caring for herself has left her with headaches and feeling fatigued (especially by mid-afternoon). She has also noticed that she tends to pick from less-than-healthy foods just to get through the day; this has only made her feel worse and less energized. Fortunately, Tina knows she’s in a rut and wants to change her ways and nourish her body inside and out so she can feel—and look—her very best. The good news is that making a few minor tweaks in her intake starting with adding a cup of milk in the morning can be a great way to boost satiety and start her day off energized and focused.

When working with clients, I always make it a point to meet them where they are and to encourage simple, gradual and realistic tweaks in their current habits to help them get from point A to point B. But in working with Tina, I also realized that the two barriers to her starting her day with a healthy breakfast were not only a perceived lack of time, but also not thinking of her own nutrient/health needs as a priority.

To help Tina make time to sit down for a healthy breakfast with her sons on weekdays, I encouraged her to find time the night before—perhaps while preparing dinner for the family—to pack their lunches. She can even have her kids help out. Doing this the night before will save Tina anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes the next morning—more than enough time to make the most of her power hours and eat a nutritious and satisfying breakfast. She said she’s excited to give this a try, so let’s see how it goes.

I explained to Tina that starting the day with a nutrient-packed breakfast has endless benefits. Not only would it tell her body that it’s not starving (which will leave her grabbing for anything, even if it’s nutrient poor, later in the day when hunger is heightened), but it would give her energy, especially when she needs a lot of it during the mid- to late-morning, key work time. I also explained that incorporating protein into her breakfast can fill her up longer and make it more likely she’ll stick to the more healthful eating routine she hopes to create. And because she already likes milk (one cup provides 8 grams of protein—more than you’ll find in an egg), making sure to include it as part of her breakfast can help her fill up and stay satisfied. I also encouraged her to spread out protein intake across all meals and snacks throughout the day to staying full and energized.

Because I like to meet people where they are before I dole out nutrition information and advice, I asked Tina what she chooses when, on rare occasion, she has breakfast. Her response was simple. She likes either ready-to-eat cereal with low fat (1%) or reduced fat (2%) milk (and occasionally a banana); a small container of light flavored yogurt; a bagel with butter or cream cheese and jelly; or scrambled eggs with whole-wheat toast and butter.

To help Tina build her breakfast from the ground up, and based on the foods she already likes, I suggested the following three options (and provided tips) for her to try out during the first week following our conversation:

1. Ready-to-eat, whole grain cereal topped with low-fat or nonfat milk, nuts and fresh fruit

*Ready-to-eat whole grain cereal. Cereal is a convenient, delicious and nutritious breakfast addition. I urged Tina to look for ready-to-eat cereal that’s 100% whole grain. If she doesn’t see a 100% Whole Grain stamp on the package (that indicates that the product is all whole grain), she can read the ingredients list on the box and look for a whole grain (like whole-wheat or whole-oat) as the first ingredient. Also, I encouraged her to aim for cereals that have, per serving, at least 3 grams of dietary fiber (if not more) and no more than double the amount of fiber as sugar. (So, for a cereal with 3 grams per serving, that would be 6 grams of sugar.)

*Low-fat or nonfat milk. Although Tina currently has a little bit of milk in her morning coffee, I encouraged her to make sure to have an entire cup of delicious, refreshing milk as part of her breakfast. That can fill her up and keep her sated throughout the morning when she’s busy working and writing. One cup of milk packs in 8 grams of high quality protein that, among it’s many functions, helps build muscle. (Milk provides what’s considered 'high quality' protein--it's 'high quality'  because it contains all the essential amino acids, building blocks of protein that the body needs to obtain from the diet). Milk also boasts 9 essential nutrients including vitamin D to strengthen bones and B vitamins that provide energy. The fact that milk is so convenient and affordable makes drinking it that much more enticing!

*Nuts. These provide healthy fats, some additional protein and tons of nutrients (depending on the nut), so I recommended that Tina include about ½ ounce to top her cereal. She could include any type she likes—2 examples include almonds (12 whole or 2 tablespoons chopped) or walnuts (7 halves or 2 tablespoons chopped).

*Fruit. I encouraged Tina to include at least ½ cup of fresh fruit to provide some sweetness and a fiber boost to her breakfast. Fruit is also packed with water to hydrate and fill you up as well as vital nutrients and powerful plant chemicals.

Some other breakfast options I asked Tina to consider (and that she sounded excited for) included:

*Whole grain waffles topped with peanut butter and sliced banana + milk

*English muffin pizza made with shredded mozzarella cheese + milk + fruit

*Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and whole wheat toast + milk + fruit

Stay tuned for an update on Tina’s progress. I’ll also share with you a 7-day breakfast menu Tina and I will create together to help us all power up our Power Hours every day!

 

How do you power up in the morning?

Disclaimer: I’m a spokesperson on behalf of The National Milk Mustache “got milk” Campaign for their #gotmilkgotprotein campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here. http://elisazied.com/disclosure/

 

 

 

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YNW Front cover

I'm very excited that my new book, Younger Next Week (Harlequin Nonfiction) is now available. This book was a true labor of love to write and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I wrote Younger Next Week to help women everywhere find ways to care for and nurture themselves no matter how busy or stressed they are. We all have a right to look and feel our best and stay healthy inside no matter how much we have going on at any given time. The book provides a Vital(ity) Signs Quiz to help women see where they are in terms of their food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors. It then discusses many of the  sabotaging ways women cope with stress (can you say cookies and ice cream, or a second...or third Cosmo). The book then goes on to explain how various foods and food groups, beverages, and dietary components enhance vitality and discusses the virtues of staying fit and getting enough sleep. Stressipes--remedies for how stress impacts food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors--and tons of practical tips for turning intentions into actions--are sprinkled throughout Younger Next Week. The book concludes with The 7-Day Vitality Plan that includes 2 weeks of menus, a Vital Foods List, 30 delicious recipes and a Vitality Blueprint that puts the entire plan together.

Check out my Stressipes newsletter from 1/13/14 to see some highlights from my Younger Next Week book launch.

To learn more about Younger Next Week, click here. To read an excerpt, click here.

If you'd like to interview me or work together, click here.

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With the holidays here and a new year on its way, many of us, at the very least, are thinking about how to get back – and stay – on track with a healthier diet and lifestyle. But with plenty of holiday get-togethers and celebrations still on the horizon, you may think it doesn't make sense – or you just don't have the time – to make any meaningful food or fitness changes before January hits. I beg to differ!

To help motivate you to make some changes, even small ones, in what (and how much) goes into your mouth and how you move your body, here's a roundup of five of my favorite tools. I have no doubt that if you try them, you'll not only get on a more healthful eating and lifestyle course, but you'll be motivated to stay on it well beyond the start of the new year.

• "The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way to Thin" (Price: $19.95)

Written by registered dietitian and fellow Eat + Run blogger Mitzi Dulan, a Pinterest superstar with more than 3.5 million followers, The Pinterest Diet provides an alternative to what Dulan calls the 3 D's of diets – discipline, denial and deprivation.

The book teaches readers how to develop healthier and sustainable eating and fitness habits and shed unwanted pounds using Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that enables users to organize and share images and information found on the Web. Throughout the book, Dulan shows readers how in only 10 minutes a day, they can create their own motivating and empowering Pinterest boards tailored to their unique goals, preferences and passions.

Asked what it is about Pinterest that helps people lose weight or simply get healthier, Dulan replies in an e-mail that "Pinterest makes it fun. A big part of my book is integrating my nutritional and fitness philosophies that have worked for years with clients, and I have found Pinterest to be a perfect vehicle for doing just that."

In The Pinterest Diet, readers can expect to find Dulan's top food recommendations, which include "MSF (Most Satisfying Foods) Factor Foods" that contain protein, fiber and healthy fats along with more than 50 recipes and 30 days of workouts, each lasting anywhere from 4 to 30 minutes.

PortionMate (Price: $14.95)

This set of brightly colored cylinders is an easy-to-use meal and snack measuring tool and comes with a nutrition and meal-planning guide that follows American Diabetes Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommendations. Small enough to stash in a kitchen or desk drawer or to bring with you when you travel, it allows you to quickly and easily measure appropriate portions of carbohydrate- and protein-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, cereals and other grains, meats, cheese, nuts and seeds directly onto a plate or into a bowl.

Each cylinder has a color that corresponds to specific food groups. To use the tool, you simply choose the desired color cylinder, place it into your plate or bowl, fill it with food, lift and remove the cylinder and voila – you have perfect-sized portions for meals and snacks.

The tool is praised by many registered dietitians, among them Rebecca Bitzer of Maryland, who calls the measuring devices and accompanying nutrition guide "great tools to help people learn about the foods they're eating and how much they're eating." She suggests people use the rings as "measuring cups or just as visuals for how much to put on their plate, in their bowls or in their mouths!"

(Full disclosure: I was sent a complimentary PortionMate several months ago but made no promise to mention or positively review it.)

Meal Makeovers app (Price: $1.99)

Available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, the Meal Makeovers recipe app was created by The Meal Makeover Moms – registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex of Massachussetts. This handy and useful app is designed to help families everywhere get healthier (but still delicious) versions of classic recipes on the table without sweat or tears.

Meal Makeovers features over 50 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Each "makeover" recipe describes the dish, makes suggestions for how to tweak it and provides simple, straightforward ingredient lists and step-by-step instructions. You can also find recipes that accommodate gluten-free, vegan and other types of diets or find those that work well for Christmas or other holidays.

[Read: How to Eat Intelligently (and Enjoyably) Over the Holidays.]

Jen Rehberger, executive producer and host of www.VickyandJen.com, a podcast and website with tips for families on simplifying life, is a longtime fan of The Meal Makeover Moms. "Since downloading the Meal Makeovers app on my phone, I have used it a lot! I have 'favorited' several snacks and meals for quick retrieval, since I usually have my phone on me," she writes in an e-mail, noting that she accessed a recipe list on a recent trip to the grocery store. "The convenience of the app and the confidence I have in the recipes make it a winner."

Fooducate website and app (Price: Free)

Hemi Weingarten, a father of three who was concerned about buying and preparing healthy food for his family, decided to take the task into his own hands in creating the Fooducate app. I think of the app as a grocery store appendage. It counts calories, grades your food, explains the ingredients you'll find in various products and offers healthier alternatives.

With an impressive database of more than 200,000 unique products, the app won first prize in the U.S. Surgeon General Healthy App Challenge. A fan of the app, Jeff Berman writes on Facebook, "Since I started using Fooducate, I'm down 40 pounds and maintained that weight loss for eight and a half months so far. After years of dieting, I owe my new healthy lifestyle solely to Fooducate. I don't look at it as a diet but rather a lifestyle change of making healthy choices via clean eating principles. My wife is also now on the Fooducate journey, and we are making and eating healthy food together daily as a family for the first time in four years."

Geocaching app (Price: Free or $9.99, depending on the app)

Ever hear of Geocaching? This global treasure-hunting game, in which people search for geocaches – camouflaged containers, often with small trinkets for trade – is played by millions of people worldwide. According to its cofounder, Bryan Roth, "Most people in the U.S. live within just a few blocks from a geocache – or 'hidden treasure' as most geocachers call it – and might not even know it."

As a game, sport, hobby – whatever you call it – geocaching delivers outdoor discovery, exploration and adventure for families, retirees or anyone who likes to play. There's even some evidence it can improve health. Preliminary results from a 14-month Texas A & M study called Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) were presented last month at the annual meeting of the American Pubic Health Association in Boston. In the study, participants were given devices to track their movements and a logbook to record their level of geocaching intensity. The first results suggested a link between geocaching and improved health.

According to one of the researchers, "GEAR participants who report geocaching once a week or more are more likely to meet national guidelines for physical activity and are more likely to report good or very good health status compared to those who geocache less frequently." Geocachers also reported fewer days of poor physical and mental health compared to state level data. When asked about geocaching, devotee Neil Moore writes on Facebook, "I started geocaching two years ago. Within six months, I lost 25 pounds just from walking and biking on the trails. Plus my cardio has improved, and I generally feel better. I definitely sleep better."

Which app, gadget or activity helps you eat better and move more?

This post originally appeared on December 10, 2013 on the U.S. News' Eat + Run blog. You can view previous U.S. News articles I've written here

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Elise & Harvey's wedding @ The Palms Bay (Sun 8 25 13)_August 25, 20130280

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am being compensated for this blog post as part of the Philip Stein #liveintune campaign. Opinions expressed are my own.

When you think of romance, what comes to mind? For me, a hopeless romantic, romance is epitomized in the movie Titanic when Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo Dicaprio) sacrificed his life to let Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet’s character) live. Romance oozes from the movie The Notebook, especially when Allie Hamilton (played by Gena Rowlands) and Noah Calhoun (played by James Garner) die in their sleep with their arms and bodies so beautifully intertwined.

In my own life, the idea of romance makes me think of a particular day during my childhood. Almost 30 years ago, in the late afternoon on a crisp winter day, my first true love rode miles on his horse to meet me in the woods. Forbidden to see one another, we knew we risked being caught by our parents—but that only made the desperate, sweet teenage kisses we shared and the way we professed our undying love to one another even more special. When I think of romance, I also think of another boyfriend—my last before I met the man who would become my husband. He called me gorgeous (even though I didn’t think I was) and always made me feel like I was the only woman in the room.

I also witnessed romance recently when our 44-year-old friend Harvey married Elise, one of my best camp friends. Although they first fell in love 22 years ago, when they were both 22, and parted ways, they were unexpectedly reunited after Elise’s previous marriage ended. They’ve been inseparable ever since. To mark the magic, Harvey counted down on Facebook the 22 days until their wedding day with poems, anecdotes, and gorgeous photos. A greater romance I’ve never known!

While romance—a “love affair” or “an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity”*—can be inspired by, or be expressed with, grand dramatic overtures, sometimes even little things can be romantic. Having been happily married to the same man, a hard working and devoted father to our two sons, aged 15 and 11, for more than 20 years, I think we’d both agree that it’s the little things—the inside jokes, the small gestures and favors, squeezing in a little one-on-one time (in between two full-time jobs, our sons’ homework help and basketball games), and enjoying solo time together when our sons go to overnight summer camp—that help us keep the spark alive.

Whether you’re looking for love, on the cusp of it, or are in a committed relationship, there are things you can do besides reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy (trust me) to ignite romance (or at least give it a jump-start). Here are three of my top tips to help you do just that in your own life:

1. Reclaim and redefine date night. At the beginning of their relationship, most couples seemingly make all the time in the world to go on dates and spend time together. But when the initial excitement of the relationship starts to dim, and real life sets in, many couples often find it too easy to allow work, children, or other responsibilities to get in the way of their private time together. Of course parenting or caring for older parents, logging too many hours at the office, and having a long to-do list can move date night to the back burner, it’s important for your own health—and that of your relationship—to reclaim date night. Even if that means grabbing a quick bite to eat, seeing a movie, or simply walking to and from favorite frozen yogurt shop (my husband and I started doing this just last summer), penciling in one-on-one time together each week, as you would an appointment, shows each of you—and the rest of your family—that your relationship matters and is worth making time for.

2. Put the ‘action’ in your activities. Instead of meeting for the usual drinks or heading to dinner and a movie with your significant other—or friends—plan something more active. Taking a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride in the park, heading to a spin or dance class, or training for some sort of competition together (like a 5 k race, triathlon, or even a charity walk) not only gives you quality time together, but can help you get in shape or stay fit. When we were first married, my husband and I would do 5K, 6 mile and 10K running races together (once we even did a 10 miler). We also play golf together, and love to hike together in places like Colorado, California and Hawaii. Being active in new and different ways not only creates a sense of adventure and accomplishment, but it can help you feel better physically and mentally—and help you be more open to experiencing romance. And as I wrote about in my upcoming book, Younger Next Week, being active and exercising can boost libido (it helps blood flow to al the right places, if you know what I mean). Let’s not forget that regular exercise also helps you look and feel better, and can therefore indirectly boost your confidence in-between the sheets!

3. Connect by disconnecting. Because for so many of us, the smart phone or laptop has become like a third appendage, it’s become far to easy to lose touch with all of our senses that allow us to recognize and enjoy romance—even when it’s staring right at us. So when you’re with your sweetie, put that cell phone away and really pay attention to him or her. Use all your senses to look at, listen to, touch and completely engage with your significant other. You may find that not having all the distractions reminds you why you were drawn to him or her in the first place. Just like you let nothing come between you and your Calvins, it’s wise to not let a cell phone or laptop come between you and your partner.

What are some of the ways you introduce or bring back the romance in your relationship? Share your to-dos, tips and ideas with the hashtag #liveintune below to help others bring romance back into their lives too.

Image of Harvey and Elise from their amazing wedding via Marc Millman Photography.

*Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary

 

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risotto photo

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a delicious, hearty side dish from registered dietitian Victoria Shanta-Retelny.

Creamy like a typical risotto, but less fatty and caloric, this nutty-tasting rendition of the Italian classic will keep your heart healthy and fill you up on fewer calories!

Yield/Servings: 4 (½ cup) servings

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 cup wild rice

1 ½ cups vegetable broth, low-sodium

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 rosemary sprigs, remove needles, minced

2 Tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese

Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Steam the squash in a steamer pot over boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender enough to mash with a fork.  Puree squash in a food processor and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and sauté onion and garlic over a low heat until soft and lightly browned.

3. Add rice and stir until well-coated add broth and water.  Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer, cover.  Stir frequently, once rice has fully absorbed the liquid and is softening add squash and rosemary. Stir to combine.

4. Stir in ricotta cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste. It should be thick and creamy with the rice soft on the outside, but firm in the middle.

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 76

Carbohydrates: 15 g

Total Fat: 2 g

Protein: 2 g

Fiber: 2 g

Cholesterol: 8 mg

Sodium: 73 mg

Sugar: 4 g

Source: Victoria Shanta-Retelny, RDN, LDN

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