Frequently Asked Questions - Nutrition.

These were the most frequently asked questions during the registration process for the Navigating Nutrition workshop on January 25, 2019.

What should I eat?

Eat real food

  • Don’t eat foods your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • Avoid foods pretending to be something they are not (eg - margarine).
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
  • Eat foods that will eventually rot.
  • Eat foods that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.
  • Get out of the supermarket whenever you can (ie, visit farmer’s markets).
  • If it came from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant don’t.

 Eat mostly plants

  • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
  • Eat your colors.
  • Eat animals that have eaten well themselves.
  • Eat like an omnivore.
  • Eat well grown food from healthy soil.
  • Eat wild foods when you can.
  • Avoid sugary and starchy foods if concerned about weight.

 Don't eat too much

  • Pay more, eat less. (In other words, eat better quality food and less of it.)
  • Stop eating before you’re full.
  • Don’t eat when you are bored.
  • Consult your gut.
  • “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper”
  • Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods.
  • Treat treats as treats.

For more on these rules, read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. 

How do I deal with cravings?

  • Eat complete, balanced meals - Ensure sufficient protein, fiber and good fats at meal times to keep satiated (full) between meals
  • Avoid foods that will spike your blood sugar (high glycemic load, high sugar) as these can increase cravings later
  • A more nutrient dense meal helps set you up for success later.
  • Don’t over-restrict calories as that can increase hunger sooner 
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and work to stick to a schedule if you can.
  • Avoid getting overly hungry - don't go too long between meals, 
  • Reduce your stress – stress can induce cravings
  • Consider the reason for the craving – why do you want the particular food?
  • Boredom, emotional issues, relationship issues, etc.
  • Get enough sleep - insufficient sleep effects cortisol levels and cortisol can increase appetite.
  • Don’t grocery shop hungry.

When a craving hits, here are some ways to handle it:

  • Drink a glass of water 
  • Do something to distract yourself from what you are craving – only need about 15 min for craving to subside
  •  Take a walk or a shower, go exercise, brush your teeth, etc.
  • Don’t keep your “kryptonite” in the house! Whatever that thing is that you tend to overeat, don't keep it in the house. When it’s not there you can’t overindulge.
  • Indulge, but only once in a while and a small amount. Remember - keep treats as treats. When they are consumed regularly they are no longer treats.  


What are proper portion sizes and how do I control them?

General portion size guidelines:

  • Your closed fist is about a cup – for most vegetables a serving is a half cup. For leafy greens it’s one to two cups
  • Palm of hand = one serving of meat, fish, poultry
  • Thumb - about a tablespoon or so - use for nut butters, healthy fats like olive oil
  • Remember these are calorie dense so limit your portion, but are really important to include so that you are able to absorb all the fat-soluble vitamins in your meal.
  • If you have larger or smaller than average hands, adjust accordingly.

Tips for controlling portions:

  • Read labels - get a sense of what the correct portion size is
  • Measure out your food for a while - will help you start to learn to visualize proper serving sizes
  • Buy a kitchen scale and weigh your foods - they are not expensive $25-$35 will get you a decent one
  • Keep a set of measuring cups handy in the kitchen
  • Don’t have to measure forever! Eventually you will begin to be able to visualize a proper portion
  • Portion out a serving onto a dish. Don't eat from the bag or container!
  • When eating out, eat half, take other half home or share an entrée.
  • Recognize the amount you need to feel satisfied and stick to that! in other words, do you really need to eat 3 brownies or is one enough to satisfy?
  • Begin mindful eating - slow down, savor your food and really enjoy it. This results in eating less because you feel satisfied sooner. Chew every bite at least 20 times before swallowing as this helps aid digestion and allows for your brain to catch up to let you know when you are full. 
  • If overindulgence is a recurrent problem and you find yourself eating more than you know you should or at times when you are not truly hungry then it’s time to explore your deeper relationship with food and what emotional triggers may be going on.     


What about macros? What’s the best breakdown?

Watch for a workshop on this topic coming soon!

  •  There are recommended ranges as starting points = 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat
  •  However, it is very individualized! No one formula works perfect for everyone. 
  • Several factors impact this – current activity levels, weight, age, goals to name a few
  • Sufficient Protein range =  0.5-0.8 grams/lb of body weight; if you’re physically active, you should go with the high end of the range
  • Example – 125 lb female who works out daily but has a generally sedentary job
  • Equals a range of 62.5 to 100 grams of protein per day 
  • For this woman, 85-90 g would be a good place to start and then adjust from there based on results and goals
  • Generally, carbs below 80g/day keeps you in the fat burning range as opposed to the sugar burning range
  • It helps to get to know the macros of the foods you commonly eat - do some research - info is easy to find
  • Makes it easier to monitor on the fly
  • Start with the middle of the recommended range and then adjust to find what works for you
  • Use an app to track makes this a lot easier
  • MyFitnessPal, LoseIt apps have good info
  • Must be committed to entering all the food you eat


How do you know if you are getting all your nutrients?

  • Eat the rainbow - all the colors
  • Vary and expand your food choices - get beyond the same 20 foods that most people eat regularly
  • More variety = more nutrients
  • Every week try a new vegetable or fruit – let your family pick
  • Make your food choices count! Choosing the most nutrient dense food you can helps to ensure you are getting all you need then avoid sugar, refined carbs, flours (baked goods/sweets, breads, pasta) so you don’t undo all your good choices. 
  • Keep a food journal or use an app to track your meals then look at your trends over time to see where you can make adjustments to include more variety and add what nutrients you might be missing
  • A good recommendation is to fill half of your plate with a low(er) carb vegetable(s), no more than ¼ with a high-quality protein and then the other ¼ with a somewhat starchier vegetable and be sure to include a serving of good-for-you fats
  • Include a variety of colors and foods using this formula at every meal
  • No more than 1-2 servings of fruit per day helps to keep balanced blood sugar


What is a good substitution for tree nuts for snacks and what are some of the best products that do not contain tree nuts?

  • Sunflower seeds or sunbutter is a great replacement for peanut butter in snacks
  • Couple some sunbutter with apples or celery for a great, healthy snack
  • Watch if you bake with it because it can turn things green because of reaction with baking powder. No harmful though. Just looks funny. 
  • Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Make up chia puddings on the weekend for quick grab and go snacks during the week – find recipes online
  • Coconut - maybe - check with your doctor, some people are allergic to both but coconut is really a fruit not a tree nut 
  • Can buy coconut chips that are a good snack. Coconut butter in place of nut butters is good too.
  • Roasted chickpeas are a great simple snack to make or buy, but watch ingredients if you buy
  • Can find lots of recipes online with different seasonings
  • Tahini (ground sesame seeds) - slather on apples, celery, carrots
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Look for bars made with oats or seeds as the base or meat bars
  • "Made Good" and “Kind" bars have nut free options – check labels and read the ingredients for other pitfalls - ie, too much sugar or additives
  • “Dang” brand - have bars with a coconut base, haven’t tried, but their coconut chips are pretty good 
  • Epic bars or other meat/jerky bars - again watch ingredients for chemical additives you don’t need
  • Check House of Nutrition (Luzerne) and Vitamin Shoppe (W-B) - lots of options that you don’t find in other places
  • Also Thrive Market and Barefoot Provisions for other healthy nut-free options - both online markets that source high quality food and other products with great pricing and a sustainable mindset.


How bad is sugar?

For more on this, check out this nice article about some of the negative effects of sugar on the body.

Meal planning tips

We are planning a workshop on this topic because so many people want ideas so stay tuned! Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  • Create a Meal Blueprint for the month using topics for each day with a nice article to explain this idea 
    • Layout a monthly calendar with theme categories assigned to each day then stick to those themes for meal planning. 
    • Create categories of Pinterest boards that match these and then save meal ideas accordingly so you have fewer places to look for ideas.
    • Here are some theme ideas to get you started:
      • Meatless Monday
      • Taco Tuesday
      • Wild Wednesday - pick something new that you have never had before - a new veg or ethic food and find a recipe to use it in or the reverse - find the recipe first with the new ingredient
      • Fish Friday
      • Skillet or One-pot meal
      • Slow Cooker
      • Poultry night
      • Beef night
      • Stir-fry
      • Planned Leftovers
      • Soup and Salad night
      • Breakfast for Dinner
      • Prep one or two meals on Sunday for nights during the week when you know you are extra busy - all you have to do is reheat and eat
      • Roast a chicken, beef roast of pork shoulder on Sunday to use in meals during the week
      • Do your chopping for the week on Sunday to save time during the week