Tag Archives: fiber


Constantly Hungry?

There are three different types of hunger:   hangry, hungry and what I will call “mouthgry” or mouth hunger.  Hangry happens when the body’s natural hunger mechanisms have long gone unfulfilled, the body’s glycogen stores have been depleted, and you feel irritable and foggy.  Hungry occurs due to fluctuations in satiety hormones, leptin and grehlin.  Leptin tells us we’re full.   Grehlin tells us we’re hungry.  Leptin levels decline and grehlin levels rise 4-5 hours after eating – motivating us to eat.  And “mouthgry” happens when the mouth is just crying for a little something-something, not due to any real hunger, but as a reward, a titillating mouth pause from life’s burdens.  If you feel you are constantly hungry, it’s important to know what kind of hunger you’re experiencing and to observe personal eating patterns if you really want to change it.

Hangry, Hungry, Mouthgry

Personally there is no excuse to ever experience hangry.  It is so easy to keep a protein bar or peanut butter and crackers at your work, in your car or on your person.  No excuse, it’s a no-brainer, period.  And mouthgry is much more complicated.  It could be from eating too many refined carbs that cause fluctuations in blood sugar, or it could be related to your personal level of life satisfaction and personal contentment.  This is a much bigger focus than what will be covered here and requires personal reflection, re-prioritizing and some serious de-cluttering, both physically and mentally.  So that pretty much leaves addressing feeling hunger.

How To Manage Hunger

The key to managing hunger is to make sure each of your meals contains a good amount of fiber from real foods, a good amount of protein from low-fat sources and just the right amount of fat from the heart healthy fats and to eat 3 spaced meals a day.  Personally, I’m not big on  snacking if meal planning is given its due diligence, but a snack prior to exercise certainly makes sense.  Here’s how you can keep hunger at bay.

  1. Don’t skip breakfast.  It’s the most important meal of the day and sets the pace for the day.  Focus on fiber and protein.  It is recommended that we get 25 grams of dietary fiber based on a 2000 calorie diet.  The best sources are from whole grains, beans, nuts and produce.  You’ll know something is whole grain if the first word under the list of ingredients starts with “whole” or “100% whole”, not “enriched wheat flour”.  Some good breakfast examples are a veggie omelette with whole grain toast, a smoothie, or plain fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit and topped with 2 tbsp of nuts.  Oatmeal, teff or even quinoa topped with nuts and some Greek yogurt is another great breakfast that will keep you full until lunch.  If you don’t have the time to make an omelet, one of my favorite breakfast solutions is to take a slice of a frittata and put it in a whole grain wrap with some spinach and salsa.
  2. Reduce your high glycemic carbs.  These are the carbs that shoot your blood sugar up quickly.  This is a correlation between a high glycemic diet and low leptin levels.  Examples of high glycemic foods include donuts, fruit juice, corn, potatoes, white rice, pasta and bread and sodas.
  3. Include heart healthy fat in every meal.  Research indicates that getting adequate amounts mono- and poly-unsaturated fats raises leptin levels.  Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, soy, avocado, flax seed, olive oil, canola oil and nut butters.   These fats also will lower your bad cholesterol, LDL, and raise your good cholesterol, HDL.  Be mindful of portions by looking at the calories per serving size because fat is high in calories (9 calories/gram vs 4 calories/gram for carbs and protein).
  4. Boost your protein.  In this Psychology Today article eating sufficient protein caused rats to eat less:                                                                                                                                                             “They found that the regimen sparked production of glucose in the small intestine, and              that this increase, sensed in the liver and relayed to the parts of the brain involved in the          control of appetite, caused the rats to eat less.”
  5. Increase your volume each meal with nonstarchy veggies and soup.  Not only will this please your eyes, but it will fill your belly.  Adding nonstarchy veggies to eggs, casseroles, and soups will give you volume, without all the calories.  Make sure the soups are broth based without added cream or lots of cheese.  Here’s one of my favorite chicken soup recipes and using frozen veggies and canned beans makes this a quick preparation.
  6. Distract yourself.  Hunger does come in waves.  If you’ve eaten a balanced meal a few hours earlier, go for a walk, get a drink and know that it will pass in a few minutes.

Feeling hungry is normal.  I notice with my own hunger it can be uncomfortable at times.  It effects my thinking and makes me want to make quick food choices.  Even now, it’s been four and a half hours since I had my smoothie and I notice my hunger is a little uncomfortable.  I’m thinking about the half sandwich and extra salad I made for dinner last night.  I always keep quick meal ingredients stocked like my peanut butter or low-fat cottage cheese I put on Wasa crackers, a portion of last night’s meal or even the salad we make extra at dinner to have for lunch today.  I never let my hunger get to the point where I could eat a horse.  And I certainly don’t let myself get hangry.  It takes a little planning, but my body rewards me for my effort.  And that’s something to “nay” about!


Eat This Instead

Trying to eat healthy can be a very confusing endeavor.  The packaging of many food products try to make the food item sound and look healthy, but when you get to the nutrition label and ingredients you can see how it’s easy to be fooled.  A cracker label might say it has whole grains in it but when you get to the back you see that the first ingredient is enriched wheat flour which means the wheat berry grain has been decimated and most of the good fiber and protein has been taken out.  Or you might think you are doing yourself a favor drinking 100% Florida orange juice as part of your breakfast but you are really getting quite a bit of sugar to start off your day.  And for many people this is at a time of day when they are the most insulin resistant- meaning their body can not handle that sugar as well.

Lets look at five common breakfast items and compare labels to demonstrate why you might choose one over the other.

Eat This Instead

Low Sodium V8 instead over fruit juice.

 V8 vs orange juiceWhen you compare Tropicana juice to V8 you’ll see that Tropicana has 26 grams of carbohydrates with most coming from sugar.  The same 8 oz serving of V8 has only 10 grams of carbohydrates and even has a little fiber.  Choose the low sodium version because it has far less sodium.  The USDA recommends those with hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease or even over age 51 to limit sodium intake to 1500 mg daily.  If you love juice to start your day then switching to V8 is the better choice.


Try Oatmeal Bread over White Bread

white bread vs oatmeal labelNot everyone is ready to part with “white bread”.  A tanned version of white, Oatmeal bread is made with whole grains (check the list of ingredients to make sure the first word listed is “whole” or “100% whole”).  You will get more fiber and even a bit more protein by eating the oatmeal bread instead of white bread.  One slice of oatmeal bread has 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein compared to less than 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein in the white bread.


Try whipped butter instead of stick butter. 

less saturated fat in whipped butter

So you are a butter lover.  You like to top that crunchy, crispy lightly browned toast with butter!   Yummm.  You can still enjoy the flavor of butter with much less of the artery clogging saturated fat by switching to whipped butter.  Whipped butter is stick butter whipped with air making it lighter without compromising on taste.  One tablespoon of whipped butter has 3.5 grams of saturated fat while the same amount of stick butter has 7 grams of saturated fat.  The USDA recommends no more than 20 grams of saturated fat based on a 2000 calorie diet.  One tablespoon of butter and an ounce of cream cheese on toast of a bagel will deliver nearly 2/3 of your daily limit of saturated fat, and that’s not including the cream you might be adding to your coffee.

Top your bagel or toast with peanut butter instead of cream cheese.


Peanut butter has much healthier fats than cream cheeseOne ounce of cream cheese has 6 grams of saturated fat and only 2 grams of protein while two tbsp of peanut butter has only 2 grams of saturated fat and 8 gms of peanut butter.  Although it has more total fat than cream cheese, most of it is the heart-healthy unsaturated fat.  Peanut butter also has 3 grams of fiber.  Have that along with your oatmeal toast and you will be getting a much greater amount of protein and fiber with less bad fat than you would with white toast, topped with cream cheese.  This is a much healthier and more filling way to start your day.  Avoid peanut butters that contain palm oil or hydrogenated oils since they are bad for your heart.  Teddy makes a great peanut butter and contains just dry roasted peanuts and salt.

Eat fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sweetened yogurt.

Greek yogurt vs yoplaitGreek yogurt delivers much more protein than other yogurts – about 15-17 grams in 5 oz versus 6 grams in regular yogurt.  Buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit instead of buying the ones with fruit because sugar is being added as well.  Choose non-fat or low fat over full fat to reduce the saturated fat.

If you want a little crunch you could mix a half cup of whole grain cereal like Uncle Sam’s in with the yogurt, along with some fresh or frozen berries.  Berries are high in cancer-fighting antioxidants and will give the sweetness your mouth is looking for.  This kind of breakfast would give you about 20 grams of protein and some great fiber.  And it’s quick to assemble if you are in a hurry.


Find Your Pace To Healthy Eating

Eating healthy is about making gradual substitutions that don’t compromise your taste.  Often times the hardest part of making food changes is just knowing what choices are out there and why they are better for you.  Making sure you are getting a good amount of protein, some fiber from whole grains and minimizing the unhealthy fats will make you feel fuller and improve your health.  And you might find that the choices you make are not a compromise, but actually tastier!!




Budget chicken dinners

Life Is Good With These Budget Chicken Dinner Recipes!

We should really be more like chickens, at least make some of their sounds.  Did you know there are over 24 different sounds that a chicken makes?  The Flip Flop Ranch describes all of them but there are some that are heard more often – at least from what I notice living next door to a brood of them.  The more common sounds are the soft irregular chirp when all is physically well, the gentle warbling sound when “life is good”, the hard to miss panic peep when in danger and the obnoxious cackle when the hen proudly tells the world she has laid an egg.  The website describes other sounds but it’s the gentle warbling sound, the “life is good” sound, that I know you will feel when you make my budget chicken dinner recipes from my last post.  You will warble when you realize how delicious these meals are and how healthy, easy and cheap they are to make.

1.  Expand The Cooking Window 

Using a crock-pot to prepare parts of meals while you are at work or being productive outside the kitchen is what cooking with an easy stride is all about.  The last three meals in the previous post call for cooking the 12 chicken breasts in the crock-pot.  Not only does this free up your time to do other things, but it also makes a really moist chicken.  You could even make your chicken stock from the roasting chicken in the crock-pot overnight.  Can you imagine waking up with that soothing aroma?  If that doesn’t make you chirp, then you better go back to bed.

2.  Make The Soft Warbling Sound Rather Than the Panic Peep

Clustering your recipes so that you can make double and even triple amounts of different components for multiple recipes will help you to avoid the panic peep.  No one likes the panic peep.  It not only makes you anxious and cranky but it makes the rest of your brood very uneasy.  You can also freeze the extra grain, chicken and even beans as another time-saving tip to keep you making soft warbling sounds.

The Real Cost Of The Budget Chicken Dinners

Here’s my shopping list for the following meals that feed a family of four for at least five days:

  1. Roasted Lime Chicken With Barley and Roasted Vegetables
  2. Sublime Chicken Barley Soup
  3. Barbecue Chicken With Orange Zest Cole Slaw
  4. Chicken Burrito Wrap
  5. Tikki Masala

Shopping List with prices:

  • 1 large capon – $14.13 for a 7#
  • 12 boneless chicken breasts – these were on sale, buy 4 breasts (1.6# each) and get one free – 8.73 for 2 packages, but you will need 3 so buy 4 and you will have leftovers!  Total – $17.46
  • 30 oz bag of barley – $2.99
  • 2 heads of cauliflower – $2.98
  • 4 heads of broccoli – $2.48
  • 1 head of green cabbage $2.40
  • 1 bag of carrots – $.99
  • 1 bag of onions – $2.85
  • 1 avocado – $1.50
  • 1 lime – $.33
  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach- $1.50
  • 1 bag frozen fiesta veggie mix – $1.50
  • 1 apple – $.65
  • BBQ sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s was $1.88
  • 1 can frozen orange concentrate – 12 oz can – freeze the extra for the future – $1.99
  • 1 bottle of vinegar $1.69 (you should have some from the pork/bean week)
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes – $1.00 – use half for each recipe
  • 1 14 oz can of black beans – $1.50
  • 4 large whole grain wraps – Lavash whole wheat was $2.28 for 4 wraps
  • 1 loaf whole grain bread (to have with soup) – $2.98
  • 1 jar salsa – $2.99, but you should have some left from the pork/beans week of recipe week
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt – 4.99 for the 4 cup container or use leftover from the pork/bean recipe week
  • 1 small bottle of olive oil – $4.99, but you would have plenty leftover from the pork/bean week
  • Tumeric – $3.69
  • Garam Masala spice – $6.99.  This is a blend of 7 warm spices, you can also make your own with this recipe

Total:  $83.35

These five meals for a family of four amount to $4.16 per person.  That is including the extra chicken purchased on sale as well as the yogurt, salsa, olive oil and vinegar you would have leftover for the pork/beans meal plan.  Subtract these last four ingredients and that would reduce the total by $14.66 for a grand total of $68.72.  That’s $3.43 for each delicious, healthy meal that will keep you full, avoid the hungry causing insulin spike, nourish your body and give you energy.  You’re not going to get that kind of payback at any restaurant or take-out.  Furthermore, meal preparation is a stress-reducing experience; it allows all your senses to engage while your thoughts focus on the tasks in the present.  Cooking is a wonderful way to get your mind off work and worries.

Budget Chicken Dinner Recipes That Will Make You Warble!

Who says that eating healthy is expensive and takes a lot of time?  Initially it may take some planning but using these steps will teach you the process and tips to save time.  It will get you thinking outside the box, keep you from feeling “cooped up” and penned down to the same old, boring meals or heart-clogging fast food choices.  Now that is really something to warble about!  Life is good.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Makeover

You can have your cake and enjoy eating it without guilt too!  As mentioned in my last post, the key to enjoying your dessert is to include ingredients in a way to boost fiber, protein and healthy fats while reducing the sugar-spiking carbohydrates.  I did each of these things in my version of Lemon Poppy Seed cake.  I boosted fiber by using whole grain sprouted wheat flour, ground flax seed and substituted a larger amount of chia seed for the poppy seed.  I boosted protein by adding plain fat-free yogurt and using the whole grains – wheat flour, flax and chia seed.  I reduced the total fat by using less olive oil.  Carbohydrates were also reduced by using less sugar.   I made up the difference in taste for less sugar by painting a lemon and confectioners sugar glaze over the entire cake.

Not All Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes Are Healthy

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Look at the ingredients! And it’s got trans-fats too!

I compared the nutritional value of my Lemon Chia Seed cake to the Betty Crocker Lemon Poppy Seed Cake and a highly rated New York Times Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

Before I go any further I need to discuss the ingredients in a Betty Crocker cake.  Take a look at the ingredients in this picture.  Be aware that this mix has emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and propylene glycol mono and diesters of fatty acids.  What the heck are those?  All I know is that the Fed has some regulation on them.  Emulsifiers are used to help stabilize ingredients that normally won’t stay mixed, like vinegar and oil.  Examples of emulsifers are eggs, mustard, gelatin and skim milk.  Why doesn’t General Mills just use natural ingredients for the emulsification?

Furthermore they’ve added food additives like stearoyl lactylate and partially hydrogenated oils to enhance taste, preserve flavor and freshness.  Hydrogenated oils are transfats, the worst fats, because they not only raise the bad LDL cholesterol, but they lower the good heart protective HDL cholesterol.  Betty Crocker is not making my mouth drool.  You don’t hear the FDA regulating the ingredients in my cake recipe.  My cake flavor is enhanced with real lemon juice, moistened with Greek yogurt, olive oil and flax seed and contains nothing artificial.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Comparison

New York Times Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

New York Times recipe

I used the New York Times recipe for my makeover which called for baking in a loaf pan.  I did the same with the Betty Crocker recipe so I could compare portion sizes equally.  To make sure I compared lemons to lemons I used the same pan for both recipes and took the same portion size for each recipe.

The nutritional information I took from the Betty Crocker box also included the ingredients added to make the cake: the oil and eggs. Lemon Poppy Seed Cake When you compare the calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein of my recipe to the others you’ll see that mine has fewer calories and carbs and more protein and filling fiber.  Eating a piece of my cake will get me to that recommended daily fiber goal of 25-40 grams and keep my blood sugar from spiking, unlike the other recipes that are made with white flour and have more sugar.  Next time I will try reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup.  If you use a larger pan like I did I would make sure you reduce the cooking time.  My recipe also calls for chia seeds instead of poppy seeds because they are higher in fiber, protein and omega 3’s.  And, did I tell you that my cake is delicious!!!


My Lemon “Poppy Seed” Cake Recipe


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 1/2 baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Zest from 1 washed lemon
  • Juice from one lemon (should be about 4 tbsp)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds

Glaze (mix these ingredients until the sugar is dissolved):

  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon (the other half of the lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease and then flour a loaf pan.  In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except for the sugar and chia seeds.  In another bowl mix the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, yogurt, eggs and sugar.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Add the olive oil and the chia seeds.  Bake for 40-45 minutes if you are using a 10″ loaf pan, for 50-55 minutes if you are using a 8″ loaf pan.  Release the cake out of the pan and let it cool on a rack.  When it is room temperature brush the glaze all over the cake.

Great sources of fiber!

Ten Steps To A Carb Overhaul

Ten years ago, I could never have written this article.  My diet has changed significantly since then as a result of working with patients with chronic disease, especially diabetes and coming to terms with my own family history of type 2 diabetes.  I still had a child at home who along with my husband was the recipient of my increased awareness and experimentation with different recipe recreations.  Like the gradual shifting of the coast line of Maine, I gradually shifted my taste buds, food expectations, and purpose of food.  It started with the tangibles of eating, but soon became the intangibles of eating like eating patterns, boredom, and meal planning strategies.  These are the steps that helped me to overhaul my carbs.

Ten Steps to Your Carb Overhaul

Carb overhaul

This is a carb overhaul!

1.  Eat more non-starchy vegetables.  These aren’t carbs but they replace some of those not-so healthy carbs you might otherwise choose to go with your meat.  I know many people say they hate them or just skip them all together.  But the reality is those people haven’t really given them their best shot at trying a variety of them or finding a way to prepare them so they can at least tolerate them.  You don’t have to love them.  You just need to consume them.

Aside from all the vitamins, minerals and fiber, they will more importantly give you volume, color and jazz on your plate that the extra carbs used to take.  Can you imagine the plate above. without all the tomatoes, onions, peppers and olives?   I think I would be searching the cabinets before dinner was even cleaned up!  I recommend keeping cut up fresh veggies to have with hummus or yogurt dip.  Add a veggie to breakfast by having a smoothie or making an omelette.   Sneak them in soups or puree them into tomato sauces.   Mix them in your mashed potatoes.   Add them to sautees.  Play with it, find what works, and double up on what you like so you can get at least 2-3 cups in the course of the day.

2.  Experiment with other grains.  Nothing is more indicative of a carb overhaul than a flirtation and eventually an adoring relationship with grains.  Grains like quinoa and farro have a nutty flavor and can be eaten for breakfast or are great added to soups and sautes.  A quarter cup of dry quinoa has 5 grams of fiber and protein.  I made a custard with quinoa instead of rice that was delicious.  Not only was it wonderful for dessert but it made a great breakfast with lots of fiber and protein from the grain and eggs.

A quarter cup of dry farro has 7 grams of protein and fiber.  I use farro and other grains instead of rice.   I added farro to my chicken soup instead of rice or noodles.  It gave it more texture and it handled reheating much better than noodles.

3.  Explore different beans.   Dried beans are loaded with vitamins, fiber and protein.  And they are cheap.  Before you go to bed just dump the beans in a pot and soak them over night and slow cook them in a crock pot or a pan for a few hours.  I freeze the extra I can’t use that day.  Try my Three Bean Salad which lasts a week in the frig and is a wonderful side dish in the summer, full of fresh veggies, cilantro and lime juice.

If you can’t be bothered with that process then buy canned beans or try lentil beans which take only an hour to cook.  A quarter cup of dried lentils has 5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.  They make a great soup, can be mixed with other grains or can be a salad topper.

4.  Determine your trigger carbs and get them out of the house.  For me it was potato chips.  I tried getting smaller bags, getting individual bags, and even substituting them for black bean chips, but I finally figured out that I just couldn’t have them in the house in any amount or related form.  The black bean chips were tasty and a little less of a draw but I still ate too many of them.

I finally figured out that I was occasionally ok with getting the one or three ounce bag of them on rare occasions.  For some people keeping them out of sight, like in the cabinet or closet can eliminate the temptation but from my experience very few people are able to do that.  It takes just one bad day, bad conversation, or some other moment of weakness and they are quickly devoured.

5.  Stop the juices, sodas, flavored coffees, vitamin waters, chocolate milk.  Throw out the containers of orange juice or other fruit drinks or juices and instead, just eat your fruit.  You will get more fiber, less processing and lots of vitamins.  Juice glasses are bigger than in the past and 8 oz of juice will give you 30 grams of blood sugar spiking carbs with little natural fiber.  Stop the sodas, even the diet sodas, they only elevate the bar for our taste buds.  Try seltzer water or water with lemon.  Your tongue will adjust.

frotherNo more mocha, choca, lots-of-carbs hot drinks.  Invest in a coffee grinder, grind your own fresh coffee beans and get a frother.  I LOVE my freshly ground coffee and can enjoy it with just a 1/2 tsp of sugar or a bit of Stevia and lots of fresh 1% frothed milk!

6.  Change your expectations of food textures and density.  Whole grain cereal, crackers and bread will be denser, nuttier and chewier.  If you are one of those people who doesn’t eat the crust, this will take some time.  Start with oatmeal bread.  Try Triscuits instead of Ritz crackers.  Add quinoa to your white rice.  Try Uncle Sam’s cereal instead of Honey Bunches of Oats.  Or maybe you just need a complete overhaul a few days a week and try something totally new instead of just trying to recreate a favorite meal.  I started a couple of months ago making my smoothie 5 days a week and I really love it.  It never really occurred to me until I saw my daughter making one.  It just wasn’t in my repertoire until recently.

7.  Make your desserts healthy.  This is an opportunity to be creative.  Get a serving of fruit and whole grains by making a fruit crisp.  Get a serving of milk, fruit and whole grain by making a quinoa custard.  Cool off in hot weather with a berry/Greek yogurt popsicle by combining the two in a blender until smooth and then pouring in popsicle molds.  Or get an ice cream maker and try making your own fruit ice cream.

8.  Get your family and coworkers on board.  You can please some of the people at least some of the time.  Get your people on your team.  A carb overhaul isn’t a punishment.  Food is not just about filling a void.  It’s about giving your body what it really needs so it can work right and treat you right, plain and simple.  Make it fun, it’s all in the attitude.

9.  Have your LDL and blood sugar checked before and after your diet change.  I tell my clients to give it three months.  It takes about 3 months for awkward changes to be comfortable, for cholesterol to come down from all the extra fiber and for blood sugars to stabilize.  If your LDL was high before, I guarantee you it will be lower.  If your fasting blood sugar was elevated or approaching 100, I guarantee you it will be lower.  And I guarantee you the changes you have made will be more comfortable, less awkward and your creativity will be sparked.

10.  Notice how you feel over time.  This is the payback.  You will feel better.  Your life will become a ten.  Your energy level will become a ten.  People will notice.  Your spirits will improve because your body is getting just what it needs and it will perform at a ten.  Just try it for three months and try your hardest.  Don’t focus on what you are giving up, focus on what you are getting.   I know this to be 100% true.

good carbs

Make Your Carbs Count

Some of us are carnivores, people who crave steaks, ribs and other bloody meat, and some of us are carbivores, my definition of people who crave chips, cookies and candy.  But too many carbs, especially the processed ones, do us more harm than the few minutes of pleasure we get from eating them.  It’s not about abstention from them; it is about making informed choices.

Carbohydrate Sources

Carbohydrates (carbs) are those foods that contain sugar, starch and/or fiber.  Some grow naturally in the environment while others are manufactured.  Naturally occurring carbs inherently contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than manufactured carbs.  Manufactured carbohydrates are often times more manipulated to enhance shelf life, taste, advertising appeal and texture.  These are the kinds of manufactured carbohydrates I’m referring to in this article.  It’s the degree and intent to which these “man-made” carbs are manufactured that is the issue when it comes to health.

Naturally Occurring Carbs

Naturally occurring carbs include fruits and starchy veggies, legumes and whole grains, and some dairy.  The amount of carbohydrates found in fruits can vary depending on the kind and the ripeness.  A cup of grapes has 28 grams of carbs, while a cup of raspberries has 15 grams.  Less ripe fruits have more resistant starches in them that are not digestible while riper fruits have more of their starch converted to easily digested sugar, raising their carb load and their impact on blood sugars.  Starchy veggies include all potatoes, corn, peas and winter squashes.  Think of veggies that are denser and sweeter.   Lower carb veggies are less sweet and have a higher water content like celery, zucchini and broccoli.

And like those resistant starches converted in riper fruit, the same thing happens when grains are cooked longer.  Soft pasta has a higher carb load than the less boiled al dente pasta.

Milk has the natural occurring sugar, lactose, which adds about 12 grams of carbs per cup.  Cheese and plain unsweetened yogurts, especially plain Greek, have less lactose, therefore fewer carbs.

Manufactured Carbs

Manufactured carbs include things like certain breads and pasta, candy and baked goods, chips and crackers, and ice cream and fruit-filled yogurt.  In particular I want to focus on the manufactured carbs that strip the good, naturally occurring benefits out of the product and then try to add other ingredients to artificially enhance a product.

Manufactured goodness pasta labelFor example, Barilla Plus pasta tries to appeal to the health conscious consumer by advertising on their food label “multigrain”, “protein, fiber and ALA Omega-3”.  When you look at the complicated food label you can see that what they’ve done is take wheat flour (only part of the wheat berry) and blended it with flour from lentils, chick peas, flaxseed(tha t’s how it gets to promote the ALA omega 3), oats and barley, and enhanced the fiber artificially by adding oat fiber, enhanced the protein by adding egg whites, and enhanced the nutrients by adding vitamins and iron.  There are 16 ingredients in this product.  Now compare that to Luigi Vitelli organic pasta which contains only one ingredient – whole wheat durum semolina flour grown organically – and you can see what I am talking about.  Not only is the Luigi pasta higher in naturally occurring fiber but there is no food manipulation going on.  A food shouldn’t brag on the front of the box when there are 16 ingredients in it when only one truly good ingredient is needed.  You don’t need to mess around with mother nature to try to enhance a product.

Another example is oatmeal.  Oatmeal comes as quick cooked, old-fashioned, steel-cut and in its pure form, the “grout”.  You can find quick cooked that has added fiber to make consumers think they are getting a really good thing but they really aren’t in this case. Quaker Oats High Fiber Instant Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal is made from precooked and dried oatmeal, a created fiber called maltodextrin, sugar and sugar substitute, caramel coloring and vitamins and minerals to make it sound really healthy.  Keep in mind that maltodextrine is a type of  manipulated fiber that doesn’t provide the same health benefits of naturally occurring fiber.  This cereal gets high ratings for taste but in a man-made, less healthy way.  The less processed the oatmeal grain – which starts with the grout, the more naturally occurring fiber, vitamins and minerals you will get.  You’re better off eating steel-cut oats flavored with a teaspoon of honey and cinnamon than a quick cooked sweetened oatmeal if you are really trying to take care of your health.

In general, look at the number of ingredients in a label when you are comparing similar foods.  The fewer the ingredients, the less man has manipulated it, and the more nature leaves its imprint.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

I think of carbs as the body’s gas pedal.  When you eat a lot of manufactured carbs, especially ones made with white flour and lots of sugar, the body’s rpm’s go really high.  This causes blood sugars to go really high and the pancreas to have to work really hard to take care of the extra blood sugar.  Getting back to the car metaphor, carbs are the gas pedal and the brake pads are the pancreas.  Eating foods that are highly processed, laden with sugar and stripped of the bran and germ of the grain is like pressing down hard and fast on the gas pedal and the pancreas, like the brake pads of your car, gets worn out.

Not "whole" foods

Not “whole” foods

These kind of carbs in the picture at left, are what cause the insulin spike and when consumed frequently, keep blood insulin levels high creating the cascade of events mentioned in the previous post.

Getting back to the gas pedal metaphor, choosing mostly intact carbs with little processing like whole grains, fruits and beans it’s like gently putting your foot on the pedal to  accelerate.  When you choose these kinds of carbs you get a more gradual blood sugar rise and put less stress on the pancreas.  And because they are high in fiber you stay fuller longer – which is like getting more mileage for the same amount of gas.  Furthermore, the best payback that I hear from my clients is that they have more energy.  With fewer blood sugar swings there are also fewer times during the course of the day where they have trouble focusing and feel sleepy.

How Many Carbs Should You Have?

Last post I talked about reducing carbs to the lower end of the Institute of Medicine acceptable range of around 45% of total daily calories.  How many grams of carbohydrates does that amount to for a day?  First you need to calculate your recommended daily caloric needs that considers your age, sex, height and activity level.  The Mayo Clinic has a nice interactive calculator you can use here.

For me to maintain my current weight considering my activity level, I would need 2100 calories daily.  To determine my daily carbohydrate needs Based on the points made in my last post, I will multiply the 2100 calories by the 45% and then divide it by 4 since there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate.

                                                                     2100 X .45 = 945                                                                                                                                              945/4 = 236 grams

If I divide the 236 grams over my three meals it works out to about 80 grams per meal.  If I were to have a snack containing carbohydrates I would reduce the carbs in the meals accordingly.  You can look at the food label under total carbohydrate to see how many grams a serving has.  For those foods that do not have a food label The Calorie King Calorie and Carbohydrate Counter Book is a nice resource.  Keep in mind that many prepared food items contain more than one serving.  The Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese in the above picture actually contains 5 servings in the box.  Many people would either eat the whole box or split it with someone.

How To Begin

  • Cut out or reduce your soda intake.   A 12 oz. coke has 55 grams of sugary carbs.  Try seltzer water with natural flavoring or tea.
  • Reduce the amount of chips you ea.   A serving of Stacy’s pita chips has 19 grams of carbs.  Measure your portion and put it on a plate, do not eat out of the bag.  And don’t think that just because pretzels have little fat and are low in calories are a good choice.  Most pretzels are make with white flour.  Eating a few servings of those is just like putting the pedal to the metal.
  • Switch to black coffee or coffee with whole milk with less sugar or use Truvia.  A vanilla Frappuccino at Starbucks has 68 grams of carbs.
  • Eat your fruit instead of drinking it so you get the fiber.  Juice glasses use to be 4 ounces, now they are 8 oz – that’s 30 grams of quickly digested sugary carbs.
  • Cut out the donuts and muffins (unless it’s my high fiber, high protein recipe) and eat a breakfast with more protein and fiber from whole grains and fewer carbs- like my frittata with 2 pieces of whole grain bread.  Or something more simple might be a cup of plain Greek lowfat yogurt, with 1/2 cup of thawed frozen berries and some chopped nuts.
  • If you are a candy lover switch to one small piece of dark chocolate which is lower in carbs (4 gms) and has heart healthy flavonoids.  A candy bar like 3 Musketeers can have 42 grams of sugary carbs.

Most of us love our carbs whether they are sweet, salty or crunchie.  Everything in moderation has to be defined.  It can’t be permission to indulge without discretion.  Next post I’ll discuss tips to make this process easier.





Bo Derek

Ten, A Very Important Number

Aside from Bo Derek’s movie, Ten, with her gorgeous body running on the beach knowing how good she must feel, the number 10 is important in health coaching.  The number 10 is where we want our clients to reach in terms of their energy level.  When someone rates themselves a 10, they are able to accomplish more, overcome obstacles, achieve hopes, improve health, and feel life is full of possibilities.  The number 10 is also important in some areas of health.  When these guidelines below are achieved, any individual can feel like a Bo Derek and reach a 10 in energy level.


Fiber – Ten Grams Per Meal

You laugh, but face it, without having a daily poop our comfort is compromised and we feel bloated.  The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber a day – mainly from processed foods.  The U.S. government guidelines recommend 25 – 35 grams of fiber a day.

But fiber does more than just make us happy in the morning.  Soluble fiber helps lower the artery clogging LDL cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber feeds gut flora that helps to boost our immune system and gives bulk to our morning constitution.  Fiber has been linked to body weight regulation and helps to keep people fuller longer.  Aim for about ten grams a meal by eating fruits and veggies, nuts, beans and whole grain breads, cereal, and crackers.  And watch out for isolated fibers like maltodextrin, inulin and polydextrose that are processed fibers and do not give the same health benefits and can cause gas and bloating.

Exercise – Ten Minutes At A Time

The American College of Cardiology looked at the association between jogging at a leisurely pace and it’s impact on mortality and presence of heart disease in over 55,000 patients between the ages of 18 and 100.   They concluded that even jogging at a leisurely pace for 5-10 minutes each day was associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from all causes and heart disease.  Imagine that as few as five to ten minutes will give you a healthier, extended life.  If you have bad knees or joints then try an elliptical or the Arc, these are just as effective,  and you can watch TV or be in your skivvies and no one will know.

Saturated Fat – Less Than Ten Percent Of Your Daily Calories

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 which are updated every 5 years, recommend no more than 10% of total daily calories come from saturated fat.  For a 2000 calorie diet that would mean about 22 grams a day.  For an 1800 calorie diet it tops out at 20 grams.  For a 1500 calorie diet that would mean no more than 17 grams.  Saturated fat comes mainly from animal fats, but also palm and coconut oils.  Saturated fat is only part of the total fat on the nutritional label, but along with transfats, can lead to heart disease.

Saturated fats can add up.  A Big Mac has 10 grams, a double quarter-pounder with cheese has 19 grams – adding an ounce of cheese to any sandwich will add about 6 more grams of saturated fat.  A half cup of ice cream has 4 grams of heart-clogging fat.  A venti Vanilla Latte from Starbucks has 4.5 grams of saturated fat.  An apple crumb donut from Dunkin Donuts has 9 grams of saturated fat.  You can quickly see how all these numbers add up.  Awareness is empowerment so you can make an informed decision.

It’s All About Getting to Ten

Feeling like a 10 is possible.   Eating using these guidelines along with getting even 5-10 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily is going to improve your circulation, digestion, immune system and satiety.  You will have more energy to do what makes you happy.

It doesn’t have to happen overnight.  It starts with getting familiar with food labels and eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts.  Increase you activity by parking further away during errands, taking the stairs more and gradually work towards that 5-10 minutes of exercise.  You don’t have to look like Bo to feel like a 10!