Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Late Night Eating, Friend or Foe?

Why people gain weight is complicated, clearly not as simple as calories in and calories out. According to a USDA survey, overweight adults tend to eat significantly more calories at dinnertime and after dinner than normal weight adults, leading to speculation late night eating has a bad impact on our waistlines.

We have an internal clock called the circadian rhythm which aligns with daylight and darkness. Some research suggests our circadian rhythm influences energy use, and better meal timing can have a large impact on weight management.

For decades researches have seen increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in shift workers. Factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise could be to blame, however shift workers often have lower levels of hormones that regulate appetite. Disrupting the sleep-wake cycle is detrimental to health and adequate sleep of at least 7 hours has been associated with better health.

In animal studies, mice fed a high fat diet during the night gained 48% more weight than mice eating the same calories with the same activity level during the day. Fasting overnight, such as from 8pm to 8am, also had a beneficial impact on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

All too often American’s eat too light during the day and take in nearly half of their calories at night. Not eating out of hunger but from stress, emotions, or boredom is what gets us in trouble. Rarely do we reach for baby carrots when stressed or depressed, it is typically high-calorie, high-fat foods such as ice cream, cookies, chips, and pretzels.

Snacking on high-calorie, high-fat foods can also make for a restless sleep impacting secretions of appetite regulating hormones, make us not hungry for breakfast, and increase our blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours according to a study published in  Obesity of Research & Clinical Practice.

For weight management target an appropriate number of calories daily (see your nutritionist for your calorie goal), spread your calories evenly throughout the day, avoid eating after 8pm, and if you must eat late limit after dinner snacks to 200 calories or less.

Healthy After Dinner Snacks Under 200 Calories

· 6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries
· 1 cup baby carrots with 3 tablespoons hummus
· 1 apple with 1 laughing cow cheese wedge
· 2 rice cakes with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
· 1 cup low sugar cereal with skim milk
· 1 cup fresh strawberries topped with 2 tablespoons whipped cream
· 3 cups healthy popcorn


Tips to Avoid Late Night Eating
· Prevent boredom snacking by keeping your evenings entertaining. Try exercising, a new hobby, reading a book, or playing games with the family.

· Stop the habit of eating in front of the TV. Set a rule to only eat in the kitchen without distractions.

· Try drinking hot decaf tea at night to keep your hands occupied without the calories of snacks.

· Eat a well-balanced high-fiber dinner. If you have been avoiding carbohydrates only to binge on chips, pretzels, or sweets late at night you should try adding a healthy carbohydrate to dinner such as a baked sweet potato.

· Keep junk food out of sight and out of the house. 

· Target a well-balanced high-fiber lunch and mid-afternoon snack to help avoid overeating at dinner.

· Stop skipping breakfast. People who skip breakfast often eat more calories by the end of the day.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vegetarian Grilling

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics vegetarians have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and certain types of cancers including colorectal, ovarian, and breast.

Vegetarians are people who primarily eat fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. Vegans exclude all animal products from their diet including dairy products, eggs, and honey. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but avoid meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy and eggs but avoid meat, poultry, and fish. The lacto-ovo’s make up the majority of vegetarians in the United States.

People choose to be vegetarians for many reasons including economical, environmental, personal health, spiritual beliefs, and compassion for animals. A well balanced vegetarian diet can be sufficient in all essential nutrients including protein, but careful planning is important. Many processed foods such as chips and French fries are vegetarian but not healthy choices. Clean eating by targeting minimally processed wholesome foods provide the essential nutrients the body needs for optimal health.

Top sources of vegetarian protein include beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, tempeh, hemp, seitan, nuts, seeds, eggs, low fat dairy products, textured vegetable protein, soy products, and whole grains. Numerous vegetarian protein powders are also an option, the most prevalent contain soy, brown rice, pea, hemp, whey, and seeds.

Summer grilling is most often associated with burgers and hot dogs, but vegetarians can enjoy so much more when grilling outside. Using the grill brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and seals in moisture for tender texture. Grilled vegetables do not develop dangerous carcinogens that meat does when cooked over high temperature, such as Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Vegetables are also high in fiber, rich in nutrients, low in calories, and provide antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body.

Whether you are a vegetarian or not we can all benefit from eating meatless meals during the week. Consider the delicious summer recipe below and consider adding a meatless Monday to your families routine to help increase the vegetables in your diet.

Balsamic Portobello Burgers Recipe
Serves: 4

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp minced thyme
4 portobello mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove stems and gills from the mushrooms (a spoon works well for this) and scrub clean.

In a bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, some salt, and some pepper.

Place mushrooms in a resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over top. Seal bag and toss to coat. 

Leave at room temperature to marinate for 30 minutes, toss occasionally.

Place mushrooms on a medium heat grill for 5 minutes each side until fully cooked.

Serve on a whole grain bun with kale, red onions, and tomato. Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rainier Cherries Have Arrived

Available for just a few short weeks these golden and blush toned cherries are a special treat for the spring. Named after Mount Rainier, the Rainier cherry originated in 1952 as a cross between two common cherry varieties. Bred by Washington State University, the west coast provides an intricate climate which develops the plump, sweet Rainier cherries better than any other region.  

Washington state remains the leader in production, and the original tree that produced the first Rainier cherries continues to stand and grow fruit in the town of Prosser, Washington.

Rainier cherries are very delicate. They bruise easily and are more likely to be damaged by wind and rain. Due to their high sugar content one-third of the crop is eaten by birds. For these reasons Rainier cherries are much more expensive than regular cherries.  

Cherries are considered a stone fruit, along with apricots, plums, and peaches. While small, cherries are a nutrient powerhouse. Ranked as one of the top 20 antioxidant rich foods to reduce free radicals in the body , reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of cancer.

One cup of cherries is 90 calories and contains 3g fiber. Men are encouraged to consume 30-38g fiber and women are encouraged to consume 21-25g fiber daily.  Cherries can help you reach your recommended daily amount. In the same one cup of cherries is 16% of your recommended vitamin C to support a healthy immune system and collagen formation. You will also find 260mg potassium, an electrolyte that conducts electricity in the body essential for nerve function, heart beat, and muscle

Cherries are also one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates circadian rhythm (also known are the body’s internal clock). Melatonin regulates sleep and some studies have reported participants improving their sleep upon drinking tart cherry juice daily.

Cherries are a delicious part of a well balanced diet. Enjoy them on top of plain yogurt, blended into a smoothie, tossed into a salad, or by themselves for dessert.