Nutrition for Teens

Tired of trying to get your teens to eat healthy? Whether your child is a competitive athlete, recreational athlete, student (or all of the above), nutrition for teens can be tricky.

Nutrition for Teens: Fueling Your Young Athlete

From sidelining sugar to sleeping for strength, nutrition and lifestyle factors play a huge role in improving athletic performance. Being the best athlete isn’t just about how much you train in the gym or on the field. Your young athlete, whether they are competitive or recreational, will have an edge over their competition if they eat, drink and recover the right way.

At Salus Nutrition, our focus is on education and prioritizing real food (while acknowledging that hey – they’re kids and might want a treat here and there). Keeping nutrition for teens as natural as possible is key, but balance is also important. Of course, homemade foods are always preferred to packaged foods, but we know convenient foods are going to happen. So, we’ll help your teen navigate through the maze to choose their best options for fueling their bodies.

Choosing the right, quality foods is only half of the battle. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it also plays a role. Game day nutrition matters, but it’s what they eat every day leading up to game day that matters most.

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats all work together like a team. Those macronutrients are essential, along with their teammates: vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. It’s important for your teens to get in the habit of reading nutrition labels and recognize ingredients worthy of putting in their bodies.

Give Teens the Direction the Need to Reach Their Goals

At Salus Nutrition for Teens, we take into account their goals, interests, personal preferences, likes and dislikes, hobbies and history to create an individualized action plan. From the winning pre-game meal to the rebuilding recovery meal, we’ll help them recognize smart choices, read nutrition labels and figure out how to choose the right foods for their game plan.

Your teen will meet on a regular basis with Coach Angela (also via text, email or phone) to review progress and encourage small, gradual changes week-by-week. Rather than focus on calorie counting, Coach Angela will help them understand food choices and healthy, sustainable habits for life.

Take the stress out of trying to get your teen to understand how to eat. By reviewing progress, listening to their challenges, and celebrating wins along the way, Coach Angela will work with your teen to come up with an actionable plan for improving and maintaining healthy habits to reach their goals.

Find out more by about our coaching services at www.salusnj.com/nutrition or by contacting Coach Angela at nutrition@salusnj.com.

Resources

Healthy Snacks for Kids (and Adults). We Call them “Mini-Meals”

Hydration for Young Athletes

Flexibility for Young Athletes

How much sleep do you really need?

Looking for Healthy Alternative to Your Favorite Recipes?

Check out these healthy meal makeovers that taste good, too at https://salusnj.com/faq/where-can-i-find-approved-recipes/ 

 

Nutrition Inquiry

Want to RESET Your Mindset About Food? Ask Yourself This Question

take 5 seconds

Want to reset your mindset about food? Ask yourself this question and you’ll change the way (and the why) you eat.

“Why did you eat today?”

We know, that might sound like an odd question. And for some, the answer is obvious: “Uh, because I was hungry?”

But, how true is that really? Think back over the course of your day – or even the past week. Every time you reached for food, did you do it because you truly felt hungry?

If your answer is no, you’re not alone.

RESET Your Mindset About Food

Much of our day-to-day activities are routine, almost automatic. We eat because it’s a lunch meeting or a dinner with coworkers. We eat because we’re craving sweet/salty snacks. We eat because we’re tired, sad, mad, happy, stressed, frustrated, bored… the list could go on.

Sometimes when we eat, we don’t even taste the food on the plate…and then of a sudden, the plate is cleared. And then… we’re stuffed.

All this mindless way of eating is why we’re asking the simple question of why.

When you take the time to look at why you’re eating, you’ll begin to unload the biggest culprit of a toxic diet:

emotional eating.

Overcoming Emotional Eating- AKA Stress Eating

Stress eating, or emotional eating, refers to consuming food for the purpose of regulating your emotional state. These foods are commonly high in sugar and fat. Sure, they may improve our mood temporarily, but that very short-lived comfort comes at the cost of mental and physical health issues.

At Salus Nutrition, we believe small shifts in habits can lead to lasting lifestyle changes.

Take Five Seconds

So, how do you stop stress eating?

Realize that this is not an overnight fix. And it’s not a simple task. But the more you think about why you’re eating, you’ll begin to identify patterns that allow you to anticipate similar situations. This will help to put yourself in a position of control.

Next time you reach for the bag of chips impulsively or you’re in the middle of stress-eating a batch of cookies (or your choice of comfort food), take a moment (five seconds, actually) to hit pause, take a breath, be present with your body’s hunger cues and determine if there are any underlying factors, like stress, at play.

Recognize the Moment. Remember the Moment.

You may truly be hungry – or worse, hangry (but that’s another topic) or you may realize that you don’t even want to be eating what’s in front of you.

Try not to overthink the moment (which can cause guilt, more stress and lead to more emotional eating). But, when you come across those conscious ah-ha situations, celebrate the awareness and remember that moment so you’re better prepared for the next time those cravings hit.

Master Your Mindset About Food with Salus Nutrition Coaching

We realize everyone has unique situations that may play a role in why they eat. Some athletes may need to eat more for performance reasons or to support strength gains. But for most of us (athletes, too), mindless eating is just getting in the way of our goals.

Read more about mindful eating and how to reset your perspective on why you’re eating and contact Coach Angela or Coach Camilla at nutrition@salusnj.com with any questions.

Looking for Healthy Alternative to Your Favorite Recipes?

Check out these healthy meal makeovers that taste good, too at https://salusnj.com/faq/where-can-i-find-approved-recipes/ 

Don’t Fall for the Quick Fix or Fad Diet

You want results. We get that. But be careful not to fall into the trap. Don’t fall for the quick fix or the next diet fad. Why?

It won’t last.

Buzz Words Are Confusing

Trending diet words like Keto, macros, intermittent fasting, flexible dieting, paleo can be overwhelming. Confusing. Frustrating. With one search on Google, we’re faced with hundreds of options to help us get results.

The problem?

Promising unrealistic, unsustainable results, most fads are marketed as a quick fix and do not provide the long-term lifestyle changes you really crave. Before you respond with, wait Coach, I thought you counted macros. Yes, I do. But here’s the thing (and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me say this before):

What’s right for them, may not be (and probably is not) right for you.

Looking at the above list, of “trending diet words,” it’s important to note that they have their purpose for some individuals. A cancer patient, for example, may benefit from eating Keto. A competitive athlete may benefit from counting macros. But, I’ll repeat this again: What’s right for them may not be right for you.

Sure, jump on any new diet trend for a few weeks and you’ll probably lose a few pounds. But you have to ask yourself if that way of living is sustainable. If not, you can expect that weight to creep back on (and then some).

So, what’s a confused goal-seeker to do?

Identify Your Goals and Motivation to Get There

The biggest driver to change is finding your motivation. Why do you really want to XYZ (lose weight/gain muscle)?

Is it to feel healthy? Look good? Perform better?

You cannot achieve any of these goals on a quick fix. Identify your long term goal and determine the things you can do today, this week and even this month to accomplish that goal?

Fine Tune Nutrition Habits for the Long Haul

What behaviors can you fine tune to better your chances at staying on track with making better food choices? For example: make time to meal prep, get enough sleep, meditate, etc.

Create a sustainable plan that you and the entire family can embrace. After all, YOU are the one setting an example for your children. What habits do you want them to develop as they grow up?

And remember to be patient with the process. You’re creating new habits: for life (not just for spring break).

Ready to Nix the Quick Fix and RESET Your Habits?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Staying focused on one new goal at a time will help you stay committed and keep the momentum going strong. Take this 6-week plan for example:

  1. Week one, start with a kitchen clean out to reset your eating habits. Get in the habit of reading labels – or better yet, choose foods that don’t have a label.
  2. Next, in week two, add on portion awareness. Focus on eating a balance of carbs, protein and fats at every meal and mini meal. This week you can also focus on the importance of staying hydrated.
  3. Week three is all about sleep. This is perhaps one of the most important factors (that most of us neglect). But, it’s not just about how many hours you log in bed, it’s also about what you do before you go to bed to destress.
  4. In week four, consider bumping up your movement. CrossFit, running, biking, weightlifting. Whatever you love to do…do that! And then some.
  5. Week five is a good time to dial in on your mental health – which can translate to physical health. Discover new stress reduction tips so you have an arsenal of strategies to pull out no matter the stressor.
  6. Finally in week six, it’s time to put it all together and really dial in on recovery and self care habits. What will make you a better version of yourself?

Remember, small habit changes really add up and can result in huge changes – even in a small amount of time.

Nutrition Challenge Rules

Welcome to the 3-Week RESET Nutrition and Healthy Habits Challenge!

This is a 3-week challenge designed to build on healthy habits you can sustain for LIFE.

  1. First, we focus on Nutrition Quality – this includes WHAT you’re eating. It’s time to clean out the kitchen cabinets!
  2. We also add on Nutrition Quantity. This includes how much you’re eating (portions) and drinking.
  3. The Movement task is designed ensure you make the time to move your body even on your recovery days.
  4. Finally, we address Sleep and Recovery. These two go hand in hand and are very influential on your success. So, we’ll be tracking how much you sleep and taking time to recover your body.

How to Join

  1. Register with your gym: Salus or Andare and tell a friend!
  2. Download the App: Wodify Rise (Google Play StoreApple Apps)
  3. Read the rules (below) and print out the food list to get prepared for week 1.

Printable rules can be found here.


NUTRITION QUALITY 

  • LEVEL 1: Make one positive change today. (1 point)
  • LEVEL 2: Stick to the food list for at least two meals and two mini-meals/snacks. (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: Stick to the food list for all meals and mini-meals/snacks. (3 points)

Rules:

Eat only whole (unprocessed), nutrient-dense foods from the food list. This will be entered in the “food journal” section where you can snap a picture of your plate or write what you ate in the comments.

Note: for youth, we want the focus to be on adding in nutrient-dense foods and using this as an opportunity to teach them about healthy replacements. For example, encourage them to try a new vegetable at dinner (level 1) or to replace their morning cereal with eggs and fruit.

NUTRITION QUANTITY: PORTIONS 

  • LEVEL 0: no score- you kinda went out of control today
  • LEVEL 1: Make one positive change today (1 point)
  • LEVEL 2: Stick to the portion guidelines for all but one meal. Did not pick in between meals. (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: Stick to the portion guidelines all day.  Did not pick in between meals.(3 points)

Rules

Follow portion guidelines

Eat 3 scheduled meals and 2-3 planned mini meals/snacks (**no mindless picking when you’re bored) and eat only to satisfied, never stuffed.

What if I’m following macros?

For those of you who are already weighing/measuring your food and following prescribed macros under the guidance of a nutrition coach, you are encouraged to continue doing that during the nutrition challenge. If this is the case, your scoring will look like this:

  • LEVEL 0: no score- you kinda went out of control today
  • LEVEL 1: You are within + or – 15 grams away from any planned target ranges (1 points)
  • LEVEL 2: You stay within + or – 15 grams of protein & carb macronutrient target. And within + or – 10 grams of fat macros (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: You stay within + or – 10 grams of protein & carb macronutrient target. And within + or – 5 grams of fat macros (3 points)

SLEEP 

  • LEVEL 1: Sleep within 1 hour of recommendations (1 point)
  • LEVEL 2: Sleep within 30 minutes of recommendations and turn off electronics 15 minutes before bedtime (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: Sleep according to the recommendation and turn off electronics 30 minutes before bedtime (3 points)

Rules:

Follow sleep guidelines for your age range. Note: this will be scored for the NIGHT BEFORE.

See sleeping tips and bedtime routine tips on our blog.

RECOVERY (for mind and/or body)

  • LEVEL 1: Destress* (stretch and/or do meditate) for at least 5 minutes. (1 point)
  • LEVEL 2: Stretch and/or do meditate for at least 20 minutes. (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: Destress for 20 minutes AND limit recreational screen-time to less than 1 hour each day. (3 points)

Notes:

Stretch/roll for specified time. Mobility, stretching, myofascial release, etc., can alleviate ‘everyday’ aches and pains as well as improve our body awareness & performance. 

Implement stress-relieving techniques to take better care of your mind, body and spirit. This can be meditation, yoga, taking a bath, walking, organizing a messy area, talking to a friend, drawing, getting a massage, taking a nap, etc. Everyone is affected by stress differently, so try a variety of strategies to discover which ones are the most effective for you. 

Screen-time, for the purpose of this challenge, is referring to time spent on devices such as a smartphone/tablet doing recreational activities such as gaming, mindlessly scrolling…aka: getting sucked down the social media rabbit hole, etc. This does not include reading on a kindle or time spent working.

EXERCISE

  • LEVEL 1:  Make one conscious positive change today (like standing up during a conference call or parking further from the door). (1 point)
  • LEVEL 2: Complete at least 20 minutes of physical activity. (2 points)
  • LEVEL 3: Complete at least 45 minutes of physical activity (if it is your recovery day, this means adding in a low intensity 45min workout, like a walk) (3 points)

Notes:

Dedicate time in your schedule each week to make exercise and manage stress a priority. Remember, a little bit of activity goes a long way. Whether it’s a walk outside or a superset of pushups and sit ups, any exercise is better than no exercise. That’s why getting up and moving around is a big component of our challenge. 


Decide- Make a decision that your health is worth it and attack your goals head on!

Commit- Tell your friends and sign up for the challenge together for the ultimate level of accountability.

Attack- Join as an induvial or partner up with a friend. But, remember – everyone is on their own journey, so you have options! Choose a level for each goal and challenge yourself to make at least one positive change every day. They all add up!

IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

SIGN UP TODAY!

Looking for Healthy Alternative to Your Favorite Recipes?

Check out these healthy meal makeovers that taste good, too at https://salusnj.com/faq/where-can-i-find-approved-recipes/ 

How to Safely Cut Weight Before a Weightlifting Meet (Preview)

How to Safely Cut Weight Before a Meet

By Angela Salveo, Sports Nutrition Coach

Below is a snippet of an article that Angela Salveo, Salus Nutrition Coach, wrote an article for the Catalyst Athletics Performance Menu Magazine. To get the full guide, fill out the form below.

Cutting Weight Like A Pro

Just like your training and nutrition needs, cutting weight for a meet is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. And, surprise… it’s not for everyone.

Since some competitive weightlifters train slightly heavier than their weight class, cutting bodyweight without sacrificing performance for competition day becomes a matter of planning strategically and flexing some willpower muscles.

As you’re aware, the rules of a weightlifting meet require athletes to weigh in one or two hours before the start of the competition. With such a small window of time to rehydrate and replenish energy stores, your weight cut needs to be realistic and safe.

Are you ready to get started?

These tips will help you get organized for your weight cut, but you need to be prepared for some mental challenges along the way.

Do you know what weight class you’re choosing (see below guide in kilograms)? Before we dive in to weight-cut strategies, it’s important to set yourself up for success in the months ahead.

Get the Full Guide

Cutting Weight (Full Guide)

How to Safely Cut Weight Before a Meet by Angela Salveo, Salus Nutrition Coach

Months ahead into the Week Before Competition: What is An Attainable Goal?

So, let’s say you trimmed down the fat, but you’re still not quite there. How much weight can you expect to cut in that final week…

Last Minute Techniques

Most of the weight that is lost for weigh-in day will be due to lowering glycogen stores and losing water weight. But, realize that everyone has individual differences that is going to affect how they lose fat, body weight, water weight and how it affects their performance and training load. That’s why it’s best to do a test cut and approach it with the guidance of a coach…

After the Weight Cut & Before Weigh-In

After the weight cut, you need to rehydrate properly and choose fluids wisely…

Get the Full Guide

Cutting Weight (Full Guide)

How to Safely Cut Weight Before a Meet by Angela Salveo, Salus Nutrition Coach

Is it Possible to Get Enough Protein as a Vegetarian?

Did you know that the typical adult in North America gets 27 percent of their energy — about 900 calories a day — from animal products. Only 9 percent comes from vegetables, fruits, and beans… combined.

In general, vegetarians are plant-based eaters and don’t eat meat. However, some may consume animal products such as eggs and dairy. The below only paints a partial picture, but can provide an overview of the many types of plant-based eaters.

Chart from Precision Nutrition www.precisionnutrition.com

As a vegetarian, eating a diet rich in plants isn’t just about eating more fruits and vegetables. “Plants” also includes grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and plant-derived fats.

Is it possible to get enough protein as a vegetarian?

Contrary to popular belief, many plant foods have a decent amount of protein.

Check out how these proteins stack up:

Animal-based protein sources equal to 100 calories

  • Skinless chicken breast 21
  • Cottage cheese 12
  • Greek yogurt, plain 14
  • Shrimp, cooked 24
  • Eggs 9

Vegetarian protein sources equal to 100 calories

  • Banza Chickpea Penne Pasta 7.4
  • Oatmeal 3.5
  • Mushrooms 14.1
  • Broccoli 8.2
  • Edamame 9.8
  • Pumpkin Seeds 5.2
  • Almonds 3.7
  • Cashew Yogurt 2.9
  • Vega Sport Pea Protein 20

Complete Proteins Contain All 9 Essential Amino Acids

But, it’s important to note that not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins. A complete protein refers to protein sources that contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

  1. histidine
  2. isoleucine
  3. leucine
  4. lysine
  5. methionine
  6. phenylalanine
  7. threonine
  8. tryptophan
  9. valine

Animal products like chicken, beef, fish, and eggs contain enough of every one of these essential amino acids, so they’re considered complete proteins.

Select Vegetarian Sources That Are Complete

Most plant sourses of protein, on the other hand, are missing one or more of the essential acids, so they’re considered an incomplete protein. However, a select group of foods are considered vegetarian AND a complete protein:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Edamame, Tofu
  • Amaranth
  • Ezekiel Bread
  • Hemp & Chia Seeds

Combination Vegetarian Sources to Make a Complete Protein

Interestingly, you can combine certain incomplete vegetarian sources of protein to make a complete protein.

For example, rice is too low in lysine to be considered a complete protein. But, by also eating beans, which are high in lysine, it then becomes a complete protein. Some examples of vegetarian combination foods include:

  • Rice and Beans
  • Whole Wheat Pita and Hummus
  • Peanut Butter on Wheat Bread
  • Chickpeas and Sunflower Seeds (think salad topping)
  • Refried Beans and Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • Lentil Soup and Whole Grain Crackers or Roll
  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seeds
  • Wild Rice with Peas

Of course, there are aisles of packaged plant-based alternatives, too. With the rise of these processed products, it’s important to remember that the main goal is still to stick to whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods.

Want to go plant-based but feeling confused about how to do it and what to eat?

Your Next Steps

If you want to learn whether a vegetarian diet is right for you or how to move more towards a plant-based diet, schedule a consultation with one of our nutrition coaches at nutrition@salusnj.com. We’ll help you find the right strategy to meet your goals.

Maintaining Your Health & Nutrition During Travel

Vacations and traveling can put a damper on our health and nutrition goals in more ways than one. From added stress and interrupted sleep to more time seated and limited healthy food options, it’s frustrating to lose all the momentum you’ve gained recently.

Don’t let one week undo all your progress and detour you from your goals. Maintaining health and nutrition during travel is easier than you may think.

How? You just need to get a little creative with your choices and (gasp) be OK with plan B.

Here are a few travel tips to help you stay healthy, keep stress low and actually enjoy your time away.

Exercise (Or Not?)

If traveling tends to create a lot of stress for you (packing, airport security, delays, etc.) adding in high intensity exercise may not be the best idea. Vacations are an optimal time to take a recovery week, not the time to compromise sleep just so you can squeeze in an before sunrise workout.

But, if your schedule is flexible and you’re not under a lot of stress, I recommend making your workout a priority!

When you’re out of your normal routine, this is a great opportunity to switch things up and get creative. Add in more body weight movements, drop in a a local box or add in more mobility work. Additionally, you can go for a jog to familiarize yourself with the area, get your blood flowing and enjoy some fresh air, which can all help you reduce stress.

Recovery

Mentioned above, time away is a good opportunity to get the quality rest that your body needs and deserves. As you’re aware, quality sleep is essential for the basic functioning of your neurological, immune, digestive and endocrine systems. It also does wonders for your hormones…which is directly related to weight-loss goals, performance goals and so much more.

If you’re in a hotel room, blackout the windows as much as possible, bring your eye mask, unplug any unnecessary alarm clocks and nightlights, keep the room temperature cool and unplug from your phone and TV at least an hour before bed.

Stick to your normal bedtime routine – that means if you normally shower, read and stretch before bed at home, you should do that in your hotel room as well.

Traveling is also an optimal time to focus on mobility and lots of stretching. Check out MobilityWOD, GOWOD Mobility First or RomWod if you need some guidance.

Reduce Jet Lag

If you’re traveling to a different time zone that last longer than one week, consider moving all of your activities, such as meals and bed times, up by an hour for a few days before your departure date. For any shorter trips that last shorter than a week, try to stay on your home time zone as much as possible.

Stay hydrated (even more than usual) – that means avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

Once you arrive to your destination, try to get exposure to early morning sun, which helps to rest your body’s circadian rhythm.

Nutrition On-The-Go

Airplane food is never optimal if you’re focused on quality nutrition. To ensure you get sufficient fuel, prepare plenty of healthy and convenient snacks and a to-go meal.

I typically pack:

  • Crudites (carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, snap peas)
  • Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, grapes…also very hydrating)
  • Jerky (ex: Epic Bars)
  • Protein Powder in zip lock bags (remember your shaker bottle)
  • Bars (ex: RXBar, Lara Bar, Joes)
  • Nuts and dried mango (no sugar added)
  • Tea bags (herbal and green)
  • Reusable water bottle to fill up after I get through security

If I’m traveling during a mealtime, I usually pack a big salad with chicken to eat on the plane.

Tip: if you toss in frozen veggies, like peas, that will help to keep the meal chilled until it’s time to eat.

Eating Once You’re There

Before your trip, do your research to map out healthy restaurants near you. Having a plan of attack before you land will help to reduce any anxiety about where to eat and what to eat on vacation. Search on Google for keywords like “healthy,” “paleo,” “local,” “gluten-free,” etc. Scope out menus in advance and even call the restaurants to see what substitutions they are willing to make.

Consider a trip to a nearby grocery store or market to pick up healthy snacks and mini-meal options. Or check out if AmazonFresh or InstaCart will deliver to your area.

Be OK with Plan B

Your brain likes a plan, but there’s only so much you can control when you’re traveling. The best thing you can do is go with the flow and be OK with plan B (and C & D). Don’t stress about being perfect with your nutrition when traveling or fitting in your workout.

Stress, by the way, is one of the biggest causes of digestive problems. That means that even if you’re eating clean, but you’re stressed out of your mind, you’re hindering the absorption of vital nutrients you’re attempting to get from a whole food diet.

A few years ago, we went on a “vacation” to Disney World with our 8 year old twins. For those of you who have been to Disney, know it’s not much of a relaxing vacation (at all). One big thing I learned on this trip is not to not allow the weight of the things we cannot control to hold us back. There’s freedom and there’s power in letting go.

Instead, I focused my energy on the things I could control. The chaos, the rain, the lines…those were all OUT of my control. I stayed the course with my nutrition as much as possible, got super creative with my choices and was very selective with any indulgences. Mickey waffle with fake syrup? No thanks. Chocolate covered strawberry? Yes, please! 

Listen, when you’re out of your routine, you’re presented with a unique temptation to give in, but I encourage you to hang in there and be selective of what you choose to indulge in. You’ll have more energy and be much happier when you get back. And while you’re away, strive for progress… not perfection, remember to keep celebrating small victories and be thankful for the challenges — as they are opportunities to learn and improve.

Healthy Swaps

If you’ve already purged some obvious sugar culprits in your pantry but are looking for healthy swaps in the kitchen, you’re in luck. Let’s step it up a notch by swapping out one (or more) of those sCRAP-py (sugar-filled, completely refined and processed) foods for a cleaner version. 

While whole and fresh foods are strongly encouraged, I also recognize that having a well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer can be time saving while adding flexibility to your meal choices. I challenge you today to identify a healthier version of one of your typical packaged foods.

Here are a few healthy swaps to try:

Flour/Baking

Pre/Post Workout

Other

 

Salad Dressing: 

Salad dressing can be loaded with sugar and preservatives. Don’t be fooled by low-fat or fat-free labels. You may think that you are doing yourself a favor if you choose these versions of salad dressings, but they are actually even worse when it comes to hidden sugars.

Try this homemade Basic Vinaigrette recipe instead:

  • 1 Tablespoon no sugar added balsamic vinegar (check the label – some have sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

What’s Driving the Urge to Eat?

Beyond finding a swap, it’s also important to address what’s truly driving the urge to eat. Such as if your blood sugar is low. Low blood sugar could mean that you are skipping meals, spacing them out too much, or you’re not eating enough blood sugar-steadying protein. 

Try instead pairing a simple carbohydrate with protein, like mixed nuts and fruit. The healthy fat in the nuts helps to slow down the absorption of the fruit’s natural sugar so that you get back into balance and are better able to control cravings.

What swap did you make?  Take a picture and share it with the group!

Looking for Healthy Alternative to Your Favorite Recipes?

Check out these healthy meal makeovers that taste good, too at https://salusnj.com/faq/where-can-i-find-approved-recipes/ 

Take the sCRAP-py Food Quiz

You already know that consuming too many sCRAP-py (sugar-filled & completely refined and processed) foods can halt your goals (and it’s no bueno for your health). Yet, it’s found in practically everything we eat (way more than you may realize).

Let’s figure out any patterns as to why you eat what you eat…and when you eat it. Is it within acceptable limits, totally out of whack, or somewhere in between? This quiz is a powerful tool to help you start your journey to understanding and limiting processed foods and sugar intake.

1. How often do you eat or drink sugary foods or beverages including those made with artificial sweeteners?

a. Once or twice a month at most. I’m not big on sweets.
b. Have dessert a couple of times a week but I rarely drink regular or diet soda.
c. Pretty much every day

2. How much sugar or sweetener do you usually add to coffee?

a. None
b. A teaspoon or one packet.
c. 2 teaspoons or two packets. At least.

3. What does your typical breakfast look like?

a. Scrambled eggs with veggies, avocado toast, or even last night’s leftovers.
b. Greek yogurt, oatmeal with fruit, or a shake.
c. Sugary cereal, a muffin, donut, or a not-so-healthy bar.

4. How often do you go out of your way to get something sCRAP-py, like stopping at the store just to buy some ice cream.

a. Almost never.
b. Every once in a while if I get a crazy craving for something.
c. Often… like at least once a week.

5. Do you ever eat food in secret?

a. No. If I’m indulging, it’s part of a meal or an event with others.
b. A couple times a year. I definitely feel like polishing off some ice cream or a bag of chips on the couch by myself.
c. I usually wait to eat those foods until I’m alone so I can eat without anyone judging me.

6. Do you ever hide food just to eat them later?

a. No. Never.
b. Not usually. But, if I know there is just a little bit left of my favorite splurge left, I might rearrange some things in the refrigerator just to make it harder for anyone else to find.
c. Yes. I have a stash of my favorites to eat when I’m by myself.

7. Do you ever feel powerless in front of certain foods, like chips, bread, or cookies?

a. Rarely. It just doesn’t tempt me.
b. Maybe once in a while, if I’m hangry. But, I can usually have one or two and then stop.
c. Yes. Usually once I start eating stuff like that it’s hard to stop. Even if I’m already full.

8. While indulging, have you ever gone overboard and told yourself that “this is the last time I’ll ever eat like this again?”

a. Not really. Maybe one or two times.
b. I tried cutting out sCRAP-py foods in the past but nothing ever works.
c. I tell myself that a lot and end up feeling guilty when I don’t follow through.

Count up how many times you choose each letter, then read the descriptions below to determine your sCRAP-py food dependence and how this challenge will help you move forward.

MOSTLY A’s: Congratulations! Sounds like you don’t have a whacked-out sCRAP-py food diet (Sugar-filled & Completely Refined And Processed). However, you can still benefit from this challenge. Throughout the next three weeks we will reveal lots of amazing tips to help you make even more lasting changes. Take it to the next level by eating mindfully.

MOSTLY B’s: You are in good command of your sCRAP-py food intake, but there’s always room for growth. This challenge will make you even wiser about your choices and learn great tips to swap out the junk and stay on track with your goals.

MOSTLY C’s: Sounds like sCRAP-py foods are a frequent choice for you, so you may be hooked. I’m here to help get unhooked! To jump-start your efforts and break free of this trap, start by getting clear on your WHY.

Connect!

Have you joined the private Facebook Challenge group yet? Being a part of the community will not only help you to stay accountable with your own goals, but also see how others are doing, find support, share your successes and struggles, and of course, get some great, new meal ideas.

Is Sugar Bad? Plus Hidden Names for Sugar

Is sugar bad? Will sugar make me gain weight? When is it OK to eat sugar?

Many of us think of sugar as the white stuff people put in their coffee and the stuff that makes up most of those cereals in the breakfast “food” aisle. Sugars also occur naturally in many whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and even whole grains. You recognize these as “carbs.”

Along with sugar, the macronutrient carbohydrates also includes starch (potatoes or rice), fiber (husks of whole grains), etc. The more complex the molecule, the slower it digests. That’s why eating more fiber can help us feel fuller for longer. Sugars, on the other hand, are simple- they digest very quickly. In other words:

Sugars are a type of carbohydrate, but not all carbohydrates are sugars.

The above point is vital to understand, because it teaches us that not all carbs do the same things in (and for) our bodies.

Let’s take a fresh look at sugar now and address the question many are wondering: is sugar bad?

Eating Sugar: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Is Sugar Bad? Well, It Can Be Ugly.

No doubt, this is a difficult topic to address because most of us are emotionally attached to where we stand on food, especially sugar.

Try talking about the topic at the dinner table and you’ll be just as welcome as if you were talking about politics. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Did you know that most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars every day. That’s way more than what the American Heart Association recommends, which is  no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) a day of sugar for most women and no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories) a day for most men. Sugar impacts our brain function, it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and can increase your risk of heart disease.

And sugar is hiding everywhere.

Over 68% of barcoded food products sold in the US contain added sweeteners—even if they are labeled as “natural” or “healthy.” The safest way to ensure you’re not ingesting excess added sugars is to get in the habit of reading the ingredient list below before you add them to cart.

Added sugars fall under all kinds of different names on ingredient labels.  As a side note, the higher up an ingredient is on an ingredient list, the more of it will be included in that product. Find an ingredient ending in “ose” on the top of the list, put the product down. Many of those sugary products are empty, meaning they have no other nutrients associated with them. These products generally contain little protein, fat, fiber, vitamins or minerals.

Common Hidden Names for Sugar

(Excluding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes)

‍Basic Simple Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides):

  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose

Solid or Granulated Sugars:

  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Castor sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Diastatic malt
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Florida crystals
  • Golden sugar
  • Glucose syrup solids
  • Grape sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Panela sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar (granulated or table)
  • Sucanat
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar

Liquid or Syrup Sugars:

  • Agave Nectar/Syrup
  • Barley malt
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Buttered sugar/buttercream
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Golden syrup
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Treacle

Looking Deeper

Let’s look deeper at ten common sweeteners:

  1. AGAVE NECTAR (Agave Syrup)- found in cereals, ice cream, and “healthy” organic foods. This sweetener is more concentrated than HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup), so use cautiously.
  2. BARLEY MALT- found in beers, cereals, and candy bars. This grain-based sugar is half as sweet as white sugar, but it’s just as high on the glycemic index.
  3. BEET SUGAR- found in more than 20 percent of the world’s sugar. But don’t be fooled, the word beet suggests this sugar is natural, but it’s not. The beets used for this refined sugar are stripped of their nutrients when processed for use in many packaged foods.
  4. BROWN SUGAR- found in baked goods, sauces, beverages. Brown sugar is just as bad for you as table sugar. The only real difference? How it tastes and how it has been processed. 
  5. CANE JUICE (Evaporated Cane Juice)- found in yogurt, lemonade, liquor. Although less processed than table sugar and contains more riboflavin, it’s benefit is negligible. 
  6. CANE SUGAR- found in 80% of the world’s sugar. Multiple studies have shown how cane sugar drastically raises blood pressure and cholesterol and also contributes to insulin resistance. 
  7. CORN SYRUP (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)- found in sodas, cereal bars, bread, junk foods, fast food. Corn syrup is 100% glucose. Just one tablespoon contains 16 grams of carbohydrates. To make HFCS, enzymes are added to corn syrup to convert some of the glucose to fructose making HFCS “high” in fructose compared to the pure glucose found in corn syrup. Your body metabolizes this sugar in a way that encourages body-fat storage.
  8. EVAPORATED CANE JUICE- found in baked goods, cereals and many beverages. Actually not a juice, evaporated cane juice is a sweetener derived from sugar cane syrup making it much more concentrated than a juice with trace amounts of nutrients. 
  9. FRUCTOSE- found in baked goods, but also occurs naturally in fruits and honey. Ingesting added fructose (not naturally occurring) has been linked to rising obesity rates over the past several decades. When you eat a piece of fruit, you also get a healthy dose of fiber that can help to slow the absorption of sugar and provide a wide variety of phytonutrients and minerals that can counteract the effects of sugar. Nobody does it better than nature.
  10. HONEY (raw honey)- Honey is higher in fructose than table sugar and it weighs more than the white stuff, so it’s more calorically dense at 21 calories per teaspoon vs 16 cals for table sugar. On the plus side, honey is sweeter than table sugar, so you won’t need to use as much.

Sugar in Cereal

Stay with me for a moment while I go on a little rant.

About cereal.

Yes, I know, most Americans love their breakfast cereals (I grew up eating cereal – though my parents saved the extra sugary stuff for Saturdays). Cereal is bright & colorful, it’s sweet, it’s super convenient….and we mistakenly think it’s good for us and our kids.

And cereal brands spend millions of dollars every year marketing to our kids to make us think that. In fact, during kids TV shows the top category of advertised food is… you guessed it, cereal (even beating out candy, other snacks and fast food).

Did You Know:

  • On average, cereal’s that are marketed to children have more than 40% more sugars than “adult” cereals, and more than 2x the sugar of oatmeal.
  • According to EWG’s analysis, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (which used to be called Sugar Smacks) leads the list of one of the highest-sugar cereals.
  • And, even with the update in food label regulations, since serving sizes on cereal labels are still unrealistically small, many adults and children will typically eat more than one “serving” in a single sitting. And according to FDA’s analysis of food consumption data, 97 percent of the most common cold cereals underestimate the amount of cereal people actually eat.

Bottom line: most cereals are just as sweet as cookies and should not be considered a part of healthy meal.  But, if you just can’t give up cereal, use common sense, read the ingredient label, and as always, don’t believe any information printed on the front of the box.

Eating Sugar: The Good

OK, thanks for hanging in with me.

Now about the good.

Somewhere along the way, we started hating on all sources carbs. But (all) carbohydrates are not the enemy here.

We need carbohydrates for energy. They are energy-packed compounds that give us quick energy. This is why choosing the right source of food where those sugars come from is so important.

It should go without saying that you’ll find much more sugar in processed foods than in whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Along with starch and fiber, sugars live under the larger umbrella: carbohydrates. The more complex the molecule, the slower digestion takes. Simple sugars, like from fruit, digest quickly and can have a positive effect in the right amount at the right time (ie: right before/during/after exercise). Starch and fiber, which is a much more complex molecule, digests slowly and help you feel fuller, for longer.

Unfortunately, one problem we’re faced with is this strange notion in our culture that if you’ve worked really hard in a workout, you deserve a big, gooey, sugary treat. Maybe this satisfies an emotional hunger temporarily, but it is certainly not what your body needs after a training session. Get clear. What your body needs is some real, whole foods.

When in doubt, opt for a diet mostly composed of lean meats, vegetables, essential fats, little starch, little fruit and plenty of water. Your body, your training and your health will thank you big time!

Why Does Sugar Taste Good?!

Sugar tastes good, partially because when it’s in its natural state, whole foods, like berries, are full of good stuff like vitamins, minerals, and energy. Our bodies are naturally attracted to them.

But everyone is different. Some of us pull the dessert plate closer after dinner while others can easily shrug off grandma’s pumpkin pie. Some of us simply respond to sugar more than others which could be from genetics or something we learned growing up. Which brings us to the next question number.

Will Eating Sugar Make Me Gain Weight?

The over-consumption of foods that have added sugars (not generally those foods that have naturally occurring sugars) can contribute to health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Added sugars feed yeast and bad bacteria in our bodies which can damage our intestinal wall, increasing intestinal permeability, AKA: leaky gut. That can trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation and lead to the transfer of substances from our gut into our bloodstream. In turn, this can lead to obesity and other chronic, metabolic diseases.

Plus, if we eat more processed, sugary foods, we’re probably taking in more energy (calories) overall. Many of these foods are tasty, in fact they’re engineered to make it hard for you to stop eating. And since we digest and use their energy very quickly, these processed foods tend to overstimulate our brain’s reward/pleasure centers which can lead to weight gain and even obesity. Data from the USDA tracking food intake from a variety of angles show consistent trends. Since 1980, Americans have continued to eat about the same total amount of fat, yet ate more carbohydrates, especially refined ones with added sugars. Over this time, the obesity rates in the United States have also grown significantly.

The World Health Organization defines “obese” as having a Body Mass Index higher than 30. Of course, some fit and muscular athletes tend to have a higher BMI even though they still have a low percentage of body fat. So, let’s look at those number for a moment. Currently, the average body fat percentage for women is about 40%, for men: 28%. To compare, the “healthy” range for a woman should be around 22-33%, and for men, that range should be around 11-22%.

While we can’t blame one single thing alone, including sugar for all the health problems and obesity surge (sleep & stress factor in, too), multiple studies do show that an increased sugar consumption does correlate with increased obesity levels, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,  leaky gut, diabetes and cancer.

How Much Sugar Should I (Can I) Eat?

Remember: Sugar (alone) doesn’t provide nourishment. No vitamins, no minerals, no fiber, no antioxidants, phytonutrients or  hydration.

Sugar from nutrient-dense, whole foods, like fruit on the other hand, contains sugar, but they provide numerous positive health benefits.

When it comes to how much sugar (from whole foods) you should eat, everyone is different and has unique energy needs. Some people do well cutting sugar out of their diet (almost) completely, while others thrive on a high-carb diet. Some athletes will count their sugar intake down to the gram, while others do well with the general guideline of “eating less-processed foods & more healthy foods” and be very successful.

As a general guideline, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020) recommends limiting sugar to 10% of your intake. So, for example, if you’re eating 2000 calories per day, that would be about 50 grams, or 200 calories from sugar.

Start reading food labels to get a clear look at how much sugar you’re actually eating. Remember, it tends to hide in packaged foods (a lot). So, better than that, eat more foods without a label (like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat and seafood, etc.).

When Should I Eat Sugar?

As far as when to eat sugar from nutrient-dense carbohydrates, it’s very specific to your body type, time of training, training intensity, training duration, stress levels, health/illness and a slew of other factors. Nutrient timing is very specific. When done right, it can positively affect your performance and recovery, but what works for your training partner (or a template) may not work for you. In fact, it could actually backfire.

In general, your pre-workout meals should be consumed about 1-2 hours before training. It should be carbohydrate-rich (about half complex and half simple, which can be consumed during the workout depending on workout length), moderate in protein and fiber and low in fat. Intra-nutrition and post nutrition are just as specific as pre-workout nutrition.

Much of your performance success is dependent on how well you eat. So, remember this, even if you’re eating the “right number of macros” or counting your sugar grams before and after your workout, it can make a negative impact on your goals if those macros are coming from processed foods.

How Sweet It Isn’t. Should I Choose Low-Sugar Foods?

If you’re sidelining your sugar habit, be careful of adding another unhealthy habit with artificial sweetness. That’s not the right answer…at all.

When you consume these nonnutritive (“no nutrition”) chemical sweeteners, they stimulate sweetness in your mouth and the body naturally expects the carbohydrates to follow. But, they’re faking it. When carbs don’t follow, the body gets mixed messages that may cause cravings for MORE SUGAR. Additionally, studies show that artificial sweeteners cause a variety of health problems, including cancer.

Be careful of “low sugar” products because they often use man-made artificial sweeteners (read the labels). Instead, focus on whole foods where you won’t find added sugars or even packaged foods where sugar is not one of the first three ingredients.

Sideline the Sugar

Look in your kitchen cabinets. Your refrigerator. Your freezer. See if you can find a product that you once thought was a healthy choice but have since discovered an ingredient (added sugar, for example) hiding in plain sight. Take a picture of the front/back and share it with us. Then start researching alternative options that are more nutrient-dense.

If you can’t find anything, score! Maybe talk about a product that you once thought was healthy and have since swapped out for something else.

More Questions About Nutrition?

If you eat quality, nutrient-dense foods and get your portion sizes right the majority of the time, your can still indulge in a small portion of those processed treats on occasion. It doesn’t always have to be “all or nothing.” Yes, structure your diet around nutrient-dense, colorful REAL foods, but also remember that a healthy life is not about macro math or obsessing over everything you put in on your plate.

Read the label, make smart choices, but be nice to yourself…in all areas of life.

And, as always, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact your Salus Nutrition Coaches at info@salusnj.com to chat more about your 3-month individualized plan to get the personalized structure you need.