PreviMedica Nutritionist

A Guide to Plant-Based Eating

You’re probably thinking, “Great, another article telling me to give up meat!” Well, not necessarily. What plant-based eating suggests is minimizing (not automatically eliminating) animal proteins and emphasizing plants as the main portion of your meal. In other words, if you picture a plate, at least half would be filled with greens, legumes, and whole grains and your preferred animal protein would essentially be a “side dish” or a “condiment.”

Plant Based EatingSo why join #teamplants? Because there is a multitude of nutrients that come hand-in-hand with plants. Aside from vitamins and minerals keeping your body functioning at its best, plants are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and plant sterols. And what do these fancy names mean? Bottom line… they mean HEALTH! These are all compounds found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Research studies link the aforementioned to the reduction in risk of many ailments such as cancers and hypertension; essentially promoting not just heart health but also immune function, skin health, eye health, bone, and joint health. In addition to the positive correlation of improving (and preventing) health conditions, more and more people are considering a plant-strong way of eating to improve energy and weight management.

While most people will consider changing their eating habits to obtain optimal health, reducing your carbon foot print is yet another reason to eat more plants. Compared to plants, animals raised for food production use up many resources. Animal agriculture is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions- more than the green house gas emissions linked to all forms of transportation! It is also the leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. Equally important is the concern for animal welfare. So at the end of the day, a plant-based way of eating helps us lead a more compassionate life.

Implementing a plant based way of eating is easier than you think:

Smoothie (1 of 9)1) Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Smoothies are a great way to get an extra serving or two of plants with minimal effort.

 

fishcurry2

2) Re-design your plate- filling at least half of your plate with produce, grains, and legumes. This will help downsize your meat servings. Consider swapping chopped mushrooms or organic tofu for half of the ground meat you would use in dishes like meatloaf, tacos, chili, meatballs, or pasta sauce. This way you will be turning meat into a “condiment” effortlessly.

 

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3) Quality matters! Focus on decreasing processed meats you are eating and replacing with free range, grass-fed, organic options. With plants, choose ones that are close to their natural state as possible.

 

SpicedLentilStew (1 of 7)

4) Make this new way of eating work for you! Remember you’re not giving up animal proteins, you’re focusing on increasing your plant consumption. A great way to start is by jumping on the “Meatless Mondays” trend!

Whether you are looking to improve health, fine-tune your eating pattern, or you want to reduce your environmental impact, consider taking these steps to reap all the benefits of plant-focused eating!


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

The Picky Eating Chronicles: Back to School

 

lunchbox (4 of 6)To read the first part of the Picky Eating Chronicles, click here.

We are now a few weeks into the new school year, and hopefully the back-to-school madness at home has calmed down. Even with all the craziness that comes along with this time of year, it’s a “new beginning” for your child – new clothes, new classroom, new teachers, and hopefully new foods in his eating pattern. Packing lunch for a selective eater is struggle, but if you are still packing the same two or three lunches that you’ve been packing for the last couple of years, I encourage you to consider some new tactics to help expand your child’s repertoire of foods.

Get Feedback: It is important to think about potential reasons why your child may not be eating the foods you are sending in his lunch box. Does the bread get mushy? Does the fruit have brown spots? Is the food at the right temperature? Is the sandwich too big or messy? Is there too much food? Some detective work may be necessary and with a little creativity on your part when addressing these potential issues might be the answer to your picky eater’s eating troubles.

Now for the fun part… what to pack?

banana roll ups

Menu Planning: Make a list of different preferred carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat choices and ask your child to choose one food in each category (ideally the options would be different for each day of the week). You are ultimately still choosing the foods available, but it will make them feel in control. Menu planning with your kids gets them involved with food, allowing them the opportunity to choose good nutrition.

Putting your Creativity to the Test: We most definitely utilize all of our senses when it comes to eating, but remember we tend to eat with our eyes first. Making your child’s lunch visually appealing can make all the difference, and this can be done in several different ways.

  • Start by letting your child pick out a cool and fun lunch box. Lunch boxes nowadays come in all different shapes and sizes. Compartments are awesome because it keeps foods from getting all mashed together. If your child’s lunchbox doesn’t have compartments already built in, consider purchasing separate lunch box containers that are likely to fit.
  • Think of different cookie cutter shapes you may already have on hand. You can transform a typical square sandwich into a star shaped one! Or add an artsy touch to cheese and whole grain crackers by cutting the cheese into flower shapes.
  • For a fun take on a traditional sandwich, try substituting bread with a tortilla or even apple slices! Elevate it with some nut butter and dried fruit or even some chocolate chips for a twist on your ordinary PB&J.
  • Vegetables can be souped up by adding a dip with them or adding nut butter and dried fruit- like “ants on a log”.
  • Kabobs can also be a fun option (using plastic coffee stirrers instead of skewers)- who doesn’t like food on a stick? Mix and match fruits and veggies with nitrate free cold cuts. For example: pineapple chunks with nitrate free ham, cherry tomatoes with nitrate free turkey, grapes with cheese squares and nitrate free chicken… the options are endless. Your son or daughter may have their own ideas for combinations, so don’t forget to ask them too!

With a little planning and creativity (and patience of course), you will give your child the opportunity to explore other food options in a positive way. Happy Lunch Packing!

school lunch


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

For additional nutrition guidance for you and your family, sign up for a PreviMedica membership by contacting us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com.

 

What’s Really in the Food You Are Eating?

FoodAdditives (6 of 6)

Have you ever looked at the ingredient label of something you’re eating and wondered what in the world all of those words that you can’t pronounce were? Unfortunately, food additives are becoming more and more common, but the good news is that many consumers are becoming more aware and educated about what they are putting into their bodies, forcing manufacturers to take a second look at what they are using in their products.

Food additives are man-made ingredients that are added to enhance the flavor of food, the color of it, inhibit mold and bacterial growth, and/or prolong shelf life.  There are currently more than 5,000 food additives used in the United States. They range from preservatives to artificial sweeteners to everything in between. While most food additives are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, it is important to realize that some research has shown these additives to be harmful in certain quantities, and for sensitive individuals, consuming any amount may be harmful.

It is extremely important to educate ourselves and what we are buying and eating. Let’s take a look at some of the most common additives out on the market:

MSG (Monosodium glutamate) – is used as a savory flavor enhancer (“umami”) and found in many packaged or processed foods.  Many people are sensitive to MSG and may experience nerve toxic effects like headaches, mood swings, numbness, nausea, weakness and a burning sensation in the upper body.  Hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins contain 10-30 % MSG, therefore sensitive individuals should look out for these ingredients as well.

HFCS (high fructose corn syrup or fructose syrup) – is a highly processed sweetener derived from GMO corn that is 1 ½ times sweeter than cane sugar.  Products that are made with HFCS cannot be labeled as “Natural”.  There is ongoing debate about whether or not HFCS is responsible for increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, or if the correlation is due to increased consumption of sugar in general.

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) – is a preservative that protects fat from rancidity and may have estrogen-like effects.  In some studies, it has caused cancer in rats, mice and hamsters.

BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) – also a preservative that protects fats from rancidity and in large doses caused liver and kidney damage in rats.  Has also shown to cause enlarged livers, reduced liver enzyme activity, and DNA damage to rodents in studies.

TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone, tert-butylhydroquinone) – also a preservative that protects fat from rancidity.  It is found in a variety of products and is shown to be cancer causing in animals.

Artificial Food Colorings (FD&C Blue No.1, 2; FD&C Green No. 3; FD&C Red No. 3, 40; FD&C Yellow No. 5, 5; Orange B; Citrus Red No. 2) – Colors added to food to change the color.  May even be found in “natural” foods such as farm raised fish.  Recent studies suggest they may be related to hyperactivity and/or ADHD in children.  Tumors in animals have been observed, and allergic reactions in humans are commonly associated with artificial food dyes.

Sulfites – added to processed foods, dried fruits, wines, and beers as a preservative, antioxidant, and anti-browning agent.  If added to foods at a level of 10 parts per million or greater, it must be declared on the packaging.  It is highly allergenic and can lead to migraines, hives, itching and breathing difficulties.

Nitrates/Nitrites – color fixatives in cured and processed meats.  Nitrates combined with natural stomach saliva produces nitrosamines, which are powerful cancer causing agents. Nitrosamines have caused tumors and cancer in rodents similar to the composition of human tumors and cancers.  Nitrates are still employed today in long curing processes such as hams and dried, cured and fermented sausages. Nitrates turn into nitrites when exposed to air.


Scary stuff, right? What’s even more disturbing is that American-made foods that are shipped overseas may be made without any of these chemicals. Other countries have different regulations on what goes into their food, and US manufacturers are more than happy to cater to them. So why does our food contain these questionable ingredients? Simply stated, it’s cheap, and can be produced in mass quantities. As a whole, Americans are all about fast and cheap and it’s time to change that.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a second look at what’s going in your cart.  It’s empowering to know what these ingredients are and how they may affect your body. The good news is that manufacturers are making changes and offering alternative products without these possibly harmful ingredients. And if no alternative is available, making your own version may be the solution. Follow along on this blog and on our Facebook page for additional tips and recipe ideas!

To learn more about food additives please visit the Environmental Working Group at http://www.ewg.org.

Resources:

  • Kobylewski, Sarah, and Michael Jacobson. “Food Dyes A Rainbow of Risks.” Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.citationmachine.net/mla/cite-a-website/copied 1 June 2010. Accessed 23 Sept. 2015.
  • International Food Information Council Foundation. “Food Ingredients Q&A: Do Food Colors Cause Hyperactivity?”. http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3843/FC_ADHD_QA_3-11.pdf March 2011. Accessed September 23, 2015.
  • Winter, Ruth. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. New York: Three Rivers, 2009. Print.
  • Minich, Deanna. An A-Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can’t Pronounce. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

If you’d like schedule a consultation with one of our nutritionists or culinary advisors to learn more about how to avoid food additives, contact us at 855-773-8463 or at hello@previmedica.com. 

Previ Nutrition: The Picky Eating Chronicles

“Ewww!” “Yuck!” “I don’t like that!” Are these common responses your child blurts out when you’re serving dinner? If so, you’re not alone.

For many parents, patience is definitely tested at the dinner table by their kids who may love one meal one day and hate the same exact meal the following week. As a result, many parents succumb to pleas for favorite foods- which, most often than not, tend to be the least nutritious choices. As a parent though, it’s understandable that you want your child to eat SOMETHING. So, at the end of the day, a bowl of Froot Loops cereal or Cheeze-itz crackers seems better than nothing.

There are a number of reasons why a child could be picky or selective. You may be surprised to find out that your child’s rejection to a particular food may not have anything to do with the food itself. Knowing what is behind the refusal of a food can help you to push through a fussy phase much more quickly. Let’s start with the basics of promoting positive eating at home.

  • Division of Responsibility: As a parent you are responsible for what food is available, when it is offered, and where it is consumed. Children are responsible for choosing which foods they eat from what is offered, how much is eaten, and whether they eat or not. There is a fine line between being too controlling and being over-permissive. The goal during childhood is not only to meet nutrient needs, but also to promote a positive relationship with food so that when the child transitions into adolescence and on to adulthood they will make wiser food decisions.
  • Meal Planning with Structured Meals and Snacks: No one food provides all the nutrients we and our children need. Therefore, it would be best to offer ALL food groups at meal and snack times. Structure with meals and snacks is just as important as providing a variety of foods as this will avoid mindless eating throughout the day.
  • Catering to Likes and Dislikes: Don’t do it! Catering to your child’s likes and dislikes by limiting menus to the foods you are certain he will consume, prevents him from expanding his food repertoire. Catering to picky eating just prolongs picky eating.
    • Kids like having control, so when planning dinner, give your child either/or options HE can choose from rather than asking an open ended question. For example instead of asking “would you like carrots for dinner” which may lead to a very quick “no!” you can ask: “would you like carrots or sweet potatoes” or” would you prefer pasta or mashed potatoes”.  Giving them a forced-choice option will still make them feel empowered!
    • It’s normal for a child to be resistant to new foods. If your child does not like a food, do not give up offering it. Continue to serve it on a regular basis. It could take up to 10 or more exposures to a new food before finally accepting it. With that said, avoid overwhelming your picky eater with too many new foods. Offer one new food at a time with something you know your child likes. That way, even if he chooses not to eat the new food, he will not go to bed hungry and you are not offering a different meal compared to the rest of the family.
  • Family Meal Time/ Environment: Children learn most of their behaviors and habits from watching their parents and family members. The dinner table is an opportunity for adults to model everything from manners to healthy eating habits. Studies have shown that children who eat more meals with their families consume more varied balanced meals, report better grades, and improve language skills critical for school success. That said, sitting down as a family for every meal may not be realistic in today’s rushed world. If your family’s schedule is too hectic to always sit down together for meals, make it a priority to come up with other creative ways to eat together- try breakfast as a family meal at home, or enjoy a wholesome meal as a family at a sit down restaurant, or as a picnic in the park.

Make eating a positive experience for everyone involved! Enjoy easy conversation at the table and avoid stressful topics. Even toddlers can discuss topics like “what made you laugh today?” Be patient and continue developing your child’s repertoire of foods by not giving in to their likes and dislikes, and continue exposing them to new foods appropriately.

Stay tuned for more tips to put into practice with your picky eater at home!

Meet Your PreviMedica Nutrition Advisor: Basilia

Throughout your PreviMedica membership, your nutrition advisor will play a key role in formulating your plan for success. Today, we’d like to introduce you to one of the nutrition advisors on our team: Basilia!

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Basilia has been with PreviMedica since 2013.  Our office is a brighter place because of her! She comes to work with a smile on her face, and is always willing to help out when needed. You can read more about her professional path to PreviMedica and her role as a nutrition advisor here.

We recently chatted with Basilia about the usual- food, nutrition, food again, etc. Check it out below:

Hi Basilia! Thank you for chatting with us today! As one of our nutrition advisors, you are not only teaching people about nutrition, but also motivating them to stay on track. That’s probably the toughest part, but you do it well! What is your #1 tip to your patients who are having trouble staying motivated?

Start small & stay consistent! I regularly discuss with my clients that coming up with small practical goals will lead them to their ultimate wellness goals. I suggest working towards one or two things at a time. Otherwise, feeling overwhelmed is inevitable! Once those changes are put into practice consistently, it will become “second nature”. At that point I would recommend tackling  the next goal, and so on.

Small, realistic steps. Makes sense! As a nutritionist, you have worked in many different settings. The unique part about PreviMedica is that you are meeting with most of your patients via video chat (Vidyo). What are some of the advantages of meeting with your patients this way?

CONVENIENCE! So there are no excuses to miss appointments, haha! Using Vidyo facilitates holding our sessions. My clients can meet with me from the comfort of their own home or conveniently at work during their lunch break without having to leave or drive anywhere. The video chat also keeps our session personable, because I am able to see them and they can see me too.

Going to a doctor or a nutritionist’s office can be pretty intimidating, so we imagine this also helps to take some of that pressure off! Last nutrition question before we get into some food. If there is one nutrition myth that you could dispel for everyone reading, what would that be?

Not exactly a myth, but an assumption- calories are not created equal!! Count the colors on your plate not the calories. And by colors I don’t mean Froot Loops cereal or Skittles or Doritos. I’m implying adding different vegetables and fruits to your plate, especially if your plate is looking a little dull with beige and brown colored foods. Not only will it brighten your plate, but it will also brighten your mood!

Agreed! Brightly colored meals are always more fun. Along those lines, what are the five must haves that are always in your fridge/pantry?

  1. Eggs! My day is ruined when I run out of eggs! No joke!
  2. WINE- Can I say this?! Haha. Fiiiiiine cheese (which will typically be consumed with wine!)
  3. Peanut Butter
  4. Greens-spinach, kale and/or swiss chard
  5. Quinoa

Does wine count as a bright-colored food? We say yes. Next two questions. What was your favorite food as a kid? And what is your absolute favorite food/meal today?

As a kid, I would have to say spaghetti-with either homemade meat sauce or meatballs. Growing up we always had it on Sundays and it was seriously my favorite day of the week because I knew it was spaghetti day! As an adult, I honestly don’t have a favorite food. I love all food that’s prepared fresh! Doesn’t matter if it’s Mexican or Italian or vegetarian or pizza- YUM. It’s probably the hardest question someone can ask me.

Ok, ok, you don’t have to tell us what your absolute favorite is. How about the best meal you have eaten lately?

Dessert counts as a meal right?  Canyon Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale has the most deliciously soft, sweet, vanilla-y bread pudding that’s served over warm berries. OMG, it’s heavenly!!

Why weren’t we invited? This interview is making us hungry, so let’s wrap it up. Lightning round:

Gym workout or outdoors?

GYM

Coffee or tea?

COFFEE

Dogs or cats?

DOGS!

That was fun! Thanks for sharing with us, Basilia. Aside from the dogs, we are completely on the same page. In all seriousness, your patients always have great things to say about you, and we are so lucky to have you as part of the team!


If you’d like more information about our PreviMedica Nutrition Advisors, take a look at our post from earlier this week. And if you are interested in a membership with PreviMedica, feel free to contact us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com.

Your Nutrition Advisor – Formulating Your Plan for Success

Are you ready to join us in creating a healthier you? PreviMedica provides nutrition and lifestyle counseling through video conferencing and our online services. Our team of registered dietitians/nutritionists, professional chefs, exercise specialists, and a patient navigator all work together to create a program personalized for your health goals.

After meeting with your navigator, you will set up an appointment with your Nutritionist. This is where you will formulate your plan for success. In addition to regular sessions with a nutritionist to discuss your progress, you will also receive meal planning tools, menus, a customized supplement routine, and access to a comprehensive library of nutrition resources.  Check out the video to learn more about your PreviMedica Nutritionist!

Nutrition is one piece of the puzzle for your success. Our team of experts will guide you throughout the entire process of working towards the healthy lifestyle you have always wanted.  There is no one size fits all in nutrition counseling as far as we are concerned.  We consider you in your entirety – your medical conditions, medications, lab work, symptoms, lifestyle, and your own unique individual preferences.  We pride ourselves on staying up to date with the latest research and continuing education, so feel free to ask us your tough questions!

Click here to read our previous post about PreviMedica’s Navigator.

Join Us!

Whether you need guidance with weight management, blood glucose, decreasing inflammation, healing a leaky gut, increasing energy and focus, or just maintaining optimal health, PreviMedica can help you! If you are interested in learning more about PreviMedica, please visit our homepage www.previmedica.com or call us at 855.773.8463.