Mac and Cheese with Greens (Gluten Free & Vegetarian)

mac and cheese with greens

Y’all know I’m a huge fan of easy dinners that encompass everything you need to feel satisfied in one pot. This one pot family friend meal is just that – the pasta has both carb and protein, the Palmetto Gardens kale is your veggie, and then you of course have cheese for more protein and taste!

It’s a great spin on a classic dish! You can make this mac and cheese two ways: eat it right off the stove top or bake it for a more crispy crust.

You will have half a bag of Palmetto Gardens Kale leftover to make another batch of mac and cheese – or you can check out my Southwestern Kale Power Bowl here. Happy cooking!

Mac and Cheese with Greens (Gluten Free)

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 12oz Chickpea or Red Lentil Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Bag of @Palmetto Garden’s Kale (~5.5 Cups)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Cups 2% Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • 8oz Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 8oz Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Optional: If you would like to bake your Mac and Cheese, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente, about 7-9 minutes. Strain the pasta and set aside.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add half of the kale, garlic and black pepper. Cover and cook until it starts to wilt. Stir and add the remaining kale. Cover and cook another 3 minutes until it is all wilted (avoid over cooking as the kale can get bitter). Remove the cooked kale and place it in a large bowl, and set aside.
  4. Whisk the milk and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth. Add to the Dutch oven over medium heat along with the butter, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens about 5 minutes. Add the Grueyere and Cheddar and continue to stir until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  5. Add the pasta to the saucepan and stir to combine. Gentle fold in the kale and serve!
  6. Baked Option: Pour into a 13×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the mac and cheese and baked on 425 degrees F until the cheese is bubbly and the bread crumbs are lightly browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Serve.

This post was sponsored by Palmetto Gardens

kale

 

5 Reasons Dieting is Hurting Your Health

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It seems like everywhere we turned in January, we were seeing information about another diet. This influx of diet spam caused everyone in our office to do a big 🤦Now, as South Carolina starts to ease COVID19 restrictions, unfortunately you can expect to see a resurgence of of diets talking about their solutions to the “COVID 15/19/30” or whatever they are calling it these days.

We pride ourselves in being anti-diet dietitians at Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. Have you ever wondered why we choose to practice this way? We speak up against trendy diets like Keto, Paleo, and Intermittent fasting because they aren’t sustainable for our clients, but also because diets are straight up harmful to our clients.

The Diet Cycle

The image above shows a typical diet cycle. Let’s walk through it using low carb diets as an example:

  • It’s Monday. You start your low carb diet, restricting delicious food items such as bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, and your personal favorite, French fries.
  • On Wednesday you start to feel really deprived. Maybe your spouse is eating French fries with their burger, but you order a salad because you are being “good.” You may also show signs of fatigue and irritability (remember, carbs are your main source of energy!)
  • On Thursday you start to really crave these foods. All you can think about is French fries.
  • On Friday the thoughts are consuming your life and eventually you give in to them. You don’t just give in a little bit. You give in A LOT. You go through the McDonalds drive through and order two supersize French fries and eat them all rapidly in one sitting.
  • Then on Friday night you feel guilty and beat yourself up for not being able to stick on your diet. You decide to start another low carb diet that is even more restrictive again next Monday. And the cycle repeats.

Sound familiar?!

What happens when we find ourselves following into this vicious cycle on a chronic basis?

Here are 5 reasons why being trapped in this diet cycle harms your overall health.

1 – Weight Cycling Increases Your Risk for Chronic Diseases

Usually when we fall into the diet cycle, we find ourselves losing weight during our restrictive diets only to later regain the weight back, and usually plus more. Then we do it all over again. This yo-yo weight pattern is called weight cycling. Research shows that weight cycling alone, regardless of your initial body size, increases your risk for cardiovascular events, osteoporosis, gallstones, hypertension, chronic inflammation, and eating disorders/disordered eating. The healthiest weight for you is when you ditch the diet mentality, break free of this cycle and learn to listen to your body’s needs when it comes to food and movement. 

2 – Dieting Harms Your Relationship with Food and Your Body

Research shows that dieting is strongly linked to a preoccupation with food and appearance, increased food cravings, and increased binge urges. At Brittany Jones Nutrition Group, we work on creating complete food freedom with our clients. Remember, all foods fit! We want you to be able to feel comfortable around all foods and get rid of the feeling that certain foods control your life. There are NO good and bad foods – and food has no moral value! Restricting foods will only lead to overeating them later. 

Diet rules also force you to ignore your natural hunger and fullness cues. They tell you that you can not eat after a certain time of day, that you have to fast in order to lose weight, and that it’s good to be hungry all day. These are all false claims that get you out of touch with your body. Our bodies are incredibly smart. They naturally crave a variety of nutrients and will tell you when they need fuel by showing signs of hunger. You do not question why you have to pee when you get the urge to pee, so why do we question our hunger?

3 – Dieting Harms Your Mental Health

Think back to when you did your last diet. How was your mental health during this time? Did you feel deprived? Did you cancel social events because there wouldn’t be something you were “allowed” to eat on your diet there? Research shows that dieting increases body dissatisfaction, reduces self-esteem, increases stress, and harms social life. Health is about SO much more than just what you eat and how often you exercise. If we neglect our mental health in order to improve our appearance, we often end up worse in the end. We are not just alive to lose weight and pay bills! There is so much more to life! Don’t miss out on the fun of life because you are concerned with appearance or eating “perfectly.”

4 – Dieting Can Cause You to Miss Out on Key Nutrients

Diets often restrict certain food groups such as fat and carbohydrates. When we restrict food groups, not only do we crave them more, but we also miss out on key nutrients! For example, carbohydrates are your main source of energy, provide fiber and B vitamins, and make your RNA and DNA. Fat is important for regulating our body temperatures and producing our hormones. All the food groups have a purpose! 

Another popular and risky diet is fasting. When we are only “allowed” to eat during certain times in the day, not only are we ignoring our natural body cues, but it is also incredibly difficult to get the nutrients and variety we need in that short period of time. 

5 – Dieting Increases Your Set Point

Do you remember learning about homeostasis in science class? Turns out our body is really good at regulating processes within our body to keep us alive. Just like it regulates our temperature, it also regulates our body size. Think of it as a thermostat for your weight. Many factors contribute into why we are the weight we are. Genetics, access to health care, access to nutritious food, environment, and movement all play a role. Where our body weight naturally falls when it is at homeostasis is called the set point. When we fall out of our set point, our body works tirelessly to do anything it can to bring it back to our set point. Our bodies do not know the difference between a diet and starvation. If we keep messing with this internal thermostat through dieting, your body views this as a famine and struggles to maintain control over your weight. During this period of starvation (dieting), your metabolism decreases and your brain releases less leptin, a hormone that triggers the feeling of being full. AKA your appetite physiologically INCREASES during a diet! After your diet fails, your body forces you to not only regain the weight back but it adds on extra weight to protect against future diets (periods of starvation). Therefore, your set point increases. In addition, people with a history of chronic dieting end up releasing less leptin overtime than they would have without the history of dieting. 

“Ok I Get it Now, but What’s the Alternative to Dieting?”

Instead of falling trap to the diet cycle, it is best to focus on finding balance. Strive for progress, not perfection! Instead of doing crazy diets that eliminate certain foods, remind yourself that all foods fit! Incorporate gentle nutrition by following the 80/20 balance and utilizing the portion plate.

Learn to listen to your body. Ask yourself: “What will nourish me and what will satisfy me?” before meals. Eat according to your natural hunger and fullness cues. Move your body in a way that feels joyful and good, rather than punishing it for what you ate.

Through rejecting diet mentality, finding food freedom, and moving joyfully, you will find the weight that is healthiest for you without sacrificing your mental health to get there.

Want to learn more? Click here to set up a FREE 15 minute discovery call with our CEO and Registered Dietitian Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD!

-Written by Allison Walters, RD, LD

5 Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

Store-bought salad dressings are not only expensive, they often have a long laundry list of ingredients. We’ve written 5 easy salad dressing recipes that you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen with just a few simple ingredients!

How to Store your Salad Dressings

Store your salad dressings in a small plastic or glass container. Vinaigrette dressings can be kept refrigerated for up to two weeks while dairy-based dressings can be left in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

How to Use Your Salad Dressings

Salad dressings are not limited to be used on salads alone. Sure, they can amp up your lunch salad, but they can also be used for a variety of other dishes. Try using the Green Goddess Dressing and Greek Yogurt Ranch as a dip for your chicken strips, raw vegetables or potatoes. Or, try marinating chicken in the Lemon Basil Vinaigrette, Italian Dressing, or Honey Mustard for dinner this week!

Benefits of Heart Healthy Fats

Foods containing healthy fats should not be feared. Our bodies need fats to function the way they’re supposed to! Dietary fats are essential for maintaining energy and cell growth, while also serving as a cushion for your organs, and keeps your body warm! Fats help your body absorb nutrients (like the ones in your salad!) and produce hormones. The important dietary fats we see in these recipes are avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, and avocado mayo. 

5 Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

 

Recipes by Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Intern

5 reasons Intermittent Fasting is a Fad Diet and Not a Lifestyle Change

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You may already know that the dietitians at the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group take an all foods fit approach, but now we are adding all times fit as well! 

As dietitians, it is very common to be asked about the newest diet trend (it makes for 50% of our cocktail party conversations). Over the past year, intermittent fasting has been increasing in popularity and interest largely due to social media influencers, celebrities, and TV shows promoting the new trend.  When a new diet trend comes out, we are easily distracted by the flashy titles and promised results rather than to refer to the research. Today we are going to discuss evidence and research behind the newest diet trend, explain why we consider it to be a fad diet, and share some of our concerns. Ready? Here we go!

What is IF?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is unique from the other fad diets because it tells you when you can’t eat, but not what you can’t eat like more traditional fad diets.  Intermittent fasting is defined as periods of voluntary abstinence from food and drink and is an umbrella term for several different forms of fasting.  First, let’s break down the different types of intermittent fasting:

  • Complete alternate day fasting involves alternating days of fasting (no consumption of energy-containing foods or beverages, i.e. only water) with eating days (foods and beverages consumed as desired without restriction).  
  • Modified fasting regimens allow for consumption of 20% to 25% of energy needs on scheduled fasting days and standard eating the other days.  The modified fasting regimen is the basis for the more popular 5:2 diet, which involves severe calorie restriction for 2 nonconsecutive days a week and no restricted eating the other 5 days.  
  • Time-restricted eating allows individuals to consume food within specific windows, which leads to fasting periods on a regular basis.  The most popular time-restricted eating is 16:8, in which there are 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. For example, eating from 8 AM to 4 PM and fasting for the rest of them.

While many of the points discussed in this article can be applied to all forms of fasting, we will be focusing on time-restricted eating as the most common type we are seeing.  With all the hype around IF, it is important to remember everyone does some type of fast while they sleep, hence our break-the-fast (breakfast!) in the morning. This is totally normal. However, the time of this fasting can change daily based on your schedule and hunger cues, as opposed to a scheduled intermittent fasting which follows a set schedule and is typically for a longer than normal fasting period.   

5 Reasons Intermittent Fasting is a Fad Diet and not a Lifestyle Change: 

1. Intermittent fasting is not a magic pill. 

Research indicates that weight loss seen from IF is no different than the short-term weight loss achieved by other fad diets. [1]  

“But I have read that intermittent fasting improves blood glucose, lipid levels, and insulin sensitivity too?”   Most of the studies done on IF have been performed on animals (not humans) over a short period of time, measuring glucose numbers, rather than long term results.  It has long been known that a reduction of weight among overweight individuals decreases blood glucose levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure. [2]  The “mechanism” for the improved lab values seen with IF is driven from the weight loss produced by a caloric deficit, not by the time window an individual consumes or does not consume calories. More research is needed on IF to make this statement true. Keep in mind that for long term improvements in lab values, the lifestyle MUST be sustainable. If you’re only able to follow it for 3 months, your lab values are likely to return to where they were prior to the diet. Keep in mind this research also does not take into account mental health (more to come on this later).  

2. It is not a sustainable lifestyle change, and can lead to the diet cycle. 

When clients and friends ask us about the newest fad diet, we typically respond with, “Is that something you would like to do for the rest of your life?”  Even the research acknowledges the difficulty of IF due to “periods of elevated hunger on fast days, societies with constant, convenient access to nutrients, and eating patterns strongly intertwined with social structures.” [3] In other words, it is difficult for individuals in the studies to stick to intermittent fasting, even for a brief period of time.  Intermittent fasting does not allow flexibility for special events like weddings, vacations, and brunch with friends – let alone for the flexibility needed in everyday life! 

Intermittent fasting and all fad diets end up leading to what we call the diet cycle. The inevitable “slip-up” will happen where you eat during your “fasting window,” end up feeling guilty for breaking the food rule, then leading to overeating because of the guilt, and eventually give up all together. Then comes the next fad diet to take its place and start the cycle all over. So many clients we have seen have been caught in this cycle – which is why we promote sustainable lifestyle change for our clients and do not recommend fad diets! Weight cycling or yo-yo dieting also increases inflammation in the body, and increases overall risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and eating disorders.

The Diet Cycle

3. It does not teach you anything about the composition and nutrients in food.

Because IF only focuses on the timing of eating, it ignores the most important aspect of nutrition: the composition of the food you are eating!  Fans of IF say one of the biggest pros is that it is easy and you do not have to dive into the details of nutrition. However,  weight management (if that’s your goal) and creating a healthy lifestyle takes TIME. Time is needed to learn about why you need to eat a variety of nutrients – rather than following diet rules that can result in malnutrition, decreased energy levels, and more. Intermittent fasting, like many fad diets, skips all the learning that is needed to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The more you know how food fuels your body, and how to listen to your body, the healthier you will become – and the longer the results will last.

4. It causes you to ignore your body’s natural hunger cues.

Everyone can probably think of a time they have fasted, either intentionally or not, and the subsequent hunger pains/mood changes that came along with it.  Forcing hunger over and over again is neither sustainable nor healthy. Research shows that food restriction decreases baseline dopamine levels, and enhances a higher dopamine release in the brain when you do eat which can lead to overeating. [4] This means that you are less happy while fasting, and then become overly happy when you eat (leading to a potential binge). An important part of creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle involves being in tune with your body, and IF teaches you to ignore those hunger cues, and then to ignore fullness cues. Other side effects of intermittent fasting include feeling cold, irritable (anyone else get “hangry” over here?!), low energy, feeling distracted, and having reduced work performance – yikes! [5]  Many IF’ers skip breakfast, and according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, skipping breakfast is associated with higher BMI and increased obesity risk.  A balanced breakfast consisting of a carbohydrate paired with a protein/fat starts our metabolism for the day, and also balances our dopamine levels!

5. It can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, and put you at risk for an eating disorder.

One of the biggest concerns that we have as Registered Dietitians with intermittent fasting is its potential to lead to an eating disorder, or disordered eating.  Many people may begin IF with healthy intentions, but their behavior can become an eating disorder due to the restrictive nature of the diet trend. If someone that is driven by the number on the scale or the a desire to look thin starts to restrict eating, say, 16 hours a day, and sees “positive results” it can psychologically lead to fasting even longer, and a worst case scenario that behavior can lead to an eating disorder. Individuals can easily hide an eating disorder behind intermittent fasting as a social excuse to not eat (a warning for health providers and parents!) In a large study of 14-15 year olds, dieting was the most important predictor of a developing eating disorder. Those who dieted moderately were 5x more likely to develop an eating disorder, and those who practiced extreme restriction were 18x more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet. [6]

People with anorexia nervosa generally restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat, and they ignore their bodies natural hunger cues. They tend to be obsessed with weight, calories, food, and dieting and often avoid social situations that involve food.

Our concern is that many of the features seen in anorexia nervosa fall in line with that seen in intermittent fasting. 

Binge eating, characterized by eating a larger amount of food in a certain time frame than most people would eat in that same window, can look a lot like IF too because of increased hunger. It’s important to note that not everyone with an eating disorder is classified as “underweight,” and are are still at risk for medical complications and disruptions in mental and social health from disordered eating.  Disordered eating is especially of concern for women of child bearing age, as preconception is an important time for women to maximize their nutrient intake and going without eating means going without important energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. To understand the risk factors and warning signs for the development of an eating disorder, read the Common Signs of an Eating Disorder on the National Eating Disorder Association website: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/warning-signs-and-symptoms

Across the board, the research agrees that there is not enough evidence to recommend intermittent fasting and more research is needed due to the lack of long-term interventions and follow-up periods. 

Furthermore, the research has not investigated the dietary quality among fasting individuals and the social, mental, and emotional consequences of fasting.  The Instagram influencer with abs may be convincing, but we encourage you to remember the research, and to think about how it would fit into your lifestyle. The Registered Dietitians at the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group are all about focusing on your overall health, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social.  Would intermittent fasting be infringing on one of those aspects of health in your life? We are not promoting snacking through the night, but rather a lifestyle in which you eat enough throughout the day to enable adequate sleep at night, allowing you to wake up rested in the morning and to ‘break-the-fast’ with a nutritious breakfast and set your day up for success. 

We are all about making sustainable lifestyle changes that allows for flexibility, focus on friends and family, and enjoying the fun in food and eating!  

REFERENCES:

  1. Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., Lacroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., … Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1203–1212. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018 
  2. Evidence Analysis Library . (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.andeal.org/default.cfm. 
  3. Tripolt, N. J., Stekovic, S., Aberer, F., Url, J., Pferschy, P. N., Schröder, S., … Sourij, H. (2018). Intermittent Fasting (Alternate Day Fasting) in Healthy, Non-obese Adults: Protocol for a Cohort Trial with an Embedded Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial. Advances in Therapy, 35(8), 1265–1283. doi: 10.1007/s12325-018-0746-5 
  4. Roseberry, A. G. (2015). Acute fasting increases somatodendritic dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area. Journal of Neurophysiology, 114(2), 1072–1082. doi: 10.1152/jn.01008.2014 
  5. Wolfram, T. (2018, October 4). Investigating Intermittent Fasting: Food & Nutrition: From the Magazine. Retrieved from https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/investigating-intermittent-fasting/. 
  6. Golden, N. H., Schneider, M., & Wood, C. (2016). Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1649 

-Written by Brittany L. Jones, MS, RD, LD and Anna Whitlow, Dietetic Intern

5 Reasons NOT to Set a New Years Resolution (and how to set an intention instead!)

 

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“This year, I’m going to __________ (insert resolutions that are hardly ever achieved such as “lose 10 pounds,” “eat healthier,” “exercise more,” and the list goes on).”

Creating a New Year’s resolution is a tradition for so many of us, but how many times have we set a resolution and completely forgot about it by March? New Year’s resolutions have a time and a place, but the majority of the time, they can actually hurt our well-being. We begin with high energy and motivation, but as soon as we mess up, we’re likely to fall back to old habits. This might make you think … maybe this year, I shouldn’t set a New Years resolution…and search for something else instead. Below are some reasons why you resolutions don’t work, and some intentions to consider setting instead.

5 Reasons NOT to set a New Year’s Resolution

1. Your goals are unattainable
One big mistake people make when choosing a New Year’s resolution is that they choose
a goal that is unattainable for their current season of life. If I say, “I want to run a
5k this year,” but I don’t have access to running routes and lack the time to run,
this goal is probably going to be unattainable for me at the moment. Choose an activity
that is realistic for your lifestyle. Setting a goal to walk for 20 minutes three times per week may be more realistic than running a three miles every day.

2. Your resolution is too broad
For example, let’s say your goal is to “spend more time with my family.” This goal has great intentions, but there’s nothing to back it up. Resolutions need support to make it sustainable in the long run. The only way to achieve a major goal is to start small. Start by picking a small action that you can start doing in the first week of the year. Here an example would be to “have a family game night at least once a week.” This goal is specific, realistic, and attainable. When creating goals for yourself, use SMART goals to keep yourself accountable and organized.

3. You aren’t targeting the root of the behaviors you want to change
It’s hard to stop habits cold turkey when you’re not dealing with the root of the issue. Let’s take binge eating for example. Binge eating is the result of something that is going on  internally. You have to learn why you are binging in the first place before you can  change the behavior. In a situation like this, we recommend working with a registered dietitian skilled in disordered eating (like Allison!) and a counselor to discover the reasons why you may be exhibiting these behaviors.

4. Your goals are “negative” based
A negative based goal is a goal that is trying to fix something that is “wrong” in your life. Having negative based goals can leave you feeling guilty and lazy for messing up or not following through with your plan. Instead of fixating on parts of your life that aren’t ideal, magnify your strengths. When you magnify or multiply what is going right in your life, you will gain the momentum and motivation you need to improve your well-being. Ask yourself, “what am I already good at?” and build your goals from there.

5. You don’t have the right mindset
Maybe you’ve made the decision to create some sort of change, but on the inside, you’re not ready to take the necessary steps in order to make that change. You haven’t made that internal shift yet. To reach your goals, you must be willing to make some changes in your lifestyle. It’s going to be uncomfortable because, well, change IS uncomfortable. Are you willing to be uncomfortable to make a change? If so take action! If the change is worth it, create space and make time in your lifestyle to implement that change. Set yourself up for success. If now isn’t the time in your life to take action towards a goal, that’s okay! Seasons come and go. Try and reevaluate your circumstances in a month or so to determine whether or not you’re ready to take the net step, and be sure to build a support team around you to help you get there.

Set A New Year’s Intention Instead

New Years resolutions typically are external actions or desired outcomes while intentions are internal power and long term change.

Think about it this way, a resolution may be, “to lose weight.” Instead let’s flip that to set you intention “to listen to my body” Later down the road, weight loss may occur because you could be eating more vegetables, enjoying your movement, and learning how to cope with stress. Instead of implementing rigid practices through goal setting, intentions focus on practicing kindness towards your body.

The purpose of an intention is to cultivate a desire you wish to live by. Start by evaluating the things you would wish to see more of in your life. From there, we need to dig a little deeper and discover the root of that desire.

When looking at areas you wish to see more of, does it come from a sense of loneliness in your life? Does it stem from feeling inadequate or not good enough? Is there guilt? Shame? Do you have low self-esteem? These are deep questions to ask yourself, and you may feel some vulnerability trying to answer them. Choose your intentions based on these feelings.

Examples of New Year’s Intentions

  • Cultivate joy
  • Stay grateful
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Simplicity (do less)
  • Self compassion
  • Be vulnerable
  • Show love to others
  • Keep an open mind
  • Share your unique gifts
  • Be brave

After deciding your intention, create small action steps that you can do to help you be more intentional this year. If your intention is to “be more present,” a small action you can do a few times a week is to practice breathing for three minutes or journaling for three minutes. This only takes three minutes out of your day, and it’s allowing you to be more intentional about staying present.

Connect with yourself and ask, “What are some things that bring me the most energy and joy in my life?” Be clear with yourself and the things you want to cultivate, and write it down on a sticky note or a notebook. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your intentions. You cannot pass or fail. Use these handwritten messages as a reminder to pick up where you left off no matter where you are in your intention journey.

Make this year the year of intentionality. Connect and discover the things you truly need for yourself. Wishing you all the best in 2020!

-Written By Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern 

10 Things I’ve Learned in the First Two Years of Being an Entrepreneur

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Today is the two year anniversary of my private practice! On July 5th, 2017 I announced to my friends and family on social media that I had started a business – enabling them to hold myself accountable to pursuing my dream of being a business owner.

To be honest with you, I really wanted to write this blog post last year sharing what I learned in the first year, but I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to write it. While that sounds silly, I wasn’t in the place I am now with the confidence of where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.

Two years ago I was working as a food service/corporate wellness RD for a large company in Greer, SC. The position was OK and the schedule made it easy for planning my wedding, but after the wedding I found myself very bored and not challenged enough. I started my private practice as a “side hustle” while working a full time position, seeing my clients at night after work and on the weekends. I did that for seven months before leaving the full time position to accept a virtual part time position in nutrition counseling, which created a perfect amount of breathing room to allow me to grow my business. I worked both that part time job and saw my private practice clients for another eight months. Though it has been two years that I have had my private practice, I didn’t actually gain the confidence in myself and finances to “take the plunge” into full time entrepreneur until October of 2018 – which was actually just 9 months ago! (I was so incredibly burnt out, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could do both)

I get a lot of questions about starting a business from other RDs and other local business owners in Greenville, SC – and I am excited to share with you some of the things I have learned in the past two years!

1. A coworking space is a great place to start
When I started my practice I was meeting with clients for nutrition counseling at their house, college, or at a coffee shop (and doing meal plans from my home office). This didn’t last very long, and once I brought on my 10th client I knew I needed a space. HIPPA was a concern for me, and I looked for a space that had a private meeting room that I could book when I needed to meet for a client session in private. A coworking space made for a perfect beginning! Not only did it involve less risk, but I also met a lot of other entrepreneurs in Greenville, SC and started to build my community. It also made the transition way less lonely knowing I always had someone to talk to! Last summer I got to the point where my client load had increased so much that I needed a private office space, and I started working with a realtor to find the perfect office to rent. My realtor was amazing and I was so lucky to have found our space on Halton Road. I moved out of the coworking office early, and started seeing clients in my private space in December of 2018 – and it has been amazing!

2. Network in your area
I know this is something you probably hear all the time, but honestly this is one of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur. I love connecting with other business owners on social media and in our city. I have met with SO many amazing lady bosses and learned something from each and every one of them. Just like they always say – it’s all about who you know, and I have really enjoyed meeting so many new faces! (many of which have turned into clients of mine, partners, or leads) The networking, volunteer opportunities, and partnerships I have developed over the past two years have been crucial to building my brick and mortar practice. Don’t forget it’s all about collaboration not competition – so network with other people in your field too!

3. Be confident in your ideal client by doing self-discovery work
This is something that I wish I had done earlier. This past December I finally hired a business coach and one of the first things we did was self-discovery work where I answered: Who am I? What is my hero story? What kind of clientele do I want to help? Who is my ideal client, and why? I believe that I niched down too early (more to come on that below) and I think if I really dove into my story and the unique service I had to offer clients earlier in the process, I could have probably left my other jobs sooner.

4. Build your schedule for the life you want
Owning my schedule is one of the big reasons why I started a private practice. I recently took a personality test and found out that I am an “upholder.” I like to know what needs to get done and have clear expectations, but I also value time for my self care. I had a very hard time putting a job before myself/my family in the past. As a business owner, some weeks you work 40 hours, and some you work 100 hours (no joke!) BUT you don’t have to work 9-5 like you do in a corporate job. Start your day early/end later to attend that 11:30AM workout class, or go to the Post Office before it closes, or get your nails done at 9:30AM when they open. I knew that the life I wanted includes both killing it at work, taking care of myself, and being there for my family; being an entrepreneur was the best way to build the life I want.

5. Take the vacation
Take advantage of making your own schedule and take that vacation! The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you don’t have to take a set number of “vacation days” and can go on trips without asking for permission from your boss. Does it suck to come back? Yes, but I often will try to do a little bit while I’m gone to lessen the blow if it’s a long weekend. I have learned that after a long trip away (1+ weeks) to give myself 2-3 days to catch up on admin work and get myself ready for the week before seeing clients again. I get some of my best biz ideas when I’m out of the office – so this is a must!!

6. Build your team
If you’re just getting started, you don’t have to do this right away, but eventually you will want an accountant, a lawyer, and a business coach (here is an affiliate link to the coach Mandy that I used and love!). You are the expert in what you do, so let other people help you with the things you aren’t an expert in. And yes, you need someone else besides your spouse to talk to all about of these ideas!

7. Your clients will value you more than any employer ever will
This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a business owner in the past two years. I am someone who gives 110% in my job, and I never felt like my employer truly reciprocated for that effort. I have been so fortunate to have the most amazing clients who value my expertise and dedication to helping them reach their goals. I had to learn this when it came to valuing my packages, and my business coach helped me do that. Don’t base your rates off your salary at your last job – you’re worth more, and your clients will prove it.

8. Listen to advice, and then put your own spin on it
A lot of biz owners, books, and podcasts are going to tell you what worked for them, and advise you on what to do. So just listen, think about it for a week or two, and put your own spin on it (including this blog post). In the end you really need to just listen and go with your gut – no one knows your business like you do. If it doesn’t feel right – it’s probably not. For a long time I was listening to podcasts and thinking “so-and-so did this – so I need do that too!” But after working with my business coach, I was able to set up a game plan, and tune out all of that noise. Take it all in, but really focus on what is best for the business to get you to your 5-10 year goals.

9. Enjoy the down time!
Some months will be booming, and others will be slow. In the past, during those slow months I would try to run specials or try a little too hard to get that new client who might not have been the best fit for my packages. I have grown to realize that it all balances out, and I am trying to enjoy the slow periods a little more by spending time with my husband, my friends, and traveling.

10. It’s OK to make a change
In May of 2019, one year and 10 months after starting my business as Blush Nutrition, we rebanded to the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. When I started in 2017, I niched down to focus on wedding wellness, only to find that the Greenville market just couldn’t support something like that. (and I wasn’t getting a whole lot of online traction either) In this time I also realized that while I liked working with brides, I also loved working with young professionals, and teaching others to meal plan for success. I kept practicing under this name and when people asked what Blush meant I would say “well, I started out in wedding wellness, hence “Blush,” but it’s really expanded since then.” It all really came to a head when I was asked what my business name meant by an anchor on a news segment, and I couldn’t answer her. It was time for a change. I hired a coach, started at the beginning, and pushed forward for 6 months. At first it felt like a failure, but then I realized that businesses are meant to grow and develop just like we do professionally and personally – and I am so excited that my business has continued to grow with me! Not only did the rebrand align with where my practice is now, but by adding “group” to the name, we have also positioned ourselves to grow and become an expert nutrition center in Greenville, SC. It was hard – but totally worth it!

I could go on and on about the different things I have learned, and this list of 10 things is just the beginning – but I want to hear from YOU! What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at brittany@brittanyjonesRD.com

Lastly THANK YOU for being here, for your support, and your encouragement. I could have never built this business without our amazing community, and I am so grateful for you all. Here’s to even bigger things in year three!

Instagram Accounts We 💗

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Comparison is the killer of all joy.

Comparison is something that comes up in our client sessions often, and today we wanted to take a minute to talk about comparing ourselves to others in our community –  how it can negatively impact our goals.

Your community is not just about the people you physically choose to surround yourself with anymore – it’s also about the community that you create for yourself on social media. This includes brands/businesses, gyms, influencers/bloggers, friends, and family.

If a photo you saw social media is creating negative self talk – unfollow that account now. You don’t have time for that!

Practice avoiding the comparison of current self to your old-self, your friends, family, strangers, coworkers, neighbors and ESPECIALLY photoshopped media and social media images. Social media is a place to selectively connect with others and build your community – make sure yours is a positive one!

Here are some of our favorite Instagram accounts to follow:

  1. @victoriamyers_ : Victoria is a body positive Registered Dietitian in Florida. She is the owner of her own private practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition and the host of the Nourishing Women Podcast. She is a new mom and in her practice, she places an emphasis on women’s nutrition and wellness without fad diets.
  2. @dietitianspalmvalley: This is one of our favorite accounts to follow, because they are so REAL. Sammy, Mindy and Aimee take a no BS approach to nutrition and call out all things diet culture. Our favorite is their f*** diet Friday series. Check it out – you won’t be able to stop laughing!
  3. @stephaniechinart : Stephanie is an illustrator from Toronto, Ontario. She shares her body positive and women’s empowerment designs over on her Instagram account. Stephanie utilizes her talents to tell women that they are more valuable than how society defines women.
  4. @Kait.hurley : Kait is the founder of the KAIT app. In her app she creates mindful movement by implementing a meditation session in each workout. Her goal is to use exercise to help individuals get stronger both physically and mentally – something we can get behind.
  5. @jaclynlondonrd: Jackie is the nutrition director of Good Housekeeping magazine, a Registered Dietitian and author of Dressing on Side: and other diet myths debunked. She is all about debunking diet myths and sharing healthy recipes – all with a side of reality and humor.
  6. @thebodypositive : The Body Positive is a non-profit from California that helps people overcome conflicts with their bodies to lead happier, more productive lives. Over on their Instagram, they use real women’s quotes, experiences, and artwork to express real body positivity.
  7. @aerie is a female underwear and swimwear brand owned by American Eagle. Aerie was one of the first clothing lines to leave their photos untouched. They use the hashtag #aeriereal to give women the power to share images of their real untouched bodies.
  8. @thirdlove Third Love is a bra and underwear company for women that carries 78 different sizes. Their mission is to supply bra sizes to accommodate women of all sizes and shapes and they promote this on their social media. (Also now is the time to unfollow Victoria’s Secret and all of their models that make you feel inadequate.)
  9. @girlfriend Girlfriend Collective is an active wear line based in Seattle Washington. Their pieces are ethically manufactured, made of sustainable materials, and they carry sizes from XXS to 6XL.

What are your favorite accounts to follow? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet Our NEW Registered Dietitian: Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

I am very excited to announce Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM as the newest member of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group team! Christie offers nutrition counseling in packages of three or six sessions in our Medical Nutrition Therapy program. Keep reading to learn more about her background, her favorite food, and the #1 that she wants her new clients to know.

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Q&A with Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Atlanta, GA. I grew up in a family with 2 younger sisters and parents who loved all things sports. I played Varsity Tennis all through out high school. When I graduated high school it was off to Clemson University to study Nutrition!

Q: Why is being a Registered Dietitian your dream job?

A: I struggled with being overweight and my relationship with food when I was younger. I went to Clemson University to study nutrition to learn more for my own benefit and to help others. Years later, I love helping others learn to love food, and how it can help them (and not hurt).

Q: You also are a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), what made you want to specialize in diabetes?

A: I first started practicing as a dietitian in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, which has one of the highest rates of Type II Diabetes in the country. I worked with a Registered Nurse who was also a CDE to create and implement a Diabetes Self Management Program to help better meet the needs of the patients in that community. The more people I saw with diabetes, the more I wanted to learn about this disease. I then began to pursue getting certified as a Diabetes Educator myself!

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Veggie pizza or roasted potatoes…oh and PICKLES!

Q: Take us through your typical day.

A: One of the things I love most about being a dietitian is every single day is different. Most days of the week I wake up and go to Orangetheory Fitness Greenville for my favorite HIIT workout. I started 6 months ago and I have loved seeing the progression in my endurance and strength! Other mornings I might walk my golden retriever Barkley around the neighborhood. For breakfast, I almost always have a Berry Protein Smoothie and some hot tea. I also work for the Business Health Department for Prisma Health where I get to meet with employees of the hospital as well as other companies in the area. My days are mostly filled with one on one appointments with clients for Prisma Health and/or the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group discussing weight loss and chronic disease management, or teaching group classes on various health topics. It is such an honor to work with people who are making a conscious decision to put their health first!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville, SC?

A: My husband, Michael, and I absolutely love to try out new restaurants in the area. There are so many! We also really enjoy biking or walking the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well.

Q: What would you like your future clients to know about working with you?

A: I am all about Progress NOT Perfection! When you come and meet with me please don’t feel like you have to change everything in your life overnight. I love to help people make small, sustainable changes until they are confidently doing them regularly. Having a healthy and balanced eating pattern is a continuum, and I am going to meet you exactly where you’re at, with absolutely no judgement at all!

Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call to discuss your goals and book an appointment with Christie today!

Spring Clean Your Diet with WSPA

Spring is finally here and I recently shared my tips to spring clean your diet with WSPA Channel 7 News. Warmer weather means that there is lots of produce is in season – and fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and water! Click here to get the Grape, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Chicken Salad recipe that I demonstrated on the segment.

Spring clean your diet by making at least one snack per day consist of produce + protein

Examples below:

  • 1 Cup cucumber slices + 2 Tablespoons hummus
  • 1 Small apple + 1 cheese stick
  • 1/2 Cup blueberries + 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 17 Grapes + 25 almonds
  • 5 stalks celery + 2 Tablespoons natural nut or seed butter
  • 1 Peach (sliced) + 1 Cup cottage cheese
  • 1 Pear + 1/4 Cup pecans
  • 1/2 bell pepper (sliced) + 2 Tablespoons hummus
  • 1 Cutie + 1/2 Cup pistachios in shell
  • 1/2 Banana + 2 Tablespoons natural nut or seed butter
  • 1/2 Cup raspberries + 1/2 Cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Orange + 1 hard boiled egg

Want to know more about meal planning and nutrition tips for spring? Contact me today to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call.

How to Host a Chill and Healthy Dinner Party

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As we head into the third weekend of the #COOK75 challenge, it’s a great time to talk about alternatives to dining out with friends. Why not host a dinner party instead of going out to eat?

If hearing the phrase “dinner party” stresses you out, don’t worry! I am not a super formal person myself, and a dinner party doesn’t have to big this big ordeal with invitations, and seating charts. You can simply invite friends over for dinner without having all of that stress!

I’ve broken hosting a chill and healthy dinner party down into 5 easy steps. Not only will you save money by eating/drinking at home, you will likely be eating more healthy whole foods (and less processed foods) and won’t have anyone waiting for your table. You can stay and enjoy yourselves for as long as you would like!

5 Healthy and Chill Dinner Party Tips

  1. Don’t make the invite list too big. A dinner party is more intimate than a party-party, and 2-6 guests is a good starting point. You can feasibly cook for 4-8 people in a “normal size” kitchen without having to batch cook, and also have enough plates, silverware, and glasses for everyone.
  2. Ask your guests for food allergies/preferences before choosing recipes. After you send out your invites (and yes this can totally be a text – we’re chill, remember?) the next step is to ask what kind of food they want to eat. This is the time that the guest will typically mention a food allergy or preference. You can then start looking for recipes, and if you’re not sure if it fits within their allergy/preference don’t hesitate to run it by them. You don’t want to make anyone sick, so it’s always better to check if you’re unsure! When I’m in need of some culinary inspiration, I always browse the Blush Nutrition Recipe eBooks for ideas.
  3. Opt for a one pot or sheet pan meal. Make it easy on yourself with a meal that seems fancy, but is in fact very easy to make. If you want to have separate dishes because of food allergies or preferences, try making the meat/veggies on a sheet pan, and then serving a grain on the side. An example of this would be making the Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan with Italian Veggies from my Winter Recipe eBook and serving whole wheat pasta or cauliflower gnocci on the side. Make sure to test out the recipe first! Don’t let your party be the first time you try something – take notes on your first round to make it easier on yourself on the day of the party. If there are steps that you can prep in advance (like chopping veggies or cooking grains) you can do that a couple of days before as well.
  4. Collaborate! While some more formal blogs/books might tell you that a dinner party host/hostess must make every dish at the party, we are living in 2019, and you do you. If your guest asks if they can bring something, and you feel you could use the help, say yes! Ask them to bring an appetizer (like a cheese board with crackers and nuts) or a dessert (like berries and dark chocolate).
  5. Add fresh flowers to the table. Skip the stress of name cards and fancy place settings, and spruce up your table with some simple fresh flowers! I always have fresh flowers from my garden on our table, and I find it elevates the table while also sending a welcoming feeling.

Do you have any dinner party questions/struggles? Send me a message here!