How to Keep Calories In Check at a Super Bowl Party

super-bowl-party-tips-to-eat-lessEvery year we're smacked in the face with a smorgasbord of food and alcohol at you guessed it, a Super Bowl party. Whether you're throwing a party or attending one, calorie overload is bound to happen. Like other women, I could care less about football and am only interested in the social aspect of the party, and I'm not gonna lie I'm looking forward to the food. But how do you attend one of these parties without going overboard? Keep calories in check at a Super Bowl Party with these tips: 1. Eat before you go: I know, I know, that's no fun. But if you eat a healthy meal or even just have something small like a protein shake or non-fat Greek yogurt, your tummy won't be as hungry for the fattening fare being shoveled in mouths all around you. Thus hopefully preventing you from over-eating.

2. Bring something healthy to share: if you're not sure there will be any healthy appetizers and munchies, go ahead and whip up something you love that way you can spend the evening eating that instead of the unhealthy stuff. And if it looks too healthy, no one else will eat it and there will be more for you to enjoy. Just kidding. Be sure to bring the recipe because everyone will be asking you for it!

Try my recipe for Hummus and Pita Chips. No one will ever know it's healthy!

3. Stick to Leaner Foods: a good rule of thumb is to avoid high-sugar, high-fat foods and stick to the leaner stuff like protein, fruits and veggies, and good fats like cheese, nuts and avocado. When I get to a party, the first thing I do is scan the food options taking note of what I feel are the healthiest foods available. Then I stick to those foods the rest of the night - and drink tons of water and diet soda!

4. Eat Only Your Favorites: instead of munching on everything in site, find the foods you love the most. Serve yourself small portions of those foods throughout the night that way you get to really enjoy the calories you're consuming without wasting any on foods that are just so-so.

5. Have a small sample of everything: then put down the fork. Taking a small bite of everything gives you the chance to eat and try all of the foods at the party without overindulging. Be careful not to let this go overboard.

6. Fill Up on Fruits and Veggies (but skip the dips): fruits and veggies are full of filling fiber. If you decide to have a taste of everything and find yourself still hungry or with the munchies afterward, just have some fruits and veggies -- but skip the dips. Dip can be high in calories, sugar and fat making your efforts virtually worthless.

When it comes to alcohol, steer clear of high sugar additions like cranberry juice and soda. Stick with lite beer, wine, or cocktails like rum and diet coke.They are half the calories but full of flavor.

Celebrations like the Super Bowl are a great time to indulge and enjoy yourself. Just don't take things too far. Nobody wants to pop the button on their jeans, or feel so uncomfortably full that they can barely move. Keep it light and focus on the fun instead of the food!

A Call To Action: Kids Nutrition Starts with the Parents

I was a Pediatric Dietitian for 11.4 weeks. It was a part-time gig with full-time gratification. I don't have kids but I do know how to relate to them. But when it comes to nutrition for kids, all Dietitians know that counseling the parents [not the kids] is half the battle.

For just under 3 months [on the weekends] I'd drive 5o minutes to a town on Long Island called Garden City. In Garden City there's a Pediatrician who's working to curb the childhood obesity epidemic, her name is Dr. Joanna Dolgoff. Her program Red Light Green Light Eat right is on its way to changing the world of Kids nutrition counseling and weight loss. She's been in the news and on TV promoting her successful program numerous times and when I had the opportunity to get involved even for a short period, I was more than excited.

There are certain aspects of nutrition for kids that play a crucial role in the way kids think and eat on a daily basis. Working with kids and their parents only reiterated what the nutrition world has been touting for so many decades.

1. Kids nutrition starts with the parents. This one is more important than any parent would ever imagine. If you don't teach your kids healthy eating habits from the start, your child will be more likely to have a host of health problems as an adult including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, the list goes on. Your job as a parent is to lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not a good tactic - instead serve healthy foods for everyone in the family and place emphasis on how tasty fruits and vegetables really are. Your kids will follow suit.

2. Peer pressure is the biggest saboteur. There are kids out there who have no problem ignoring pressure from their friends to eat pizza or other junk foods. On the other hand, most kids fall victim. One of my biggest challenges as a Pediatric Dietitian was helping kids overcome pressure from their friends to eat junk food instead of their healthy counterparts. As parents it's your job to teach your children how to have confidence in their decisions and choices in all aspects of their lives including what they choose to put in their mouths. As kids get older it becomes easier for kids to practice confidence, but that's only if they have positive support, influence and guidance from their parents.

What do you do with kids who just don't want to try new foods? Get them involved! Make food fun and interesting, show them how delicious healthy foods are and you'd be surprised at how interested they become.

What do you do with kids who don't understand why we should eat healthy foods? Work on teaching them simple concepts - start with 'Healthy foods make us grow strong and smart'. Focus on the positive and take small steps. Kids are surprisingly resilient and their desire to learn and eat healthy is far beyond any adult. Kids are proud to eat healthy and make healthy decisions - you just have to open their minds to it.

photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

Do your kids eat healthy? What have been some of their favorite go-to nutrient packed meals?

6 Ways to Stop Obsessing Over Your Diet

I know you're thinking, "that's not me, I don't obsess over my diet." But if you're reading this post I wouldn't be surprised if you are someone who pays more attention to your food than your personal life. It's more common than you think. For the extreme, it's got a name - Orthorexia, which is characterized by an obsession with dieting to the extent it interrupts your personal life, causes stress, and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Are you someone who has to stick to your diet to the T or else it's as if the world has ended? Do you feel guilt after a treat and immediately start planning how to burn off the calories? Do you find yourself binging alone on a Saturday night with everything you can find that looks tasty? If so, you've probably taken dieting a bit too far. I should know, this was me just 2 years ago. It began with dieting for a Figure competition and ended [about 2 years ago] with a realization that my inability to "feel full" after a normal size meal was just not normal. How do you fix this though. It's definitely not easy. Changing your mindset is the secret to changing anything in your life - and if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to have it no matter how long it takes. Even if you don't take your diet to the extreme, these tips can help you avoid taking it too far.

1. Stop dieting. That's right, I said it. Drop the word diet and the strict meal plan and you'd be surprised at the magic that happens. Set your mind free from restrictions and start eating healthy for the flavor, for the satisfaction, for the health of it. Once you let go of the idea that you have to eat a certain way to reach your goal or be a certain way, you'll find that your body will respond even faster. I'm not telling you to eat whatever you want, I'm suggesting that you quit telling yourself (and other people) that you're on a diet and allow yourself the freedom of eating for enjoyment. Trust me, it works. To this day, I can't fathom going back on any kind of diet - I feel like it's going to put me right back where I was miserable two years ago.

2. Eat foods you usually say no to. Cutting out entire food groups is not the answer to your dieting sorrows. In fact, it's a symptom of Orthorexia. For me, I was so adamant that I couldn't have fruit that I was missing out on nature's candy. Everyone knows that fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and flavor. But because I believed fruit had too many carbs for my strict diet, I wouldn't eat it - ever. Slowly I began putting fruit back in my diet by way of an apple here and there. Today fruit is a staple in my day. Maybe you eat fruits but you won't eat fats, or grains, or protein. Add those foods back in - they are packed with nutrients your body needs and will open your options to so many delicious foods.

3. Find a hobby that has nothing to do with food. Keeping yourself busy with something you enjoy doing will take the focus off your strict meal plan. If you're going to be out all day, bring a healthy lunch with plenty of snacks. Pack a variety of healthy foods you wouldn't normally have. Keep the focus on your experience not on what you're eating. And if you're still hungry after you eat, have a piece of fruit or glass of water.

4. Slow down. Instead of exercising endlessly to lose weight, find the fun in exercise and workout to get fit and healthy. Say yes to that date Friday night and don't obsess over missing the gym. You can always find time tomorrow to make up the workout you missed. Doing things to make you happy means finding time to socialize and have fun - in that case, the gym can wait.

5. Stop binging. Ok maybe you don't binge. But if you do, you've got to stop. It's just not healthy. The emotional roller coaster you're putting yourself on is an endless cycle. Restricting your diet leads to binging. Stop restricting and stop binging. If it becomes too difficult to tackle on your own, you may need to talk to a professional who can help you get better.

6. Stop Obsessing. Eating a cookie or two is not going to cause you to gain any weight. Eating cookies all the time will. Keep your diet in perspective and enjoy foods when you want them. Remember that you have the power to make the right choices and giving yourself the freedom to enjoy life and food will lead you to the body, mind and life that you want.

Have you ever been on a diet? What was your experience dieting and how did it affect you mentally and physically?

Some of My Favorite Things at #FNCE

This year was my first time attending the AND’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo – or FNCE for those of you “in the know.”  My attendance was sponsored by my 9-5 so I spent much of my time working the booth and fighting off freebie-loving attendees.  But since this show is the biggest Nutrition show of the year, I had to get around the expo to see who else was there.  I tried to take as many photos as I could, however after scrolling through my camera album it seems as though I forgot a few.  Anywho, here is a list of some of my favorite everyday things that were also at #FNCE! 1.    Some amazing Trail Mix at Forgotten Booth Name (oops) – I’m kind of neurotic when it comes to mixed nuts.  If it’s got any amount of sodium in the mix, I probably won’t eat it. I just don’t like the salty flavor, which usually leaves me thirsty.  I feel terribly, but my first question to the man at booth #563 was “does this have sodium in it?”  Ultimately, the almonds were the only item that contained salt.  I always love a good healthy trail mix and this one was full of nuts and dried fruit.  It even had shaved coconut and dark chocolate!  P.S.  shame on me, I don’t remember the actual blend and the man at the booth didn’t know either.  But doesn't it look good?

2.    Walnuts! – California Walnuts was there with a big fancy booth that had a big fancy walnut on top.  I love walnuts for their big bite of heart healthy fats.  I use them often to add crunch to cottage cheese, banana bread, oats and more.  Throughout the weekend I sent out a handful of tweets to @cawalnuts not because they were running a Twitter iPad 3 giveaway but because I love walnuts!

3.    Daisy Cottage Cheese – any brand of cottage cheese is good in my book, but Daisy brand was representing at FNCE this year.  They even had a cottage cheese bar where you could choose your toppings.  I picked plain old perfect strawberries.

4.    Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk – Silk was there with a handful of their most popular milks.  My favorite from Silk is their Unsweetened Almond Milk.  I use it in recipes, in cereal, in protein shakes and for a healthy beverage on it’s own.  Rich can’t even go one night without his Unsweetened Almond Milk with low-fat Honey Graham Crackers.  It’s his favorite after-dinner dessert.

5.    Kind Bars and their new Granola! – Kind bars are super-yummy and packed with dried fruit and nuts (just my kind of snack!).  They were exhibiting both their amazing bars and their flavored granolas.  I can’t remember which one I tried, but it was yum, and I also took home a sample so I’ll get back to you with a recap of that one at a later date.

6.    Annie’s Salad Dressing – Seriously the best Organic low-cal salad dressings around.  You’d never know they are low-cal by tasting them.  My particular favorite is the Lite-Gingerly flavor (thanks to my kick-a$$ friend Wendy in Wyoming).  When I found their booth, I spent 5 minutes explaining how addicted I am to their dressing – this rant was followed by them handing me a handful of coupons.  Perfect!  I love coupons!  And I love this dressing!

7.    Red Mill Flours – You can find this stuff in Whole Foods, Stop N Shop, Publix and wherever else you buy your groceries.  It’s good stuff!  I’ve used their flax meal and Almond flour before with success.  I stopped to chat with the girl at Red Mill for a few minutes; she had this fabulous cookbook on the table that I’m dying to get my hands on.  I’m hoping she sends me a copy [which I will of course share the contents with you all when she does].  She also mentioned a new flour she had coming out soon.  I’ll share that with you at a future date as well.  Anyway, if you’ve not tried any flours out of the usual, give Red Mill a shot - they have affordable good quality products.

8.    Chobani Greek Yogurt! – Yay for Chobani!  Our booth was directly across from Chobani [which I planned for] that made for a very hungry weekend.  Everyone who walked by had a cup of Chobani yogurt in their hand from Chobani's Greek yogurt bar.  That’s right, they had a Greek yogurt bar where you could choose your flavor and choose your toppings.  I chose plain yogurt with cashews, blueberries and coconut.  It was amazing to say the least.  Chobani always goes over the top for events – their café/kitchen theme went over well and so did their two new flavors – Banana and Pear.  Yum yum!  Can’t wait to try these again when they hit stores!

After a long 4-day event, I can honestly say my time at FNCE was a success.  I learned a few good things from the educational sessions, tried some yummy new flavors and foods, and met some great people.  Before I go, I have to give a shout out to my good friend Marie Spano who I only found out was there via Twitter.  Thanks Twitter for keeping me in touch with my friends!

Did you attend FNCE this year? What were some of the highlights for you? If not, what are some of your favorite healthy treats and snacks?