Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating with Carolyn O'Neil’ Category

HEALTHY EATING: Dining tips from dietitians

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Ever been out to dinner with a dietitian? I must confess, sometimes it
 can be a lesson in best practices for becoming a high maintenance customer — reminiscent of the deli scene in the 1980s hit movie “When Harry Met Sally…” when the character Sally was very particular about her order for pie à la mode: “I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.”

You’ve got to admit that Sally knew what she wanted and was very specific about the details.

I’m a registered dietitian and attempt to eat as healthfully as possible and share guidance on the topic in this column.

But while dining out during the American Dietetic Association’s annual conference in Denver, I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of my nutrition-minded …

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HEALTHY EATING: Cut down on salt in diet

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Talk about spicing things up! Move over, trans fats; salt is under fire as the next nutrition no-no on its way out from restaurant menus and processed foods.

Sodium levels in foods have been on the nutrition watch list for years because too much sodium in the diet is associated with high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

But now health officials in New York are asking restaurants and makers of packaged foods to shake the salt habit and cut levels of sodium by 25 percent over the next five years. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s plan is called the National Salt Reduction Initiative, and it involves other cities and states including North Carolina and Tennessee in the Southeast, but not Georgia as of yet.

Who should care about consuming too much salt? Just about everyone, according to a public health alert on sodium intake from health watchers at the Centers for Disease Control …

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HEALTHY EATING: Trends you might be seeing in ’10

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Do you find yourself leaning toward the vegetarian entrees on the menu even though you’re not a vegetarian? Are you steering away from super-salty foods? When shopping for packaged foods, do you prefer those with a short list of ingredients? Do you still order burgers every once in a while but insist on a really good one?

If your answers are “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s possible you’re being watched by researchers who forecast food trends.

Of course, there are still powerful forces driving the bus toward over-the-top indulgences such as deep-fried macaroni and cheese or mile-high chocolate cakes. That’s why so many Americans are still so overweight.

But on the other side of the scale (literally), there’s a strong list of consumer trends that indicate more people are choosing healthier foods so they can be healthier, too.

Flexitarian is the new vegetarian. Where’s the beef? Well, maybe you only eat it once a …

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HEALTHY EATING: Get diet off to fresh start

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Every season brings timely temptations, from Super Bowl Sunday’s snacks to Fourth of July’s fried chicken and ribs. So why not resolve to recognize these waist-widening challenges and learn to apply some slimming strategies when the landscape is fat with indulgent food choices? Research shows that the most successful dieters — those who lose weight and keep it off for the long haul — practice healthy eating and exercise habits all year long.

There’s no time like the present to make a fresh start and begin new healthier eating habits. Here are some FRESH start diet rules to help you lose weight and improve your health in the new year.

Craving pasta? Give it a healthy spin by ordering a small or appetizer portion of whole wheat pasta, along with a salad. Becky Stein/AJC SPECIAL

Craving pasta? Give it a healthy spin by ordering a small or appetizer portion of whole wheat pasta, along with a salad. Becky Stein/AJC SPECIAL

F — Freshen up your food life: Keep fresh fruit and other healthful snacks such as whole-grain crackers, nuts and fresh veggies on hand at home. A handful of …

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HEALTHY EATING: Set realistic goals to lose weight

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

For many of us, ringing in the new year brings a new commitment to improve our lives with resolutions to make positive changes.

Diet resolutions are among the most popular. Fitness centers fill up, and restaurants sell more salads. TV shopping channels hawk diet supplements, exercise equipment and lots of Spandex active wear.

But often, even the most enthusiastic plans to “finally lose weight this year” fade by the time Super Bowl snacks appear.

In one survey, 45 percent of those who set New Year’s resolutions had broken them before Feb. 1.

Chef Jenny Levison prepares her homemade soups in the kitchen at Souper Jenny. Pictured here is Absolutely Everything Roasted Veggie Soup.  Photo by Becky Stein/Special.

Chef Jenny Levison prepares her homemade soups in the kitchen at Souper Jenny. Pictured here is Absolutely Everything Roasted Veggie Soup. Photo by Becky Stein/Special.

Dietitians who specialize in adult weight management say that New Year’s diet resolutions are often too broad and unrealistic — such as “I’ll never eat ice cream again!” or “I’ll cook at home every night.”

It turns …

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HEALTHY EATING: Be selective on splurge-worthy food

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

This just in: University of Pittsburgh researchers observe that we eat more on weekends and during the holidays.

After studying two years’ worth of consumers’ eating behavior, professor of marketing J. Jeffrey Inman and colleagues found that the quality (“This homemade fudge is fantastic!”) and quantity (“I’ll have some more homemade fudge, please!) of foods consumed during weekend and holiday meals is considerably different from regular weekdays.

Inman suggests that Americans need special dietary advice for special occasion eating to help in the battle against obesity.

So today’s column serves up some smart tips on eating healthy and having a fabulous time during the holidays.

Ashley Spotkill/AJC Special

Ashley Spotkill/AJC Special

Trim the trimmings

Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter and lights, but when it comes to holiday food, accessorize with care.

To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, …

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HEALTHY EATING: Look to Italy for gourmet ideas

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Certainly an all-expenses paid gourmet tour of Italy would be a fabulous holiday gift idea, but it might not be in the budget this year.

That doesn’t mean you can’t share the flavors of Italy with the foodies on your list.

Tie festive baskets with red and green ribbons to match the Italian flag and fill them with an assortment of artisanal pasta, olive oil and balsamic vinegars for a fabulous way to convey holiday greetings.

I’ve always loved the thought behind fancy food gifts, especially if they carry the win-win message of taste and health. By pairing delicious aged balsamic vinegars with a gorgeous extra-virgin olive oil (and tucking in a few recipes for vinaigrette salad dressings) you’re saying, “I care about your taste buds and your heart.”

Decades of nutrition research show that Mediterranean diets made up of whole grains, greens, olive oils, fruit, seafood and wine are among the healthiest in the world. And as the …

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HEALTHY EATING: Beat cravings at holiday time

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

The holiday season provides an extra serving of challenges that often get in the way of healthy eating habits. Party food and big dinners beckon us to enjoy wonderful foods.

Emotional stress can drive us to crave more comfort foods, often high in fat and calories. Are these cravings all in your mind? Yes, and your mind is a strong force. And if you use certain foods too often as your go-to comfort foods, you might actually condition yourself to crave more of them. One of the prime suspects in creating cravings is the practice of eliminating certain splurge foods. Another way to create a craving is skipping meals so that your blood sugar plummets and your willpower gives in to less-than-nutritious choices.

AP Photo/Matt Sullivan

AP Photo/Matt Sullivan

The most common cravings are for sweet and fatty foods, especially chocolate. And don’t try to trick your taste buds. A report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that chocolate cravings are not …

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HEALTHY EATING: Nutrition goes beyond calories

By Carolyn O’Neil

You know the old adage: If you have to look at the price tag, you can’t afford it.
The same could be said about indulgent menu items with exorbitant calorie costs — that only those who need to lose weight should care about counting calories. But I don’t agree.

In this era of fiscal and physical responsibility, I believe everyone has the right to know the consequences (in cash or calories) before they make a consumer choice.

Given the concern about obesity in the United States and the realization that prevention is the most powerful approach, it makes sense for nutrition education to get more attention.

There’s a movement nationwide to require restaurants to list nutrition facts on the foods they serve; laws already have passed in some states and municipalities (notably California and New York City). And a provision in the health care reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives requires chain restaurants to post calorie counts on …

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HEALTHY EATING: Good food on the fly? It’s possible

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Holiday air travel is notoriously challenging with the rush of passengers crushing through security lines, waiting for delayed flights, jostling with fellow fliers to stow carry-ons (more than ever now that most airlines charge for checked bags), sitting on the runway, accepting an airline snack mix and eventually making it to your destination.

Air travel needs to be done in true survival mode these days, and that means more people than ever are packing their own snacks, and even meals, to help get them through the day. Since airline meals (at least the free ones) are disappearing, too, it’s even more important to have an in-flight food plan.

Navigate nutritiously

Ask for OJ. The nutrients in 100 percent orange juice help boost your immune system to give you a fighting chance to ward off cold and flu germs floating in airport concourses or the cabin air. Ask a flight attendant to mix orange juice with sparkling water for a nutritious, …

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