Tips an Tricks for Helping with Halloween Indulgences
October 30, 2018
Halloween has arrived! The Jack Lanterns are lit, the kids are trick-or-treating, the witches are flying, and the ghosts and goblins are screaming “BOO” to anyone and everyone they meet. Yes, Halloween is a day filled with fun, games, costumes, frightened faces, and….lots and lots of CANDY! Forget about the ghosts and goblins scaring you, or that haunted house that left you trembling in fear. The real undeniable fear is the huge amount of sugar, fat, and calories buried deep inside your child’s Halloween bag, or in that candy bowl sitting next to you as you graze while waiting for the next adorable child to ring the bell saying “trick-or-treat”. When you stop and think about the implications and ramifications of all the candy, it’s not just scary, it’s downright terrifying!!
Now, I will be the first to admit, that as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I love candy. I have a deep deep love for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I wish I could eat them whenever I wanted. During my college years, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my go-to when studying for hard tests such as organic chemistry or microbiology. They also were a big reason why I struggled more with weight during those years than I do today. It’s not because I no longer enjoy eating Reese’s, far from it. It’s just that I’ve since learned about the power of food and the power of calories in weight management, and nowadays I think before indulging in empty calorie foods. And yes, Reese’s and any/all Halloween candy are empty calories.
The fact is, food is simply not just for fuel. In the logical sense, yes, food really is only needed for fuel. But on days like today, Halloween candy is eaten (in excessive amounts) because it’s what we do here in America. And as a nutritionist, I think that behavior is just fine….for TODAY and TODAY only. But what’s the plan for tomorrow and the next few months? How are you going to avoid eating candy daily with so many yummy Reese’s, Snickers, KitKats, Butterfingers, and M&M’s staring you in the face? On average, every Halloween sized candy contains in the order of 2 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of 2 Oreo cookies. And I bet on Halloween, most kids (and adults) are consuming 10 or more Halloween treats, which is 20 or more teaspoons of sugar. That’s the equivalent of calories and sugar in more than half an entire package of Oreos (there are 36 cookies in a package of Oreos).
So how are you and/or kids going to moderate your candy intake? Can you moderate it, or do you need to completely avoid it after Halloween’s over? I challenge each and every one of you to seriously think about what approach works best for you so you can better manage your weight and overall health. However, to help you with this process, I provided some strategies for a successful Halloween day- after-effect. Some of these strategies include:
1) Eat as much candy as you want on Halloween, and get rid of it the next day. Donate it, ship it to the soldiers overseas, bring it to the office, or throw it away, if necessary. Do what you need to do to be healthy!
2) Pick out your favorite pieces and put 2 pieces in a Zip lock snack bag. Each day tell yourself “Today, I’m only allowed to eat what’s in this bag”. This will help tremendously with portion control and it will be a huge calorie savings.
3) Put the candy in a place that’s difficult to reach or annoying to obtain. The very back of the closet, an outside shed or garage, behind a large heavy object that would need to be moved in order to grab a piece. Make the candy annoying and uncomfortable to obtain, and I promise you, you will eat less.
4) The average fun size piece of candy is roughly 80-120 calories. The average 150lb person burns roughly 100 calories for every mile of exercise. If you want a piece of candy, commit to doing at least 15-20 minutes of moderate cardio in order to eat a piece. This won’t burn off every calorie, but it will help out A LOT.
5) Avoid candy all together on Halloween and the proceeding days. Now, this is the most extreme option, and many will think I’m crazy for even suggesting such a thing. However, some people really do better with avoidance vs. moderation on trigger foods such as candy and sweets. Also, if you’re focused on losing weight and you don’t want anything inferring with your goals, you may decide to forgo eating any Halloween candy this year. Whatever you choose, that’s okay. Own your decision!
I admit I’m a stickler about too much exposure to indulgent foods such as candy and sweets. It’s not because I’m a boring or a “square” person. But rather a concerned nutritionist who wants to see people enjoy the holidays, but to also have a plan for how they’re going to continue moving forward with achieving and maintaining health. Halloween is the kick start of the holiday season, and if one doesn’t pay attention and monitor the “extras” such as candy, desserts, and sweets, it could lead to a significant impact on one’s health come January. So go ahead, eat all the Halloween candy you want, TODAY,….but don’t forget about a plan for tomorrow and the next few months. You and your health deserve this!!!
Happy Halloween Everyone!!!
Baked Butternut Squash Chips
January 27, 2018
• 1-large butternut squash
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh or ground sage
• Fresh or ground rosemary
• Fresh or ground basil
• Grated parmesan cheese
1. Cut off the top of the squash and remove the peel
2. Slice the squash into thin chip like pieces using a mandolin or a knife. They should be about 1/8 inch thick
3. Boil a small pot of water. Place the chips in the boiling water for about 5-10 minutes
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
5. Pat chips dry with paper towel
6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
7. Spread the chips on the parchment paper
8. Coat the chips with extra virgin olive oil
9. Season with sage, rosemary, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper
10. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on your oven
11. Remove from oven when crispy and add additional seasonings, as desired
12. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an sealed container
Eggplant and Sage Stuffing
November 19, 2017
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Not only is it a time to give thanks and express gratitude for our blessings, but it’s also about enjoying good food while having entertaining conversations with family and friends. My favorite dish at Thanksgiving is the stuffing. Although I’m not that big of a ‘bread person’, my aunt Kathy has always made the most delicious stuffing. However, in my quest to improve my health and the health of Americans however, I’ve discovered a new and satisfying way to enjoy stuffing without all the sugar and carbohydrates. The key ingredient to this successful outcome is eggplant. Yes, this highly nutritious and versatile vegetable provides a fantastic alternative to traditional homemade stuffing in both flavor and texture. While I will always love eating my aunt’s homemade stuffing at Thanksgiving, I’m happy to know that healthier alternatives exist for those who are interested.
• 2 cups celery, chopped
• 1.5 cups onion, chopped
• 1 medium eggplant peeled and cubed, 4 cups
• 1 stick of salted butter
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1/4 cup of ground sage
• 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
• 1 Tablespoon celery seed
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 eggs, beaten
• black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium size baking dish
2. In a large cast iron skillet, melt ½ of the stick of butter. Sauté the celery and onion until celery is tender and the onions are translucent.
3. Add in the eggplant and the remainder of the butter. Sauté about 4 minutes
4. Pour in the chicken broth. Simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated
5. Add the ground sage, dried rosemary, celery seed, and cumin to the mixture. Simmer a few extra minutes.
6. Remove half of the eggplant mixture from the skillet and transfer to a blender
7. Add the eggs to the blender and blend until smooth
8. Add the eggplant puree to the eggplant skillet mixture. Mix together
9. Stir in fresh ground pepper
10. Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and cover
11. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
This recipe can be made 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, heat the stuffing in the oven until warmed through.
Serving Size: ½ cup. Recipes makes approximately 10 servings
Fat: 1.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 6.37 grams
Fiber: 2.4 grams. Net carbs: 3.97 grams
Protein: 2.4 grams
I'm A Person Living With Diabetes...And You Have No Idea How Strong and Resilient I am!
November 17, 2017
Diabetes…a chronic disease characterized by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. There’s no doubt that cases of diabetes, including type 1, type 2, and prediabetes are increasing substantially worldwide. Why the substantial increase? Well, that’s a long and complicated discussion involving many factors, knowns, and unknowns that’s best saved for future blog topics. Today, during National Diabetes Month, I’m ignoring the statistics and taking a break from offering helpful advice, but instead using this blog as a time to recognize and distinguish those individuals who live, battle, and manage diabetes every day. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and board certified diabetes educator, I’m extremely passionate and knowledgeable about helping those with diabetes. What’s not to love about advocating and empowering people to control their health and increase their quality of life? Throughout my professional career, I’ve come to realize that people with diabetes are HUMBLE and STRONG! Their strength, determination, and sheer resilience is nothing short of amazing. Their positive attributes and unwavering determination is often times unrecognizable by those affected, as well as very underappreciated and overlooked by the healthcare system and society as a whole. People living with diabetes inspire and educate me, as much as I hope I inspire and educate them. So to honor all those individuals affected by this disease, I created a list of the 10 best reasons why people with diabetes are stronger and more resilient than anyone can possibly imagine:
1) Worried about money? Try having diabetes!.
Diabetes is EXPENSIVE! In fact, 322 billion dollars are spent annually on diabetes in the United States. That’s equates to 1 in 3 Medicare dollars and 1 in 5 total healthcare dollars being spent on diabetes. Many people with diabetes often have to give up luxuries such as dining out, vacations, and home improvements in order to pay for their monthly supplies. In fact, some people with diabetes will occasionally skip taking insulin or forgo blood sugar monitoring in order to extend their supply of insulin and test strips to reduce the monthly costs. Love buying new things? Well so do people with diabetes, and it’s certainly not easy watching friends and family members purchase new cars, remodel the kitchen, or book that next Caribbean vacation without thinking “that would probably be me if I didn’t have diabetes”. Diabetes is a huge financial burden to many, and I don’t see a solution coming anytime soon.
2) A restful night sleep? That would be nice if it wasn’t for the nighttime hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), frequent urination, or painful neuropathy.
Nighttime can be particularly troublesome for those with diabetes. The constant worries of hypoglycemia, the annoying pain and tingling in the feet, and the frequent trips to the restroom can make anyone feel tired and drained. Many people with diabetes feel exhausted and struggle with getting adequate sleep. Yet, despite these undesirable challenges, they manage to become productive members of society by being full time students, holding jobs, raising families, and striving for fulfilling and enriching lives, despite the ever present sleep challenges.
3) The constant sticking, injecting, and monitoring.
Most people wake up thinking “What’s for breakfast? or Where’s the coffee”? People with diabetes wake up thinking about their blood sugar, hoping and praying it’s within normal range, and tirelessly doing yet another finger stick, another insulin injection, or taking another dose of oral medication before even cracking an egg or pouring themselves a cup of Joe. Diabetes never takes a vacation from their thoughts, their routines, and their daily requirements.
4) Restricting and Close Monitoring of Their Carb Intake. Enough Said!
People love eating carbs! And carbohydrate foods make up the majority of our food supply. Most people know that eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates probably isn’t the healthiest for them. However, imagine someone with diabetes constantly seeing people eating big bowls of pasta, large pieces of cake, huge piles of nachos, or drinking sugary drinks knowing that if they mimicked that same behavior, they would immediately see and feel the negative effects. Food’s one of life’s most enjoyable and pleasurable experiences. Not to mention all the social and professional interactions involving food and drink. When planned, anyone with diabetes can safely enjoy even the most decadent food/drinks in moderation. However, that enjoyment is never without the continuous questioning, the immediate hesitation, and the habitual pondering of the fearful unknowns…“ What’s eating this food or drinking this beverage going to do to my blood sugar?”
5) They always have to be researchers and problem solvers.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, meaning it’s a lifelong challenge. And, since no two days with diabetes are ever the same, regular troubleshooting and questioning by those affected becomes a normal part in managing this disease. People with diabetes want to understand the what, how, and why of situations and factors impacting their blood sugar. Often times, they’re not comfortable or accepting of zero explanation as for what’s causing their high blood sugars. Instead, they’ll research, ask questions, experiment, and seek additional help to further understand the issues impacting their disease. People with diabetes often understand the importance of good blood sugar control, and they so desperately want to see those numbers within normal range.
6) I’m so tired of managing this disease! Will there ever be a cure?
There’s a reason why diabetes has such a huge burnout rate. The constant monitoring, sticking, injecting, and restricting can make anyone frustrated and disinterested. Those without diabetes commonly think “diabetes is an easy chronic disease to manage, you just take a pill, take a shot, or wear one of those pump things”. It’s true, that when people receive the proper support and treatment, they can live a long and healthy life with diabetes. However, continual health doesn’t come easy for those with diabetes, as it takes a great deal of dedication, commitment, and determination to triumph over this disease. An uninformed person generally assumes that the increased risk of blindness, amputation, kidney failure, and heart attack associated with diabetes, would automatically motivate anyone with this disease to “ always do the right thing!” My hope for anyone reading this blog is to never forget the true seriousness and the very harsh realities of diabetes burnout, and that this burnout is not only negatively impacting the physical health of millions of Americans, but also negatively impacting their mental health by the significant increased rates of depression.
7) Always having to hear someone say...”You can’t eat that, you have diabetes!”
When it comes to diabetes and diet, the majority of people with the disease need a lot of guidance and education. When it comes to diabetes and diet amongst the non-diabetic population, the majority of people are pretty darn clueless, but yet very highly opinionated. Imagine constantly being judged or looked down upon every time you decide to splurge on a piece of cake or indulge in fried food. Healthy eating in this society is challenging enough without people constantly throwing in their uneducated and biased opinion. Nutrition is a science, not an opinion!
8) Open Enrollment and the Affordable Care Act.
Will my diabetes be covered and what’s the monthly premium cost? How high is my deductible? Or better yet…”Am I going to be wrongfully discriminated against because I happen to have a pre-existing condition? These questions and undoubtable fears are constantly on the minds and hearts of anyone with diabetes. Yet, due to their strength and resilience, people with diabetes continue to move forward, strive for positivity, and put forth their best effort to manage their disease, despite the horrific and unfair nightmare that is health insurance.
9) There’s a lot of darkness in diabetes.
Negativity, depression, frustration, anger, exhaustion, blame, confusion, guilt and fear are common emotions experienced by everyone with diabetes. They often don’t know what to do, and this results in making oneself feel like a “failure” which makes any situation more challenging. Negative self-talk is very common in diabetes, yet it’s highly destructive to the disease management process. In my private practice, I’m trying to eliminate any negative self-talk by advocating, coaching, and educating people with diabetes to uncover and redefine the tools and tricks that work specifically for them, so that they are empowered to manage their diabetes. Healthcare providers can and should do so much better in this area!
10) Diabetes doesn’t define me!
You are not “diabetic”, but rather a person living with diabetes. Diabetes isn’t stronger or more powerful than your spirit, your drive, your impeccable character, and your glowing personality that makes you…you! May you never forget that you’re a person, first and foremost, and may you never let your self-worth and your value in this world be defined by your disease.
DON’T DO DIABETES ALONE! Most people with diabetes cherish and welcome support from family, friends, and healthcare providers as it’s a very difficult and lonely disease to manage alone. Whether someone with diabetes receives support from an online or offline community, the amazing thing is that support and resources are available. For anyone who wishes for additional support and help with managing their diabetes, feel free to reach out to Stephanie Pitt at Speaking of Nutrition, LLC. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Stephanie through her website at www.speakingofnutrition.com.
Happy National Diabetes Month To All My Diabetes Warriors!
Have a Happy and Healthy Day!
Stephanie Pitt MS MPH RDN CDE MCHES