6 Tips From Our Registered Dietitian

Portrait of sporty beautiful happy young woman practicing yoga, standing in low lunge exercise, warming up, stretching before morning running routine, working out outdoor on autumn day in sportswear

Tips for healthy eating during the holidays:

  • Take your time! Be mindful of what you are eating, especially between meals when you are more likely to graze your way through the day.
  • Use a smaller plate at meals. This will help you control your portion sizes and help prevent you from over eating. Also, try to fill most of your plate with vegetables.
  • Do not skip meals throughout the day. Rather than “saving your appetite” for the big feast, try to fill your day with nutrient rich meals. High fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can be a great way to stay full.
  • Hydrate with water. There may be a large variety of beverages available during the holidays. Remember that water is the only beverage that your body needs to function regularly.
  • Be healthy when satisfying your sweet tooth. Choose a piece of fruit when you feel like eating something sweet.
  • Post feast physical activity. After a busy day of preparing for the big meal, remember that it is always advised to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the day. A post meal walk with friends and family can be a great way to fit your activity in.

MORE This, LESS That

Group of diverse people are gathering for christmas holiday
With the holidays on the horizon, it can be daunting to think about how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy body weight. The peer pressure of friends and family around the table mixed with all the delicious options can surely set you back. Before looking into tips for eating healthy during the holidays, let’s review what a healthy diet looks like!

EAT MORE:

  • Whole Grains: Make at least half of your grains whole grains by eating more brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and cereals, and whole wheat pasta.
  • Vegetables: Try to make at least half of your plate fruits and vegetables at meals. Include more beans and legumes as well. Focus on eating vegetables of varying color!
  • Fruits: Try to sneak more fruits in between meals to help prevent letting yourself feel starved. Again, eat fruits of varying color!
  • Lean Proteins: When choosing a protein for your meal, try to choose a lean protein source such as chicken breast, turkey breast, lean cuts of beef and pork, fish and seafood, as well as tofu.
  • Fat Free Dairy Products: Choose low-fat or fat free milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Nuts and Seeds: This is another great snack food to help satisfy your hunger between meals.
  • Water: As always, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout each and every day.

EAT LESS:

  • Sodium: Try to limit salt to 2,300 mg per day by consuming less processed foods that may be high in sodium, add fewer high sodium ingredients, and taste food before salting it.
  • Saturated Fat: Try to avoid processed foods with high levels of saturated or trans fats, as well as well-marbled meat, cured meats, poultry skin, butter, and whole fat dairy products. Replace these fats with avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds.
  • Refined Grains: These grains have had the bran and germ (which hold most of the nutritious value!) taken out. Try eating more whole grains to replace white bread, white rice, pasta, and flour tortillas.
  • Added Sugar: Avoid foods and beverages that contain added sugars. These foods include soda, juice, candy, cookies, dairy desserts, cakes, pies, and more.

One in Eight

Breast Cancer Awareness {Not just for Women}

Hands showing cancer balloons word

No one likes the ‘C’ word. It’s scary, unknown, expensive and can change lives in an instant. However, the more you know about cancer and the more measures that are taken towards prevention and detection, the better off you’ll be.

Did you know that one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? If that’s not you, its someone you know, someone you sit by at the office, a high school friend, a daughter, sister or Mother. While women do take the brunt of breast cancer, it is important to remember that men can be diagnosed as well.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Tenderness
  • Lumps or ‘thickening’ of tissue near underarms
  • Skin texture or pore enlargement
  • Change in shape/size/placement {bigger or smaller}
  • Dimpling, swelling or discoloration
Have you done these things yet? {Have your friends?}
  • Stay physically active and control weight
  • Limit alcohol and give up smoking
  • Breast feed (if possible)
  • Avoid radiation exposure and pollution

Know your body and when things are different. Do self exams and if something even seems questionable, go to a screening facility or your doctors office. Even if you think, “it’s probably nothing,” set your mind at ease, or begin the on your path to treatment.

So, what’s the good news…..

By reading this you have further educated yourself and will {hopefully} pass on at least one piece of information to another women {or man} that will help raise awareness and increase the estimated 180,000 SURVIVORS of breast cancer each year.

Is there such a thing as a ‘healthy Halloween’?

pumpkin

When you think of Halloween I doubt the  word ‘health’ comes to mind. I think of candy-corn, gummies, and the over-the-top neighbors that pass out king size candy bars. To my surprise there is a way to still have a good time but not completely derail your progress.


  1. 1. Eat before pulling out the candy dish.
    1. Whether you are heading out for trick-or-treating or are in charge of passing out candy, make sure to eat a substantial meal before the candy makes its way out. Our family tradition is Halloween homemade chili. It is a quick and healthy meal that is great for a chilly October night, even with doorbell interruptions (See the recipe here)
  2. 2. Don’t over buy or early buy the candy.
    1. Set yourself up for success by not getting too much candy or tempting yourself by keeping it in the house for too long before the 31st. If you still have a lot of leftover goodies and the trick-or-treaters are beginning to dwindle, be generous! Increase that one/two piece ratio to a handful. The kids will love it and you won’t be stuck with the Snickers.
  3. 3. Trick-or-treat with your kids, if you don’t have kids (or they are too cool for you) walk around to see the costumes and fall leaves.
    1. Trick-or-treaters can cover some serious ground. Throw on your tracking device and try to get a couple thousand steps in. You can even make this a competition among your family to see who can get the most steps.
  4. 4. Treat yourself!
    1. It is a holiday so don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick out two of your favorite candies (snack size) and don’t feel guilty letting yourself indulge.
  5. 5. Keep your water bottle close.
    1. Water intake is a great way to keep your sweet tooth at bay. Make a game of it; every time someone says, “trick-or-treat,” or “happy Halloween,” take a swig.

I would love to hear some tips and tricks you have used in the past or are planning to implement this year to have a “Happy Healthy Halloween!”

How to Avoid Added Sugar

Sugar has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media over the last few years. That’s because not only is it one of the main causes of our countries obesity epidemic, but it also can cause a lot of preventable diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and cavities just to name a few. Cutting sugar out completely can seem impossible but here are some simple things to look for to avoid consuming more added sugars.

Read the Labels: There are products that you know sugar is already in such as fruit juice, sweetened cereals and candy. The problem is, sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we typically wouldn’t expect. Everything from tomato sauce, to ketchup, to granola bars and even some spices contain sugar. Make sure to read the label fully and look for the amount of sugar per serving size. Ideally, you should aim for sugar to be no more than 48 grams. There are about 56 grams of sugar in a bottle of Gatorade… just to emphasize the importance of reading the labels first before consuming.

Buy Fresh Foods over Canned: It is recommended by the USDA food guidelines to aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and a colorful assortment of them. Although fruit does have sugar in it, these are natural sugars and not artificially added sugars like the ones we find in our foods. Canned foods, especially fruits, are swimming in syrupy sugar water in order to preserve their freshness and shelf life. Always choose fresh over canned and just shop for the amount of fresh produce that you’re actually going to eat that week, since it will go bad faster than the canned versions.

Try Healthy Substitutions: There are a number of baking substitutions you can use to reduce your sugar intake. Applesauce is a great natural sweetener to use in place of large amounts of sugar. You can also use extracts to bring sweetness to baked goods and cinnamon and nutmeg that can cut down on the added sugars in a dish. When you bake at home, you can even cut the sugar called in recipes down and not notice the difference in taste.

Make Your Own Food: The best way to make sure you don’t consume any extra sugars is to cook your own food at home. You get to choose the ingredients, you know exactly how much sugar does/doesn’t go into a recipe, and you can control your portion sizes. This is a great way to take control of your health and really give your family the best possible food and nutrition. If you need some inspiration on less sugar dishes, check out some of the healthy recipes below.

http://www.thelittleepicurean.com/2015/02/avocado-kale-smoothie.html?crlt.pid=camp.fBbHcF49nUqK

http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com/cilantro-lime-chicken-with-avocado-salsa/

http://fitandhealthywithdebbie.blogspot.com/2012/10/banana-oatmeal-breakfast-muffins.html?m=1#.WNvQuvnytPZ

Does being social help you lose more weight?

One of the questions we often receive here at incentaHEALTH is “What’s the secret to losing weight, and keeping it off?”

Of course the simple answer is HEAL: Healthy Eating and Active Living!  If you can find ways to eat better (my most effective thing is to remember to control my portion sizes) and move  your body more (take the stairs!) you should start to see changes in your energy level and your health.  But if you’re looking for additional ways to stack the odds in your favor, then read on.

After analyzing the performance of thousands of participants in our community program,  Weigh and Win, we recently noticed that people using our team challenges tend to lose more weight.  And those that decide to be the captain of a team have even more success.

People who join the team challenge lose more weight
People who join the team challenge lose more weight

Why is this happening?  One theory is that the very act of promising to your friends that you’re going to try to get in shape increases your commitment to change.  This “social contract” with your family and friends provides a bit more motivation to put down that donut and pick up an apple.  And if you take on the role of team captain and organizer, then you’re given an extra helping of social accountability.  Everyone is watching!

apple-donut

Team challenges aren’t for everyone.  But if you don’t mind a little fun and competition with your weight loss journey, then you might want to give one of our team challenges a try!

Good luck!

Written by: Todd McGuire, CTO incentaHEALTH

Healthy Memorial Day Tips & Tricks

Are you ready for the three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer?  Whether you’re planning on gardening, playing a game outside or getting your grill on, here’s some healthy advice to making your Memorial Day the best for your healthy and active lifestyle!

Grill Without the Guilt

Add some more fruits and vegetables to the grill to get more antioxidants out of your typical barbeque meal. Try grilling zucchini, onions, bell peppers, pears and pineapples to add some unique and healthy flavors to your plain old burgers.

Choose leaner cuts of meat for grilling. Make sure excess fat is trimmed to reduce the amount of fat dripping onto the grill. Choose meats like skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey instead of ground beef, or even fresh fish

Marinade, marinade, marinade! This gives flavor to leaner cuts of meat without adding more fat. Choose healthier marinating options like the use of less sodium sauces, vinegars, or even fresh citrus juices like lemons, limes and oranges.

Get Active While Soakin’ Up Some Sun

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the opening of pools and water parks to help deal with the long and hot weather days. Take the time to go for a swim or even play around at a water park to increase your vitamin D intake.

Avoid the holiday weekend traffic by going for a bike ride instead. If avoiding the driving traffic is an option, try going for a walk or a bike ride somewhere instead of sitting in the hot car if at all possible. With bike riding becoming more and more popular,  bicycle friendly states are starting to help bikers out a bit when it comes to safety with improved road conditions and more signage for cars to share the road.

dad and kid biking smaller

Make the most out of the weekend by enjoying time together with friends and family. Whether it’s playing backyard games together, walking around at a festival or just enjoying the beautiful spring scenery, enjoy the time spent with each other and don’t make food the main focus of this special weekend.

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach

Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health

Want a “quick fix” that actually works: improve your sleep to improve all aspects of your health. Just like your phone charges each night for reliable use the next day, your body needs to charge or it will start to break down- in more ways than one! You can buy a new phone battery if you don’t take care of it, but you cannot buy a new body.  If you can in the future, then I assume it is expensive.

The good news is that once you improve your sleeping habits, many other areas of your life will start to improve. It is the gift that keeps on giving! For example, choosing the right foods, engaging in activity and concentrating at work will become much easier. When we don’t get enough sleep, then we don’t have enough energy. When the body doesn’t have enough energy for the demands of the day, it will start to crave low quality, processed foods because these foods have quick-release energy. Before we know it, sugar and unhealthy fats will become a stable in the diet just to get us through the physical and mental activities of the day.

Brian Sanderoff P.D,director of the Well Being Healing Center and Holistic Pharmacy in Hunt Valley, Maryland, states that “the reason sleep is so important is because it is when we are asleep that we create Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is thought to be the “anti-aging” hormone; and is responsible for muscle building, tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, the breakdown of fat cells and blood sugar regulation.”

How much sleep we need varies between individuals but generally changes as we age. The National Institutes of Health suggests that adults need 7-8 hours each night. Here are some tips to start improving your sleeping habits today!

6-tips-for-better-sleep

Exercise Injury Prevention

Along with the warmer temperatures comes more outdoor physical activity. Since May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month let’s review what you should practice to ensure proper exercise technique and avoid injury at all costs. Let’s face it, no one wants to be locked up inside with an injury during the summer months!

Proper Warm-up and Cool-down

A proper warm-up prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate and loosening the muscles and joints. A warm-up should include light movement to get your blood flowing. Start out at a low intensity and slowly work up to the intensity of your workout. Some good warm-up activities would be a light jog, bike, jump rope, or plyometric exercises like high knees or leg swings if you are planning on participating in a sport that requires a lot of agility movements like baseball, football, basketball, etc.

A cool-down is important for slowly bringing your heart rate back down to a normal level. Many of the same activities you perform during a warm-up can also be done as a cool-down (i.e. light jog, bike, etc.) You can also incorporate stretching into your cool-down routine. Focus on the muscles you primarily worked during your workout and slowly stretch these muscles and hold for approximately 10-20 seconds.

Walking

Ease Into It

When you begin a new exercise routine, it is very important to start slowly. As you become more comfortable with the movements and your body is more comfortable with the strain being put on it you can then gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency.

Listen to Your Body

Only do what feels comfortable to your body and do not push yourself further once you feel uncomfortable. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and if what starts out as a small issue is repeatedly stressed, or not given proper rest, it may lead to a more severe injury.

Hydration and Nutrition

It is important to stay hydrated during a workout to avoid becoming light headed or passing out. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you work out. A good general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water about 20 minutes before working out and another full glass of water after your workout. Along with hydrating yourself before and after your workout, you should also be drinking water frequently throughout the duration of your workout.

Aside from staying hydrated you also should be eating before and after activity in order to provide your body with nutrients and to refuel energy stores.  Practice eating a small meal or snack every couple hours throughout the day. After your workout, be sure to consume a quality carbohydrate and protein to replenish your energy body.

Hydration

Proper Equipment

Before you start any type of activity, make sure you have the proper equipment required for the specific activity. Proper clothing and footwear is the most important. Consider light weight or dry-fit type of material when you know you will be exercising to the point of perspiration. Also, make sure the shoes you have are right for the activity you are participating in. If you are a runner, you should replace your shoes every year or every 500 miles (whichever comes first) to maintain proper support and traction.

Vary Your Activity

Make sure you vary your workout. Do not overuse one muscle group because overuse can lead to injuries such as tendonitis or shin splints. Make sure you include rest days in your workout routine to allow your muscles time to rebuild.

Proper Form

Practicing proper form is very important. Something as small as leaning too far forward or having your feet too far apart can end in injury. Make sure you research the proper form for each activity you plan to do and if you are still unsure you can always contact one of your incentaHEALTH Health Coaches who would love to help answer any of your exercise related questions!

 Written by:   Deanne Emig,  Health Coach