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Category Archives: Healthy Living

Here’s What a Snack REALLY Looks Like

Here’s What a Snack REALLY Looks Like

June 13, 2014 | By

Photo: @DunkinDonuts on Twitter

Photo: @DunkinDonuts on Twitter

You may have heard that Dunkin’ Donuts just added “snacks” to its menu with a bakery sandwich line that includes chicken salad on a croissant, grilled cheese on Texas toast, and fried chicken with bacon and ranch on a bun. The grilled chicken flatbread is 360 calories, but some options clock in at more than 600 calories. Dunkin’s CEO is adamant that these items are snacks, not lunch, which begs the question: Just what is a “snack” anyway?

By definition, a snack is a smaller portion of food eaten between meals, but snack trends have changed. For many people, snacks have become as substantial as breakfast, lunch, and dinner—essentially a fourth daily meal. I’m OK with that when I’m counseling my clients, assuming these three conditions are met. First, the fuel must be needed, so the snack doesn’t result in a surplus of calories that wind up feeding fat cells. Second, the snack should be healthy (for more on why not all calories are created equal, check out my previous post 6 Diet Myths, Busted). And finally, snacking should make sense as part of a daily food “budget.” For example, many of my female clients need about 1,500-1,600 calories a day to get to (and stay at) a healthy weight. If they eat four meals a day that are all equally portioned, that means they have about 375-400 calories to “spend” at snack time, their fourth meal.

In choosing snacks, my top goal is to keep it real, by selecting nutrient-rich foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Here are five clean eating snack options that do just that. Each provides less than 400 calories, from a bit of healthy protein, slow burning carbs, and good-for-you fat, to balance blood sugar, and leave you feeling fueled, energized, and satisfied. Two are sweet, two are savory, one’s a little bit of both, they’re all pretty quick. And I included a fast casual restaurant option you can grab on the go. So snack away—just be smart about it!

Fruity coconut smoothie

Whip one cup of frozen fruit, like berries, cherries, or mango, with either a single-serve container of nonfat organic Greek yogurt, or a protein powder (like pea, hemp, or organic grass fed whey) plus a half cup of water, along with a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil, and a dash of fresh grated ginger.
About 300 calories

Mock cobbler

Fold a quarter cup of rolled oats into two tablespoons of almond butter. Toss one cup of fresh sliced strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries with a half tablespoon each of fresh squeezed lemon juice and water, and warm on the stovetop until juicy. Top warmed fruit with almond oat crumble.
About 300 calories

Mediterranean munchies

Serve up a quarter cup of hummus with 15 baby carrots and a side of 10 Kalamata olives.
About 300 calories

Chocolate almond popcorn

Place a quarter cup of organic popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag, fold the bag over a few times, and microwave on high for two minutes to pop the popcorn. In a small bowl, add one tablespoon of hot water to two tasting squares of 70% dark chocolate and stir slowly until chocolate is melted (if needed, add more water one teaspoon at a time). Drizzle chocolate over popcorn, then sprinkle with a quarter cup of sliced almonds.
About 400 calories

Chipotle veggie salad

Order a salad at Chipotle Mexican Grill with romaine, no dressing, no rice, black beans, fajita veggies, mild salsa, and guacamole.
370 calories

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


Here’s What a Snack REALLY Looks Like

Here’s What a Snack REALLY Looks Like

June 13, 2014 | By

Photo: @DunkinDonuts on Twitter

Photo: @DunkinDonuts on Twitter

You may have heard that Dunkin’ Donuts just added “snacks” to its menu with a bakery sandwich line that includes chicken salad on a croissant, grilled cheese on Texas toast, and fried chicken with bacon and ranch on a bun. The grilled chicken flatbread is 360 calories, but some options clock in at more than 600 calories. Dunkin’s CEO is adamant that these items are snacks, not lunch, which begs the question: Just what is a “snack” anyway?

By definition, a snack is a smaller portion of food eaten between meals, but snack trends have changed. For many people, snacks have become as substantial as breakfast, lunch, and dinner—essentially a fourth daily meal. I’m OK with that when I’m counseling my clients, assuming these three conditions are met. First, the fuel must be needed, so the snack doesn’t result in a surplus of calories that wind up feeding fat cells. Second, the snack should be healthy (for more on why not all calories are created equal, check out my previous post 6 Diet Myths, Busted). And finally, snacking should make sense as part of a daily food “budget.” For example, many of my female clients need about 1,500-1,600 calories a day to get to (and stay at) a healthy weight. If they eat four meals a day that are all equally portioned, that means they have about 375-400 calories to “spend” at snack time, their fourth meal.

In choosing snacks, my top goal is to keep it real, by selecting nutrient-rich foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Here are five clean eating snack options that do just that. Each provides less than 400 calories, from a bit of healthy protein, slow burning carbs, and good-for-you fat, to balance blood sugar, and leave you feeling fueled, energized, and satisfied. Two are sweet, two are savory, one’s a little bit of both, they’re all pretty quick. And I included a fast casual restaurant option you can grab on the go. So snack away—just be smart about it!

Fruity coconut smoothie

Whip one cup of frozen fruit, like berries, cherries, or mango, with either a single-serve container of nonfat organic Greek yogurt, or a protein powder (like pea, hemp, or organic grass fed whey) plus a half cup of water, along with a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil, and a dash of fresh grated ginger.
About 300 calories

Mock cobbler

Fold a quarter cup of rolled oats into two tablespoons of almond butter. Toss one cup of fresh sliced strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries with a half tablespoon each of fresh squeezed lemon juice and water, and warm on the stovetop until juicy. Top warmed fruit with almond oat crumble.
About 300 calories

Mediterranean munchies

Serve up a quarter cup of hummus with 15 baby carrots and a side of 10 Kalamata olives.
About 300 calories

Chocolate almond popcorn

Place a quarter cup of organic popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag, fold the bag over a few times, and microwave on high for two minutes to pop the popcorn. In a small bowl, add one tablespoon of hot water to two tasting squares of 70% dark chocolate and stir slowly until chocolate is melted (if needed, add more water one teaspoon at a time). Drizzle chocolate over popcorn, then sprinkle with a quarter cup of sliced almonds.
About 400 calories

Chipotle veggie salad

Order a salad at Chipotle Mexican Grill with romaine, no dressing, no rice, black beans, fajita veggies, mild salsa, and guacamole.
370 calories

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


Cancer Survivors Face Mounting Costs of Continuing Medical Care: Study

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) — People who survive cancer are likely to face a lifelong drain on their finances as they pay for mounting medical expenses year after year, a new government report finds.

According to the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, male and female cancer survivors incur annual medical costs that are almost two times greater than those of people who haven’t had cancer.

“Throughout their lifetime, they will still be going through treatments and checkups and long-term side effects and late effects that can come as a result of survival,” explained study author Donatus Ekwueme, a senior health economist at the CDC’s division of cancer prevention and control.

Cancer survivors also face an increased risk of having another cancer, which means they have to undergo more regular screenings and tests than the average person, said Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

These patients may need treatment for chronic health problems caused by their cancer treatment, too, particularly due to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Schilsky added.

“It’s not surprising that cancer survivors would incur a greater economic cost and have a greater economic burden,” Schilsky said. “One could say this is a good problem to have, because before we had survivors we didn’t have to face these problems.”

The losses aren’t just limited to the survivors and their families, however. Their ongoing health struggles also will cost society in the form of lost workplace productivity, Ekwueme said.

“Some of them have problems with concentration, or physical issues that go with the treatments they have received,” the study author said. “Rejoining the workforce can be really tough on them, and the system has to take notice of these effects.”

More people than ever before are surviving cancer. The CDC estimates there were 13.4 million cancer survivors in the United States in 2012, compared with 3 million in 1971.

Given advances in early detection and treatment, the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase by more than 30 percent during the next decade, to approximately 18 million, the CDC researchers added.

In the report, published in the June 13 issue of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 2008-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. They estimated annual medical costs and productivity losses among male and female cancer survivors aged 18 and older.

The investigators estimated lost productivity by reviewing employment disability, health-related missed work days, and days spent in bed due to ill health.

Male cancer survivors had annual medical costs of more than $8,000 per person, compared with $3,900 for men without a history of cancer, the researchers found. Female survivors had $8,400 in yearly medical costs, compared with $5,100 for women who never faced cancer.

About 10 percent of cancer survivors aged 65 or younger were uninsured, which means their financial burden is likely greater. However, the Affordable Care Act is expected to help get these people coverage and reduce their medical expenses, Ekwueme said.

Society also absorbs the cost, in the form of lost productivity. Male cancer survivors had annual productivity losses of $3,700, compared with $2,300 for men without a history of cancer. Female survivors had $4,000 in lost productivity each year, compared with $2,700 for women who haven’t had cancer.

Employment disability accounted for about 75 percent of lost productivity among cancer survivors. Among those who are employed, an estimated 42 percent had to make changes to their work hours and duties.

The aftereffects of chemotherapy can make it tough for cancer survivors to think clearly, which might affect their workplace performance. “Problem solving may become more difficult for some of these patients,” Schilsky said.

Survivors also may face ongoing physical disabilities or emotional problems related to their cancer. “They have persistent, long-lasting disability, all of which may require some medical intervention and limits their productivity when they re-enter the workforce,” Schilsky said.

About a quarter of survivors said cancer and its treatment interfered with physical job tasks, and 14 percent said they had trouble performing mental tasks, the researchers reported.

Cancer experts have started to recognize the struggles faced by survivors, and are exploring ways to improve their long-term outlook, Schilsky said.

Doctors also are exploring ways to lessen the harmful effects of cancer treatment. “Research is now focusing on whether we can reduce the intensity of the treatment and maintain the same cure rate,” Schilsky added.

Another avenue of research involves examining a person’s genetics to determine which side effects they are likely to suffer, and tailoring cancer treatment to minimize those effects, he said.

More information

For more on cancer survivorship, visit the American Cancer Society.


Parents’ Sleep May Affect Child’s Risk of Obesity: Study

WEDNESDAY, June 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The amount of sleep parents get may affect whether their children get enough sleep to protect them from becoming overweight or obese, according to a new study.

“We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together,” study author Barbara Fiese, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said in an university news release.

Researchers assessed the weight of 337 preschool children and their parents, as well as factors that could protect against overweight and obesity.

The protective factors assessed in parents included adequate sleep (more than seven hours a night) and family mealtime routine. The factors assessed in children included adequate sleep (10 or more hours a night), family mealtime routine, not having a television in the bedroom, and limiting screen time to less than two hours a day.

Getting adequate sleep was the only individual protective factor against overweight and obesity in children. Those who didn’t get enough sleep were more likely to be overweight/obese than those who followed at least three of the other protective routines on a regular basis.

The researchers also found that the number of hours a parent sleeps per night affects their children’s amount of sleep. This means that parents’ sleep habits could affect their children’s risk of being overweight/obese.

“Parents should make being well-rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won’t get a good night’s sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping,” Fiese said.

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Although this study found an association between sleep and children’s weight, it wasn’t designed to prove that a lack of sleep by either parent or child is the cause of excess weight in children. However, Fiese noted that getting enough sleep may help regulate metabolism.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for keeping children at a healthy weight.


Doctors’ Group Calls for Tougher Rules on Sale of E-Cigarettes

TUESDAY, June 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The American Medical Association on Tuesday called for tighter restrictions on the sale and marketing of electronic cigarettes.

Among the new recommendations coming from the largest doctors’ group in the United States are a minimum age purchase rule; child-proof and tamper-proof packaging; restrictions on flavors that appeal to young people; more extensive product labels; and a ban on unsupported claims that the devices help people quit smoking.

The group also wants the federal government to force e-cigarette makers to provide details about the design, content and emissions of the devices, and to boost efforts to prevent marketing of e-cigarettes to minors.

The use of e-cigarettes by middle school and high school students in the United States rose from 3.3 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new AMA policy extends the group’s existing policy that was adopted in 2010 and calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to subject all e-cigarettes to the same regulations and oversight applied to tobacco and nicotine products.

“The AMA supports an FDA proposal to fill the gap in federal regulations on purchasing, labeling, packaging and advertising of electronic cigarettes,” incoming AMA President Dr. Robert Wah said in a news release from the group.

“The new policy will guide the AMA’s future efforts to strongly encourage the proposed FDA regulation as a notable and important step to improve public health and deter the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors,” he added.

“Improving the health of the nation is AMA’s top priority and we will continue to advocate for policies that help reduce the burden of preventable diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which can both be linked to smoking,” Wah concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about e-cigarettes.


10 ‘Powerhouse’ Vegetables to Add to Your Cart

10 ‘Powerhouse’ Vegetables to Add to Your Cart

June 9, 2014 | By Health Editor

green-leafy-vegetables-600x350

Photo: Getty Images

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard and beet greens are among the most nutrient-dense “powerhouse” vegetables, packing a huge dose of vitamins and minerals into every calorie, a new study reports.

At the same time, don’t expect to receive huge amounts of nutrition from raspberries, tangerines, garlic or onions, the findings suggest.

National nutrition guidelines emphasize consumption of powerhouse fruits and vegetables, which are strongly associated with reduced risk of chronic disease.

But until now, the study author noted, nutritional value of veggies hasn’t been ranked in a way that would show which best qualify as nutrient-dense powerhouse foods.

For the report, Jennifer Di Noia, an associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., crafted a list based on the nutritional density of fruits and vegetables, using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Higher-ranking foods provide more nutrients per calories,” Di Noia said. “The scores may help focus consumers on their daily energy needs, and how best to get the most nutrients from their foods. The rankings provide clarity on the nutrient quality of the different foods and may aid in the selection of more nutrient-dense items within the powerhouse group.”

Di Noia calculated the nutrition contained in 47 fruits and veggies, finding that all but six met the criteria as a powerhouse food.

Cruciferous and dark green leafy vegetables dominate the top 10. They are, in order, watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard and beet greens, followed by spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce and collard greens.

All the top vegetables contain high levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, riboflavin, niacin and folate — nutrients that help protect people against cancer and heart disease, the researcher noted.

These leafy vegetables taking the top powerhouse spots “makes sense,” said Lauri Wright, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“They have a lot of the B-vitamins and a lot of fiber in the leaves,” said Wright. “If you think about plants, that’s where they store their nutrients. Those green leafy vegetables have a lot of minerals and vitamins and fiber in those leaves, and very few calories.”

People who chop off the leafy part of vegetables such as celery, carrots or beets are “actually cutting away some very good nutrients,” said Wright, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health in Tampa.

The six fruits and vegetables that didn’t make the list as powerhouse foods are raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions and blueberries. While all contain vitamins and minerals, they are not densely packed with important nutrients, the study said.

The full list is published June 5 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Folks will get good nutrition from the powerhouse veggies whether they eat them raw or cook them, as long as they don’t boil them, Wright said.

“Fresh, you have 100 percent of the vitamins and minerals,” she said. “When you cook it, you might lose a small percentage, but it’s not significant.”

Boiling, however, can drain veggies of B-vitamins, vitamin C and other nutrients, Di Noia and Wright said.

Cooks who choose to boil spinach or collard greens should save the nutrient-rich water, either including a little with each serving or re-using the water in sauces or soups, Di Noia said.

Wright agreed. “We encourage you to use the liquid. If you have a bowl of green beans, have some of the liquid with your serving of beans,” she said.

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more about good nutrition.