Nutrition Tips for the First Trimester From a Registered Dietitian

Brittany Jones Nutrition Group

Hi everyone 👋 Christie here, and I’ve got some exciting news to share with you…I’m pregnant!

Staring down at the pregnancy test, and realizing what it meant, was such an exciting and also overwhelming moment for me. I had experienced an ectopic pregnancy earlier in the year that required emergency surgery, and ultimately the removal of my right Fallopian tube. Needless to say 2019 had been an emotional year for my husband and I. This second pregnancy stirred up strong feelings of needing to protect this baby.

As a registered dietitian, one of my first instincts was to make sure I was eating as healthful as possible. I was doing all the “right” things –  taking my prenatal vitamins everyday and continuing to exercise regularly. I was feeling really good and was convinced that I would be able to eat “by the book” throughout my pregnancy. Then week 9 rolled around, and I felt like I was hit by a bus. All of a sudden, I was beyond exhausted, and the eggs and whole grain sprouted toast that I had eaten the day before made my stomach churn.

The term morning sickness can be really misleading because mine generally peaked right after lunchtime, and carried through until I went to bed. Everyone kept telling me that come week 12 I would feel better, almost overnight. However, I really didn’t feel completely over the hump until about week 16. First trimester fatigue, nausea, and vomiting are extremely common, and can make it hard to fuel for your day and your baby. Below are some things that I found tremendously helpful through my first trimester and into my second. I hope you find these tips helpful as well!

Nutrition Tips for the First Trimester of Pregnancy

1 – Eat smaller, more frequent meals/snacks.

I found that the few times I did feel better and tried to eat a larger meal, it usually led to me feeling very nauseated afterwards. Eating carbohydrate and protein combinations more frequently made me feel much better (see next tip for more). I tried to eat something every 3-4 hours if possible.

2 – Eat carbohydrates followed by a protein or fat.

The only foods that genuinely sounded good to me were carbohydrates like bread, fruit, crackers, cereal, or smoothies. There was one week where all I could stomach was potatoes and bagels. Eating yogurt, eggs, or meat just did not sound appealing to me. However, getting some protein throughout the day is extremely important and can actually help regulate blood sugar and prevent worsening nausea. For me I would eat some crackers first followed by a cheese stick, or a piece of fruit first and then seeing if I could add a handful of nuts after. Dinner was a bowl of plain whole wheat pasta and veggies to start, and then I would try to add some chicken or  cheese.

3 – Vitamin B6 can help with morning sickness.

I found that taking about 25-50 mg of a vitamin B6 supplement helped me the most with evening nausea when I was trying to sleep. However, during the day I focused on vitamin B6 rich foods like bananas, nuts, and potatoes. 

4 – Saved by citrus!

Far and away the best cure for my in the moment nausea was citrus fruits or citrus flavor. The height of my 1st trimester was in the winter so clementine oranges were in season. I would eat 3-4 of these a day! They were ALWAYS in my bag. The smell alone helped to make me feel better. Grapefruit sparkling water was also a lifesaver, especially in the afternoon/evening when the nausea would be the worst. Lemon ginger tea was also helpful and enjoyable on cold nights.

5 – Strive for Daily Movement.

Prior to pregnancy I was working out 3-4 days a week at Orangetheory, but once the nausea got pretty bad I had to take a step back for about 6 weeks. However, just going for about a 15 minute walk most days helped my nausea and overall mental state. Now I am back at Orangetheory a couple of days a week and walking other days!

The biggest thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself during this time.

Your body is going through A LOT of change during pregnancy, and some days you might be able to handle an egg and spinach omelet with avocado toast, and other days it might be all you can do to keep a banana and crackers down. Give yourself some grace and know that (for most) this is temporary. I know from experience this is easier said than done, but you are not alone! 

Want to know more about prenatal nutrition? This is one of my specialties, and I would love to work with you! Contact me here.

Avoid Starvation Mode to Meet Your Goals!

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Diet culture tells us: “if you eat less food than your body burns, you will lose weight.” However, our bodies are not computers and do not work like calculators. What most people don’t understand is that the human metabolism is actually much more complicated than calories in vs. calories out.

Your body uses energy from food to perform all the activities you do in a day and all of the functions needed to keep you alive! Energy from food is used in three different ways:

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)– energy used at rest to maintain basic physiological functions (i.e. breathing and pumping blood to your body from the heart)
  2. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)– this is the energy required to breakdown and digest your food
  3. Physical Activity (PA) – Fuel used for exercise and body movements

*When you don’t eating enough to sustain all of these activities, your body goes into starvation mode*

What is starvation mode, and why is it harmful?

The term “starvation mode” is used to describe how the body adapts to a caloric deficit. When calories are restricted, the body becomes more efficient by reducing the number of calories burned. Your body’s goal is to maintain energy balance and prevent actual starvation. The technical term for starvation mode is “adaptive thermogenesis” where the body slows down the metabolic processes to conserve energy. This means that when you restrict your food intake, your body reduces how many calories you are able to burn throughout the day to prevent starvation. This is why under eating and over exercising does not work!

The negative effects of under-eating:

  • Increases risk of health problems like eating disorders and heart disease
  • Increase in cortisol levels (stress hormone)
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue

Being in an over stressed and underfed state will NOT help you lose weight. In an over stressed and  underfed state, your body will hold onto more fat stores because it doesn’t know when the next surge of energy is coming next.  Under-fueling slows down your metabolism, breaks down muscle, and as a result prevent individuals from meeting their weight/fat loss goals.

Set Point Theory  

Chronic Dieter: “But if I don’t control my food, I will spin out of control, and my weight will go up and up and up and all my hard work will be for nothing!”

Dietitian: “Not necessarily”

Let us introduce to you the Set Point Theory. The Set Point Theory explains that our bodies naturally maintain a constant weight range to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Our bodies are designed to maintain a healthy state and keep us alive!

Your body’s set point makes it much more difficult to maintain a body that is smaller than it needs to sustain these physiological functions. When we under eat, the body secretes more ghrelin (hunger hormone) to have you eat more to restore your body’s natural set point. This is actually really cool! Your body is working to protect itself and maintain a healthy environment for all the activities going on inside your body.

As the body starts to put on more weight, it doesn’t just keep going higher and higher up into space and out of control. Eventually, the body will stop around it’s natural set point. It may overshoot the set point at first, but give your body time and grace to recover. After all, it was starving for quite some time, so it will need extra energy for repairs. 

Watch this video to learn more about the Set Point Theory

4 Tips to avoid starvation mode & meet your goals!

You might be thinking “If I shouldn’t restrict my food intake, how can I reach my goals?” Start with these tips!

1. Eat Protein with carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy and are required for daily life functions, and adding protein will help you stay satisfied until your next meal and help you build lean muscle mass!

2. Eat incrementally throughout the day

We want to focus on *fueling* for our busy day! Having consistent meals helps balance blood sugar and will help stabilize energy levels throughout the day. Aim for a meal or snack something every 3-4 hours.

3. Leave room for fun foods

The great thing about our bodies is that it uses all kinds of foods for energy including our favorite fun foods such as chocolate, cookies, or chips.  We encourage to incorporating these foods into our clients weekly meal plan! Eliminating fun foods entirely could result in a binge later on. Additionally, it can isolate us from social activities! Establish a healthy relationship with these foods by incorporating them into your routine each week.

4. Work with the nutrition expert, a Registered Dietitian

Sometimes it’s best to ask for a little extra support during your journey to meet your goals. Working with a registered dietitian for one on one nutrition counseling, meal planning, and extra accountability can help. You can learn more about how Brittany Jones Nutrition Group can help you meet your goals in a sustainable way here!

Your body is incredible! It knows exactly what it needs to do with the fuel you give it. Don’t worry about controlling your food so tightly because your body will tell you what it needs at that time. You just have to learn to listen.

Here is a reminder that you deserve to eat today. You don’t need to “earn” your food, and you don’t need to punish your body for what you already ate. Choose to honor your body with love and respect today.

Written by Gabriella Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Intern & Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD

Measuring Your Progress Without The Scale

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“If I lose ‘X’ pounds, then I can wear my skinny jeans”
“I have to go to the gym today because I ate too many sweets last night”
“I’m doing all the right things, but I’m not losing weight!”

Do any of these statements above sound familiar? We get it, exchanging old habits for new health promoting habits is hard. It’s especially difficult when we feel we aren’t seeing progress!

Diet culture has taught us to tie our self-worth and validation with the number on the scale. If the number decreases, diet culture says that’s “good,”  and when the number goes up or remains the same, that’s considered “bad.” Many of us believe that when we reach a certain weight, we will be more loved/successful/a better person. Why is that? Have you ever considered the fact that maybe your weight has little or nothing to do with your success? Just because your weight isn’t changing does not mean you are progressing ton journey.

Your Worth is Not Dictated by

the Number on the Scale

We often tie our worth to factors that society deems to be “good.” Diet culture tells us that we need to eat healthfully and exercise often to achieve nearly impossible body sizes and shapes. Have you ever considered that there are more reasons to live a healthier lifestyle than to reach a certain number on the scale? In the big picture, numbers don’t tell you the great things that make you uniquely, you!

Say it with me: my self worth is not defined by a number on a scale! Focusing too much on a number on the scale can distract you from remembering the best parts about yourself. Consider your role. Are you a parent to a child? A best friend? A sister? A manager? No matter what, the number on the scale says – it has zero influence on how “good” or “bad” you are at fulfilling your role. We believe that if we weighed “X pounds less” then we will “be more loved,” “be a better person,” or “be what others want us to be” – but this is diet culture speaking here. Remember that these thoughts are not facts. They’re just thoughts.

It’s time to Starting looking at different measures of progress

To combat these toxic thoughts, start looking at different measures of progress. There are so many more ways to document progress during a health journey than tracking how much your body weighs. Body weight tells a how much our muscle/organs/skin/water/fat/etc weigh, but it tells you nothing about nutritional, social, and intellectual progress.

How to Track Progress Without the Scale

To keep track of progress (outside of the scale), start by focusing on sustainable habits. What is one habit that you can easily do every day (or every week) for a long period of time that will help you reach your goals? It should be something simple and realistic like making your own breakfast every day, getting in movement three times a week, or going to the grocery store at least once a week. Focus on habits that are sustainable, and more importantly, enjoyable! Incorporating new habits into your day can be really exciting especially when you are able to see improvements in your overall health.

Stepping away from the scale can be a hard habit to release. So many of us have attached ourselves so much to a number that we don’t know how to cope without it. The best way to detaching yourself from the scale is take it out of the house (or out of sight) and replace it with another form of measurement.

Check out these 10 ways you can measure your progress that have nothing to do with the scale below!

 

10 nonscale wins

Next time you find yourself discouraged by the number on the scale, try and think about other parts of your life that have made you a healthier version of yourself physically, mentally, and socially. The number on the scale is a number – that’s it. It’s your behaviors that define who you are – not the scale. Remember all the things that make you uniquely, you!

At the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group our RDs set non-scale goals with our clients, and do not weigh clients in our office. If you’re interested in learning more about focusing on health promoting habits rather than the on scale, click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call! 

 

-Written by Gabby Childers, and Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD

Rosemary Roasted Vegetables

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This time of year gives us many opportunities to enjoy our favorite foods. There are traditional events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there are those less traditional gatherings like Friendsgiving and Christmas cookie exchanges.

Often times we notice that the dishes at parties feature mostly proteins and starches, but very few contain vegetables. That’s why we always recommend bringing a vegetable dish to add some color to the spread! 

During this season, we encourage you to eat your favorite holiday dishes, but also not to forget about the water, fiber, and micro-nutrients you get from having vegetables too. Have a vegetable alongside your favorite sweet potato casserole or mac and cheese adds some more color and nutrition to your plate! Check out this easy to make vegetable dish perfect for your next holiday party.

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Rosemary Roasted Vegetables

Cook Time: 34-45 minutes

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ Cups Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • ¼ Teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon each of pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 ℉ 
  2. Mix together the Brussels sprouts, carrots, and parsnips in a large bowl
  3. Add the rosemary, garlic, avocado oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.
  4. Spread out the vegetable mixture onto a large sheet pan. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown (recommend stirring every 15 minutes)
  5. Remove from oven and enjoy!

If you make our Roasted Rosemary Vegeatbles, let us know! Share your creation on Instagram and tag @britanyjonesrd for a chance to be featured on our stories.

-Recipe and photography by Gabriella Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Intern

5 Tips to Lose Body Fat

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Have you ever come across a product that says it will help you “lose 10 pounds in a week?” Maybe you bought that product, tried it, lost the weight quick, and then gained it back the 10 pounds that you lost PLUS two more. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to burn body fat. Extreme fad diets may last in the short term, but they aren’t sustainable and can actually hurt your overall health.

Now that you know that fad diets and fat burning supplements aren’t the trick, what methods actually work? The Registered Dietitians of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group are here to answer your questions with science based knowledge! First, let’s talk about what fat is. Fat is stored in the body when the number of calories consumed is higher than the number of calories burned. It doesn’t matter if it’s protein calories or fat calories or carbohydrate calories, if more energy is entering the body than leaving, the body stores extra energy as fat. 

Losing body fat and being able to sustain that new body fat percentage takes time and hard work – but it’s doable! 

Incorporating healthy habits into your every day is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Start slow, reach out for support, and give yourself grace during the process. Here are some habits to incorporate into your healthy routine that will promote sustainable fat loss. 

Lift Weights

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to solely do cardio to burn body fat. Strength training increases muscle mass. Muscle mass needs more energy to maintain its size, and when you have more muscle mass, your body needs to burn more calories (muscle mass is metabolically active vs. fat which is not). Aim for 2-3 strength training sessions a week incorporating all the major muscle groups. Functional movements such as deadlifts, squats, bent over rows, and bench presses, are excellent exercises that work many muscle groups at the same time. 

Move More, Sit Less

According to a 2008 Vanderbilt University study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the average American spends 7.7 hours a day sitting. To put that into perspective, that’s 55% of waking hours spent sitting down. Weight lifting is great for building muscle, but to maximize your efforts, be sure to stay active outside the gym! This is your chance to gather a team to play volleyball, take a walk after dinner with the family, or ride your bike down the street. To increase activity in your everyday routine, try taking the stairs, parking further away, or taking a 5 minute walk and stretch break at work.

Eat A Nutrient Dense Diet

Fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and lean proteins are all foods found in a nutrient dense diet. Looks for foods as close to their original form as possible. For example, veggie chips seem to be nutrient dense. I mean, “veggie” is in the name, so it must be healthy, right? Not necessarily. Real vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and broccoli are going to be a more nutrient dense option. Veggie chips have been broken down, dehydrated, and have unnecessary added sugar and salt. Diets with high sugar and salt intake can be inflammatory causing the body to hold onto extra water weight and fat. A good tip to keep in mind is to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. That way you know you’re getting fiber and nutrients in every  meal. Focus on lean proteins like lean meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. 

Our Registered Dietitians take an all foods fit approach in our practice, and there’s no reason to completely cut out your favorite fun foods such as cake on your birthday or a drink with friends. The key is to focus on nutrient dense foods most of the time, and occasionally have those fun foods. A healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation and we want to help you to focus on fueling your body without restriction. Celebrations and social events are important for your well-being too!

Drink More Water 

The body uses water to regulate internal temperature, transport nutrients to cells, digest food, and flush out waste. It seems so simple, but drinking more water can actually help burn body fat. The more hydrated the body, the more calories it is able to burn at rest. A dehydrated body slows down the metabolism to compensate, and a water-starved body will not be able to burn fat effectively. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces (ex. a 150 pound person should aim for 75oz water per day). Find a water bottle that suits your style and take it with you wherever you go. Having water with you at all times will help you increase your water intake and decrease the risk of dehydration!

Make Sure You Are Eating Enough 

Cutting too many calories too fast can actually do more harm than good, and unfortunately this is something we see frequently. Extreme restriction puts your body in starvation mode. It recognizes that it isn’t getting enough fuel, so it slows down the metabolism in response to conserve energy. It holds onto body fat because it doesn’t know when the next serge of fuel will come. Work with a Registered Dietitian to learn more about your personalized energy needs, and learn to listen to your hunger and fullness cues. 

Cutting body fat takes work, but if you incorporate these healthy habits into your routine, your results will last a lifetime! To lose body fat, focus on eating a nutrient dense dense diet, moving your body, and drinking lots of water. Incorporating healthy habits into your routine may not give you results as quickly as a detox tea, but the outcome is healthier, more sustainable, and less risky!

Interested in cutting body fat? Our Registered Dietitians can help ! Click here to set up your free 15 minute discovery call.

Written by Brittany Jones, MS, RD, LD and Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern

 

Women: Be an Advocate for Your Health

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“You don’t need to get your cholesterol labs checked – your under 30.”

“It’s probably just IBS.”

“There’s no need to do a well check every year, just come back every 3 years, or if something is wrong.”

It’s no secret that women don’t always put themselves and their health first. Women selflessly put other priorities like their family and their careers before their needs. So why is it that when they finally make it a priority to see the doctor for a well check or because something is wrong, they hear the comments above, and their requests are brushed off?

I unfortunately have heard every one of the phrases above myself, or first hand from a client.

This week is National Women’s Health Week, and if you have heard any of  the comments above, or feel as though you are not being heard by your medical provider, I encourage you to be an advocate for your health and keep fighting until you have an answer! Do not accept a medical provider brushing off your symptoms as normal/IBS/hormones/etc. If you think something is wrong and you are not being heard, seek a second opinion and find yourself another provider.

Here are 3 ways women can take control of their health care now: 

  1. You need more than just an OBGYN. Research has shown that many women treat their OBGYN as their internal medicine provider/primary care physician – but they are not. Think of establishing a medical home with an internal medicine provider/primary care physician as your “home base.” This is the person who knows everything about your health, your family history, and the specialty providers you see. They will set goals with you, and check your regularly for heart disease, diabetes, mental health, cancer, nutrition, bone density, and keep your vaccinations up to date.
  2. Start a health journal today. Log your symptoms along with the day, time, and any other pertinent information (whether you were exercising, what you were eating, stress level, etc). I use the Healthie app with my clients, and I always encourage them to log symptoms as well as their meals/snacks to show to their provider. This will provide more information, and allow the provider to see patterns. If you have the ability to send this to your provider before your appointment, even better!
  3. Write down your questions and concerns. Start a list of questions that you have or topics you would like to discuss in your phone 1-2 weeks before your appointment with any medical professional (doctor, dietitian, physical therapist, psychiatrist). It’s easy to get nervous and forget what you wanted to ask the provider. This list ensures that your questions are answered, regardless of the time restraints that may be put on your appointment.

You know your body better than anyone else.TRUST YOUR GUT. If you feel that your symptoms are being brushed off, keep pushing. If you are not seeing results, it’s time to find another provider.

 

 

 

How to Manage Stress

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Hello again Blush Nutrition family! Jessica Sharp here, brain expert and the Founder of Sharp Brain Consulting. 

In my last blog post (which can be found here), I talked about the different kinds of stress and what it does to your brain and bodies. Now that I have explained the negative implications of stress, I am going to give you some coping mechanisms to help you manage stress.  

Before I do that, though, I think it is important to say a few things: y’all already know this, but stress is a completely normal part of life. Quite frankly, we need a little bit of stress in our lives. That acute stress that I mentioned before can often be classified as ‘normal’ stress. Chronic stress is the type of stress that you should be concerned about – things like a stressful job, prolonged financial issues, a sense of having to juggle multiple competing priorities. All these stressors are examples of not only long term problems but challenges that do not have easy solutions.

Coping Skills

Deep breathing and meditation. Meditation and deep breathing increases the oxygen in your brain and can literally calm you down. Meditation creates a reaction that is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response that stress induces. According to WebMD, “training our bodies on a daily basis to achieve this state of relaxation can lead to enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, and a reduction of everyday stress.” There are a variety of apps that you can use to introduce meditation into your life- Simple Habit is my favorite and lots of people like Calm. I would encourage meditation on a regular basis so that it can really help when you need it. Research has said that meditating consistently for 8 weeks can literally change your brain – it can decrease the size of your amygdala where that “fight or flight” response comes from. And protip, start off with a 5 minute guided meditation once a day for a few weeks. It is something that shouldn’t be too hard to infuse into your life and will allow you to get ‘better’ at meditating (because when you start, it may be hard to quiet your brain).

Stress awareness month quotes (4)

Progressive muscle relaxation. My therapist introduced me to progressive muscle relaxation. With this exercise, you tense up muscle groups then release them one at a time. WebMD says you can’t be anxious (or stressed) when your body is relaxed. They dedicate a whole page to progressive muscle relaxation and let you know how to do it. Again, regular practice makes it easier it implement when you need it.

Decrease stressor. I recognize that we can’t always eliminate the things that cause us stress in our lives, but when you can, you should.

Gratitude. I have always had a love/apathetic relationship with gratitude. I wanted to embrace the idea of practicing gratitude but didn’t necessarily know if it would be beneficial or helpful. Gratitude researcher Robert Emmons would say I am wrong. He says that practicing gratitude can have multiple positive impacts us in a variety of ways including:

  • Physical: Stronger immune systems, Lower blood pressure, Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
  • Psychological: Higher levels of positive emotions, More alert, alive, and awake, More joy and pleasure, More optimism and happiness

In that same article linked above, Emmons says that gratitude allows us to celebrate the present, blocks toxic/negative emotions, helps us to be more stress-resistant (gratitude allows us to recover more quickly), and helps us to have a higher sense of self-worth.

There are several ways to practice gratitude: you can keep a gratitude journal and write down things that you are grateful for (and there is something about handwriting things), thinking about things you are grateful for during the day (maybe it is in the morning, at night, or before a meal), or using an app (I use the uplifter app).

Self-care routine. It goes without saying that a self-care routine can help decrease stress in the moment and in the long term. I will say, self-care is talked about a lot, especially among millennials. I still believe in self-care, though. What I think is important about the practice of self-care is that it is unique to YOU, self-care should be something that works for you. My self-care routine includes regular massages, weekend naps, and going to local theatres. Make a list of a few things that energize you and give you joy. Try to incorporate them into your life as much as you can.

Stress awareness month quotes (3)

Therapy. If you are really struggling to handle the chronic stress in your life, I would recommend spending some time with a therapist, someone who is trained to help provide assistance to people. If you are interested in seeing a therapist, there are a few things I would recommend – first, if you have insurance, see how much your co-pay is. From there, I always tell people to go to Psychology Today’s website where they have a therapist hub; you can filter for therapists who take your insurance and find out more about them. And I always do a short call with a therapist before I make a decision (most of them offer this for free).

Sleep. I have always been a huge proponent of sleep, primarily because I am cranky and less productive when I have less of it. But after reading Thrive by Ariana Huffington, I really began to think more about the benefits of sleep and why it should be something I focus on.

According to Dr. Merril Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist, when you’re tired, you can’t function at your best.

“Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving and attention to details.” So, simply put, tired people are less productive at work. Sleep also affects other parts of your body. Your brain and body are working while you sleep. Your sleep affects “growth, stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.”

PS – a bit about women and stress… For lots of reasons, women generally handle stress in a different way than men. Women tend to be more relational in how they manage stress and are more prone to reach out to a friend or loved one to help cope with stress. The Huffington Post has a great article about women and stress. With that said, if you are a woman, it may be a great idea to include reaching out to someone as a part of your stress management technique.

PSS – I hosted a webinar about chronic stress and the brain with Bossed Up. If you have 45 minutes, you should check it out!

Thank you for reading my blog series on stress and your health – and feel free to engage with me on social media! Follow me on Instagram at @sharpbrainconsulting

 

5 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease in Women

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Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not a mans disease. In fact, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. claiming the lives of every 1 in 3 women. This is more than all forms of cancer combined.

Research from the American Heart Association shows that 80% of heart attacks and strokes are PREVENTABLE with early diagnosis/treatment, a healthy diet, and exercise.

This year, I am honored to serve as one of the leaders for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.  As a private practice Registered Dietitian, the prevention of heart disease is one of my core values, and something I talk about with EVERY client that walks through my door.

how it works

What is atherosclerosis and what causes it? Hardening of the arteries. Causes of plaque build up and atherosclerosis include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking. All of these damage the inside layer of the artery. ATHEROSCLEROSIS IS REVERSIBLE!

How does cholesterol build up? LDL or “bad” cholesterol crosses into the artery wall, white blood cells come in to digest the LDL and this forms plaque. A heart attack happens when that plaque is inflamed and it can rupture

#LABGOALS:

  • Decrease LDL cholesterol “lousy”
  • Increase HDL cholesterol “happy”
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Decrease blood pressure

Here are my top 5 ways that you can prevent heart disease starting NOW:

  1. Start heart disease screenings in your 20s. This should include talking with your physician about your family history, and having blood pressure/cholesterol/glucose checks. Back in the day these screenings didn’t start until our 40s, however knowing your numbers now, and establishing heart healthy habits in your 20s will help decrease the chances of any complications in the future.
  2. Focus on cardio + strength. When you think of the best exercise for your heart do you automatically think of cardio? While aerobic exercise (running/biking/swimming) is definitely important in lowering your LDL and Triglycerides (bad cholesterol levels) and elevating your HDL (good cholesterol levels) – research has shown that adding in 20 minutes of strength training to your regular routine 3-4x per week can help lower your blood pressure (and keep it there). Blood pressure is known as the silent killer, and keeping it within normal limits decreases your chances of having a heart attack.
  3. Eat red meat in moderation. Sorry paleo/keto followers – if you have high LDL and Triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol) those fad diets are NOT for you! While I do support a lifestyle where all foods can fit, it’s important to focus on lean proteins the majority of the time (80% of your intake) to improve your heart health. Research published by the American Heart Association reports that swapping red meat for nuts/fish/poultry can decrease your heart disease risk by 19-30%.
  4. Fill your plate with produce! Did you know that adding just 1 more cup of fruits or vegetables to your day could decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease by 13%? Focus on making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables at each meal, and get bonus points for choosing a fruit or starchy vegetable as your carb!
  5. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. While a healthy diet and exercise are very important for preventing heart disease in women, research shows that if we don’t have an adequate amount of sleep per night those benefits can be diminished. Not sure how to get to that magic 7 hours? Try setting a bed time (and using your phone’s bedtime alarm to help you remember), establishing a caffeine cut off time, and put your phone on the opposite side of the room to eliminate distractions and blue light (which can make it harder to get to sleep).

February is Heart Month, and please join me in the fight against the No. 1 killer of women by clicking here to donate to the Upstate South Carolina – American Heart Association to continue to spread the word of prevention. Together we can beat this disease!

Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Cauliflower & Potatoes

potatoes

You asked for a healthy potato dish for the holdiays, and I delivered!

Recently on Instagram, I asked what was the dish that you looked forward to the most during the holidays, and mashed potatoes got one of the top votes. However, this dish that is traditionally made with lots of butter and heavy cream doesn’t have to be completly tasteless when you make it healthier. Here I came up with a time efficient to roast a whole clove of garlic to add in with all of the other ingredients which not only has a great flavor, it also makes your house smell incredible.

I also cut the carb count on this recipe by using half gold potatoes, and half caulfilower. The texture and falvor is amazing, and your guests/kids won’t be able to tell that they are also getting in some non-starchy vegetables! I left the skins on the potatoes for added fiber and texture, but if you want to peel them instead that definitely is an option too.

Check it out below:

Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Cauliflower & Potatoes

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, left in skin
  • 1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds golden potatoes, skins on, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 pounds cauliflower florets (about 2 heads)
  • 2/3 Cup 1% milk
  • 3 Tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup chives, sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place the separated garlic cloves in the middle of a sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil.
  3. Wrap the foil around the cloves creating a little pouch.
  4. Place the pouch in the oven until cloves soften and you smell the aroma of garlic, about 30-40 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  5. While garlic roasts, in 7- to 8-quart saucepot, place the potatoes with enough water to cover it by 2 inches. Partially cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and for simmer 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cauliflower florets, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender and can be cut with a wooden spoon.
  7. Drain the potatoes and cauliflower and return to the pot.
  8. Meanwhile, in small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the 1% milk and butter on medium high for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes or until the butter has melted. Add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil.
  9. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from skins into the potatoes and cauliflower mixture. Add the butter mixture to the potatoes and cauliflower along with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
  10. Mash the potatoes and cauliflower with a potato masher or hand mixer until very smooth. Mix in chives with a wooden spoon.
  11. Serve immediately, or hold until service at 135 degrees.

Nutrition Facts (1 serving): 232 Calories, 15.9g Total Fat, 5.8g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 19mg Cholesterol, 268mg Sodium, 21.7g Total Carbohyrate, 5g Fiber, 4.4g Sugar, 4g Protein

Want to know more about a having a healthy holiday season? Contact me to set up your FREE 15 minute phone appointment today!

 

Easy Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Want to know my #1 tip for your upcoming Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or office Holiday potluck?

BYOV: Bring your own veggies!

Making 50% of your plate non-starchy vegetables helps keep the nutrition and fullness up, while controlling the portion size of the fun foods that we only see during this time of year.

If you are still looking for an easy and healthy dish, check out my Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrot recipe. With only 5 ingredients, you can easily throw it together to get some color on the table!
I used the pre-peeled Les Petites Carrots of Many Colors from Trader Joe’s for this recipe, but any rainbow carrots will do. This recipe is written for 4 servings, but can easily be doubled to serve 8 for a larger party.

carrots

Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh rainbow carrots, washed and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a rectangular or oval baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Place the carrots in the baking dish, followed by the olive oil and honey. Toss the carrots to coat with the honey mixture, and spread in a single layer. Sprinkle with thyme and black pepper to taste.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the carrots are cooked and browned around the edges.
  4. Serve the carrots whole, and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (1 serving): 74 Calories, 2.4g Total Fat, 0.3g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 88mg Sodium, 12.5g Total Carb, 2.8g Fiber, 8.2g Sugar, 1.4g Protein

Want to know more about a having a healthy holiday season? Contact me to set up your FREE 15 minute phone appointment today!