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Where’s the Nutrition?

September 19, 2013

Here’s a nifty infographic that looks at the phytonutrients in food — those miraculous plant chemicals that protect plants while they’re growing, and in turn benefit human health. Get the most nutrition out of your food by eating a rainbow of deep, rich colors. Most of all, enjoy!

An infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health

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The Weight-Loss Buck Stops Here

September 18, 2013

weight-scaleI’ve been doing a freelance editorial project in which I have to look at health and nutrition topics that people search for online. The vast majority of the searches are about the benefits of specific diets, including obscure ones I’ve never heard of, and methods for losing weight in specific areas of the body, like the belly or thighs.

This project is starting to make me sad. I find I’m going very slowly on it, because it’s discouraging to see how many people look for quick fixes to their weight issues – diet pills, self-hypnosis, lemon cleanses, a single food to “zap” the metabolism, a way to lose a scary amount of weight in a week or a month. I will probably never meet any of these online searchers face-to-face, yet I find myself wanting to sit down with them and talk to them about switching to a healthful diet for the long term, which would help them shed pounds. Not quickly, it’s true, but safely – and for good.

A nutritionist’s job can be difficult. So much rides on my clients’ willingness to change – will they really cut out soda, or will they come back next month and say they just couldn’t do it? Even the person who seems to motivated in our initial meeting may return for a follow-up appointment and admit she just didn’t do anything because she says she lacks “willpower.” Or worse, she may not return at all, opting instead for hypnosis or a dangerous diet.

Nutritionists can guide you and steer you, offer helpful advice and even outline healthful eating plans. They can suggest supplements that might benefit you and herbs that could support your goals. They can give you lots of pep talks, supply research on various foods and be a kind of “cheerleader,” as one client called me recently. That’s all good, and I love those parts of my job.

But ultimately, the buck stops with you. You need to show up, to actually follow through, to makes changes. If you fall off the dietary wagon one day, you get right back on. As a friend of mine puts it, “You can start your day over at any time.”

This is not passive work, but you will see change. And you will keep you moving toward your goal of a healthy weight – and a healthy life.

“Killer” Recipes

September 4, 2013

imagesIt can be hard to be a nutritionist on Facebook.

I don’t mean on my business page (be sure to “like” it!). I mean when I’m casually skimming the feed on my personal site, where I’m not “Paula Martinac, MS.”

There, I’m just a bunch of people’s “friend.” There, I feel like I have to hold my tongue when people post and re-post recipes that are health disasters in the making. After all, no one asked me to rain on his or her parade. And that’s how it might be perceived if I went on a tirade about dishes that are just convenient delivery systems for salt, sugar and fat – the triumvirate of food addictions in the standard American diet (appropriately shortened to “SAD” by nutritionists).

I didn’t make this stuff up. Eating the SAD diet has real consequences. Ask any of my clients who eventually find their way to me to learn how to eat healthfully after years of fast food, soda pop, pizza and chips. Many of them are on multiple medications and are just starting to feel the toll that prescription drugs for hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes can take on a person’s body.

Ask Big Food executives if they actually eat the stuff their companies produce. According to Michael Moss in his eye-opening book Salt, Sugar, Fat, with processed foods, “the inventors and company executives don’t generally partake in their creations.”

Here’s a fact I’ve stressed before, but I’m going to bore you with it again: high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are “lifestyle diseases.” That means a change in your lifestyle – i.e., diet and exercise – can put you on the road to reversing these conditions and dropping the meds. More than 80 percent of all instances of high blood pressure, for example, can be brought under control with lifestyle changes.

One client in her late 30s recently said that she imagined herself on multiple medications at, say, 50 or 60, but never at her age. When I pointed out that I’m in that higher age bracket and take no medications whatsoever, she fell silent.

Well, enough of my rant … for now. If this post can coax one Facebook-er to stop pushing “killer” recipes like heroin, I’ll be a happy camper. And if I can get one more person to start taking steps toward a healthier life, I’ll be absolutely ecstatic.

Vegan-in-Chief

August 21, 2013

cq5dam.web.620.398I recently read a great article in “AARP Magazine” about former President Bill Clinton. I knew he had heart disease, and I had read somewhere else that he had become vegan to deal with his health issues, but I had no idea he had also become a passionate advocate of healthy eating.

This is really pretty amazing for the man who, as our 42nd president, went running … and on his way back to the White House, stopped at McDonald’s.

In the article, Clinton didn’t act the slightest bit chagrined by the change in his diet. He didn’t confide, “You know, I’d rather have a Big Mac, but Hill says I gotta do this.” He served the reporter a vegan smorgasbord and smacked his servings down with enthusiasm. He says he relishes his new diet. And why shouldn’t he? The recipe for the quinoa salad at the luncheon was included in the magazine and sounded delicious – I tried it and found it absolutely yummy.

What brought Clinton to change his lifestyle was his family – “I wanted to live to be a grandfather,” he told the reporter. He has lost 30 pounds and says he feels better and more energetic – and he looks good, too, not his former puffy self.

What brings a person to change his or her diet can be as small as wanting to fit into a favorite pair of jeans or as big as wanting to live. Is there one compelling reason for you to give up sodas or Big Macs or any other foods that you know may be harming your health?

“Big Brother”

July 19, 2013

I’m honored to be a guest blogger on Delightfully Fit today! Check out this former novelist/currentelle-big-brother-de-mdn nutritionist’s take on Lionel Shriver‘s new novel, “Big Brother” — about a woman who tries to help her older brother lose 200 pounds. Wander on over to Delightfully Fit — it’s a great site!

Water Recipe

July 10, 2013

WaterRaspberry-187x250Yes, you read that right. I started playing around with recipes for water, after a client told me she was getting tired of plain old H2O. It’s hard to get the recommended 8 glasses daily if you’d rather have something with flavor.

So here’s my suggestion for this summer day. Take a quart of cold, pure filtered water. Put it in a pretty glass or ceramic pitcher so it looks attractive and appealing. To it, add the freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime, a few lime slices and 1/4 cup of mashed raspberries. Stir it up and let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. When you serve it (it turns a lovely pink), try wineglasses for a special touch. Make sure each glass gets a few of the mashed berries. It’s refreshing, slightly tart and sweet at the same time, and provides antioxidants along with a boost of flavor.

There’s no reason not to enjoy yourself while you’re eating and drinking healthfully!

Less “Red” in Red, White and Blue?

July 3, 2013

I know, I know … Tomorrow is Fourth of July, and it’s almost un-American not to eat red meat, right?

However, a few studies released recently give some compelling reasons why you might choose to grill more veggie kebobs than burgers or dogs this year.

tony-little-body-by-bison-burger-and-hot-dog-20pk-combo-d-20110515025615127~135440Red meat is famous for clogging arteries, and you probably already know that consumption has links to heart disease. But now a new study suggests that consumption of red meat is also associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

A second study, just released on Monday, found that people who frequently eat red and processed meats before a colon cancer diagnosis have worse outcomes – namely, they are more likely to die of the disease.

If July 4th is one of the only days of the summer you indulge in a burger or dog – maybe Memorial Day and Labor Day are the others – go ahead.

But if these foods are on your “gotta have” list – you find you’re eating them regularly and you can’t imagine giving them up – consider trying healthier ways to consume them. Maybe you don’t really need to engage in overkill and add half a rasher bacon to your sandwich. Or maybe you could try a healthier type of meat. For example, burgers and dogs made with grass-fed beef appear to have less saturated fat, cholesterol and calories than ordinary beef. The same seems to be true of wild meats like bison, which is even leaner than chicken or turkey.

Yes, these meats are more expensive that the buck-a-pound stuff. But as the old L’Oreal commercial used to go: “I’m worth it.”

Your health is worth it – happy Fourth!