Category Archives: Behavior Modification

Put Yourself First This Thanksgiving

The holidays are always hectic and it’s very easy to lose sight of your goals during this time of year, so a few weeks ago, a fellow dietitian, Rebecca Scritchfield, started the “Me Movement.” The purpose of this movement is to stay positive during the holiday season and to put yourself first to maintain your wellness. By taking the “me” pledge you promise yourself the self-care you deserve. Just like last year I told you abut resolving all year long, not just when it comes to New Year’s, the me pledge is a way for you to remind yourself of your health and wellness goals before you get lost in the holiday madness. I have already taken the pledge and the primary way I have put “me first” so far is taking the time out of my busy schedule to move my body.

How will you put yourself first this Thanksgiving and holiday season?

Need some healthy eating reminders this Thanksgiving? Check out my Thanksgiving Survival Guide and Thanksgiving Nutritionals posts from last year.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and nutritioulicious Thanksgiving!

Be A Healthy Role Model & Giveaway

Last week I shared some tips on how to prevent and manage childhood obesity. I received a handful of positive comments about my first tip: Be a good role model. One of the comments I received was from someone involved in a new campaign, the Coalition of Angry Kids (COAK). I took a look at the site and think it’s an interesting take on childhood obesity. It truly highlights the point that parents (and all adults) are role models for children and if we don’t take action for ourselves we can’t expect kids to either. The saying “Do as I say, not as I do” really cannot apply when it comes to obesity.

The COAK campaign was motivated by many statistics, including the following:

If one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that the children will also be obese. When both parents are obese, the children have an 80% chance of being obese.

Pretty scary, right?

So what can you do? Join over 12,000 people and take the COAK Pledge. When you take the pledge you get:

  1. Free 30-Day Anytime Fitness Membership (1300+ locations)
  2. Free 30-Minute Personal Training Session
  3. 30-Day Premium Pass to Anytime Health (an online resource for meal planning, workout tracking, and more)

If you take the pledge, let me know! Leave a comment on this post, tweet your commitment to me @JlevinsonRD, or post it on the nutritioulicious facebook page. If you do, you’ll be in the running for the following giveaway (valued at $230):

  1. A GRUVE calorie counter (valued at $180)
  2. A one-year premium pass to Anytime Health (valued at $50)

The giveaway has been extended! The winner will be randomly selected NEXT Friday October 1, 2010!

How to Prevent and Manage Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity Awareness Blog Carnival

This article was written for inclusion in the blog carnival hosted by Littlestomaks to promote awareness of childhood obesity as part of the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Please read to the end of this article to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
You’ve heard it before — we have an obesity epidemic going on, and it’s not only affecting adults, it’s hitting children too. Currently over 23 million U.S. children and teens ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. If that statistic isn’t scary enough, read this: The prevalence of obesity among kids ages 6 to 11 has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008, and among teens ages 12 to 19, the rates have increased from 5% to 18.1%.*

Instead of focusing on the possible causes of childhood obesity, I’d like to suggest ways to help prevent an increased prevalence and to help currently obese children. For younger children, most changes will occur with the help of parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults in their lives. Here are some tips to help children:

  • Be a good role model. Children pick up on everything around them, and if you aren’t eating healthy, balanced meals and participating in daily activities, how can you expect them to?! Lead the way to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Get kids involved in the kitchen. No matter how young children are, there is a place for them in the kitchen. Whether they just hand you ingredients or help you stir them together, kids will learn that cooking is fun. If you order in or go out to dinner every night they’ll never learn the benefits of cooking at home.
  • Encourage activity. Instead of playing video games, children should be out on a field or in the backyard playing active games. Sign your children up for sports teams or go for a bike ride with them a few times a week. Again, if you’re active, they’ll be more inclined to get up and go!
  • Prepare balanced meals and snacks. Kids, just like adults, need a balanced plate of vegetables, lean protein, healthy carbs, and some healthy fat. Kid favorites like mac ‘n cheese can be made healthier by using whole wheat pasta, fresh cheese, and adding veggies and protein like broccoli and edamame.
  • Keep in mind that healthy doesn’t mean bland. Treats don’t have to be off the table completely and nutritious food can definitely be delicious. Remember this at all times!
  • Be supportive. Body image and weight issues start earlier than ever these days and kids need all the support they can get. Even if your child is overweight, it’s important to treat him or her the same as your other children and other kids. If you make changes to their diet, make changes to the diets of the rest of the household too. And if your child is being picked on because of his or her weight, don’t hesitate to go to the principal of the school to deal with the issue.

Childhood obesity is a complex issue and the above are only a handful of tips to help you and your family stay healthy. You can see some more tips in my childhood nutrition section. And find a registered dietitian in your area to help you and your family live a healthy, nutritious life.

*Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 2010;303(3):242–9.


Say NO to Childhood ObesityPlease take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

7 Things Parents Say That Cause Eating and Weight Problems in Kids Michelle May, Physician and author of Eat What You Love Love What You Eat, highlights a few things parents say which can have unintended consequences (@EatWhatYouLove)

Childhood Obesity Kia Robertson of Today I Ate a Rainbow suggests that prevention of childhood obesity should start with education and educating parents about basics of healthy eating by breaking it into achievable parts (@eatingarainbow)

Childhood Obesity: A Reality Check Dr Susan Rubin, founder of BSF, suggests we change our approach to looking at childhood obesity (@DrSuRu)

Childhood Obesity: Prevention Starts in Infancy Nutrition expert Sarah Fennel reminds us that prevention is the best cure and offers a few tips to raise healthy eaters (@FoodFunHealth)

Giving Our Children a Chance at Health Registered dietitian Susan Dopart offers tips to parents for taking charge of their child’s health in the world of over-processed “kid foods” (@smnutritionist)

Healthy School Campaigns Works on Creating Healthy Food Environments A report on Chicago’s Healthy School Campaigns (HFC), a non profit dedicated to creating a healthy food environment in schools

Lessons I have Learned as a Mom Registered dietitian Alysa Bajenaru shares some of the lessons she has learned that have helped her develop a good understanding of what it takes to feed her kids (@InspiredRD)

Looking for a New Trend in Childhood Obesity? Registered dietitian Elizabeth Rahavi of the IFIC brings the focus back on family in the debate about childhood obesity (@FoodInsight)

Losing Weight: It Starts in Your Head Registered dietitian Cindy Williams reminds us of the power of attitude and mindset in losing weight and controlling obesity (@nutritionchic)

Making the Grade Registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak evaluates her son’s school programs on healthy eating and physical activity (@RMNutrition)

Obesity and GERD: A Family Affair Jan Gambino, author of Reflux 101, writes about the link between overweight and GERD

Parents, Let’s Take a Positive Approach to Childhood Obesity Registered dietitian Ashley Rosales from the Dairy Council of California encourages parents to take a positive approach in helping their kids build healthy habits

Revolutionize the Way Your Kids Eat in Five Easy Steps Sociologist Dr Dina Rose suggests we shift our focus from nutrition to eating habits if we are serious about solving childhood obesity (@DrDrRose)

Surprising Easy Solution for Preventing Childhood Obesity Research shows benefits of extended breastfeeding in reducing risk of childhood obesity (@TwinToddlersDad)

The Problem Behind Childhood Obesity Ken Whitman, Publisher of Organic Connections, points out that our national priorities concerning childhood obesity are misplaced and calls for a renewed focus on the health of our nations kids.

Yoga Gets Kids Moving Registered dietitian Danielle Omar has an interesting suggestion for solving childhood obesity — get your kids into yoga! (@2eatwellRD)

Beating the Four O’Clock Slump (Part 2)

Yesterday I gave you 5 of my top 10 tips for how to beat the 4-O’clock slump — the time of day you’re most lack energy and reach for a candy bar or bag of chips to gain some energy. Here are the rest of my top 10 tips:

6. Eat more magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium is needed to metabolize food and it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Good sources of magnesium include fish, nuts, legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains.

7. Increase iron intake. Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood to all of the tissues, organs, and muscles in the body; therefore, iron deficiency can lead to fatigue. Foods high in iron include meat, liver, fish, poultry, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, and enriched cereals.

8. Make sure to get your B-vitamins. The B vitamins (including folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12) are important for metabolizing fat, protein, and carbohydrates and releasing energy.  Good sources include green leafy vegetables, eggs, whole grains, meat, seafood, liver, nuts, and legumes.

9. Prevent the ZZZs with zinc. One of the many functions of zinc is to help the body produce energy from carbohydrates. Zinc is also needed to repair muscle fibers after a workout. Foods high in zinc are poultry, seafood, oysters, liver, and legumes.

10. Reduce stress and anger. Stress can leave you mentally and physically drained, and holding in anger can use up energy. Some solutions include talking to friends or a professional, exercise for stress relief, meditate, and focus on breathing.

Do you suffer from the Four O’Clock Slump? If so, what do you do to beat it?

Beating the Four O’Clock Slump

beating the 4 o'clock slumpHave you ever noticed that at three or four o’clock your energy level is low and you’re feeling tired and hungry? You’re not alone! Many people suffer from what I call the “Four O’Clock Slump.” You may think that having more coffee or something sweet will get increase your energy, but caffeine and sugar are not the answer. In fact, they will make you feel worse in the end. So what will help you beat the slump? Here are 5 ways to boost energy!

  1. Eat breakfast! Breakfast jump starts your metabolism, giving you the energy you need for the morning.  Make sure to have a combination of complex carbohydrates and lean protein.
  2. Eat balanced mini-meals throughout the day. You need to refuel your body every 3 to 4 hours (which is how long it takes for your blood sugar to drop if you’re eating nutritious meals). Meals and snacks should be a mix of lean protein, complex carbs, and a little healthy fat.
  3. Drink more water. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic, and the body often confuses dehydration for hunger. Make sure to get enough non-caffeinated, no- or low-sugar beverages throughout the day.
  4. Take a walk. Fresh air, daylight, and exercise will increase oxygen to your brain, heart, muscles, and lungs, which will boost energy and alertness.
  5. Avoid high-fat meals. Fat takes longer to digest than protein and carbs, leaving little blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. You need enough fat in your meals to prevent sugar highs and lows, but not too much that you’ll feel weighed down and sluggish as a result. Choose healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, and remember – a little fat goes a long way!

Stay tuned for 5 more tips to boost energy tomorrow!

Weekend Warrior

If you’ve been watching what you eat and following an exercise routine during the week, don’t let the fact that it’s a weekend get in your way. Instead, be a weekend warrior! A study in the journal Obesity* found that changes in lifestyle behaviors on weekends contributed to weight gain and a cessation of weight loss on the weekends.The main reason: people eat more and exercise less on Saturdays and Sundays.

The weekend isn’t an excuse to take a break from your goals. Here are some ways to stick to your diet and fitness routine and still enjoy the break from work, school, or whatever else you have going on during the week.

  1. Start your day with breakfast. Just as you do (and should!) during the week, have breakfast first thing in the morning. If you sleep later than usual on the weekends but still get up a couple of hours before lunch, make sure you have something small to get your metabolism going.
  2. Move your body. Go to the gym, for a bike ride, or to an exercise class you don’t have time for during the week. Whatever your preference, just do something active!
  3. Don’t skip meals. Even if you’re going out for a big dinner, you still need to eat lunch and probably a snack before your night out. If you think you’ll skip meals to save up for dinner, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ll end up eating more than you would normally and regretting it the next time you step on the scale.
  4. Watch the alcohol. It’s easy to overdo the drinking over the weekend. Between dinner out, meeting friends for drinks, or perhaps a party or two, you’re likely going to be faced with many alcoholic beverages. Your best bet? Swap one or two alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Trust me — you’ll be happy when you don’t have a hangover the next morning.
  5. Keep your goals in mind. Whatever you do, remember your goals. Put them in a place you’ll see them so you can remind yourself what you want to accomplish and not let weekend activities get in the way. If you haven’t made any goals, there’s no better time than now. Check out The Basics of Goal Setting if you need help setting some.

Have a great and nutritioulicious™ weekend!!

*Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Aug;16(8):1826-30. Epub 2008 Jun 12.

Happy, Healthy, and nutritioulicious™ New Year

As we close out the end of one year and enter into another, it’s a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished over the past 365 days and think ahead to what we want to achieve in the next 365 days.

Take out a pen and paper and write down some of your goals for the new year. As I said in my post Resolve All Year Long, it’s best to do this throughout the year, so keep the list and reflect on it periodically in 2010. And don’t forget about The Basics of Goal Setting and writing them in a way that will Make Your Goals Count!

Whether you want to fulfill nutrition, fitness, work, or interpersonal goals, you will be more successful if you write them down. Store that piece of paper someplace you won’t forget and go celebrate what you’ve attained in the past year!

Wishing you and your families a Happy, Healthy, Nutritious, and Delicious new year!