moderation

Build a Better Burger: National Cheeseburger Day!

WHAT? Today is NATIONAL CHEESEBURGER DAY?! Sweet. Well, I think in honor of this grand event, I’ll talk a little bit about how to eat a SMARTER BURGER. Below, a few tips.

1.Enjoy yourself!

I am here, as a soon-to-be dietitian, advocating that it is not only OK to eat a burger from time to time—I’m in fact letting you know that there are actually BENEFITS to red meat. It is true that you can get the iron, vitamin B12, and protein for which red meat is so famed from other sources. So if you do not prefer red meat, you CAN save yourself from deficiency. Keep an eye on my Nutrient Spotlight page for updates on that. However, if you are a fan of beef, it is an extremely bioavailable source of iron—meaning your body absorbs it more easily than it does from other sources (e.g. leafy greens). And iron-deficiency anemia happens to be the most common and widespread nutrient deficiency worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. So don’t pour on the guilt—congratulate yourself for making a good choice that will provide your body with a ton of nutrients

2. Go Grass-Fed and Local

There is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the meat industry, and it’s often difficult to decipher what to avoid, and what is mainly hype. A safe bet is to choose local meats as much as possible, and look for organic grass-fed beef. This will ensure that the cows destined to be your burger were fed a diet that their gut could understand and break down properly, and that the animals weren’t treated with hormones or anything not naturally occurring in the animal already.

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Happy cows come from….

3. Dress It Up Right

Many foods become demonized, thwarting high levels of not-so-good-for-us nutrients, and are forced to wear the diet-version of a “Scarlet Letter.” However, sometimes it’s not the food itself that has so many adverse effects as much as what goes with the food. Moderate amounts of ketchup and mustard (think: 1 Tablespoon) are great additions to a burger. But to get more nutrient bang for you calorie buck, try taking out high saturated fat condiments like mayonnaise to be replaced with avocado. It will introduce an interesting new texture to your burger, as well as some serious creamy goodness! And avocados provide healthy fats that are required for every day bodily functions, and can help prevent heart disease and inflammation, in addition to cancer-fighting antioxidants. Avos can also have a fab effect on hair, skin, and nails. It should be mentioned, however, that due to this super food’s high fat content (although it’s the GOOD KIND), avocados are high in calories, and should still be consumed in moderation.

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Those are some delicious looking antioxidants.

ALSO—pile on as many veggies as you can! No reason to stop at the standard lettuce-onion-tomato. Through some peppers on your grill, and stack them on your burger. The hot ones have major metabolic benefits. Any non-starchy veg would probably go great on a burger—experiment! And let me know what works and what doesn’t!

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One more note (as it is nat’l CHEESEburger day)… Cheese is a great source of calcium, and provides protein as well. I will admit to being an absolute cheese lover. But it’s a food to moderate, as it typically contains high amounts of saturated fat and sodium. Some cheeses are available in part-skim versions–go for those whenever possible. Or just enjoy a smaller amount of a full fat version. Either way–ENJOYMENT is very important!

4. Choose Your Bun Wisely

Not only can you pack an extra serving of veggies into your burger, but you can even utilize this meal as a chance to squeeze in an extra serving of whole grains. When at the store, all the choices we’re given in which to wrap our patties can certainly overwhelm a person. The simplest rule for choosing whole grains is this: the VERY FIRST INGREDIENT should read: WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR. If it doesn’t, it’s not a true whole grain.

Examples:

images-3^Whole Grain

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^Not a whole grain (the first ingredient is ENRICHED FLOUR)*

*I know this is a confusing topic. Please feel free to email me (samfink14@gmail.com) or comment with any questions.

If you’re not a bread lover, you can even wrap your burger in a lettuce wrap. I’d recommend choosing darker romaine leaves over iceberg—the darker your veggie leaves, the more nutrients they contain. But don’t be afraid of a few carbs—they can provide much-needed fiber, as most of us don’t get what we need from our diets.

If you’re trying to avoid red meat, or prefer a more plant-based diet, you can always go for a veggie burger! Just make sure you’re not replacing a beef burger with something that’s highly processed, because health-wise you are doing yourself no favors with that choice. Your best bet may be to make one at home using whole ingredients. Here’s a recipe for one that uses LENTILS (a great plant source of protein)! You may also see beans used, and any other starchy protein. I actually was recently at a restaurant that served a veggie burger made of quinoa and beets! If you prefer to purchase a packaged version, check the ingredients list, and choose one with a short list of ingredients, and words you can pronounce. Watch the sodium level on these items as well.

And remember–as with all things–moderation is key. A burger every once in a while can provide you with major benefits. But one every day may result in lethargy, fluid retention, high cholesterol, and weight gain. So have a happy National Cheeseburger Day! And enjoy yourself!!

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Week 1: Orientation

Week 1 of my dietetic internship has officially been completed. This past week has been filled with too much information, not enough sleep, and some seriously tasty Southern BBQ (note: if ever in Atlanta, go to Bone Lick!). I also had the opportunity to meet and get to know my incredible fellow Morrison Chartwells interns. While there is some sadness about having to leave, and not getting to spend more time with new friends, I have no doubt that we will remain a strong support system for one another.

Here, an abridged recap of the week:

Day 0: My flight arrived into Atlanta from San Francisco at 9:00pm Monday night. Completely out of chronological whack, I remained awake late enough to meet my roommate for the upcoming week as she arrived around 1am (which felt like only 10pm). After some extended introductions, we turned in, both eager and terrified for what the week had to bring.

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Ready to go…

Day 1: The morning went leisurely, as we did not begin orientation until noon. Little did we know how much we would long for the liberty of having those morning hours back throughout the week. Our first day was… let’s face it… basic and boring. All logistics–things we all know, but need to hear again. Adjourning at 5pm, my roommate (who I already miss!) and I joined some of her local friends for a Braves game (they won! … don’t shun me, Dodger fam), and the BEST BBQ and jalapeño-bacon mac & cheese I have EVER had. My introduction to the Southern United States did not disappoint.

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Outfitted in Business Cas for Day #1

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Still surreal…

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Everything in moderation–including beer!!

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OH! And did I mention they put us up on the JUMBOTRON??? All we had to do was agree to air guitar when relief pitcher Kimbrel walked onto the field, as Welcome to the Jungle was played. Check out the video here! Embarrassing? Yes. Worth it? Totally.

Day 2: Wednesday captivated our interest just a bit more–and also managed to spike our cortisol levels significantly. Today we learned more about our School Nutrition Management rotation, of which I will personally not have the pleasure until mid-February. Chartwells is the sector of our overarching company (Compass Group) that oversees K-12 school accounts. Throughout the day we heard lectures from a number of accomplished (and YOUNG!) people in the field of dietetics who happen to be a major component of the Morrison Chartwells program. We were introduced to the inter-workings of the company, and taught who does what from Directors to Regional RDs to Resident Dietitians. We had the pleasure of being introduced to the Morrison CEO, followed by an introduction to the Cornell Plate Waste Study through the university’s B.E.N. (Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs) Center in which we will be participating. Cue 35 Type-A stress-induced heart attacks. As we learned about what would be involved in this study, and what our responsibilities would include, many of us began to panic at the sheer magnitude of information we would need to be collecting. The study basically focuses on how much food is being thrown out in schools across the country. After a solid hour-and-a-half or so of rapid-fire questions, and confusion-inducing answers, we were reassured that, as important as our contributions were, we were but a “data point” on the B.E.N. Center’s graphs, and an error did NOT in fact indicate epic failure. After learning as much more as we possibly could about our School Nutrition Management rotation, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for a group dinner at Sage. We looked forward to some fun after such a rough day!

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Our yummy desserts… And the “Sage” in the olive oil above is written in Balsamic!

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Me, with the best roommate ever!

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Day 3: Thursday was the day I both looked forward to and had been dreading. It was the much anticipated CLINICAL NUTRITION DAY! Bright and early at 7:30am, we all met at the office, and began guzzling down mediocre coffee (sorry, Compass group–it is what it is). Each of us had worked LONG hours completing to the best of our abilities four clinical modules: General Medicine, Cardiovascular, Endocrine, and Renal. Although a thorough review was expected, we were greeted with a game of clinical nutrtion Jeopardy instead! Fortunately I am a total Jeopardy (and nutrition) NERD, and didn’t mind this at all. We concluded the day with FOUR HOURS of information from Abbott Labs, the company who provides many of the enteral nutrition (tube feeds) and supplements that are often used in clinical as well as non-clinical settings. Some of the products we learned about and/or had the opportunity to taste included Ensure (we tried Clear and Complete), Glucerna, Vital, and Pediasure.

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Above squiggly line: end of day. Below: new day. The difference between tired and awake.

We adjourned slightly early around 4:30pm, at which point most of us headed out to the vans that had been transporting us throughout the week. I stayed after for what I thought would be a few minutes to chat with the internship director, Karen. Unfortunately, a situation arose that could have been easily avoided with the implementation of the BUDDY SYSTEM, and I was left behind!

Karen politely offered to take me back to the hotel, and it turned out to be a great opportunity to get to know my director a bit more in the short time we had together.

That evening, four other interns and I decided to experience Atlanta the best we could during our limited stay; we hit the town with some friends of one of the interns, learning some more about the city’s delicious food and nightlife!

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A beautiful Southern evening.

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On our way!

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5 of us at a great taqueria–amazing fried pickles and jalapeños!

Knowing how much we might regret our decisions to be out late the night before our travels home, we gladly owned our choices, and arrived back to the hotel just in time for a solid 4 or so hours of sleep.

Day 4: Our FINAL DAY commenced around 6:30am, as we needed to pack our bags, check out, and make it to the office in casual Friday wear for some last-minute information by 8:00. After scarfing down my last complimentary breakfast (courtesy of Staybridge Suites), we crammed those of us remaining at the hotel into a van along with each of our sets of luggage, and enjoyed one last ride together.

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Still unclear on the reasoning for limes at the breakfast buffet, always next to the coffee… Insight, anyone?

We learned about our Long Term Care rotation, and had a nice long lecture on wellness coaching and motivational interviewing. We were able to close things up early around 1:30pm or so, at which point we all said our goodbyes and migrated to MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) to head toward the airport.

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On the way we got a solid last peak into the ways of the urban south, as we were graced with a man shouting the gospel at us on the train (rather inaccurately, per my friend who knows the Word pretty solidly). Fortunately, we were all rescued by this guy:

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We made it to the airport, and said last goodbyes as we boarded our respective flights, and I prepared for the long hours I would spend sitting in a seat in the sky.

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I like to make fun, but seriously SO GLAD I bought this…

After a long half day of travel, I finally made it back, safe and sound, to my very favorite place: home to San Francisco. I have wrestled with some regret over applying to a distance program, and feeling as if I may be missing out on the “real” dietetic intern experience. But after this week, learning what an incredible program I am lucky to be a part of, I could not be more excited to get to remain in the first place I have truly loved living, and have felt as if I fit. I love this city, and all of the diverse experiences it offers. Sorry, San Francisco–you’re stuck with me!

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And made it home just in time for the uncharacteristically beautiful weather! And also for a date night with my favorite guy on the planet :).

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Sandals? What??

Now, time to get myself re-situated, and ready to begin my clinical rotation at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland TOMORROW!

Stay tuned for updates on what I am sure is to be an eventfully crazy week.

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Great group! Morrison Chartwells 2013-2014

P.S. My Instagram is @realfoodisthebest. Follow for more like this blog!

Because this is about honesty…

While I love to preach moderation, and share with all of you tips and tricks to maintain such a lifestyle, I think it’s also important to own each of my actions, INCLUDING the not-so-moderate.

 

So, for the sake of honesty, and giving support to any of you who struggle with maintaining balance, I would like to share with you all that yesterday was a rough day. I was experiencing some… “feminine problems,” with pain unlike any other I’ve experienced before. I am not embellishing. Yesterday, for the first time in years, I went day #1 of every girl’s favorite week with no meds. I now know that for me that is NOT a good idea. I love to avoid medication whenever possible… But I now believe that is something my body might need. Coupled with this pain, I was having some insane cravings for some seriously processed food items. I’m talkin’ good ol’ Ben & Jerry’s, Annie’s Pasta Shells, and a Justin’s peanuts and chocolate bar. Alright, so I kept it somewhat organic. But that is hardly moderate. Below, some evidence:

 

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(That’s right — the full fat version)

 

I just wanted to share this information with readers to say that living a moderate lifestyle is NOT fool-proof. But I should mention that today I feel great. I feel like I listened to a craving, squelched it (with some undeniable vigor!), and am now ready to move on and get back up on the horse of moderation. No restricting. No purging. No crazy recovery detox diet.

 

And that’s not to say we should indulge EVERY craving. But–you get it–LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It has more to say than you may realize.

 

That is all! Please check back soon for a new video :).

 

Don’t Waste the Night Away: How to Avoid Over-Drinking this New Years Eve

Typically my first tip for avoiding that dreaded fallin-down-slurred-speech level of drunk is pretty fool-proof: offer to be the designated driver. This works for me, becaue of a) the law, and b) it’s sometime easier to follow a rule I’ve made for myself if  others will be impacted by my decision not to follow it. However, I feel that New Years Eve is only part complete without a sparkly beverage in hand. Here are some tips that have worked for me in avoiding the slop.

1) DON’T DRINK

As fun as it is to attempt moderation, it’s not a reality for all of us at this juncture in time. If you feel the need to go sans alcohol for the night, but fear your ability to stick to it, drink something like sparkling water (or even the infused ones are pretty good), or a diet soda with a lime. I find that drinking something that feels almost cocktail-esque fills my need to over-indulge in the real stuff. 7Up and OJ is also a favorite of mine!

2) STEER AWAY FROM SHOTS

When ingesting shot after shot, our bodies have zero time to alert us to the fact that we’re tipping over into schwasty territory. Try to stick to mixed drinks if you’re drinking hard alcohol.

3) STICK WITH BEER, YOU’RE IN THE CLEAR

If you’re just learning how to moderate your drinking, sometimes it can be extra challenging to follow a loose set of guidelines that tell you to “not drink TOO much, just a little.” When I first began my journey into moderation, I found it very useful to cut out hard alcohol for a while. Beer and wine will at least show you you’ve had enough through signals other than the swirvs—once you feel full, it’s hard to keep drinking! Eventually you’ll be able to figure out ways to slip it back into your life in moderation. A plus to drinking beer—hangovers are far less severe without the use of those high-sugar mixers.

4) H2O! (…and other virgin bevs)

Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. This will force you to shoot through your alc more slowly, and if you’re spending the evening at a bar, you’ll save money too! Having your non-alcoholic drink be water is probably your best bet, as it’s important to stay hydrated. However, I know it’s often difficult to pull off once others around you have lost their inhibitions, and may want to push alcohol on you. It’s easy to disguise a non-alcoholic beverage, using some of the ideas in Tip #1 (you can throw a lime in almost anything, and ask for it in a high ball glass or tumbler, and trick most people… ;-)).

Also, in any situation involving drinks—ALWAYS be sure to stay hydrated, and eat properly leading up to drinking (well, ideally, all the time…). Drinking on an empty stomach typically ends… not well.

Everyone have a FANTASTIC New Years Eve. Have fun, and remember that a good evening is a waste if you can’t remember it :).

See you all in 2013!

Most people: don’t eat ice cream, pizza, bread, sugar, fat, or fried food. EVER.
Me: oh I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you over the sound of MODERATION.