7 Tips for Healthy Global Travel

Every year thousands of Americans travel domestically and around the world for a variety of reasons – work, education, family, or vacation. Whatever the reason, extended time in airports or train stations, on the road, in hotels, and away from your kitchen and gym, provides numerous challenges to staying on track with healthy eating and physical activity. But travel doesn’t have to be a lost cause. Follow these tips and you’ll return home with the same pants size you left with.

1.Be Prepared

Always be prepared with healthy snacks on hand. Stow easy to pack snacks like nuts, trail mix, jerky, durable fruit like apples, or snack bars (try to choose options with minimal ingredients and a some fat, protein, and fiber, which will make the snack feel more filling), to have in the airport, between work meetings or sightseeing, and for late night cravings. Pack more than you think you’ll need, as healthy snacks can be hard to find in hotels and airports. If you don’t want to travel with a lot of food, look for a local grocery store near where you’re traveling. Of course, enjoy the coffee available at numerous cafes. That is worth your money.

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2.BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakfast) Continue reading 7 Tips for Healthy Global Travel

Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Confession: a few years ago, I jumped on the paleo bandwagon. During that time, I used to bristle at the advent of plant based diets and things like “Meatless Monday,” mainly because they became so conflated with the vegan diet. I felt tired of people pushing the no meat thing, annoyed that vegetarian diets are always deemed healthier despite the fact studies supporting this diet are essentially comparing a group who has made a conscious decision about their health to “everyone else” – a wider group of many who haven’t. I was (and still am) also concerned that many people do it wrong, substituting meat with things like pasta, rice, and bread. And THAT IS NOT HEALTHIER, I ranted.

The Plant Based Diet 

Given that I’ve just written much of the above paragraph in the past tense, most of you have correctly guessed that my attitude has changed. The more I look at my own diet, at the paleo diet, and at research, the more I’m convinced that plant based diet IS the way to go. The key question here is what is a “plant based” diet? Based on a Google search, “plant based diet” is poorly defined (kind of like “fitness” before CrossFit). So, I’m making one up. According to the dictionary of Alexandra Black MPH, RD, LD, a plant based diet is:

A diet in which plant are the foundation of the diet. This diet consists primarily of non-animal nutrient sources. This includes vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and grains, although some animal foods – meat, eggs, dairy – can be included from time to time. 

Of course, as with any diet, there are healthy and not-so-healthy plant based diets. Eggo waffles with Aunt Jemima syrup for breakfast, vegetable pizza for lunch, and a rice and beans Lean Cuisine for dinner is plant based, but not so healthy. Whereas a banana with peanut (or almond) butter for breakfast, vegetable stir fry with quinoa for lunch, and grilled chicken with vegetables and baked sweet potato for dinner is much healthier (and still plant based). Continue reading Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Should You Be Drinking Gatorade?

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.02.51 AMIf you played sports as a kid, you probably grew up on the delicious, refreshing beverage called Gatorade (or Powerade, although I think Gatorade is better). Originally invented at the University of Florida (Go Gators) to hydrate the football team during hot summer games, Gatorade now produces a regular and low calorie drink, “natural”versions of these beverages, as well as energy chews and nutrition bars. And their marketing has been stellar – watch any Gatorade ad and you’re pretty much convinced that you should drink this stuff because that’s what the badass athletes do (and who doesn’t want to be a badass athlete). They’re all about that inspiring stuff like hard work and determination. Well, at least most kids probably think that. As adults, we’re just trained to crave it. If I go running in sub 75 degree weather for longer than 30 minutes, I come back craving a blue Gatorade (because maybe the flavor is inspired by some kind of fruit, but in all likelihood it contains no part of said fruit, and we just know it by the color anyway. Yellow is a close second for me). Of course, Gatorade has also gotten some negative press surrounding their use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) – which they’ve since discontinued using – because it had been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union.  But, is it OK to drink or should you avoid it? Continue reading Should You Be Drinking Gatorade?

Fish Oils

SalmonOmega 3 fats – also known as “healthy fats” and monounsaturated fats – have gained wide attention for their potential health benefits. Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish like tuna, salmon, trout and herring. You can get about 1 gram of omega-3 fats in a 3.5 ounce serving of fatty fish.

 

Types of Omega-3 Fats

There are 3 types of omega-3 fats. Continue reading Fish Oils

Missing The Forest For The Trees On High Fructose Corn Syrup

There’s been a lot of hate going around in the media for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fructose. Some “nutritionists” may even tell you to cut back on fruit because fructose is so dangerous. But is this all true?

What We Know

hfcs obesity

We know in studies of mice, feeding them diets upwards of 40-50% of their diet from HFCS leads to development of cancer, obesity, and other side effects.  We can also see a graph (right) of  obesity rising significantly in the 30+ years after HFCS was introduced to the food supply in the 1970’s. Meanwhile other studies are finding there are no significant negative effects attributed to HFCS. Continue reading Missing The Forest For The Trees On High Fructose Corn Syrup

An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

4931201391_6c72177b4f_zGrowing up I learned that fat was bad. Butter, beef, nuts, avocado – all “fattening” (seriously, we never had guacamole in my house growing up for this very reason). Lean meat lean beef lean lean lean has been drilled into us for the past thirty or so years. Even the American Heart Association – trusted resource for all things heart disease – recommends limiting saturated fat to just 5% of daily intake If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, that leaves you with about 11 grams or  less than a tablespoon of coconut oil per day. (Although as a side note I somewhat question AHA’s wisdom after learning they endorsed Subway as a healthy meal option. But I digress.) Heck, I even learned it in college, and told I don’t know how many patients while I was working in the hospital to “choose lean meats and avoid foods high in saturated fat”. There has been questioning of this saturated fat-heart disease link recently, with a lot of it coming from the Paleo camp (Robb Wolf, etc). Continue reading An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

Is Protein As Deadly As Smoking?

Obviously not, although some news outlets thought so recently…

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 10.01.03 PMFrom TMZ: “High protein diets ‘nearly as bad as smoking'”

From LiveScience: “High protein diets raise cancer risk as much as smoking”

From the LA Times: “High protein diets: bad in middle age, good for the elderly”

Let me start out by saying that I’m not going to tell you to eat less animal protein. But I saw this headline earlier and felt like having a rant.  Continue reading Is Protein As Deadly As Smoking?

The Great Label Lie – All Natural

IMG_0757In response to our collective interest in eating healthier, food companies have started trying to make healthier products. Well, sort of. They are trying to make products that LOOK and FEEL healthier, though they may not be. Hence the emergence of things like veggie chips and other “natural products”. (As a side note, my biggest pet peeve these days is a bag of veggie chips proudly bragging “1 serving of vegetables in each portion”. Um, NO because fried potato and corn with some salt is not a serving of vegetables! But I digress).

What does the natural label mean? Continue reading The Great Label Lie – All Natural

Sleep: Influencing More Than Just How Many Cups Of Coffee You Need Tomorrow

photoAs many of you have noticed (and lamented), sleep is a big part of the Transformation Challenge. But sleep doesn’t just impact how hard it is to get out of bed or how much coffee you need to survive the day, it can also affect your food choices, sports performance, and long term health.  Continue reading Sleep: Influencing More Than Just How Many Cups Of Coffee You Need Tomorrow

Does Microwave Cooking Remove Nutrients From Your Food?

photo 1The answer to this question is yes, and no.

In one way or another, all forms of cooking remove nutrients from food. For example, boiling carrots and broccoli causes them to lose some of the cancer-fighting compounds like beta carotene (carrots) and glucosinolate (broccoli) which is washed away in the water.

Both boiling and poaching can also cause water soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C to be washed away with the water. On the other hand, protein becomes easier to digest and more available when meat is cooked, and heating makes vitamin A, iron, and calcium more available in spinach. Continue reading Does Microwave Cooking Remove Nutrients From Your Food?