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The early days of how my childhood brewed an eating disorder for my teenage years.

This is my personal story about my struggle with anorexia and disordered eating. It’s a long one so I will break it up into a couple blog posts. I have never written this story down on paper (only pieces of it); I’m not sure why. People used to tell me I should write a book but I guess I never got around to it. I help people in my practice with eating disorders and disordered eating but I think our own personal story can be a huge help to others who are struggling and those who just don’t know. Today I’m going to share with you the years leading up to my eating disorder. I guess you can say it was the seeds that were planted so long ago.

My Love of Food

My love of food began at an early age. I remember still living in Brooklyn, NY (where I was born and lived till the age of 5), and dipping my finger in a tub of butter and eating it. Eventually I started eating things like cheese melted on a plate, extra buttery homemade graham cracker crust that I would freeze and eat and biting off a stick of butter. I didn’t drink much water, except during sports, and mostly drank sodas. However, I loved all foods, including salads, eggs, vegetables, cheese and so on. My parents used to tell me, “this is going to catch up to you one day!” Of course I didn’t believe them. They also gave me the nickname cholesterol queen.

Growing up, I played lots of sports- everything from basketball, to soccer, to dance, to competitive swimming. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. I ate what I wanted and didn’t feel bad about it. People used to call me bottomless pit for how much I ate and I got poked at for how much and often I was eating. However, it didn’t make me fat. My body knew I needed that food and knew what to do with it. I was always more muscular than my friends, which I’m sure helped me in playing sports. It never bothered me until I reached middle school.

The start of the fall

In middle school is when I started swim team during the summer thanks to some friends I had made at school. I really loved swimming and felt like it was “my sport.” My best friend at the time was very petite and skinny and I felt somewhat huge in comparison to her. At the same time, my mom and older sister were exploring every diet they could get their hands on. This likely started before this time but this is when it seemed to affect me the most. They went to Weight Watchers (WW) together, ate WW meals and desserts, and I can still remember my mom standing by the sink chugging her 64 oz of water she had to drink. Then it was on to the cabbage soup diet and so on and so forth.

One day I tried to eat one of my mom’s WW frozen desserts because I liked it and was told, “you don’t need to eat those.” To which I replied, “I’m just trying to be proactive.” I also have memories of my dad telling me I couldn’t get a Lunchable from a convenience store while on our road trip because they were unhealthy and would make me fat. I have vague memories of both my parents making comments here and there about this food being “bad” and “don’t eat that, it’ll make you fat.” I’m probably making my parents out to be the food police but they really weren’t. I believe they had my best interest at heart. However, the teenage me took all these remarks and internalized them and eventually came back to haunt me. This is one reason it is so important to be positive with your kids and encourage them to focus on foods that will fuel their body rather than what they shouldn’t eat. Read more about that in my blog post, “The Importance of Being a Positive Role Model”

Middle and High School

At some point in middle school I started to think I was fat, despite having defined abs. I made a comment to my parents one night that I thought my calves were too big. They were really just muscular. My parents looked perplexed. I don’t know if I actually thought they were too big but I thought it was normal to point out things you didn’t like about your body. I picked this up from my mom, sadly.For the next several years, till senior year in high school, I swam 2 hours 5-6 days a week on a competitive swim team. As far as my feelings about myself during this time, it was really a blur. I can remember feeling starving after swim practice and eating until I felt content. Still, I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full.

I ended my swimming “career” my senior year of high school because I felt like swimming was interfering with my ability to spend time with my boyfriend. I went from swimming 2 hours 5-6 days a week to just going to the gym with my mom here and there. That summer after senior year, I was at a party. A guy I knew from high school made a comment, which eventually made it to me, saying I was really packing on the pounds. I felt horrible.

College

In the fall of 2002, I enrolled in culinary school. I went to Johnson & Wales University for my freshman year of college to study culinary arts. I loved to cook and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so this seemed like the most logical path.

While in culinary school, I was in a cooking lab 7 hours a day. We were cooking gourmet meals that would eventually become our lunch or dinner. I was still eating as if I was swimming 2 hours a day and lived up to my nicknames. As you can imagine, the food combined with lack of exercise really started to pack on the pounds. Although I don’t know how much I gained, I would imagine at least 30 lbs. Unhappy with my looks was an understatement but I had no idea how to lose weight…none. My boyfriend at the time told me to just eat salads so I started ordering the most loaded up salads you could find. That didn’t work.

When Xenadrine, a diet pill, came out I thought I’d give them a try, starting with half a dose.  It felt like I was going crazy because I was jittery all of the time. I took the pills for probably a couple weeks before people started commenting how skinny I was. During that time I likely lost about 15 lbs or more. I felt kind of strange that I looked so different and my clothes were about falling off of me but I was ok with it.

It wasn’t long after that I started to read online that people were having heart attacks, strokes and dying. All because of the main ingredient in these diet pills- Ephedra. I quickly threw the pills out and the weight came flooding back on almost as quickly and plus some.

Until next time…

Next week I’ll pick this story back up. I’ll share with you how I dove head first into an eating disorder and didn’t even realize it. Stay tuned! In the mean time, if you think you’re struggling with a poor relationship with food, check out my blog article to find out.

Do you know you struggle with disordered eating, a poor relationship with food or a full blown eating disorder and need help? Set up a FREE No Obligation Consultation with me to start getting help now!

The post My personal struggle with an Eating Disorder appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Nutrient and flavor packed ingredients make for a satisfying, balanced and complete lunch or dinner!

Who doesn’t love a good soup especially when it’s cold and rainy outside? Perfect for this nasty weather we’ve been having over the past few months. My nutrient-packed creamy potato cauliflower soup is the picture-perfect combination of a satisfying comfort food and healthy meal all in one bowl! It makes a complete, balanced meal, is low FODMAP and gluten free!

The Main Ingredient, Cauliflower!

This soup uses several ingredients and techniques to turn up the flavor profile, while increasing the nutrient density. First, half of the soup is made up of cauliflower. Cauliflower has become a staple in kitchens lately due to its versatility and nutrient density. Did you know cauliflower contains:

  • 73% DV (Daily Value) vitamin C- a powerful antioxidant that produces collagen for skin and bones, prevents chronic disease, boosts immune function and increases recovery from sport
  • 19% DV vitamin K- plays an important role in blood clotting, strengthening your bones and helps to prevent cardiovascular disease
  • 14% DV Folate- aside from being a necessary micronutrient in pregnancy, it helps with brain and nervous system function and development, red blood cell function (think more oxygen to muscles= better performance!), prevention of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease
  • 13% DV vitamin B6- plays a role in red blood cell function, metabolism of carbs, fat and protein, immune function, reduces inflammation (better recovery from sport!), and helps prevent cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease

Whew, that’s a lot of health-producing power packed into one vegetable. Not to mention, there’s more than just that. Who ever said, “don’t eat white foods” didn’t know what they were talking about! Just another reason to not follow the fads J

To increase the flavor of the already delicious cauliflower, you can simply roast it before throwing it in the soup. Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness and caramelizes them, giving them a deep, rich flavor. All you need to do is turn your oven to 400 degrees, toss the cauliflower in salt, pepper and olive oil and roast in oven until they’re golden brown!

Potatoes

Of course a creamy potato and cauliflower soup will have potatoes! In the low-carb diet world we live in today, potatoes are a no no! But I’m here to tell you don’t throw out your potatoes! They’re actually packed with vitamin C! Yes, you heard that right! A medium potato contains 42 mg vitamin C, which is just below a navel orange at 51 mg! They also contain lots of fiber and energy-producing carbohydrates. I prefer red or golden potatoes to russet potatoes personally, but you can use any type you like.

 

Load It Up!

Once you’ve actually made the soup, now the fun begins! Load it up with your favorite toppings, such as:

  • bacon bits (I prefer pre-cooked Al Fresco chicken bacon because it’s easy and nitrite/nitrate free)
  • cheddar cheese
  • green onions
  • pan-fried diced pancetta or ham
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • roasted garlic cloves

In my opinion, toppings are just like the icing on an already delicious cake!

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 medium sized red potatoes, chopped skins on
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth or bone broth
  • 1 T. butter
  • ¼ c. flour
  • 1 1/3 cup milk of choice (I used Fairlife milk for extra protein and because it’s lactose free)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. You’re going to make a roux, which is equal parts flour and butter by weight. Melt the butter over medium heat in a stockpot and add in flour. Cook for a minute or two until lightly golden brown.
  2. Next, add chicken broth, celery, cauliflower, potatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until veggies are cooked.
  3. Once veggies are cooked, add in milk and heat an additional 3 minutes. Be sure not to boil the soup as it will break the milk and it’ll look unpleasant (but still taste fine).
  4. Last, if you have a stick blender, blend up half the soup while leaving the other half chunky. If not, put half the soup in a blender and combine with the remaining chunks. If you’re not a fan of chunky soup you can puree the whole thing.
  5. Top with whatever delicious toppings you’d like! I chose cheese, bacon and sliced green onions.
  6. Serve immediately!

You can also make this soup in the crockpot if you wish. Just don’t add the milk until the very end. You’ll need to either cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. This soup makes a complete balanced meal but you can certainly serve with a side salad or some crusty bread!

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love to hear how you liked it or any changes you made. My family absolutely loved this soup so this one will definitely be going in our regular rotation If you like this recipe, try some of my other quick and easy meals:

The post Slow Cooker Recipe: Creamy Potato and Cauliflower Soup appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Spoiler: The best diet is not what you think!

If you’re an athlete or an active person, losing weight may not be as easy as one might think. You have to balance eating for energy with eating to elicit a weight loss. But I’ll be honest…I’m tired! I’m tired of hearing about the latest and greatest diet that comes out every month that we all know won’t deliver. Sure, it might for the first week or two but once you start to feel sluggish and your performance suffers, then forget it! Next, the weight loss comes flooding back on…not cool!

As a dietitian, it’s exhausting to see a new diet come out every month that is only going to ruin metabolisms, physical & mental health and performance. I’m sick of going on Pinterest to look for a recipe to make for dinner and I’m bombarded with strictly Keto/Whole 30/Paleo recipes. So what will I be cooking? Air?! Chances are if you’re still reading this, you probably agree with me! So what IS the best diet for an athlete or active individual? Well let’s first look at some of the popular diets first:

Keto

Keto is basically no carbs (<20-50g/day), very high fat and moderate protein. Both carbs and fat are energy sources so you’re just swapping one for the other. Yes, your body has more fat stores than it does carb stores, but the research shows that carbs are still king when it comes to athlete nutrition. Carbs help build muscle, maintain muscle, aid in recovery from workouts and fuel your brain. Starting Keto generally causes the “Keto Flu” which is exactly what it sounds like. You’re depriving your body’s primary fuel source so it’s going to feel like death. Most people wind up overeating on protein, which leads to fat gain. It can also be dangerous if your micronutrient, electrolyte and water intake isn’t balanced correctly; especially if you have a brain disorder. Want to get off Keto because you’re tired of not eating carbs? Think again! I’ve seen clients gain 10 lbs in a week trying to get off Keto because it’s a lifestyle!

Intermittent Fasting

IF is basically just calorie restriction. Research suggests that cutting back on what you’re eating slightly gives you the same weight loss benefit. However, the problem with IF is that most people don’t do it right. It all depends on how much weight you have to lose and your activity level. The longer and more frequent your fasts are= sluggishness, exhaustion, poor performance in sport and daily life. Another big problem is a lot of people that I’ve worked with trying to get off IF have wound up eating very low calories, they have no appetite and as a result they’re stuck on the IF hamster wheel. Meaning, they can’t increase their intake without unwanted weight gain. This means, a metabolism that has been damaged!

 Paleo

Paleo does not allow grains but it does allow other sources of carbs like fruits, starchy vegetables (depending on who you ask). No legumes/lentils, dairy, refined sugars, salt (depending on who you ask), artificial sweeteners and processed foods. You can eat grass fed meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts & seeds, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. The idea is to eat like our caveman ancestors ate- which is still out for debate. Paleo is probably the least intrusive of the diets listed here and I do believe has a good premise behind it. However, it’s too restrictive. Limiting processed foods? Sure! Limiting artificial sweeteners? Sure! Limiting refined sugars? Again, sure! But to never eat these foods?? Come on! There’s something to be said for eating for enjoyment every once in a while. Mental health is very much part of the wheel of health, not just physical health. No salt? Good luck on preventing muscle cramps! No grains, legumes, dairy? Now make those muscle cramps double worse! Not to mention, you’ll be struggling to get through some grueling workouts and how you train is how you’ll perform.

Whole 30

Whole 30 was not developed to be a weight loss diet but rather a means to “reset” your poor eating to healthier eating. However, people use it as a 30 day weight loss “cleanse”, go back to their poor eating habits and when they need to lose the weight again, they jump back on the Whole 30 bandwagon. Not ok! It’s incredibly unhealthy to yo-yo back and forth with weight loss. This actually causes more health conditions and a higher mortality rate than being overweight! The other problem with Whole 30 is it does not allow grains, which provide carbs. Carbs= energy and fuel to your working muscles and brain. You can do the math on what will happen without this important fuel source.

Of course there are many more diets in circulation but these are the most popular diets for right now. So you may be saying, “What can I eat? I’m so confused! What is the best diet for athletes?” Read on to find out!

So What Is The Best Diet for Athletes and An Active Lifestyle?? 

The best diet for athletes and active individuals is one where you fuel your body and give it what it needs. Yes, you heard that correctly! If you focus on giving your body what it needs, then it will do amazing things with that fuel like turn it into power producing muscle! This means

  • listening to and obeying your physical hunger and fullness cues- even if you feel like you shouldn’t be hungry (check out the hunger fullness scale below!)
  • eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day- check out my blog on this!!
  • focusing on carbs and a small amount of protein before and after workouts/trainings
  • hydrating with water throughout the day and fluids with electrolytes during workouts- check out my blog on hydration!
  • obeying cravings and not restricting your food intake (because that will only lead to stronger cravings and going overboard later)
  • savoring and enjoying your food- this means paying attention to what you’re eating and not eating while looking at your phone
  • not feeling guilty if you ate too much or something that contained carbs (gasp!!)
  • not labeling foods as good or bad

What I’m describing here is a mixture of fueling your body for life and sport, eating for health and intuitive or mindful eating. This is something I’m very passionate about because of my own personal experiences and professional experience with working with hundreds of clients. When we follow what our body is telling us to do, it just works! That’s because our body knows what it needs better than we do. I highly suggest assessing your relationship with food before moving forward. You can do that by checking out my blog on assessing your relationship with food.

Assessing Your Hunger/Fullness

Check out the scale to the left. Where are you before you start eating and when you finish? This can really be translated to a 1-10 scale. Start eating when you’re in the hungry phase and depending on your goals you should stop eating when you’re in the high neutral to satisfied stage. Combine this with balancing your plate for your activity (more on that here) for the best diet for an athlete!

Are you sick of all the fad diets?

Ready to get healthy and learn how to fuel your body properly? Let’s Recharge Your Health! Recharge Your Health is a revolutionary 12 week program where you will learn the truth about what YOU should be eating for YOUR body and YOUR goals! No fads here; only science based information you can easily put into practice. You’ll learn everything you need to:

  • look and feel better
  • fuel your body for optimal physical and mental health
  • have energy to make it throughout the work day AND workouts
  • not be confused on what to eat, when and how

More details will be released on this program as we get closer to it’s release date in mid March, 2019. To get the latest info on this program, sign up for my newsletter (to the right) or sign up for a FREE No Obligation Consultation to find out if it’s a good fit for you!

The post Best Weight Loss Diet For Athletes An Active Lifestyle appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Salmon with veggies over cheesy grits is one of my family’s go-to meals. It’s quick, simple and a delicious twist on the not-so-healthy shrimp and grits (my favorite). Since weeknights are already hard trying to get dinner on the table after a full day of work, there’s no need to complicate things with a time consuming dinner. This meal takes 15 min max (including prep time) and gives you all the components of a balanced meal: protein, healthy fat, grains and veggies!

What makes a balanced meal?


Creating a balanced meal is really pretty simple- probably what you think of in the “olden days” of family dinners.

  1. Make 1/4 of your plate grains (can be more depending on how active you are or less if you try
    ing to lose a few lbs). This equates to 1/3 c. to 1 c. of grains.
  2. Make 1/4 of your plate a lean protein (preferably wild caught fish, grass fed beef/pork or free-range chicken). If you’re trying to lose weight and have decreased your grain intake, up your protein to 1/3 of a plate.
  3. Make 1/2 your plate non-starchy veggies. In this recipe I used sautéed kale and mushrooms.
  4. Add a small amount of healthy fat. This recipe has a couple sources: the fat in the salmon, olive oil to sauté the veggies and cheese in grits (I use 2% cheese).
So what’s the recipe, you ask??

I took a couple shortcuts to make this recipe. First, I buy pre-portioned wild caught salmon fillets.

I either buy them frozen from Sam’s Club, Trader Joes or fresh from Publix or Earth Fare. I tend to use sockeye salmon since it’s higher in vitamin D. What’s the big deal with vitamin D? Read my blog post on Vitamin D and Sports Performance!

I use instant grits. These only take 5-7 minutes to cook rather than 45 minutes for stone ground grits…ain’t no one got time for that! At least not on a weeknight

I also use pre-chopped kale and mushrooms. This saves me extra time from having to wash and chop my veggies and they’re the same price as their whole counterparts. So I say, why not?!

You can use any veggies you’d like.  I’ve used bell pepper, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and zucchini in the past. I also top with sliced green onions.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. dry grits (this will give you lots of leftover grits but I just use them for breakfast)
  • 2 large handfuls chopped kale
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 wild caught sockeye salmon fillets (feel free to cook more for leftovers)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 oz 2% cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 cups water
Directions:
  1. Cook the grits according to the package- 4 cups water to 1 c. dry grits.
  2. Meanwhile heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper and paprika. Sear each side for 3-4 minutes until brown and remove from pan.
  3. In the same pan that the salmon was in, add 1 tsp olive oil and sauté mushrooms and kale. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. When grits are cooked, stir in cheddar cheese.
  5. Spoon grits into a bowl, top with veggies, salmon and green onions.

Makes 2 servings

This is seriously one of the most satisfying and easy meals you can make. If you don’t like salmon, try another fish like cod, catfish or tilapia. If you don’t like fish, I’ve made this meal with pork tenderloin sliced up. Either way you make it, it’s sure to be a meal the entire family will love. And the best part is it’s a pretty inexpensive meal costing about $3 per meal! Salmon with veggies over cheesy grits also makes a perfect post-workout dinner. If you need more help with what to eat after a workout, check out my article on Post Workout Fueling.

Are you struggling through your workouts/trainings? Feel like your legs are made of lead and you just can’t push yourself like you used to? Your diet is likely to blame. Check out my FREE e-book, Top 5 Steps to Fuel Your Body for Peak Performance! You’ll learn exactly how to eat to boost your energy levels so you can compete like an ELITE athlete!

The post Salmon and Veggies Over Cheesy Grits appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Learn to pick the right cereals to give you the proper nutrients and energy you need as an athlete.

Mornings are hard, especially when you’re not a morning person. Getting in a nutritious breakfast is even harder when you’re rushing around. But we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day so what is one to do?

Cereal can be a quick and healthy option and can deliver the proper nutrients and energy that an athlete’s body demands. However, you just have to pick the right one. I’m going to share with you the Sports Dietitian’s top cereal picks for athletes.

What do you want in a cereal for an athlete? 

When we’re analyzing cereals for athletes there’s a couple things to keep in mind:

  • It’s made with whole grains (must be first ingredient and contain >3g fiber)
  • Low in refined sugars (<10g)
  • Contains protein (>5g)
  • Contains healthy fats

Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. However, if you’re only eating carbs, your meal is going to be long gone by the time your next meal or snack rolls around. What’s the end result? Hunger, fatigue and sluggishness are what are in store. So you’ll need to combine your nutrients- combine fiber rich whole grains with slow digesting healthy fats and protein. This will help to time release the energy from your food so you stay energized and satisfied. Bonus points if it’s non-GMO!

Top 7 best cereals for athletes: 
  1. Kashi Go Lean- contains a whopping 12 g protein and 13 g fiber! First ingredient is “7 whole grain honey puff cereal”
  2. Post Great Grains Cereals- one of my favorite tasting cereals because it has a number of “goodies” like dried fruits and nuts! There are a number of flavors from Banana Nut Crunch to Crunchy Pecan (personal fav). These contain >5g fiber, only 8 g sugar and >5 g protein.
  3. Granola- there are hundreds of granola brands but my personal favorites are Nature’s Path Pumpkin Seed & Flax Granola or Coconut Chia Granola (non-GMO, organic, 6 g protein, 5 g fiber, 10 g healthy fat, 10 g sugar and wheat free!). I also like Bear Naked Granola and if you want to get really crazy I have my own granola I like to make, Olive Oil Granola! It’s super easy and costs way less than buying a box of pre-made granola.
  4. Overnight oats- not an oatmeal fan? That’s ok, this is basically like cold cereal and you can customize it to whatever your taste buds fancy. Just search for overnight oats on Pinterest and you have a ton of options! Made with whole grain oats that are chock full of filling fiber and protein. Add some chia seeds, shredded coconut, blueberries and milk, stick in the fridge overnight and now you have an awesome, quick cereal!
  5. Muesli- Muesli is basically like overnight oats but done for you in terms of all the extras like nuts and fruit. You can either soak overnight just like overnight oats or add milk and eat as is! You can also heat up in the microwave if you prefer it warm. A great brand is Bob’s Red Mill.
  6. Raisin Bran- Raisin Bran is very high in iron (25% Daily Value), which is something athletes sweat out and can easily be deficient in. It only has 9 g added sugars, contains 5 g protein and a whopping 7 g fiber! Kellogg’s even has an Omega 3 version that contains 250 mg Omega 3’s from flaxseeds; a natural anti-inflammatory.
  7. Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits, Organic Island Vanilla- non-GMO verified and organic! Contains a filling 6 g fiber and 6 g protein plus it has a delicious vanilla flavor that won’t make you miss the frosting!

No matter if you train in the morning or afternoon, cereal makes a great pre-workout snack as well as breakfast. And yes, even if you’re training early in the morning you still need a pre-workout snack. Just grabbing a handful of dry cereal will do the trick! Check out “Do I Really Need A Pre-Workout Snack” to find out more about this crucial piece of a good sports nutrition plan.

The post 7 Best Cereals for Athletes On Busy Mornings appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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This recipe is almost like an “everything but the kitchen sink” type recipe but has the added benefit of fitting into a healthy Mediterranean Diet. You can easily throw everything in your crockpot in the morning before leaving for work so you can walk into a wonderful smelling house and have dinner waiting for you! Who doesn’t love that?! You can also set this to cook at night so you have a healthy lunch to bring with you to work.

The Mediterranean Diet…

is not as much of a diet as it is a lifestyle. It consists primarily of plants, healthy fats like olive oil, poultry, fish, beans and grains. Following the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. That’s because it’s high in antioxidants and low in artery-clogging saturated fats.

As an added bonus, this recipe is low in FODMAPS! FODMAPS are foods that can trigger IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms, causing unwanted gas, bloating, pain, etc. Like many, I have IBS and cannot eat garlic and onions, except green onions. Therefore, I leave the garlic whole in this recipe so I can easily remove them before eating. That way I get the flavor without the pain!

Ingredients:

1 c. sliced celery

1 c. sliced carrots

3 c. shredded kale (no thick stems)

1 c. sliced green onions

5 cloves garlic, whole

4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

4 c. water

2 lbs chicken breast

6 oz crumbled feta or shaved parmesan

1 c. dry brown rice

15 oz can chickpeas

15 oz can diced tomatoes

2 T. dried oregano

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Directions:

Put all ingredients except kale and cheese in a slow cooker. Stir all ingredients together. Set to low and cook for 10 hours or 4 hours on high. When stew is done, add a handful of kale to your bowl, spoon stew over top and sprinkle with feta/parmesan cheese. The kale will get overcooked if left in the slow cooker the whole time.

It’s that easy! The best part is since this is a one-pot dish, there’s only one pot to clean!! Plus it makes a nice warm and cozy lunch that’ll keep you full for hours. For another easy Mediterranean style lunch or dinner idea, check out my Salmon and Quinoa Salad.

Makes 10 servings each: 

387 calories, 10 g fat, 28 g carbs, 38 g protein

Need more easy and healthy recipes like this one? Download my Healthy Living Cookbook! Chock full of dietitian-approved recipes that the whole family will love.

The post Mediterranean Diet Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Stew appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Being a parent is hard work! I’ve officially made it two years as a parent and I’ve had to really shift priorities during these two years. I, just as I’m sure you do, want my family to be a healthy family and that begins with the parents.

Over the past two years I’ve worked on making my family a healthy family and I want to share my tips with you. Here are my top 5 steps for making YOUR family healthier!

Eat together as a family

This is one key step that will help your kids learn how to be healthy by watching you, learning from you and being served healthier options. In fact, studies prove it! A 2000 survey found that the nine to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently consumed more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.Instant healthy family! Plus as an added bonus, you get to learn more about what’s going on in your kid’s lives.

 

Plan out meals

I remember watching my mom plan out all of our meals for the week, posting it on the refrigerator and creating a shopping list based on the menu. This sounds more complicated than it has to be and can easily be done in 15 minutes or less. It leads to healthier options getting on your table and saving money too! I use my Healthy Living Cookbook to come up with recipes when I’m stuck. This is my personal cookbook of RD-approved, family-loved recipes! I generally find 4-5 dinners for the week, a couple snacks and build my shopping list from the ingredients. Leftovers are my best friend because they make for easy lunches!

Get your kids involved in cooking/shopping

This might sound like a nightmare but it’ll do your kids a lot of good when they get older! Did you know that your kids learn how to function as an adult from you?! I know, you already knew that In all seriousness, if you don’t teach your kids how to grocery shop then how do you expect them to do it as an adult? I LOVED going to the store with my mom…it was bonding time for us! It’ll also make them more likely to eat the fruits and veggies THEY picked out. Need some help with grocery shopping? I’ve got you covered with my Grocery Shopping for Weight Loss or Grocery Shopping on a Budget guides!

Incorporate healthy convenience foods

In this day in age, cooking everything from scratch is not a reality. However, there are plenty of healthy convenience foods you can incorporate to get the job done!

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Powerful Oatmeal cups
  • Minute brown rice cups
  • Perdue Simply Smart grilled chicken
  • Salad kits
  • Steam in the bag veggies, brown rice, quinoa, spiralized veggies and more
  • Special K crustless quiche

 

Implement a family activity

This can be as simple as taking a 20-minute walk together after dinner. It can also be a family hike on a weekend or playing tag in the backyard together. They need it and we need it too! Get your kids off the tv and video games and get them outside and active. This sets the stage for how active they will be later in life and thus reduce their risk of a variety of medical conditions.

In the end these changes all start with you, the parent. However, adding another thing to your plate doesn’t have to be as dreadful as you might think. Take it one step at a time.

Need more help in putting all the steps together? My program, Be The Boss of Your Weight Loss, put it all together for you and your family. It’s a 6-session program that you and your family can go through together!

 

The post 5 Steps to Making A Healthy Family appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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Are you a parent of a teenage athlete who wants your child to become faster and stronger but not at the expense of their health? Sports nutrition supplements are usually the first go-to to reach these goals.

There are key factors you should be looking at when it comes to sports nutrition supplements and I’m going to share them with you. Along with what’s proven safe and effective. So read on!

What is a supplement?

A lot of people think of supplements as only pills and that is true. However, supplements reach beyond just vitamins and minerals. The FDA defines dietary supplements as, “Products taken by mouth that contain a “dietary ingredient.” Dietary ingredients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals, as well as other substances that can be used to supplement the diet.” These include:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Probiotics
  • Herbs and botanicals
  • Enzymes
  • Protein powders and amino acids
  • Pre-workouts
  • Recovery drinks

Does your teenage athlete take any of these supplements? I’d be willing to bet at least one, if not more. Unfortunately, consumers generally believe the FDA tightly regulates supplements. Unfortunately, they don’t. It’s not until enough adverse effects have been reported that they look into them.

Safety- What is Not Safe?

First, let’s talk about safety. Your teenage athlete is still growing and will be for many years so making sure that their supplement is not contaminated is of the utmost importance!

Here are some quick stats:
  1. The supplement industry has grown from $4 billion to $38 billion annually from 1994 to 2016
  2. Ingredients (not listed on label) have been identified in supplements that cause liver damage, cardiac arrest and death
  3. In 2007, 25% of 52 supplements studied contained steroids
  4. In 2009 >70 weight loss supplements contained prescription drugs
Avoid supplements that have THIS on the label:
  • Promise unrealistic results
  • Contain red flag words like hardcore and extreme
  • Contain a “proprietary blend” (this means it could contain anything that might work and in any amount, good or bad)
  • Warning labels
  • The top 10 ingredients to avoid
    1. Yohimbine (a.k.a. erex, testomar, yocon, yohimar, yohimbe)
    2. Phenethylamines (a.k.a. PEA, B-phenylethylamine, N-methylphenylethylamine)
    3. Geranium (a.k.a. DMAA)
    4. Any ingredient containing “andro”
    5. Bitter orange (a.k.a. biarade, seville, sour orange, citrus aurantium)
    6. Germander
    7. Guarana
    8. Yerba mate extract
    9. Kratom
    10. Bael tree fruit (a.k.a. N-[2-hydroxy-2(4-methoxyphenyl)ethyl]-3-phenyl-2-propenamide)
Safety- What is Safe?

So by now you may be thinking, “oh my gosh, is any supplement safe for my teenage athlete?!” The answer is yes, but you need to do some homework because there are A LOT of supplements out there!.

In 2009 there were over 55,000 dietary supplements with new ones coming out each year.

 

Here’s what you need to look for:
  • Where is the company located and supplements produced. Inside the US is better (more than half are outside the US).
  • Does the company follow regulatory compliance and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)? Check this list to find which companies are.
  • If the supplement has the NSF certification label.
  • If the supplement NSF for Sport Certified– it will have a different label. The differencebetween the last one and this one is that they will pass a screening for athletic banned substances. This is only if the athlete is playing at the collegiate level or above.
  • Check out ConsumerLab.org, an independent testing company, to see if your teen’s supplement contains what it says it does.
Does it Work?

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of supplements that actually work. Below is a good list that is ok for use in teenage athletes. Keep in mind the individual needs your teenage athlete will vary. Consulting with a doctor and/or sports dietitian are key!

  • Beet Elite
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids
  • Multivitamin and mineral supplements
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3
  • Probiotics
  • Protein supplements- protein supplements are safe and can be an effective source of protein for increasing muscle size and strength with a balanced diet. Whey protein is the most effective. However, food should always be considered first over supplements. Limit protein intake to 30 grams per time taken. A lot of people take protein shakes when they don’t need them. I suggest reading my blog article, Do I Need a Protein Shake Following a Workout?
  • Vitamin D

 

**I know someone will ask so I will stick this in here. I do not recommend creatine supplements to teenagers because it can place too much stress on the heart. Check your teenage athletes supplements to make sure it does not contain creatine.

What Brands are Good?

There are tons of brands on the market and lots of them make good products. However, what I recommend to my clients and personally use are Thorne products. They follow GMPs, are NSF certified, have NSF certified supplements, have lots of research to back them up and are regularly tested. Thorne makes a wide variety of supplements from multivitamins to protein powders. Check out their selection and order online!

Want more information on supplements, what’s good for what and who should take them? Download my e-book, The Comprehensive Guide to Sports Supplements!

The post Sports Nutrition Supplements for Teenage Athletes: What’s Safe and Effective? appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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The sports nutrition you give your body before a game or competition can make a big difference in your performance!

Being a student athlete is hard work- you have to balance school, practice, games and maybe even a job. Eating properly before games and competitions may seem like just one more thing to add to your plate (pun intended!) and unnecessary but it’s actually crucial for performance. Sports nutrition for young athletes is a must if you want to be competitive.

Eating properly before a game or competition can increase speed, strength, power, time to exhaustion and limit cramping. How would you like to be faster, more powerful and stronger in your sport?  Read on to find the answer to the question, “what should I eat before a game or competition?”

Our Bodies are Like Cars

Think of eating and hydrating before a game as putting gas in your car before a long road trip. The type and quality of gas will directly affect your car’s performance. Cheap gas= sputtering and gas getting burned off more quickly. Quality gas= a smooth ride where you step on the gas and your car accelerates with a quickness…how nice! How much you put in will directly affect how long you make it on the trip. A half of a tank may only get you two towns over before you need to pull off the interstate and fuel up again- how annoying! A full tank will get you to your final destination no problem. I don’t know about you but a full tank of quality gas sounds much better to me!

 

When you give your body junk food before a game or even no food, you might experience:

  • running out of fuel quickly leading to hunger pangs
  • bonking
  • cramping
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach aches and/or diarrhea
  • side stiches
  • running much slower than normal
  • inability to jump as high or throw as far
  • overall fatigue and feeling of lead in your legs

Sound familiar? I probably don’t need to tell you any of this!

So What Do I Eat Before a Game or Competition?

You’re body uses two fuel sources: carbohydrates (quick digesting) and fats (slow digesting). Protein is not a fuel source but more used for body maintenance…think of it as oil in your car, keeping everything oiled and running smoothly. Since fat is slow digesting, you don’t want a lot of it immediately before you’re about to compete. The reason is because a large portion of your blood will be diverted to your stomach to aid in digesting the fat rather than delivering oxygen to your working muscles, where you want it. That leaves us with carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates

These pack a powerful punch in terms of delivering your body with energy. Think of it as high-test gasoline! How much you eat before your game will be related to how far in advance you are to competition/game time. 

Directly before a game/competition is the time when you will want to not focus so much on getting in a lot of fiber as fiber can increase stomach distress. So think wheat bread or white bread instead of 100% whole wheat bread. Fruit is quick digesting because of the sugar content, despite containing some fiber, so also a good choice.

Use this chart below as a guide: 

Time Before Game Grams of Carbs Examples
½ hour 30 grams 2 slices of bread
1 hour 45 grams 1 large bagel
1.5 hours 60 grams 2 slices of bread and medium banana
2 hours 75-85 grams 2 slices of bread, medium banana and 1 oz pretzels

*Keep in mind, these numbers are just a guide and not specific in amounts from person to person. Your age, weight and sport will affect these numbers.

Protein

Protein is the other fuel source you want to focus on but not quite as much. It is made of amino acids, which basically helps to rebuild muscle during and after breakdown (a.k.a. exercise). Protein will also help to “time release” the energy out of your carbohydrates. This chart below will help you to determine how much protein to eat and when:

Time Before Game Grams of Carbs Examples
½ hour 5-10 grams 1 Tablespoon peanut butter or 8 oz low-fat milk
1 hour 15-20 grams 2 oz chicken/turkey breast
1.5 hours 20-30 grams 3-4 oz chicken/turkey breast or fish
2 hours 20-35 grams 3-4 oz chicken breast and ½ oz 2% cheese or 1 T. peanut butter

*Eating too much protein too close to competition/game time can have the same affect as too much fat= GI distress.

Fat

Fat you’ll want to keep roughly at half of the amount of protein. So if you’re eating ½ hour before a game, you’ll want to keep fat at 2.5-5 grams. Fat can add up quickly so make sure you read food labels! To put it in perspective, 5 almonds contain 5 grams of fat.

Putting It All Together:

Based on the charts above, here are some great examples of what you can eat that don’t require much refrigeration or preparation:

Half Hour Before:

  • 2 slices of bread with 1 T. peanut butter
  • Luna Bar
  • 1 oz pretzels and 4 oz low-fat milk
  • 16 oz sports drink with 5 almonds

1 Hour Before:

  • 2 slices bread w/2 oz turkey breast, 8 oz 100% juice box
  • 2 oz pita chips, ¼ c. hummus, 12 oz sports drink
  • 1 sport gel (one that contains protein like Huma Gel), medium banana
  • 2 oz pretzels, 2 oz jerky, 8 oz 100% juice box
  • Rx bar or Epic Performance Bar and 16 oz sports drink

Once you get into 1.5-2 hours before a competition then you’ll just be eating a meal.

At that point, make sure you focus on lean protein, whole grains, a small amount of healthy fats and some veggies. A great example is a turkey sandwich with a medium banana with 1 T. peanut butter and some baby carrots. You can play around with the exact foods and amounts to see what feels best on your stomach.

Key Points to Keep in Mind!
  • Plan ahead- what time do you get done school, what time will you need to eat to have enough time to make it to your game?
  • Get a lunch bag/box- I absolutely love my Isobag to carry around my food and water all day while keeping it cold!
  • Pack your bag- this one is obvious J
  • Don’t forget drinks- water, 100% juice, smoothies and sports drinks are great ideas! Check out my blog on calculating your sweat rate here!
  • Post-workout snacking is important as well. Check out my blog, Do I Really Need A Post-Workout Snack? and learn how to put one together for yourself!

A well-rounded sports nutrition plan includes many pieces, including proper ratios of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, hydration, nutrient timing and recovery. Is your plan or lack of plan lacking?

You can download my FREE e-book, “Top 5 Steps to Fuel Your Body for Peak Performance” to find out what you’re missing!

The post Sports Nutrition: What Should I Eat Before A Game or Competition? appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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I recently posted about the ketogenic diet (click here to read if you missed it) but that’s not the only option for weight loss these days. Chances are you’ve heard of intermittent fasting or IF for short. IF is nothing new, in fact fasting has been around for centuries for religious purposes and health purposes. Is IF really healthy though?? The thought of purposely not eating for periods of time doesn’t exactly sound that healthy, does it? I mean starving yourself into a thin, health person…is that even a thing?!

Research shows IF for  health purposes may not be just a bunch of folklore amazingly enough! IF can actually improve heart health, brain health and aid in fat loss! Although, intermittent fasting may not be for everyone. Check out my video to learn more about what it is, how to do it and the pros and cons. Decide for yourself if IF is a good option for you!

Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight Loss - YouTube

The post Intermittent Fasting appeared first on Elite Nutrition and Performance.

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