Weekly Nourishments

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Nutrition 101: Choosing Whole Foods

Written by: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CNSC

 

What do we mean when we say, “choose whole foods”? We encourage you to choose foods that are minimally processed, in their natural form. Whole foods usually contain the food’s original carbohydrate, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, we would encourage choosing a whole apple instead of apple sauce or apple pie. As you can see, the more processed a food is, the farther away it becomes from its whole food source. Processing typically means the addition of salt, sugar, fat, and/or preservatives. With more fiber and less sugar, sodium, and fat, whole foods typically keep you full longer and maintain better blood sugar and blood pressure control.

Even fruits and vegetables have their versions of whole and processed foods. As we know, whole fruit and vegetables are the typical ones we think about: oranges, peppers, grapes, eggplant, onion, spinach, strawberries, etc. However, there are some less healthful options for these fruits and vegetables. For example, spinach in your salad or in your tuna wrap is much more nutritious than a spinach and artichoke dip. Sautéed onions in your pasta or casserole provide natural fiber and vitamin C, while fried onion rings lose much of their nutrition and have added salt and unhealthful fats. Fruits can also have their whole and processed versions. Whole fruits such as peaches and pears are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, so choose fresh or frozen most often instead of canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup.

 

You will hear us encourage you to choose whole grains. Whole grains are exactly what they sound like; grains in their entire, unprocessed form. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, and popcorn. These foods are complete and contain the three parts of the grain: bran, germ, and endosperm. We receive the benefits of whole grains because these grains ensure you receive the plant’s fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. On the other hand, enriched or refined grains are not considered whole grains. Examples of enriched or refined grains include white rice, white bread, enriched spaghetti, pretzels, and saltine crackers. These grains have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the endosperm. Unfortunately, with the bran and germ omitted, much of the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals are also depleted. Choose oatmeal instead of sugar-sweetened cereal at breakfast and select farro instead of white rice for your favorite soup recipe.

You may be wondering which whole foods we should choose in the protein group. The protein food group contains a wider range of foods from chicken and eggs to beef and beans. Within the protein group, select foods that are the least processed. For example, choose grilled chicken over fried chicken nuggets. Sprinkle beans on your salad instead of adding sliced deli meats. Top your pasta dish with ground turkey instead of turkey sausage add then add some flavor by using fresh or dried herbs such as basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Choose grilled tofu instead of fried tofu for your stir-fry. Select whole almonds as a snack instead of salted almond butter.

 

Each food group has a range of foods from unprocessed to processed. Whole foods in the dairy food group are just the same. Unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt is an excellent whole food choice, rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. If you find unsweetened plain yogurt a bit too bitter for your taste, add a sprinkle of cinnamon with frozen berries on top! Processed foods in the dairy food group include frozen yogurt, sliced processed cheese, and sugar-sweetened chocolate soy milk.

If it seems like choosing whole foods increases your meal prep or cooking time, keep in mind that Nuleeu offers easy-to-prepare, nutritious recipes and meal plans. Cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers helps to put that extra effort in the kitchen to good use! If your dinner calls for quinoa, cook extra and take the leftovers in a veggie bowl for lunch the next day, or freeze for a quick weeknight stir fry. Knowing that you are choosing whole foods most often without added salt, sugar, and preservatives, will help to maximize your nutrition. Surprisingly, sometimes whole foods require less time and effort in the kitchen when compared to processed foods. Back to our apple example, if you’re craving something sweet for dessert, slicing an apple and sprinkling it with cinnamon and nutmeg is a quick and delicious snack. On the other hand, preparing an apple pie or crisp takes much more time in the kitchen. The key to good nutrition is balance and moderation. Invest in your health by choosing minimally processed, whole foods most often to provide your body with the most nutrient-dense foods. Meet with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian to discuss individual meal plans to help you incorporate more whole foods.


Fad Diets

Fad Diets

Written by:    Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CNSC

Nutrition Tip: Farewell Fad Diets

Diet trends have waxed and waned for hundreds of years and they’ll continue to make headlines for years to come. Why do fad diets gain so much attention, but then later fizzle? Do fad diets even work?

Fad diets gain traction because they’re new and provide hope. Many people look for a quick fix. We all like something fresh and different that promises results. Some fad diets may show results quickly, but the result is often short-lived. Many fad diets are very restrictive, complex, and/or expensive. Whether the change be weight loss, lowered cholesterol, or increased energy, often people end up back where they started in no time at all. For other fad diets, people never see results, or some experience dangerous side effects from such drastic, unsafe diets. Fad diets make the headlines with big advertising and they grow quickly with large business investments. Unfortunately, fad diets aren’t tailored to your individual nutritional needs.

Nourishment Notes: Know that nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all science. We all need individualized recommendations to meet our goals and needs to maintain results for life. The “diet” we eat shouldn’t be something that starts and stops like bookends. Let’s eat in a way that supports us for life! The foods we eat should balance our health and help us be our best selves, while enjoying our food at every meal and snack.

Spending time to learn healthy habits, mindful choices and developing a sense of balance over all might take more time in the beginning, but overall will lead to changes that last a lifetime.

 

So next time you read, hear or see something related to a fad diet, know you have found a better solution!


Meal Planning 101

Meal Planning 101

Nutrition Tip: Meal Planning 101

Nuleeu Membership offers meal plan access to help you meet your goals. Your meal plan offers pre-generated grocery lists and the NuleeuPlus mobile app helps to log nutrient intake to keep you on track.

As you include meals outside of your meal plan and start to meal plan on your own, use these simple steps to get you started.

Nourishment Ideas:

  • Start with shopping your pantry and refrigerator. Look in your pantry for items that can be incorporated in weekly meals. Check the refrigerator for foods that need to be eaten before they spoil.
  • When keeping a budget in mind, review local sales and specials at the grocery store. Take note of which sale items you’d like to include in your meals.
  • Use Nuleeu recipes and explore other recipes online, in magazines, on social media, or shared from friends and family. Look for recipes that incorporate food items that need to be eaten from your pantry/refrigerator list.
  • When choosing recipes, select meals that share ingredients to prevent waste, save money, and help speed up meal prep. Pick recipes that include seasonal ingredients to also save money.
  • If a recipe calls for a specific item, such as fresh produce, but it is unavailable in the store, choose frozen or canned alternatives instead.
  • Write out the days of the week, assigning each recipe to a day and meal. Keep in mind your upcoming schedule. If you have a busy week, meal prepping will be important. If you prefer nightly meal prep, pair simpler recipes for busy nights, and more complex meals for nights that you plan to have more time. If any recipes contain ingredients that may spoil quickly, choose to eat those meals earlier in the week before they go bad.

Come visit us at our next coffee talk to discuss meal planning in more detail! 

 

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