Using My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is a great web application to use to help you achieve your ideal weight goals, whether it be weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance. I highly reccomend anyone trying to eat healthy and exercise to create an account and try My Fitness Pal out.  This web app tool is free calorie counter, diet, and exercise journal and is also offered as a mobile application when you are on the go. It is a very simple application and is easy to navigate through. My Fitness Pal helps you keep track of the calories you have consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also provides nutrition facts for the amount of macronutrients in the food as well. It also gives you the ability to document your daily exercises, whether it be cardiovascular exercises or strength training exercises in order to calculate the amount of calories burned. By collecting the amount of calories consumed and amount of calories burned, the user will be able to see if they are consuming too few or too many calories and if they are exercising enough according to their weight goals.

I created a screencast to show you some of the basic steps of how to use My Fitness Pal! Once you set up an account and input your height, weight, age, activity level, and ideal weight goals, you can quickly get started. The “Home” tab displays the total amount of calories you have remaining to consume based on your weight goals. It also displays the total amount of calories consumed, burned, and the net total for the day. The “Food” tab keeps  all of the food you have eaten that day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner organized,as well as displaying the nutrition facts. In this tab you will also be able to enter the exact type of food you ate and will provide a large database of matching food items and brands according to what you searched for. And finally, the “Exercise” tab displays the amount of calories burned depending on the exercises you did for that day. You will be able to search through a large database of different types of exercises you potentially did to track the amount of calories you burned, whether it be walking, jogging, swimming, etc.

Now go out and try it yourself! I use My Fitness Pal on a daily basis and it truly helps me with my weight goals. I know whether or not I need to eat a little more or a little less calories after each meal and can also see if I got enough exercise for the day. Good luck and happy calorie tracking!

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Sugar in Sodas and Diet Sodas

Sugar in Sodas and Diet Sodas

getty_rf_photo_of_sugar_and_soda A very popular topic in the nutrition and dietetics world, is sodas! Sodas are the number one source of added sugar in American diets and contribute to the obesity epidemic. Sodas contain around 10-20 teaspoons of added sugar per can depending on size. The average recommended intake of added sugar per day is 8 teaspoons so drinking just one soda a day already exceeds those recommendations. About 48% of Americans consume sodas daily which is alarming considering the health risks involved when consuming a diet high in added sugar. Sodas can contribute to numerous health problems such as diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. They do not provide any nutritional value and contain empty calories. Because of this, it is easier to consume excess food in addition to the soda you already drank. The bottom line is that by drinking sodas you are not giving your body the necessary nutrients you need. Diet sodas do not have any calories so they’re better than regular sodas, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. People are enticed by the word “diet” and the fact that the nutrition label shows that these sodas have 0 calories and sugar. Diet sodas do not contain calories and sugar but they do have artificial sweeteners.  The interesting thing about these artificial sweeteners is that it tricks your body into thinking you are consuming real sugar and therefore your insulin levels increase, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain. Knowing that sodas and diet sodas aren’t the best drink options for your health, you can always seek out other options. Try adding some fresh lemon to water or cucumbers to give it some natural fruit flavors. Or you can also choose tea and coffee with no added sugar. Now, if you are a daily soda drinker, try cutting down the number of sodas you drink per day or per week. Slowly, it will be easier to cut sodas completely out of your diet by doing it gradually. If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please feel free to post a comment on this blog!

Obesity and Food

America is one of the most unhealthy countries in the world. About 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. Furthermore, one of the leading causes of death is heart disease. American’s poor dietary habits and lack of exercise is contributing to these alarming statistics. The nation is eating out more and as a result are eating larger portions and consuming foods high in calories, sodium, sugar, and fat. Another factor is the availability and cost of healthy foods at restaurants and grocery stores. Instead of city streets being surrounded by healthy food stores and grocery stores, they are occupied with fast food restaurants. This makes it very difficult for people of a low socioeconomic status to purchase healthy foods. Also, with rapidly growing technology, more children and adults are spending too much time sitting behind computers, video games, tablets, and cell phones instead of being physically active.

There are many other factors that contribute to obesity but the above examples are the primary issues that can be changed and controlled. Cooking at home, reducing portion sizes, and eliminating unneccessary calories, fat, sugar, and sodium are just a start to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, spending less time using technology and being more physically active will also get you on the right track to a healthy lifestyle. It’s the small changes that will slowly begin to improve one’s health.

Below are some educational/informational videos on the obesity epidemic. Feel free to express your thoughts on this topic! Enjoy!

Greek Quinoa Salad

Hello Bloggers!

I have a new recipe I would love to share with ya’ll! It is called a Greek Quinoa Salad and ohhh man is it good! I got this recipe from the foodservice kitchen that I work in as a dietetic technician. I believe they got this recipe from a website called Food Apparel. It has a great mixture of vegetables along with quinoa and a yummy homemade Greek dressing. I was inspired to make this meal one Saturday after I finished harvesting vegetables from a vegetable garden at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, TX (I am doing an internship at Dell Children’s and help tend to their garden every week). One of the vegetables I harvested was a cucumber and that made me think about this Greek Quinoa Salad! Nevertheless, I made the meal, tried it, and now I am obsessed. It is also a perfect meal for meal prepping because it does not need to be heated up and it makes a whole lot! The ingredients in the meal are very good for you and are very heart healthy. Not to mention it is a great mix of grains, vegetables, healthy fats, and low fat dairy. Add some grilled chicken and you are all set with a well balanced meal! Here is the recipe! I encourage ya’ll to try it and let me what you think!

 

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Greek Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber chopped
1/2 sliced black olives (I’m not a fan of olives so I didn’t add any)
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese

 

Directions

1. Toast quinoa in a pot on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in vegetable broth and bring it to a boil.

3. Turn down heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 15-2o minutes.

4. In a small container, add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, onion powder, oregano, and salt and pepper. Then shake the mixture well. This is your Greek dressing.

5. Place chopped tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, pepper, and onion in the quinoa bowl.

6. Pour in the desired amount of dressing and toss with a spoon. (Be careful with how much you add to avoid having a watery meal).

7. You can either eat it immediately or store it in the fridge for later!

8. Enjoy!

 

Meal Prepping for Those ALWAYS On the GO!

I am a graduate student and have two part-time jobs. I work every day from 9am-5pm and then make a 30 minute commute to school where I sit in class from 6:30pm-9:20pm. By the time I get home each night, it is already passed 10:00 pm. Talk about having absolutely no time to make good meals for myself. Between work and school I would pick up food from Sonic, Wendy’s, or Popeyes. For the longest time, I often found myself too tired or stressed to eat. Once home from school, I would resort to eating a bowl of cheerios or would completely skip dinner. Let me just tell you, this is definitely not the way to go! All of the fast food meals were extremely high in fat and sugar and did not give me an ounce of energy to get through my classes each evening. Aside from that, I was not helping my overall health out at all.

I struggled with my weight with my type of lifestyle and knew that I needed to change my habits. After consulting with healthcare professionals, I decided to take the next step towards eating healthier. I began meal prepping! I found this to be the easiest and best thing for me considering my daily schedule. Every Sunday I plan out what I am going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as snacks. I then create a grocery list, go grocery shopping, and begin the meal prepping. I purchased lots of fruits and vegetables as sides and snacks, lean ground turkey and chicken breasts, brown rice, black beans, and whole wheat pasta. The whole process of buying groceries and cooking takes me no more then 2 1/2 hours and I have my meals ready to heat up and eat for an entire week!

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Meal prepping changed my eating habits and I could not be happier to be on this weekly regimen! Now, if you are interested in meal prepping, see below for a sample grocery list and weekly meal plan. The name of the game for healthy meal prepping, is BALANCE! Make sure to have a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, and of course some whole wheat! Feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions!

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Breakfast

2 slices whole wheat toast w/ thin spread of almond butter, Greek yogurt w/ a little granola, & a strawberry banana smoothie w/ almond milk and protein powder 2 slices whole wheat toast w/ thin spread of almond butter, Greek yogurt w/ a little granola, & a strawberry banana smoothie w/ almond milk and protein powder 2 slices whole wheat toast w/ thin spread of almond butter, Greek yogurt w/ a little granola, & a strawberry banana smoothie w/ almond milk and protein powder 2 slices whole wheat toast w/ thin spread of almond butter, Greek yogurt w/ a little granola, & a strawberry banana smoothie w/ almond milk and protein powder 2 slices whole wheat toast w/ thin spread of almond butter, Greek yogurt w/ a little granola, & a strawberry banana smoothie w/ almond milk and protein powder

Snack 1

10 Pretzels and 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter 8 Baby Carrots and 1 chopped Celery Stalk ½ cup hummus & pita bread 10 Pretzels and 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter 8 Baby Carrots and 1 chopped Celery Stalk

Lunch

Ground turkey, quinoa or brown rice, steamed green beans, & ½ cup black beans*Season meat w/ Mrs. Dash & add small amount of Siracha sauce if desired Strawberry Spinach Salad w/ blueberries & crumbled feta cheese*Add small amount of low fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing*Top with tuna or grilled chicken 6 oz. Salmon, ½ cup steamed broccoli Strawberry Spinach Salad w/ blueberries & crumbled feta cheese*Add small amount of low fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing*Top with tuna or grilled chicken Tuna: 1 pkg. chunk light tuna in water, 1 Tbsp light mayo, whole grain crackers

Snack 2

½ cup Almonds & ½ cup Blueberries 1 Apple & String Cheese 5 Strawberries & 1 Orange ¼ cup Almonds & ¼ cup blueberries 1 Apple & String Cheese

Dinner

Whole wheat penne pasta, no salt added tomato sauce w/ 3 oz. grilled chicken or shrimp, & ½ cup  steamed broccoli 6 oz. Grilled chicken, quinoa or brown rice, steamed mixed veggies. Ground turkey, quinoa or brown rice, steamed green beans, & ½ cup black beans*Season meat w/ Mrs. Dash & add small amount of Siracha sauce if desired Whole wheat penne pasta, no salt added tomato sauce w/ 3 oz. grilled chicken or shrimp, & ½ cup  broccoli Ground turkey, quinoa or brown rice, steamed green beans, & ½ cup black beans*Season meat w/ Mrs. Dash & add small amount of Siracha sauce if desired

Grocery List

Strawberries 1 Onion and 1 Green Bell Pepper Bag of Frozen Shrimp Almond Milk Olive Oil
Oranges 100% Whole Wheat Bread Bag of Frozen Chicken Breast Greek Yogurt cups Light Mayo with Olive Oil (half the fat & calories of regular mayo)
Blueberries Quinoa or Brown Rice 1 lb ground turkey (comes in a tube-shaped wrapping) Container of Crumbled Feta Cheese Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
Blackberries Whole Wheat Pasta Container of Almonds (non-salted) Bag of String Cheese (individually wrapped) Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Fresh Broccoli bunch Pita Chips or Pita Bread Jar of Peanut Butter (one w/ less sugar) Hummus Frozen and Sliced Strawberries and Bananas
A bag of spinach or baby spinach Bag of Pretzels Jar of Almond Butter No salt added tomato sauce or your favorite type of pasta sauce Frozen Green Beans
A bag of baby carrots Granola Cans of Black Beans (some cans have spices and has more flavor) Mrs. Dash Seasoning (No-Salt Seasoning) Whey Protein Powder (good to add to smoothies before & after workouts)
Fresh Celery Whole Grain Crackers Tuna Packets (tuna in water not vegetable oil) Siracha Sauce

 

Cooking Tips

Typically for one week I cook the following:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ lb pasta
  • A whole bunch of green beans
  • Half a bunch of broccoli
  • Heat up 1 can of black beans
  • 3 chicken breasts

*I would prepare all of this food and portion it all out into your containers first before preparing the other meals because you may have enough food for more than the days I have listed on the meal plan. Therefore, meals like the spinach salad and tuna with crackers may not be necessary. It is up to you!

  • For breakfast, I prepare the toast and smoothies in the morning. In my smoothie, I fill up my magic bullet with around ½ -1 cup of mixed frozen strawberries and bananas. Then I pour around 1½ cups of almond milk. I pour ¼ water in as well and then a scoop of whey protein powder.
  • To add more flavor to the ground turkey, try adding sautéed green peppers and onions. Sautee them in olive oil then mix it in with the ground turkey while cooking.
  • Siracha sauce is one way I add flavor to my food. However, be aware that Siracha sauce contains quite a bit of sodium. 1 tsp= 100mg of sodium. The daily recommended intake of sodium according to the American Heart Association is 1500mg per day.
  • Season your chicken and tuna with Mrs. Dash seasoning (there are tons of different seasonings). Mrs. Dash is a non-salt seasoning but still adds great flavor to food. Using Mrs. Dash instead of regular salt seasoning will reduce your sodium intake to maintain good heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease.
  • For the snacks, I don’t have exact measurements but I would not portion out more than two handfuls of each snack.