Preventing the “Holiday Hangover”

Hi everyone!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, ushering in the holiday party season! We know how hard it can be during the holidays to stay on track with a healthy food and exercise plan. When the splurging on treats, big meals and drinking goes a little bit too far it’s all to easy to run into what we call the “holiday hangover.” It can creep up quickly, even after the first few festivities.  You know, the “I’m waking up thinking about sugar” habit starts, the headaches, increased appetite, more frequent colds/sickness from a depressed immune system, and yes…the potential dreaded holiday weight gain.

But! We come bearing good news! Practical Nutrition chatted with Scot and Kara from Channel 3’s Better Connecticut to discuss some simple ways to avoid the hangover (and still enjoy the holidays!). Watch the video below to make this a happy and healthy holiday season!

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Click here to download the recipes and key points featured in the video! 

Click here if you’re interested in joining us for a “Healthy for the Holidays” 10 day cleanse!

As always, stay well, eat well and have a beautiful week!

Ana and Amanda

Fast and Filling Fall Snacks!

Hi everyone!

Happy September! Fall is closing in on us quickly…along with the beautiful foliage and harvest foods comes a busier schedule. For most people, running kids around to sports, rushing through meals, and having less time to meal prep on the weekends means their food choices become less healthy. Fortunately, we came up with some easy, tasty, and healthy snacks for the fall. It’s important to make sure you snacks include protein (whey protein powder or eggs), fiber (fruits/vegetables), and healthy fat (avocado or coconut oil) to make sure your blood sugar is nice and steady. By eating a combination of the right nutrients every 3-4 hours, you’ll experience increased energy levels, less sugar cravings, and a better overall mood. Most importantly, you prevent “hanger” (anger brought on by hunger) and keep everyone around you happier as well!

Check out this quick video of some easy snack ideas and have a wonderful start to the new season! Click here for a copy of the recipes featured in the video.

Have a great week!

Ana and Amanda

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Practical Nutrition’s Interview on the Paleo Diet

paleo

Ana and I were recently interviewed on our view on the Paleo Diet, which has become quite popular these past couple years. I have seen this first hand working in and being apart of the CrossFit community for 3.5 years now. I followed a Paleo Diet for about 2.5 years but did not find it was sustainable for me and have found the same for many other people I encounter. While we were preparing for the interview we began by looking at the similarities that our nutrition principles have with the Paleo Diet and also at the differences between the two lifestyles. It gave us great perspective and was a nice reminder of what it means to be healthy and how important balance is.

Similarities & Areas of the Paleo Diet That We Value:

  • The exclusion of processed foods. At Practical Nutrition we encourage our clients to avoid processed and prepackaged foods as much as possible. The focus should always be on food in its most natural form possible as often as possible. If your great great grandmother wouldn’t eat it… neither should you!
  • The source of our food matters. Many people that embrace a Paleo lifestyle begin to learn about the source of their food and try to get cage free eggs, grassfed meat, and wild caught seafood. We think everyone should be aware of where their food comes from and try to choose the healthiest and most sustainable source.
  • The Paleo Diet tends to be higher in protein and fat than the Standard American Diet (SAD), and it sure is sad. The average American gets more than 55% of their calories from carbohydrates, which are most likely from added sugar and refined processed carbs (bread, chips, baked goods, soda). We believe a healthy diet needs a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat that fit your goals and activity level. This higher level of protein helps reserve muscle tissue and also increases gut absorption of Calcium.
  • Gut integrity and health is a major focus of the Paleo approach. The entire point of restricting grains, dairy, and legumes is the premise that they can cause inflammation in our digestive system. The majority of our immune system is found in our digestive tract, which is a pretty good reason to make sure it is healthy.
  • Fermented foods are a staple in a healthy diet. Many people have never heard of fermented foods and are unaware of their benefits. Fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut all contain healthy bacteria that are needed by our gut. These bacteria provide a balanced and healthy environment in our digestive system and improve immune system health.
  • We especially appreciate the fact that the Paleo lifestyle doesn’t just focus on food but also places emphasis on sleep, stress, and exercise. We always try to encourage our clients to include regular exercise into their schedules, which can be hard with busy lifestyles but we know how important it is for energy, sleep quality, and long term health in general. Sleep is always a big topic in our offices. We stress the importance of getting adequate sleep and often come up with different nutritional protocols and lifestyle factors to improve sleep.

What Sets Us Apart:

  • At Practical Nutrition we encourage eating every 2-3 hours to maintain stable blood sugars. This also allows us to eat smaller meals and not overload our systems with too many carbohydrates, protein, or fat at once. Most Paleo programs encourage eating 3 meals a day without snacking. We have found that this does not work for many people, however, meal frequency is always based on the individual. We experiment and find what works best for them and helps them meet their goals.
  • We put more of an emphasis on getting a variety of foods in order to get a variety of different nutrients. We do not exclude all grains, dairy, and legumes so this helps our clients achieve a variety. We do avoid gluten so we encourage gluten free grains such as all types of rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, and buckwheat for people that are active. We always encourage people to pair their gluten free grains with a protein in order to keep blood sugar levels stable. We recommend getting the majority of your carbohydrates from fruits and starchy vegetables like beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots.We also emphasize buying organic dairy products that are at least 1-2% fat if you tolerate dairy.
  • One practical tip we share with our clients to provide balance is to eat twice as many vegetables as fruit.
  • At Practical Nutrition we also focus on portion sizes. We help people learn how much food their bodies need to support their lifestyle and goals. This creates a balance of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat that improves energy, mood, sleep, and overall long term health.
  • Another major difference between our approach and the Paleo Diet is the importance that we place on detoxifying the body on a regular basis and making sure the liver is healthy. We understand the vital role the liver plays in overall health and promote foods that improve and maintain proper liver function. Liver friendly foods include: beets, brussel sprouts, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard, asparagus, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Lastly, we leave room for enjoying food. We live in modern society with food and beverages that are apart of our culture. We give people the tools they need to be successful in everyday life. We all are put in difficult situations to make food choices during the holidays, warmer months when there are always a lot of parties and events, and especially on vacation. We believe that being able to have a balance of healthy eating and indulgence while still working toward your goals is the key to long term success and health.

Ana and I had a great time discussing all of the areas we appreciate from the Paleo Diet and lifestyle and comparing them to our own. We both agreed that the Paleo approach can be a great place to start a new healthy lifestyle but that it is not always the best place to stay for everyone. It was great to be reminded of how different nutritional approaches can benefit people in a number of ways so we wanted to share this with all of you.

 

As always, stay well, eat well and have a beautiful day!

Amanda and Ana

RD’s at the Big E: Fair Food Frenzy!

Child like joy at the Big E!

Child like joy at the Big E!

This past weekend a couple of the Practical Nutrition Associate Dietitians attended the Big Eastern States Exposition…aka Big E! I personally haven’t been to the big E since childhood, so getting into the spirit of the fair was lots of fun. The experience was full of childhood memories, excitement over the 100’s of vendors lining the streets, over crowded conditions (if you like to people watch this is the place to be!), but most of all…“FOOD!” (I have that in quotations because the nutrient depleted, over heated, battered, inorganic, synthetically derived, grossly portioned “food” offered at the fair goes against my every definition of food…but thats not the point of this post!) There were amazingly over 140 locations offering food and beverages ranging from from fried butter balls, to pulled pork parfaits, “Craz-E-Burgers” (bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts), and types of meats and sweets in every shape, form, and flavor. I never thought I could see the word “fried” in front of so many foods- from oreos, cheesecake, kool aid, cream puffs, and jelly beans, to clams, vegetables, and kangaroo!

I went into the day only focusing on the positives…how could I not, its the BIg E! We all know the food choices at fairs are disastrous- and part of me wishes I could have handed out “day after nutrition recovery” cards to reverse some of the damage people were doing to their body all day long. But that’s not why I went. The neat thing about the Big E for me was the variety of “classes” of food available. The craziest food options were found scattered throughout the fair in between tents selling things that were fun to look at but otherwise completely useless. The  interesting and real food options were found on the Avenue of the States.  Each state in New England was designated their own building and featured food and beverage options traditional to their state- of course Vermont had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and every possible grade of real maple syrup, New Hampshire featured fresh culinary herbs and homemade fudge, Connecticut had local J Foster ice cream and Rose’s Berry Farm, and Maine offered fresh lobster rolls, wild blueberry crisp, and what seemed to have the longest line of them all: Maine Baked Potatoes! These bad boys were the biggest baked potatoes I’d ever seen, loaded with every type of topping imaginable! When I went onto the Maine Potato Board’s website I was amazed at some of the ideas they have for baked potatoes-  breakfast baked potatoes, Maine crab baked potato, and even a sloppy joe baked potato! No one thinks quite like a native of Maine!

Ana: "When in Rome!" Brendan: "Someone get me out of here!"

Ana: “When in Rome!”
Brendan: “Someone get me out of here!”

After a few laps of strolling around the fair observing  the most popular “foods” consumed, we had to try a few! The items of choice for the Practical Nutrition team were as follows: Vermont apple pie with vanilla ice cream, giant turkey leg, home cooked kettle corn, and yep, I’m admitting it…fried butter balls (had to do it!)!

A day at the fair was definitely a bonding and eye opening experience for the Practical Nutrition team. As fun as it was trying a few out of the box foods, we were excited to stop at a local health food store on the way home and pick up a bottle of Kombucha (a cleansing, fermented tea beverage!), some fresh vegetables, and lots of water. The night was finished off with a huge salad, loaded with protein and some more water to wash help regain hydration in our body after all of the offending treats.

Here are my three takeaways from our field trip to the Big E: 

1. Make time to enjoy the simple joys in life…enjoy a ride at a fair… even in the rain…be a kid again!

2. Don’t let a fear of “bad food choices” get in the way of enjoying an event with family and friends-  include detox foods (beets, greens, bright vegetables at most meals, lean protein, healthy fats, lots of water) on a daily basis so your body can handle the once a year you eat a fried butter ball

3. Have a plan after a splurge day to get you back on track with your nutrition maintenance plan. A solid “recovery nutrition plan” includes a meal heavy in greens, vegetables, and a protein the night after, lots of water, a cup of Yogi Detox tea, 2 Cleanse Smoothies the day after, 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise, and being conscious of limiting refined sugars/grains, sugary drinks, alcohol, and excess caffeine 3 days after the splurge to make sure you don’t get caught in what I call a “sugar cycle”- which can dangerously turn a one afternoon splurge into a week long, unintentional spiral of eating fair food!

Keep in mind making healthy choices is something you have to do for yourself, and can’t be influenced by the choices of those around you. Make sure your decisions to splurge are your own. If you’re feeling a treat outside of your usual plan, go for it! If not, hold back even if those around you are indulging…slowing down and taking time before you enter a social situation to identify what’s best for you is the easiest way to succeed in staying on track with your health.

Stay disciplined and treat your body right with real food as much as you can. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do what you have to do to get back on track when you get off…don’t make excuses. Enjoy life, family, and friends. Its a good life!

As always, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week! 

Ana Elisabeth