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Friday, June 14, 2013

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What’s for dinner? Meal planning doesn’t have to be stressful, but it’s helpful to know how to strike the right balance of foods to get proper nutrition. If you don’t use the nutrition tracker here on SparkPeople, you should. Using it can be time consuming at first, but the payoff is huge. Why? You know exactly how many vital nutrients you consume in a meal and over the course of a day. For example, if you don’t get enough fiber, your bowel movements will be infrequent. That’s very bad. Protein is essential to maintain muscle and bone mass, to keep the immune system strong, and to prevent fatigue. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are crucial for brain health. Several years ago, low carbohydrate diets were popular for quick weight loss – but they’re not healthy. Here’s a handout with some information about carbohydrates, fat, and protein www.mckinley.illi

If you have children, you probably tell them to slow down if they’re eating too fast and to chew their food well. As adults, that caution is often forgotten. Most experts say it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain it has enough food to be satisfied. The more you chew your food, the more your body can extract the nutrients – especially fiber. That is one of the reasons many doctors, including Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr, caution against drinking smoothies. In his words, “Avoid smoothies. The fiber is so finely pureed that its helpful properties are destroyed. The sugar is stripped from the fruit, bypasses salivary digestion, and results in a surge of glucose; and the accompanying fructose contributes to inflammation and hypertension.” Here’s an article from Three Fat Chicks – “5 Benefits of Properly Chewing Food” www.3fatchicks.co
(Bonus: You’ll find some excellent recipes on this site.)

When you use the nutrition tracker, you can see the ranges of many of the nutrients your body needs and how much you have consumed of each one based on your food entries. The daily tallies are at the bottom of the tracker, and further down on the page is the Weekly Progress. I suggest tracking additional nutrients like fiber. You can change ranges and add nutrients by clicking on the “Change Nutrition Goals” icon. After you enter your food intake for the day, run “See Today’s Full Report” for a detailed report that breaks down each item you entered. It’s a great resource for tweaking your intake.

Now that you know a bit about a few nutrients and how to track your food, the next step is to figure out how to get enough of what you need but not too much. What should your plate look like?

An ideal meal that includes meat/fowl/fish/dairy should look like this:
Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate www.hsph.harvard.
is accompanied by some delicious recipes to help you meet daily nutrition goals www.hsph.harvard.

An ideal plant-based meal should look like this: veganforher.com/2

Tackling any single nutrient is tricky, but today’s focus is on fiber. There are some foods that contain no fiber, specifically meat/fowl/fish/dairy products. If you base your meals solely on these foods, your body can’t function well. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables keep your body healthy. It’s important to include a variety of those foods in every meal. There are 2 kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble; most plant based foods contain both. Here’s a useful list huhs.harvard.edu/

This is a very good article about fiber nutritiondiva.qui
Another way to think about fiber is that you get to eat a lot more food than you would if you just ate meat, for instance. Have a look at the difference www.sparkpeople.c

Now you have the tools to put together a healthy meal that will fulfill your nutritional requirements and help you reach your weight loss goal. Here are some of my favorite recipes that are high in fiber and delicious in taste:

Pasta with Tuscan Kale and Cannellini Beans (Whole wheat pasta adds a rich flavor and extra fiber to this dish.) recipes.sparkpeople.com

Chilaquiles Casserole (I could eat this every day! Sometimes I add kale or spinach.) www.eatingwell.co

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa (This recipe has directions for the perfect way to cook quinoa.) www.epicurious.co

Shepherd’s Pie (You won’t miss the meat in this vegetarian version.) blog.fatfreevegan

emoticon emoticon TASTY THURSDAY CHALLENGE!!!
Last week I posted some information about greens; this week I gave you a wee bit of info about fiber. Now it’s YOUR turn to post something about them. Make a dish with greens as an ingredient and include at least one more ingredient that is high in fiber. You can use any variety of greens; it doesn’t have to be one that was featured in the tips. Sorry, smoothie recipes don’t count for this challenge.

***Post the recipe on the BLC Recipe Team True Blue thread. Be sure to credit the source – author, book or other source - and the url if the recipe is online.

***After you post your recipe, come back to our team chat thread and post these icons emoticon emoticon followed by the recipe title and any comments you want to share about the dish - tips about making it, if your family liked it, if you would make it again, changes you would make, etc.

***Post your recipe no later than next Wednesday (our next weigh in day). I’ll assemble a list of your dishes and share it on the thread next Thursday. Have fun!
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.