How to Stay Motivated to Exercise During the Winter

Although Spring is right around the corner, the weather outside still very much feels like Winter. When the weather is cold, our bed and couch become a lot more attractive than the gym. It is extremely common and completely normal to lose our “fit-spiration” during the winter. However, it is very important to get at least one form of exercise every single day – even in the winter! We know how difficult it is, so here are some tips to make it a little less challenging to get one’s self up and moving in the cold.

Workout Classes

A highly popular trend in the fitness world is group workout classes. From kickboxing to aerial yoga, one can find a class for just about any kind of exercise. There are many benefits to taking a workout class. A trained instructor provides constant motivation and strives to push the student to his/her greatest potential. Whether one is a competitive type or just likes to have fun with a workout, the group aspect of the class can appeal to both of these attitudes. The combination of the group atmosphere and instructional aspect of the class guarantees that one gets an effective workout, which does not always happen when working out on one’s own at the gym. Because workout classes are offered at specific times, one must add it into his/her schedule. Also, most workout classes cost money. The scheduling of the class as well as the price are great incentives to force one’s self to go.

Workout Videos

            A downside of workout classes for most is their sometimes extreme prices. However, the online workout video trend allows one to get a similar workout without paying any money at all! The internet is full of free, fun, challenging workout videos. Simply research a certain type of workout, a body part to focus on, etc. and chances are there will be hundreds of results. If the group aspect of the fitness class is what one craves, he/she can invite friends to do these workouts together! One can get fit and have fun, all without leaving home.

The Gym

            Every regular gym-goer dreads the ‘New Year Resolution crowd’ that crowds the gym during the month of January. However, there is a positive (though disappointing) aspect to this influx. As winter continues on, this stampede will fizzle out, leaving the gym as spacious as it was before the start of the New Year, if not less full. Take advantage of this halt in common gym attendance by going during these empty winter months!

Plan / Set Goals

            A panic often runs through our veins as the snow starts to melt and we think about summertime while remembering how little we exercised during the winter. Avoid this anxiety by getting a head start. A fun and easy way to stay motivated is planning and goal setting. Like scheduling a workout class keeps one motivated to show up and do it, putting a workout in the calendar as an event with as much priority as a meeting or a social event will help to do the same. Creating long-term fitness goals that span the entire winter will allow one to stay motivated.

Mood

            A sense of seasonal depression sets over many of us in the winter as daily life feels much more difficult. Curb this dreaded feeling with fitness! Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which cause us to be happy and lively. Constant exercise promotes a regular, healthy sleeping pattern, which also greatly contributes to overall mood.

            Whether one is doing a pilates video at home or taking a daily yoga class, remember to follow these tips to get up and get moving during the winter!

 

**Written by Hub Healthy Intern, Maddie Metzger**

Tips to Stay Healthy While Drinking for the Super Bowl

As we watch the Patriots play in yet another Super Bowl this Sunday, most of us will be celebrating by watching with friends. However, along with these Super Bowl viewing parties come unhealthy dietary choices. One of these choices in particular is alcohol. Though fun and seemingly harmless in moderation, alcoholic beverages can pack a massive amount of un-needed calories.

Below are some helpful tips to follow to keep yourself in the clear while drinking.

1.    Stay away from drinking games.

Though fun and a great way to get everyone at the party involved, drinking games are an easy way to drink way too much, too fast. Avoid this over-consumption by participating with water instead of alcohol, or just watching your friends play while cheering them on.

2.    Choose your drink wisely.

Mixers

Mixers are a very easy way to pack in hidden calories. Stimulants such as Red Bull can be dangerous to mix with alcohol because of the unhealthy neurological effects as well as the dietary. While energy drinks stimulate your body, commanding your brain to speed up, alcohol is a depressant, slowing the function of your central nervous system. This counteraction is a recipe for disaster. Not to mention, these energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Juices, sodas and syrups are also popular mixers with unwanted calories and sugar hidden inside. Stick with soda water or small amounts of liquor simply on the rocks. Another safe option is to add extra ice – or request it if you are ordering at a bar. Filling the glass with more ice than the drink is a good way to keep yourself in the safe zone.

Alcohol

The higher the proof of the alcohol in your drink is, the more calories it holds. Some of the healthier options include vodka sodas, gin and tonics, red and white wine, and light beer.

3.    Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Drinking a water in between each alcoholic drink is helpful because it keeps your body hydrated and forces you to slow down.

4.    Make a game plan.

Eat ahead of time! Consuming a large, healthy meal will not only allow the alcohol to settle better in your stomach, but if you are full, you are less likely to fill up on drinks. Set a limit for yourself on the amount of drinks you will allow yourself to consume, as well as the types of drinks. Plan your eating as well. Sometimes, we eat foods after drinking that we would not eat if we were sober. If you know you will be surrounded by unhealthy food (which will most likely be the case at a Super Bowl party), and you feel you will not be able to resist these foods after you drink, skip the alcohol!  

 

Following these tips will leave you feeling healthier and happier without restricting you from having fun! Do not beat yourself up for ‘cheating’ here and there by indulging in the chips and dips – it is the Super Bowl after all! Most importantly, have fun. (Just make sure to plan ahead and eat healthy on Monday!)

What is plant based eating!?

1. A plant-based diet can help prevent disease. True or False?

Answer: True. A meat-based diet's high fat (especially saturated fat), low-fiber content contributes to obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease. A plant-based diet, along with adequate exercise, can help prevent these diseases.

2. A plant-based diet is a vegetarian diet. True or False?

Answer: False. A plant-based diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, with modest amounts of meat. The key is to take the focus away from meat, making it a side dish or condiment instead of the main entrée.

3. A plant-based diet won't give me enough protein. True or False?

Answer: False. As long as you eat a variety of foods, you should get an adequate amount of protein in your plant-based diet.

4. Legumes (beans and peas) are a good meat alternative. True or False?

Answer: True. Legumes provide protein and iron, making them a good nutritional substitute to meat. They are also a good source of fiber. Use them in place of meat in chili, burritos, lasagna, and soups. Serve them over rice or pasta or add to soups and salads.

5. Simply avoiding or cutting back on meat makes for a healthy diet. True or False?

Answer: False. Cutting the meat in your diet doesn't automatically make it healthier. Be sure to add healthful foods in its place. French fries and macaroni and cheese may be meatless, but they are not low in fat. Be sure to eat at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables, plus a variety of whole grains daily.

6. I'll have to shop in expensive stores to follow a plant-based diet. True or False?

Answer: False. Compare the cost per serving of beans, rice and pasta with meat and you can see how inexpensive a plant-based diet can be. These items, plus fruits and vegetables, are available at regular supermarkets.

Tips for Getting Started

  • Try chicken, turkey, and fish in place of red meat; they are lower in saturated fat.
  • When you do use meat, mix it in casseroles and stir-fries, with lots of vegetables and pasta or rice. Think of meat as a condiment.
  • If you have a family of meat-eaters, try one or two plant-based meals per week until they get used to new flavors and foods.
  • Introduce beans as a side dish, gradually moving toward bean-based entrees.

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Whether you are on a business trip in the Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. and fast food is your most gourmet option, or on your honeymoon in Paris, surrounded by pastries and wine, maintaining a healthy diet while traveling can be difficult and feel impossible. However, we promise, it is not. While balance is essential and there are definitely cases when you absolutely must eat that gelato in Florence, overall, a nutritious diet and optimal health are most important, no matter where we are.

The main places where healthy eating habits go awry while we travel are the airport, the hotel, restaurants and the bar. Do not fear, we have the tips and tricks to keep you on track toward optimal health while you are on vacation without sacrificing your fun.

 

Airport

 

Snack Right

·      Most foods do in fact pass through security, so pack at home. This option will save you money and set you up for success as your temptation to indulge in an unhealthy snack at the convenience store will be eliminated. Fresh fruits and vegetables paired with peanut butter and hummus, unsalted nuts and granola are just some of the many ways you can make sure to keep healthy while flying.

 

Meals

·      Finding a healthy pre-flight meal may be difficult. Depending on how much time you have, try and decide whether you really must eat at the airport or if you actually can make something at home and eat before you go! If not, here are some tips to take into consideration when choosing your airport meal.

·      Skip the junk food sides like chips or a cookie.

·      Flying is already an extremely dehydrating activity so definitely steer clear of salty foods if possible.

·      If you are in a rush, do not force the meal down in the five-minute window you are allowed to sit. Bring it on the plane and enjoy it at a normal, relaxed pace.

·      Figure out which terminal you will be spending your time in before arriving to the airport and gage what your options will be. This way, you will not feel overwhelmed by the plethora (or lack) of options.

·      Try to eat a balanced meal.

·      Stay sober and stay hydrated – drink more water than usual if you can.

·      If your options are not the best, be prepared for boring. But, this one boring meal is a minor set back compared to the vacation filled with fun and delicious food that awaits.

Hotel

 

Breakfast Buffet

·      Do not waste your calories on liquids – skip the juice. Opt for unsweetened tea, coffee or water instead.

·      Walk through without a plate first. This way, you can take into consideration what all of your options are so you can make sure to not get hasty and grab one of everything you see.

·      Skip the pastries. Starting the day with sugary carbs filled with empty calories will leave you feeling sluggish and in a bad mood before lunch.

·      Take advantage of the fruit. A typical feature of most breakfast buffets is a wide variety of beautiful fruit. Load your plate with as much colorful fruit as you can.

·      Choose your spreads wisely. Spread a nut butter on your toast rather than a sugary jam or butter/cream cheese.

·      Make sure your grains are whole grains.

·      Do not take the term “All You Can Eat” literally.

 

Restaurant

 

Plan Ahead

·      If you know you will be eating a heavy dinner, go light at breakfast and lunch. Make sure snacks are light and healthy.

·      With modern technology, nearly every menu is on the internet, available for you to read. Make sure to give it a look before going out to eat so you can plan ahead and weigh your options before you get there.

 

Ordering

·      Either ask the waiter to skip the bread basket or resist your own temptations and skip it yourself.

·      When ordering a drink, avoid alcohol. Your best friend is water. However, if you do choose to order alcohol, try to pick a light beer, a glass of wine, a simple martini or a vodka tonic.

·      Read between the lines. Steer clear of the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, stuffed, buttery, sautéed, pan-fried and au gratin. These nearly always mean: calories.

·      Remember that each meal should be a balanced meal. For a rule of thumb, vegetables should be ¼ of the meal, protein should be ¼ of the meal and grains should be ¼ of the meal (the remaining ¼ is reserved for fruit).

·      Add as many vegetables as you can, whenever you can. Order a delicious side of vegetables, a side salad or start with a salad.

·      If a meal comes with fries or chips, ask for a healthy side instead.

·      Salad Tips - Always ask for dressing on the side and pour with extreme moderation – a little goes along way. Restaurants love to load up on the dressing and it usually packs a lot of calories.

·      A fun trick is the fork dip. Simply dip your empty fork into the dressing, then put your fork into the salad. Surprisingly, this provides the perfect amount of dressing for taste and health! Avoid creamy dressings, bacon and other salty meats, croutons and large amounts of cheese.

 

Eating

·      Take advantage of the restaurant’s obligation to keep your water glass filled and drink a lot of it. This habit will help you pace yourself throughout the meal.

·      Just because a restaurant serves a huge portion does not mean you must eat it all in one sitting.

·      Bring leftovers back to the hotel mini fridge and eat them for lunch the next day (money saving).

·      Eat slowly. Your brain does not tell your stomach that you are full for twenty minutes. Not only will you end up eating a proper amount, the meal will most likely be more enjoyable as you are not rushing.

·      No matter how amazing the crème brulee looks, you can live without it. Skip dessert. You will be happier and healthier for it.

 

Bar

In certain settings, alcohol can be a big part of a vacation, as well as a large hindrance on your health. Always remind yourself that you will have fun if you choose not to drink and prioritize your health. Alcohol is acceptable if consumed responsibly and in moderation.

·      Eat food while you drink.

·      Take small sips and make the drink last longer.

·      Drink a glass of water in between each drink.

·      Skip the bar snacks.

·      Pre-plan your post-drink meal.

 

Keeping all of these tips in mind will send you in the right direction. Above all, never take opportunities for granted while traveling. Have fun, indulge when you want to – but in moderation! Happy travels!

- Written my Hub Healthy intern / BU nutrition student Maddie Metzger

Why Dietitians Don’t Eat These ‘Healthy’ Foods

Healthy -- an ambiguous word that is commonly thrown around to describe foods that are considered ‘good’ for you. Well, what if ‘healthy’ food isn’t really healthy at all… Major food companies tell us what we want to hear: low-fat, no-sugar, 100% juice, high protein, zero calorie, gluten-free, etc… Sounds too good to be true, right? Because it is. Understanding what healthy is and what healthy means is highly important to decipher exactly what you’re eating. And that’s where dietitians come into play. They know food better than anyone else, and when it comes to eating, they know what healthy actually looks like. Here is a list of some foods, known to be ‘healthy’ in the public eye, that dietitians don’t eat:

 

Gluten-free foods

‘Gluten-free’ has erupted in the United States with the rise of Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. With that, gluten-free has become synonymous with healthy, which is in fact untrue. Like most foods, if you take something out you need to replace it with something else to still make it palatable. Eliminating gluten from breads, pasta, cereal, baked goods, etc. is replaced with sugar and oils high in fat. It is important to read the nutrition label of gluten-free foods to determine if it’s the best alternative before purchasing.

 

Low-fat; no-sugar; zero calorie

Major food companies know better than anyone else on how to successfully market food. With the rise of health conscious Americans, food companies selling nutrient dense and high calorie products needed a new way to make their food products more attractive to sell. ‘Low-fat’, ‘no-sugar’, ‘zero calorie’ are the grab-bag of terms that are placed on the front of packages to market foods today. When something is taken out of a food product like fat for instance, sugar is replaced. The product may be low in fat, but now it tripled in sugar content. Always always look at the nutrition label before buying food. Be a smart shopper and don’t get fooled by food marketing.

 

Juice

It’s hard to believe for most people, but juice isn’t as good as it seems…Popular brands of apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, etc. are strikingly high in sugar content. This concentrated sugar is not good in high consumption and can cause cavities and weight gain over time.

 

Energy/protein bars

Energy and high protein bars were created for athletes to give them a boost of calories during a high intensity workout. Individuals of all energy levels are purchasing these bars as a snack food, giving them a high dose of sugar and calories. Energy bars are the equivalent to candy. The high carbohydrates in the bars are to be easily absorbed by athletes who need calories during high physical activity. When looking for a granola bar to snack on, look for the brands with lower calories, sugar, and fat.

 

Diet drinks

Americans consume diet sodas in staggering amounts. What they fail to believe is that diet sodas and diet drinks are doing them more harm then good. Diet sodas contain no nutritional value, which means you are not drinking any calories. What your drinking, is a drink loaded in artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, have more intense flavors than natural sugar and may have a negative effect on your health. 

Erika Siracusa, Student Intern

Dietitians vs. Nutritionists…What’s the Difference Anyways?

Nutrition is the new buzzword heard from the mouths of all Americans today. With the rise of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions, Americans are looking to lead healthier lifestyles to steer clear of these unwanted health burdens. There’s a spotlight on health and what it means to be healthy and we all want to be in the know. With little to no knowledge on what it means to be healthy, people are doing what they do best to get answers: Google…we’ve all done it, trust me. With a simple search on nutrition, two titles are bound to pop-up: dietitians and nutritionists. Who’s who and what’s the difference between these two roles anyways?

Dietitians:

  • You must complete a bachelor’s program in Nutrition and Dietetics from an accredited college. Coursework involves classes in the sciences such as chemistry, biochemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology and an array of nutrition courses.
  • They must complete a competitive internship before they become a Registered Dietitian. Through this internship, they gain experience in clinical nutrition, community nutrition, food management and entrepreneurship.
  • They must pass a national registration exam and become licensed in the state they want to practice in.
  • They must maintain their credentials through continuing education units (CEU) to maintain their professional license as a dietitian.

 

Nutritionists:

  • Could be anyone.
  • No specific education is required and no accredited title is given. Could be someone who has their PhD or someone who has taken a basic nutrition course.
  • Always ask a nutritionist about their training before receiving advice. Many unqualified people use this title in the nutrition field and you should be wary when choosing a nutrition professional for health advice.

Understanding the difference between these two roles will help determine which websites, articles and research are credible and most reliable…after all, it is your health. Just some food for thought, All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic

Erika Siracusa, Student Intern

Simply Simple Summer Salsa

This spicy salsa is irresistible and simply simple. This nutritious recipe is full of colorful ingredients and is loaded with antioxidants. Serve on a pork roast or baked chicken, or use it as a dip with blue corn chips or whole-wheat crackers. It’s one of those recipes that is perfect for cookouts and snacking, and is guaranteed to spice up your summer!

Yield: 12 servings (serving size ¼ cup)

Ingredients:

2 cups diced peeled Spartan apple (about 3/4 pound)

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional: for those who want a spicy kick)

 

Instructions:

Combine all the ingredients. Stir well and serve! 

Erika Siracusa, Student Intern

13 Things Nutritionists Actually Want You To Know

Who are these magical people who are trained to navigate the world of food and nutrition without freaking out and help others do the same? And do they, like, never eat carbs? To answer these questions and others, BuzzFeed Health reached out to four registered dietitians.

We talked to Abby Langer, RD, owner of Abby Langer NutritionJessica Jones, RD, community health clinic outpatient dietitian and co-creator of Food Heaven Made Easy; Shelly Redmond, RD, founder of Skinny Louisiana; and Ben Sit, RD, president ofEvolved Sport and Nutrition. Here’s what they had to say:

1. They aren’t interested in judging your diet or lifestyle.

Paramount Pictures / Via argentshoot.tumblr.com

Even though it might be intimidating to tell a nutritionist all about the way you eat, especially when you’re seeking them out for help with your diet, nutritionists aren’t there to guilt or shame you into changing your diet.

“I hate being the food police,” says Sit. Plus, shaming a patient doesn’t help, says Jones — it’s disempowering.

2. There’s no one diet they think is superior.

Instagram: @lindseyeatsla / Via instagram.com

Yes, across the board they’ll probably advise you to drink less soda and eat fewer processed foods. But they’re not likely to advocate going Paleo or going vegan or avoiding all grains. “Everything has to be very individualized. … My approach is to find what’s best for you and your body, and what will make you feel good and not stressed or anxious about eating,” says Jones.

3. They won’t tell you to say goodbye to all the things you love in this world.

Instagram: @brandis0520 / Via instagram.com

Jones explains that working with a nutritionist isn’t about eliminating your favorite (but less than ideal) foods from your life. If you love Popeyes, she won’t tell you to ban it. She’ll probably recommend you have it only once in a while, and with lots of vegetables.

Redmond says that a big part of her job is making over people’s favorite recipes to be a little healthier — whether it’s a dessert, cocktail, or favorite party food. And she’s not even trying to make these recipes totally fat-free or sugar-free, just kinda not as terrible for you. “The last thing we want is for people to take a bite and have it taste like a diet,” she says.

4. And, yes, they do want to help you start to enjoy healthier foods, too.

Instagram: @fiftyshadesoffoods / Via instagram.com

“Dietitians don’t want to make your life miserable. We really want you to understand food and appreciate it,” says Langer. It’s about helping clients “find balance between ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’ foods,” says Sit.

5. They got into nutrition because they love food, not food rules.

Instagram: @vero.let.them.eat.cake / Via instagram.com

“I always tell people, most of [the people in] our profession, we really do like food. We like to celebrate with food. We like food itself,” says Redmond, who was so into food she was actually enrolled in culinary school until she realized that she’d rather teach people how to cook their own food than become a professional chef.

“I didn’t have dolls growing up, I had pots and pans,” she says. “I wanted to teach people to eat what they already love.” Similarly, Sit was also training to become a chef until he realized he wanted to study nutrition instead.

6. And they don’t eat super healthy 100% of the time.

Instagram: @icecream / Via instagram.com

Sure, they eat all the vegetables, but they also let themselves have their favorite things (in moderation), like sweet stuff, fried chicken, and the occasional double whiskey. And this can actually make them better nutritionists, says Jones. “I can relate to people because I have had — and I still do have — my own struggles,” she says.

7. Clients who are mega self-educated about nutrition are kinda hard to deal with.

TNT / Via gifhell.comgiphy.com

Sit says that it can be difficult to work with clients who have done a bunch of their own nutrition research, whether they’ve googled something to death or watched every food-related documentary on Netflix.

Doing all that research gives people lots of facts and subsequently lots of opinions about what’s right for them, but not necessarily the ability to “step back and look at the big picture” of a person’s diet, lifestyle, and relationship to food, which is exactly what nutritionists are trained to do.

8. They basically have a sixth sense for when clients aren’t being totally forthcoming.

20th Century Fox / Via shardwick.tumblr.com

20th Century Fox / Via shardwick.tumblr.com

 

Langer says after 17 years as a dietitian, she can usually tell when someone is trying to find a way not to mention the major sugar bender they just went on or that they had a less than ideal weekend in terms of eating or drinking.

Another telltale sign: when a client isn’t making progress toward their goal and there doesn’t seem to be any reason why.

9. They don’t want to talk nutrition while they’re socializing.

NBC / Via reddit.com

When people know you’re a nutritionist, they’ll want to debate diets or get advice about the way they eat, says Sit. “I never tell people I’m a dietitian. It’s brutal… I have no interest in engaging in work in a social situation,” he says.

Langer agrees: “When I go to a party I don’t want to tell people what I do for a living because I get bombarded with questions. I’m not working, I don’t want to hear what you had for breakfast,” she says.

10. And they definitely don’t want to debate which diet is “best.”

Twitter: @AnnaKendrick47

There’s a ton of information out there, and Langer says that when it comes to nutrition, people are “so wedded to what they believe in” that they often want to prove that their food thing — whether it has to do with GMOs, cleanses, supplements, etc. — is the best or the right thing for everyone across the board. “I try not to go there with people,” she says.

Jones agrees: “I don’t have any interest in convincing people of anything they don’t want to hear,” she says.

11. Nutritionists can also help with some of your ~feelings~ about food and eating.

Fox / Via princessmelanie.tk

“I’ve had so many people cry in my office. A lot of the time nutrition is not about food; it’s about why you eat and how you eat and what’s happened in the past to affect your attitude towards food,” says Langer. She says that when clients come to her wanting to lose weight, it’s important to understand not just the way they eat, but what their attitudes are about food and themselves.

“Some of that stuff is painful for people,” she says. Of course some clients’ issues are beyond the scope of what a nutritionist can provide. For example, a client with more serious emotional issues around food, eating, and weight would need to be referred to an actual psychotherapist, Langer says.

12. They’re not super into how other health care professionals deal with food and nutrition.

NBC / Via masiondelamode.tumblr.com

While doctors may know a lot of the medical research about food and diets, Sit says that nutritionists understand the “human side” of nutrition — like the economic, ethnical, moral, religious, and cultural beliefs and values that influence just about every food choice we make. As a result, nutritionists are particularly equipped to help patients integrate dietary and lifestyles changes in a sustainable, empowering way. Jones says a nutritionist’s job is to “meet patients where they’re at.”

13. And, yes, they know exactly how to lose 10 pounds super fast.

Logo / Via giphy.com

It’s one of the first things people ask nutritionists, says Jones, and that’s why they have a jokey answer. “You amputate a leg. That’s the quickest way to lose 10 pounds,” Jones says.

The fact is, nutritionists are not the people to go to for advice on which crash diet will help you drop the most weight in the least time. That’s because what they’re interested in is helping people make small changes that add up, over time, to a healthier lifestyle, an enjoyment of food, and a more empowered, self-confident outlook on life.

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sallytamarkin/nut...

A Seismic Shift in How People Eat

By HANS TAPARIA and PAMELA KOCH

IT’S easy to make fun of people in big cities for their obsession with gluten, or chia seeds, or cleanses.

But urbanites are not the only ones turning away from the products created by big food companies. Eating habits are changing across the country and food companies are struggling to keep up.

General Mills will drop all artificial colors and flavors from its cereals. Perdue, Tyson and Foster Farm have begun to limit the use of antibiotics in their chicken. Kraft declared it wasdropping artificial dyes from its macaroni and cheese. Hershey’s will begin to move away from ingredients such as the emulsifier polyglycerol polyricinoleate to “simple and easy-to-understand ingredients” like “fresh milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar.”

Those announcements reflect a new reality: Consumers are walking away from America’s most iconic food brands. Big food manufacturers are reacting by cleaning up their ingredient labels, acquiring healthier brands and coming out with a prodigious array of new products. Last year, General Mills purchased the organic pasta maker Annie’s Homegrown for $820 million — a price that was over four times the company’s revenues, likening it to valuations more often seen in Silicon Valley. The company alsointroduced more than 200 new products, ranging from Cheerios Protein to Betty Crocker gluten-free cookie mix, to capitalize on the latest consumer fads.

Food companies are moving in the right direction, but it won’t be enough to save them. If they are to survive changes in eating habits, they need a fundamental shift in their approach.

The food movement over the past couple of decades has substantially altered consumer behavior and reshaped the competitive landscape. Chains like Sweetgreen, a salad purveyor, are grabbing market share from traditional fast food companies. Brands such as Amy’s Kitchen, with its organic products, and Kind bars are taking some of the space on shelves once consumed by Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine and Mars.

For the large established food companies, this is having disastrous consequences. Per capita soda sales are down 25 percent since 1998, mostly replaced by water. Orange juice, a drink once seen as an important part of a healthy breakfast, has seen per capita consumption drop 45 percent in the same period. It is now more correctly considered a serious carrier of free sugar, stripped of its natural fibers. Sales of packaged cereals, also heavily sugar-laden, are down over 25 percent since 2000, with yogurt and granola taking their place. Frozen dinner sales are down nearly 12 percent from 2007 to 2013. Sales per outlet at McDonald’s have been on a downward spiral for nearly three years, with no end in sight.

To survive, the food industry will need more than its current bag of tricks. There is a consumer shift at play that calls into question the reason packaged foods exist. There was a time when consumers used to walk through every aisle of the grocery store, but today much of their time is being spent in the perimeter of the store with its vast collection of fresh products — raw produce, meats, bakery items and fresh prepared foods. Sales of fresh prepared foods have grown nearly 30 percent since 2009, while sales of center-of-store packaged goods have started to fall. Sales of raw fruits and vegetables are also growing — among children and young adults, per capita consumption of vegetables is up 10 percent over the past five years.

The outlook for the center of the store is so glum that industry insiders have begun to refer to that space as the morgue. For consumers today, packaged goods conjure up the image of foods stripped of their nutrition and loaded with sugar. Also, decades of deceptive marketing, corporate-sponsored research and government lobbying have left large food companies with brands that are fast becoming liabilities. According to one recent survey, 42 percent of millennial consumers, ages 20 to 37, don’t trust large food companies, compared with 18 percent of non-millennial consumers who feel that way.

Food companies can’t merely tinker. Nor will acquisition-driven strategies prove sufficient, because most acquisitions are too small to shift fortunes quickly. Acquired brands such as Annie’s Homegrown, Happy Baby and Honest Tea account for 1 percent or less of their buyers’ revenues. Moreover, these brands, along with their missions and culture, tend to get quickly lost in the sales and marketing machine of big food companies. It is easy for them to get orphaned.

For legacy food companies to have any hope of survival, they will have to make bold changes in their core product offerings. Companies will have to drastically cut sugar; process less; go local and organic; use more fruits, vegetables and other whole foods; and develop fresh offerings. General Mills needs to do more than just drop the artificial ingredients from Trix. It needs to drop the sugar substantially, move to 100 percent whole grains, and increase ingredient diversity by expanding to other grains besides corn.

Instead of throwing good money after bad for its lagging frozen products, Nestlé, which is investing in a new $50 million frozen research and development facility, should introduce a range of healthy, fresh prepared meals for deli counters across the country.

McDonalds needs to do more than use antibiotic-free chicken. The back of the house for its 36,000 restaurants currently looks like a mini-factory serving fried frozen patties and french fries. It needs to look more like a kitchen serving freshly prepared meals with locally sourced vegetables and grains — and it still needs to taste great and be affordable.

These changes would require a complete overhaul of their supply chains, major organizational restructuring and billions of dollars of investment, but these corporations have the resources. It may be their last chance.

 

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/opinion/...

Cutting Sugar Improves Children’s Health in Just 10 Days

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR

Obese children who cut back on their sugar intake see improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol readings and other markers of health after just 10 days, a rigorous new study found.

The new research may help shed light on a question scientists have long debated: Is sugar itself harming health, or is the weight gain that comes from consuming sugary drinks and foods mainly what contributes to illness over the long term?

In the new study, which was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published Tuesday in the journal Obesity, scientists designed a clinical experiment to attempt to answer this question. They removed foods with added sugar from a group of children’s diets and replaced them with other types of carbohydrates so that the subjects’ weight and overall calorie intake remained roughly the same.

After 10 days, the children showed dramatic improvements, despite losing little or no weight. The findings add to the argument that all calories are not created equal, and they suggest that those from sugar are especially likely to contribute to Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, which are on the rise in children, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco.

“This paper says we can turn a child’s metabolic health around in 10 days without changing calories and without changing weight – just by taking the added sugars out of their diet,” he said. “From a clinical standpoint, from a health care standpoint, that’s very important.”

Added sugars — the extra sweeteners food companies put in their products, not the sugar that occurs naturally in foods like fruit – are a topic of growing debate. In February, the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration proposed that food companies include a line on their nutrition labels listing the amount of added sugars in their products. After the dietary guidelines committee issued its report earlier this year, the agency expanded on its 2014 proposal, saying that companies should also list a “daily percent value” for added sugars on their labels in line with the 10 percent recommendation.

The proposed changes have been strongly opposed by the food industry as unscientific. The Sugar Association, a trade group, said the F.D.A. was “making assertions that lack adequate scientific evidence,” and the Grocery Manufacturers Association criticized the standards the agency used to establish the daily value as being “inadequate.”

The newly released study is timely in part because it lowered sugar intake among children to roughly 10 percent of daily calories, the amount recommended by the dietary guidelines committee.

For their study, the scientists recruited 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were considered at particularly high risk of diabetes and related disorders. All the subjects were black or Hispanic and obese, and had at least one or more symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that includes hypertension, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol and excess body fat around the waist.

On average, the subjects had been getting about 27 percent of their daily calories from sugar. By comparison, the average American takes in about 15 percent, though children typically consume much more than this in part because they have the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.

The study authors paired the subjects with dietitians. They then replaced the sugary foods in their diets with other foods purchased from local grocery stores. The goal was not to eliminate carbohydrates, but to reduce sugary foods and replace them with starchy foods without lowering body weight or calorie intake.

“Wherever there was food with added sugar in their diets, we took it out and we replaced it with a no-added-sugar version,” Dr. Lustig said.

So instead of yogurt sweetened with sugar, the children ate bagels. Instead of pastries, they were given baked potato chips. Instead of chicken teriyaki – which typically contains a lot of sugar – they ate turkey hot dogs or burgers for lunch. The remaining sugar in their diet came mostly from fresh fruit.

Because the scientists were working on a tight N.I.H. budget, they could only carry out the costly intervention for nine days. But in that short space of time, they saw marked changes.

On average, the subjects’ LDL cholesterol, the kind implicated in heart disease, fell by 10 points. Their diastolic blood pressure fell five points. Their triglycerides, a type of fat that travels in the blood and contributes to heart disease, dropped 33 points. And their fasting blood sugar and insulin levels – indicators of their diabetes risk – likewise markedly improved.

One expert who was not involved in the new research, Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that the study “strengthens the existing evidence on the relationship between added sugar intake and metabolic disease.”

“This kind of study is very difficult to do,” he said. “But it provides a proof of concept that in a high risk population, reducing consumption of added sugar can have multiple metabolic benefits.”

Dr. Sonia Caprio, a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at Yale Medical School, said that although the study was small, “it addressed the issue in an original way and tried to isolate the effect of sugar on metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.”

“This is an important area of research that might solve some of the metabolic issues that we are facing in children, particularly in adolescents,” she said. “This study needs to be taken seriously, and we need to expand on it.”

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/c...

Is Grass-Fed Beef Better?

Is there a health difference between eating grass-fed beef and conventional beef?

by Anahad O'Connor

 

Grass-fed beef tends to be higher in some nutrients, and studies suggest it may contain fewer bacteria that can cause food poisoning — which could be good for your health.

Grass-fed can mean a lot of things. But the American Grassfed Association, which has a certification program, refers to grass-fed animals “as those that have eaten nothing but grass and forage from weaning to harvest, have not been raised in confinement, and have never been fed antibiotics or growth hormones.”

Conventionally raised cattle are typically fed primarily corn and soy, which causes them to fatten more quickly, said Glenn A. Nader, an emeritus livestock and natural resources farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

In 2010, Mr. Nader and his colleagues at California State University, Chico, published a review in Nutrition Journal that found that on a gram-for-gram basis, grass-fed beef contained higher levels of beneficial fats such as omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or C.L.A. It also contained more antioxidants and higher levels of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A that can give grass-fed beef a yellowish appearance.

“When people go to their retail store and see yellow fat, they think there’s something wrong with it,” Mr. Nader said. “That’s not some bad piece of meat. That’s actually vitamin A you’re looking at.”

In a report earlier this month, Consumer Reports tested 300 samples of beef purchased at stores across the United States and determined that beef from conventionally raised cows was three times as likely as grass-fed beef to contain bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, posing a food poisoning threat. The report recommended that consumers choose grass-fed organic beef “whenever possible.”

Consumers who wish to buy grass-fed beef can find that information on package labels, as required by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/23/a...