Monday, June 30, 2014

Nutrition Bite: Diet Soda an Oxymoron

I have had the pleasure of hosting another intern, Stephanie, for the past couple of weeks. I turned over the reins of this week’s nutrition bite for her to take a crack at it and enlighten you all. Without further ado…

Jeopardy question of the day! What’s currently the biggest source of calories for Americans? White bread? Burgers and fries? Nope, it’s soda! If you think that you are doing yourself a favor when you order a diet soda with your super-sized Baconator think again.

Yes, diet soda has the words diet in it, but recent research suggests that drinking diet soda really isn’t any better for you than drinking regular soda. Now you may be thinking, “But there’s no calories, so it’s obviously good for me.” You know what else doesn’t have calories? Sulfuric acid. My guess is that you wouldn’t want to drink that with your 24 cheeseburgers…

Additionally, drinking diet sodas can have some unpleasant side effects such as messing up your metabolism, which can lead to overweight and obesity, Yes, you read that right--drinking diet soda can actually increase your risk of becoming overweight or obese. Research suggests that people who consume diet foods are more likely to overeat because your body is being tricked into thinking it’s eating sugar what it is not, causing you to crave and potentially eat more. Along with obesity, diet soda has many other side effects, one of which is rotting teeth. Diet soda is very acidic, which overtime dissolves the enamel of your teeth and causes tooth decay and discoloration. Adults who drink three or more sodas a day have worse dental health aka greater decay, more missing teeth, and more fillings. Unless you are feeling the Austin Powers look, you may want to reconsider your drink choice.

So next time you go to grab a can of diet soda, thinking it’s okay to drink because it has no calories, think again! I am going to leave you with a riddle. What beverage has no calories and is actually beneficial to your health? Water. You should try it sometime! Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green

Stephanie & Beth

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nutrition Bite: Scales hurt worse than shots

I am going to start off this week’s nutrition bite with a “visualization” for you. I would ask you to take a deep breath and close your eyes but then you wouldn’t be able to read the rest of my blog; instead just take a deep breath. Got it? Good. Now, imagine your next trip to the doctor’s office. You check in and sit in the waiting area for 30 minutes awkwardly avoiding eye contact with all of the other people in the room with you.  You check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, and email on your phone and are left with nothing to do after those first five minutes. Maybe you get a little crazy and pick up the latest issue of Good Housekeeping and flip through it, maybe not. After 25 excruciating minutes of pretending to be Ms popular on your phone when in reality you are really just stalking people on Facebook, the nurse finally calls your name and takes you around back. Now, judging from the scowl on this nurse’s (or murse, hey it’s your “visualization”) face, she has had a heck of a morning and is not in a good mood. This nurse has absolutely no sympathy for you this morning and is going straight for the philosophic jugular. That’s right, she is taking you to meet your worst enemy; judgment day is here. She is taking you to the dreaded scale. This could make or break your day/week/month/year.  Better take off not only your shoes, but your socks as well…

You may or may not cry before you even get that shot…

Ok, end visualization. For those of you that closed your eyes, you can open them now. Now that I hopefully got you to slightly crack a smile, I will get to my point. If you got a little sweaty, felt your heart race a little, or had a mini anxiety attack, you are not alone. Judging from the amount of memes that I found when I googled this topic, it is pretty evident that lots of people tend to get pretty caught up in and bent out of shape when they get weighed. Here are a couple more of the trials and tribulations of weighing yourself just for your amusement…

Now, I am going to ask you to sit down for what I am about to tell you. As a Dietitian you may expect me to tell you that you should weigh yourself three times a week or whatever number you would like to insert here. What if I told you that I don’t even own a scale?

Yes, it is true, but don’t put me in the same medical phony category as Dr. Oz just yet.  

I leave it  up to my clothes, that really honest family member, or friend without a filter to tell me if I have been splurging a little too much, not numbers on a scale. Yes, in a medical practice as part of a routine check up, weighing yourself is important. Is weighing yourself everyday important? No. As the blog article that I am about to share with you talks about, your weight is constantly fluctuating over the course of the day, not significantly but a couple of pounds here and there depending on the time of day and hydration status. For this week’s nutrition bite, I am going to share a blog article that will  help explain why the scale and your weight is not the be all or end all of how healthy you are. Without further ado…

Throw Away Your Scale from fANNEtastic food

Like your age, your weight is just a number that everybody lies about anyways. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Monday, June 16, 2014

Keeping it Fresh: Farmers Markets

If this is what you think of when you think of farmers markets…
…you are only partially right. I have some breaking news for you though; farmers markets aren’t just for hippies anymore! Regular people go to them as well! To some people, farmers markets might be a little intimidating because it is a different experience than shopping at your local grocery store. Fear not though, I have decided to enlighten you all on farmers markets for this weeks blog! 

What is a farmers market?
In simple terms, a farmers market is a place where farmers sell their products directly to consumers. (Note: I said consumers not just hippies, but more on that later) At this point you might be envisioning a good ole boy farmer in a plaid shirt and overhauls with a straw hat on talking to you about his tomatoes and cows, but this is usually not the case. Given the explosion of local food business, its not just farmers selling their tomatoes or beef. Yes, there are obviously a lot of fruits and veggies to be found at farmers markets, but you can also find meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, jams, butter, peanut butter, salsa, mustard, honey, baked goods, pasta, ice cream, flowers, etc.     

Along with this increased variety of products, you will also find that sometimes the produce vendors are not the growers, but retailers. (Read: The people do not grow the fruits and veggies, they buy them and then resell them at the market). Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily but it can be a little tricky. Occasionally, the vendor will sell items that are not local, so if you want to ensure the food you get is local just ask them or look for signage indicating such. One easy way to spot a retailer is if they are selling items, such as pineapple and bananas, which do not grow in North Carolina or pretty much all other US states for that matter, they require a tropical environment to grow.

Why should I go to a farmers market?
Obviously to see the hippies and earn some hipster street cred! On a more serious note, by shopping at the farmers markets it helps support the local economy and not some huge factory farm in Mexico. Another reason is because the products are fresher and taste better; they weren’t grown in Mexico, shipped to the US, and sitting on a grocery store shelf for weeks. Case in point: tomatoes. You will only find tomatoes grown in North Carolina during the summer when they reach their peek ripeness. Typically, the produce is harvested a day or so before it is sold at the market and ends up on your table. Compare that to tomatoes found at grocery stores. To start with, they are picked before they are ripe so they are able to hold up from the journey to the field to the grocery store. This inhibits some of the flavor, vitamins, and minerals from fully developing. They than go through a ripening process that forces them to ripen, but it only really turns the green tomatoes red. Local tomatoes and grocery store tomatoes may look the same and all but the taste is night and day.

The last reason I will talk about as to why its beneficial to shop at farmers markets is that it is more environmentally friendly. Without getting on a soapbox on this one, there is less gas used to transport the products and carbon dioxide emissions and less packaging.

If you got bored halfway through reading the above section and skipped down to the picture, just check out the infographic below for a brief synopsis.

“You keep saying local, but what is local?”
This is where it gets a little ambiguous. There is no set definition of local. Some people say 100 miles, 300 miles, etc. Not that my thoughts rein supreme, in the case of Charlotte I would count local as anything grown in North or South Carolina since a lot of South Carolina farms are actually closer to Charlotte than some North Carolina ones.

“I went to the farmers market and there were no strawberries”
Well, I hate to break it to you but strawberries have a relatively short growing season that lasts from April till about late June. Yes, they may be available at the grocery store year round, but strawberries do not grow year ground in North Carolina. All crops have a season, so if you are not familiar with what’s in season for North Carolina, you might want to check out this chart  so you are not the goof asking the farmer where the watermelons are in February.

“Should I be eating all local food?”
Is Lebron the next Michael Jordan? No!  

Personally, I enjoy bananas, pineapple, coffee, etc and none of them are local. I try my best to hit up the farmers markets and grow some of my own vegetables. I may be a Dietitian but I am still human.

While I have the opportunity, just a PSA. Yes, you can find cookies, muffins, cupcakes, all other sorts of baked goods at farmers markets, but keep in mind that a cookie is still a cookie regardless of where it was made. Yes, it make taste better, but unfortunately it is not any healthier.

Breaking it Down
If this if your reaction to farmers markets...
I would suggest you give it a shot to check it out. Not sure where the closest farmers market is? No worries, I got you. Check out this list of farmers markets in the Charlotte area. 

My second suggestion would be this: Its one thing to go to the farmers market and buy all kinds of fruits and vegetables in your fancy reusable bag, but note that it doesn’t do you any actual good unless you eat them.

If you go check out a farmers market and find that its not your thing, at the very least you might get to listen to some of that “hippy” music and earn some hipster street cred. Well I am off to go stock up on local water at the farmers market. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nutrition Bite: Navigating Nutrition Mumbo Jumbo

When I am not in a rush at the grocery store, one of my favorite things to do is meander through the aisles to check out what new products are out there and take in all of “healthy” marketing mumbo jumbo, as my mother would call it, they put on the labels. Now, I am going to admit something to you. I love marshmallows. (GASP!) I may or may not keep a bag of them in my cupboard just to have around for a sweet snack. Are they healthy? No, but my motto is everything in moderation. You are probably wondering where I am going with this whole marshmallow thing about right now, so I’ll get to my point.  I like to use marshmallows as one of my favorite examples of this “healthy” marketing mumbo jumbo.

Now, lets suppose you are not an avid reader of my blog and not as well versed in nutrition and you see that these marshmallows are fat-free. Well then if they are fat-free they must be good for me right? I mean fruits and veggies are fat-free too and they are good for me. Nice try, but no. First of all, fat is never involved in the making of marshmallows. That would be like advertising that carrots are vegan and gluten free.  Yes, there is no fat in it, but what about all of the sugar? Does this mean that you should never eat marshmallows? No, personally I find them delicious. My point is to take food marketing with a grain of salt and look at the ingredient label. Don’t use marketing mumbo jumbo to justify your guilty pleasures.

Buzzfeed recently posted this list of 12 healthy claims (read: mumbo jumbo) to ignore at the supermarket. It is good information so here is this week’s nutrition bite…

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nutrition Bites: Eating with Your Eyes

I will be the first to admit that I am a dork. I tend to read a lot, and no not Harry Potter or Twilight. One of the subjects that I find very intriguing is behavioral economics and its application to food and nutrition (read: why we eat the things we do). Awhile back I wrote an entire blog about Mindless Eating, but I recently came across a short video that helps illustrate the concept of eating with your eyes. Whether you are a visual learner like me, or just looking for a way to procrastinate, check out… 

Until next time!
Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,