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Is the Paleo Diet Worth all the Hype?

If you’re clued in to the fad diet scene at all, you’ve probably heard of the newest entry in to the market, the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is also known as the caveman diet. Simply speaking, the idea of the Paleo Diet is to consume only foods that our caveman ancestors would have consumes because our bodies are most equipped to process these foods. For an in-depth overview of the diet, you can visit the Greatist website.

Just as with any new diet that comes along claiming to fix the world’s obesity epidemic, the Paleo Diet makes us want to research some of the details and weigh out the pros and the cons. So, we did! Here’s what we came up with.

Pros:

  • Weight Loss: The Paleo Diet has produced many great examples proving that weight loss is definitely a benefit of the diet.
  • Healthy Choices: By participating in the Paleo Diet, people are more likely to make healthier decisions when choosing their foods, especially when it comes to fats, carbs, calories, etc.

Cons:

  • Sustainability: Due to the rigid structure of allowed foods, the likelihood of the average person maintaining this diet is slim.
  • Variety: Again, because this diet is so strict, participants will lose a lot of their food variety. Not only can that be boring and hard to stick with, it also increases the likelihood that they will miss out on important key nutrients found in foods that aren’t allowed.
  • Dairy Deficit: This diet completely removes dairy from your diet. Dairy is one of the biggest sources of calcium and Vitamin D in our diets. Although there are other ways to get these important nutrients, it will be a culture shock for most to continue to get these nutrients without consuming any dairy products.

The bottom line is that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in order to determine the long term health risks and benefits to the Paleo Diet. This diet seems eerily similar to the Atkins Diet, and we all know where that went! According to NCES dietitian, Carrie Mark, “My main concern is the long term sustainability for a diet such as this one. Sure, people will lose weight because they are focusing on making healthier food choices. But, will they be able to maintain the diet and their weight loss long-term? I don’t know.”

What do you think? Have you seen any other pros or cons not listed here. Our list is brief because there is still a lot of research to be done. But, we look forward to seeing where this diet goes in the future. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the Paleo Diet right here on the NCES blog. Or, visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts.

paleo

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Please Help Me Avoid the Flu Epidemic of 2013

Young Male Doctor Wearing Protective Headgear and Face MaskThis morning, before I left the house, I went to the usual section of my wardrobe that has all the winter clothes in it. I put together an outfit of warm clothes. Then, before I left, I grabbed the warmest coat I have, gloves and even a hat because it was pretty chilly. But, if you are like me, you fight the temptation every morning to put on some sort of mask to protect you from all the flu germs that seem to be saturating the air this time of year. This winter is no exception! Every day, there is a breaking news story about how the flu outbreak is affecting so many Americans. So, even though we don’t all hide from it like the plague, most of us are still concerned about how to avoid getting the flu and letting it infiltrate our houses.

As many of you know, there are other measures you can take to avoid getting the flu besides getting the flu shot. Although the flu is very tricky and can’t be figured out completely, we’ve identified some power foods to be sure to include in your diet this time of year to help fight the flu germs that threaten us at every grocery store, office meeting and social gathering.

Citrus Fruits: I know. Usually you’ll see multiple blog posts in the Spring and Summer encouraging you to eat fresh fruits and veggies. They’re in season and so fresh at that time of year. Plus, they’re easy to find and fun to eat. This time of year, they kind of get left in the dust (literally). But, citrus fruits like Oranges, Grapefruits and Limes contain high levels of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a great food to have on hand when it comes to fighting cold and flu viruses.

Milk, Cheese and Yogurt: That’s right. Did you catch the trend here? Dairy! Dairy foods are a common source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D goes to work to fight viruses like the flu, helping to protect your body from their effects.
Meat: You may not pay a lot of attention to the amount of Zinc in your diet. But, zinc is important in keeping your immune system healthy and fighting off the flu. So, if you want to have a well-rounded flu prevention program, be sure to incorporate the appropriate servings of meat to take advantage of the zinc benefits. Just another little tip, red meats tend to have higher zinc levels than other meats.

Berries and Green Tea: If you’re looking for anti-oxidants, welcome to anti-oxidant central! Berries contain high levels of antioxidants, which are great for cleaning the free radicals out of your blood stream. Along with making your body healthier to help prevent the flu, antioxidants have also been touted as a great anti-aging tool and a way to help prevent many diseases.
So, here’s wishing all of you a flu-free 2013. And, be sure to share these tips with all of your favorite friends to help them avoid the flu too.

Do you have a place to display the best flu prevention tips? If so, NCES has created a free printable poster all about flu prevention. Click here to view and download this free poster.

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NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” Tackles Childhood Obesity

the biggest loser

Have you joined in on all the hype of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” Season 14? I mean, what isn’t there to be excited about? Jillian Michaels has returned, we all have the opportunity to join in on the fun through Biggest Loser’s ‘Challenge America’, and for the first time ever, The Biggest Loser is tackling childhood obesity with 3 child contestants. That’s right, of the 18 contestants on season 14, 3 of them are under the age of 18. If you had the opportunity to watch, you already know that Sunday’s season premiere kicked off with a bang. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up yet, let’s meet the kids of season 14.

On the blue team, 13 year old Noah (Biingo) is a fun-loving kid who wants to use his experience on The Biggest Loser to gain the knowledge he needs to lose weight and get healthy. On the white team, Sunny is the oldest of the child contestants at age 16. Sunny balances a very busy schedule, managing her advancement placement classes and extra-curricular activities. Time is tight and when stress creeps in, Sunny turns to food to relieve her stress. Fighting on the red team is Lindsay, age 13. Lindsay wants to use The Biggest Loser to change her habits and become more active. She’s also excited to be an inspiration to those watching at home, especially kids her age.

For those of who you who are familiar with The Biggest Loser gym and trainers, you’re probably very scared for these poor children right now. But, the format of the program for these child contestants is completely different from their adult counterparts. The kids will not be training on the ranch; they’ll be training from home. But, the trainers will be available to the kids as resources on their journey and a trainer will be checking in on each of the kid’s progress every week. Plus, the kids are not subject to the weekly weigh-ins and cannot be ‘kicked off’ the show!

As we all know, childhood obesity rates are scary… and their rising! So, thank you Biggest Loser for shedding more light on this problem. It’s up to all of us to do our part! Here’s wishing the best of luck to Biingo, Sunny and Lindsay on this season and to a lifetime of health and happiness!

If you haven’t tuned in yet, you’re not too late to join in on the fun of Season 14. NBC’s The Biggest Loser airs on Monday’s at 7:00 PM (CST). You can also learn all about this seasons contestants on The Biggest Loser page.

Stay tuned for all of our future blogs! Later this week, we’ll be talking about why drinking water is still important in the winter. Plus, if you’re tired of drinking glass after glass of water, we’ll share some great foods that can help you reach your daily fill of water. Use the box in the upper, right section of the blog to subscribe to the NCES Health Beat to make sure you don’t miss a beat.

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FNCE 2012: Are you Inspired?

The AND Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is kind of like Christmas in the nutrition and dietetics community.  Four jam-packed days of interesting education sessions, networking and foodie events, and the inevitable attempt to fit as many free samples from the Expo into our bags as possible.  But aside from the whirlwind of activity, what has and always will make FNCE the extraordinary experience that it is every year, is the energy, the people and the newfound sense of drive you feel every time you leave.
As part of the Executive Board of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group, our theme at the conference this year was “Declare Your Passion.”  I had the amazing opportunity to meet and network with registered dietitians who have found a way to take their passions and incorporate it into a career that is both emotionally and financially fulfilling– I’m pretty sure not many other professions can say that!  From supermarket dietitians, to authors, to social media gurus, to research experts (just to name a few!) there was never a shortage of colleagues to talk to and learn from.

FNCE is about celebrating collaboration, not competition.  This weekend I saw friends reconnecting, long-lasting business relationships being formed, and students interacting with their mentors.  We shared ideas, we asked questions, and we motivated one another.  The one buzz word that kept being tossed around to describe the 2012 FNCE experience was “inspired,” and I couldn’t agree more.
In essence, FNCE to me this year served as a reminder of how truly lucky we are to be in a profession where we can make whatever career we want.  There are no limits, there are no boundaries–we get to wake up looking forward to going to work every day!  I’ve already started outlining my 2013 “career to-do list” inspired by my interactions with fellow dietitians this weekend, and I can’t wait to experience it all over again next year in Texas!

Kristen Carlucci, RD
Nutrition Expert for Pitney Bowes

NEdpg Director-Elect of Member Services

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MyPlate Food Bingo Wins Parents Choice Approved Seal

Congratulations to our friends at Smart Picks for receiving the “2012 Parents Choice Approved Seal” for MyPlate Food Bingo. Read their Press Release below for all the details!

Smart Picks
MyPlate Food Bingo wins
” 2012 Parents’ Choice Approved Seal”

What is The Parents Choice Approved Seal?

The Parents’ Choice Approved Seals are given on the basis of the production, entertainment and human values they exemplify.
A Parents’ Choice Approved Seal indicates a wholesome product that helps children enjoy developing physical, emotional, social or academic skills.

My Plate Food Bingo

Spring 2012 Games

Ages: 9 & Up

Manufacturer: Smart Picks, Inc.

Price: $39.95
Review:

MyPlate Food Bingo combines family game night and lesson in healthy eating habits. Based on the USDA’s new MyPlate food categories (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy) the game boards feature ninety-five different foods and their suggested serving sizes. It provides information and tips on healthy eating, exercise, food allergies and more. The game, which is ideal for the classroom or camps, includes 30 laminated cards, 114 picture squares, a checking card, 95 clue cards, 600 square markers, an instruction sheet and an information sheet. The game helps children learn information about healthy eating habits way while also encouraging family time, cooperative play and social interaction. Though the game may mention foods that kids may not recognize, such as kashi, seitan, and amaranth, there is an information sheet that explains what more obscure foods are. The sheet also provides enough nutritional information and additional resources to assist any teacher or home schooling parent to craft a healthy eating curriculum. The practical, tasty, and accessible healthy eating tips on each card (“try frozen grapes instead of popsicles” and “eat popcorn instead of candy or chips”, for example) add to the game’s health and educational value.

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5 Unique Fruits and Veggies to Intrigue You

With the USDA’s new MyPlate, there has been a surge of attention given to the importance of a balanced diet. As demonstrated on the plate, a balanced diet consists of a large amount of fruits and vegetables. The problem is, we get it in our heads that we don’t like certain foods. We remember brussel sprouts from our childhood, and can’t get past that memory of forcing them down so that Mom and Dad would let us have dessert. The truth is that there are a lot more options than just brussel sprouts and beets. We’ve decided to put together a list of the Top 5 Fruits and Vegetables you’ve probably never tried, and the health benefits of each one.

  1. Paw Paw (fruit) This fruit is easily digestible and aids in the digestion of other foods. It is rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and soluble vegetable fiber. It is enjoyed best when eaten fresh and ripe.
  2. Persimmons (fruit) This delicate oriental fruit is native to china.  It spread to Japan very long ago and later was introduced to California during the middle of the nineteenth century.  They are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that are vital for good health.
  3. Dragon Fruit (fruit) This exotic fruit contains large amounts of Vitamin C. Not only that, the vitamin C in dragon fruit is more easily digested than a vitamin c supplement. It is also said, but not proven, that Dragon Fruit aids in controlling blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 Diabetes (Note: This is not a sufficient medical plan for controlling diabetes)
  4. Purple Dragon Carrot (vegetable) This unique carrot has a sweet flavor, making it great for salads and for juicing. Carrots help reduce cholesterol, fight infections and stabilize blood sugar. High in nutritional value, but low in calories, carrots play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Sweet Baby Broccoli (vegetable) Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids with iron absorption in the body, and fiber, which enhances the gastrointestinal tract. They can help prevent the development of cataracts, and also ease the symptoms of the common cold. The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancy. The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.

Are you ready to go out and try all these great new fruits and vegetables? Each of them has a unique flavor, as well as all the health benefits mentioned. So, give  ‘em all a try. And, be sure to let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

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To Stream or Not to Stream… Soda that is!

Did you have fun celebrating Earth Day last week? This day provides a great opportunity for us to consider our daily activities and how we can adjust them to sustain our environment. How did you celebrate? Did you make any big lifestyle changes hoping to make a lasting impact on our planet?  Chris Jackson, President of NCES, purchased a SodaStream machine for the whole office to use. So, we’re here today to tell you what we love, and don’t love, about the SodaStream.

First, what is a SodaStream? It is a machine that uses tap water and converts it in to soda, sparkling waters and sparkling teas. Currently, SodaStream offers over 25 different flavors. With just a couple tablespoons of your favorite flavor concentrate, 1 liter of tap water and the SodaStream carbonator, you can make your very own carbonated beverages at home.

The biggest advantage to using a system like this is the inherent benefit to the planet. Did you know that the US is the world’s largest consumer of bottled water? This bottled water habit we have been sucked in to is bad for us and for the environment. Why? Because, according to the US Recycling Institute, only about 20% of bottles used in America are actually recycled. The other 80% end up in landfills across the country.

SodaStream is also an ActiveGreen product. This means that users are actively reducing their carbon footprint each time they use their SodaStream. Many products are made using ‘green’ processes. However, these products are not designed to help the user be ‘green’ each time they use the product. The SodaStream is! So, you can rest better knowing that each time you use your new SodaStream machine, you reduce your carbon footprint.

The only downfall we found to this product is the initial cost. SodaStream has quite a few options for consumers to choose from. These products range from $79.95 to $199.95, offering carbonators with either plastic or glass bottles. But, after you make the initial investment, you will be paying only 25cents per ‘can’ of soda that you make. Or, 25cents per liter of sparkling water. This is a pretty big savings from what you would pay in the store for soda or sparkling water.

So, if you’re willing to make the initial investment, we think that the SodaStream machine provides a great, cost-effective opportunity to reduce your daily carbon footprint. We should also mention that, while the SodaStream is great to have, a big glass of ice water is still the best way to refresh and replenish your body. You should still strive to consume your daily recommendation of 8-16 cups of water per day. However, if you are good at meeting your daily water recommendation and enjoy a soda here and there, getting yourself a SodaStream to save money and preserve the environment may be a good choice.

Do you already have a SodaStream? What do you think are the pros and cons?

Did you decide to go get one after reading this article? If so, share with us what you think of your new SodaStream!

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Heart Healthy Breakfast Burrito

“According to new nutrition data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously thought. The USDA-ARS recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs, and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than previously recorded. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent.” (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/216020.php)

Given this recent data, an egg per day is considered a healthy addition to the average American’s diet. So, check out this great breakfast burrito and enjoy all the health benefits an egg a day has to offer.

INGREDIENTS

2 whole eggs

4 egg whites

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons canned chopped green chilis

4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

2 whole-grain tortilla (6. Inch)

INSTRUCTIONS

Scramble eggs in a skillet with beans and chili’s over medium heat. After eggs are cooked, add cheese to the skillet. Continue cooking until cheese is melted. Divide mixture in half and wrap in to tortillas. (2 Servings)