Tag Archives: Georgia Kostas Nutrition

Get in Shape with the Plate!

Take a part in helping America observe March National Nutrition Month today, tomorrow, this month and all year long. Look at the plate shown on the right. It can help you eat better and even lose weight! Portions and colors are the key to healthy eating and weight control. Just look at your plate to simplify both. Divide your plate by fourths, proportion 4 different foods with different colors in each section, and you automatically control calories and maximize nutrient variety.  This means more plant foods, less (and ample) protein, for most folks. And you feel fuller, longer.

Here’s a simple example – from the cover of my book:

The 4 oz. lean beef filet, 1/2 cup steamed red new potatoes, 1/2 cup sugar-snap green beans, and 1/2 cup steamed fresh carrots, for a total of only 350 calories. Spritzed with butter-flavored spray, calories may become 360-370. Add 1 teaspoon of healthy cooking oil (40 calories) to sauté beef,  and 3 teaspoons of reduced-fat spread (50 calories) to flavor veggies and the whole meal is still under 450 calories.

The plate concept makes it is easy to plan healthy meals, lose weight, and keep it off. 

Can you really lose weight and expect to keep it off?  The National Weight Control Registry tracks 3,000 successful weight loss participants whom have kept at least 30 pounds of weight off for at least 10 years. According to the latest research for the Registry, this group has kept off an average 51 pounds of 69 lost. Those stats are very encouraging.

The participant’s maintenance tips include:  

  • Eat breakfast regularly.
  • Walk about an hour a day.
  • Track food intake, calories and fat grams.
  • Limit eating out.  
  • Seldom splurge.
  • Watch TV less than 10 hours a week.
  • Weigh weekly
  • Average about 1,800 calories a day, less than 30% from fat.

Give it a try! Use the plate – when you shape up your eating and exercise, youcan shape up your health for a lifetime!

Looking for more meal ideas, eating tips, or recommendations for organizing your plate?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website www.GeorgiaKostas.com.

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Heart Smart Foods for February Heart Month

Healthy heart, healthy body. 

How can you prevent artery and heart disease that a majority of Americans develop over a lifetime? Take action now. Focus on heart smart foods that keep your artery walls strong, elastic, and free of plaque (from cholesterol deposits and oxidation), inflammation and clots. Heart-Smart foods fight for your life every day, by protecting your arteries from:

Cholesterol build-up:  Eat plant foods (fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils), foods with soluble fiber such as oats, beans and psyllium seeds; fish, poultry without skin, lean beef and pork and lamb cuts; skim milk, low-fat cheese, and spreads and special foods with stanols or sterols (i.e Smart Balance Heart Right spreads and milk). Avoid saturated, hydrogenated and tran fats in lard and fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, sausage; burgers, hardened margarine sticks, commercially prepared desserts, snack foods, icing, fried foods.

Cholesterol oxidation:  Eat anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetables of all types, particularly deep red/blue/purple foods such as red grapes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grape juice, red wine, dark chocolate, tea, eggplant, raisins, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Artery stiffness:  Eat olive oil, canola oil, seafood (omega 3’s), nuts, and fresh produce that contain anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients and potassium.  Skip the salt shaker, packaged and canned foods, and salty foods that stiffen arteries.

Artery inflammation:  Select anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich foods such as fresh produce, whole grains, beans, seafood, omega 3-rich foods. Eat regular meals with reasonable portions        (large meals or large portions inflame artery walls by elevating blood sugar, fats and salt). Avoid excessive sugar, salt, saturated, trans and hydrogenated fats; excess body fat, particularly middle fat; and sitting long hours. Get up and move. Treat and control elevated blood pressure and diabetes. The bottom line: reasonable portions, reasonably sized meals and regular exercise prevent inflammation.

Clot formation:  Eat nature’s natural blood thinners to prevent clots, such as seafood, olive and canola oils, red foods with polyphenols (red grapes, red onions, tea, wine, red apples, garlic, grape juice) and red/orange foods such as tomatoes, red bell pepper, berries, cherries, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe- all are good for your arteries and blood flow. Omega 3s are found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, bass, trout; walnuts;  canola and olive oil, as well as omega 3- fortified spreads, milk, orange juice, low-fat cheese.

In essence, enjoy 2-3 fruit and 2-3 cups of fresh vegetables daily…especially colorful ones, and a variety, to reap the greatest heart-health benefits. Eat beans 4 times a week; nuts 4 times a week -one shot glass of nuts is a serving; seafood at least twice a week; 3 whole grains daily; healthy oils; non-fat or low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.

Limit alcohol, which raises blood pressure and weight, and can interfere with medications. The American Heart Association guideline: “Limit alcohol to no more than one can of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80 proof alcohol per day,” for women; two for men. Exceed these amounts, and the benefits of alcohol are countered by increased heart risk.

Remember to get up and move for at least 30 minutes daily. Schedule a little exercise each day for fun, relaxation, stress release, and recreation. You heart and arteries will sing. Plaque and inflammation and clots lessen, artery elasticity and strength increase, LDL (bad) cholesterol lowers, healthy HDL cholesterol rises, blood sugar, fats, and pressure normalize. A little goes a long way to improving your overall health, heart health and sense of well-being.

Seemingly little decisions daily as to what to eat and how much, when to exercise and how much, make a HUGE impact on your heart, and your life.

Discover more heart healthy tips by visiting my website, www.georgiakostas.com. Order my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009), for recipes, teaching tips, menu planning and more. You can also follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or twitter @georgiakostas.

Protein Series, Part 2 of 3: Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Introduction:  Recent research indicates that a moderate serving of high-quality protein (3-4 oz) with each meal can make a significant difference in healthy aging, body strength, weight management, and disease prevention. This is especially significant since approximately 20 percent of older adults do not meet the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance of protein. Read my three-part series on Protein to learn how you can achieve optimal health as you get older.

Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Eating lean beef daily, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can help lower LDL-cholesterol ( bad cholesterol), lower triglycerides ( blood fats), and raise HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) more than excluding beef, according to new research published in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  In this study, 5 oz of lean beef were consumed daily, as part of an overall healthy, plant-based, nutrient-rich diet (DASH), which included a variety of foods from all food groups.

Lean Beef by the Numbers

Americans can feel confident in their decision to eat lean beef daily, in moderate amounts,  as part of a low saturated fat diet which meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s a complete package! A 3 oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 1,500-2,000-calorie intake daily and it supplies more than 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for 10 essential nutrients. On average, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of cards) contains about 150 calories and is an excellent source of six nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and selenium) and a good source of four nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin).

Lean Beef by the Cut  –

Did you know 17 of the top 25 most popular fresh meat cuts sold in retail are lean? Some of my favorite choices in cuts are  Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, Flank, T-Bone steak and 95% lean Ground Beef. It’s simple to pair these delicious cuts with nutrient-rich vegetables, grains and dairy foods for an overall healthy diet.

Other Heart-Protective Foods

How can you protect your heart? Eat the right type and amount of wholesome foods! Choose colorful fruit, vegetables, and beans; wholegrains; lean protein foods ( fish, poultry, lean beef, low-fat cheese); non-fat or low-fat dairy; and the right types and amount of fat and oils  to reduce artery inflammation and lessen the development of hardening of the arteries, which underlies most heart attacks.

Lifestyle Factors that Reduce Heart Disease

  • A healthy weight
  • Aerobic exercise, 30+ minutes, 3-5 times weekly
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy blood pressure (<120/80)
  • Not smoking
  • Treating depression
  • Managing stress
  • More vitamin D3
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Ample sleep

In summary, lean beef protein can be beneficial to your heart as long as it does not exceed saturated fat limits (3-4 oz lean beef contains 4-6 gm sat fat out of 15-22 gm sat fat limit daily). Realize the value in varying protein sources – it’s good for your taste buds, adds nutrient variety, and helps your heart. It takes your total lifestyle to keep your heart running right…combine eating right and regular physical activity for optimal health.

Need more ideas?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website http://georgiakostas.com.

Protein Series, Part 1 of 3: Benefits of Lean Protein for Healthy Muscle Mass

Introduction:  Recent research indicates that a moderate serving of high-quality protein (3-4 oz) with each meal can make a significant difference in healthy aging, body strength, weight management, and disease prevention. This is especially significant since approximately 20 percent of older adults do not meet the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance of protein. Read my three-part series on Protein to learn how you can achieve optimal health as you get older.

 

Benefits of Lean Protein for Healthy Muscle Mass

Given the growing baby boomer population (approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old every day), loss of muscle mass in older adults is becoming an increasingly significant public health issue.

It’s a fact of life that our body changes as we age. Those transformations happen in body composition, skeletal changes, metabolism slows down, aerobic (oxygen) capacity declines, and our immune system weakens. So, how do we prevent these changes?

The most practical dietary strategy to stimulate muscle growth is to include high-quality protein during each meal, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Aug 2007). Research indicates that a moderate serving of high-quality protein (3-4 oz) with each meal can make a significant difference in body strength. This is especially significant since approximately 20 percent of older adults do not meet the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance of protein.

Be Lean Protein Savvy

Enjoying these high-quality protein foods can help you build a healthy lifestyle at any age:

  • Consume 3-4 oz servings of protein-rich foods at each meal daily.  ( 1 protein equivalent = 1 oz meat or 1 cup milk or yogurt or ½ cup beans or 1 egg )
  • Vary protein sources weekly. Try poultry,  fish, lean beef or pork,  bean or all-vegetable meals, low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese.
  • Choose low-fat toppings. Top baked potatoes with cottage cheese, yogurt, marinara sauce or salsa, and top salads with balsamic vinegar, lemon, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
  • Snack on healthy alternatives such as nuts, popcorn, wholewheat bagels, pretzels, popsicles, frozen nonfat yogurt, carrots, homemade Chex cereal mix, wholegrain crackers or toast. 

Add Muscle with Protein

Building optimal muscle mass comes from pairing the right types of high-quality protein with the right exercise routine, and making that a habit. First, exercise is not all about the amount that’s important, it’s the type of exercise that’s important. Did you know that starting at age 25, you can lose 8-10 lbs of muscle mass each decade? Did you know cardio workouts such as walking and running will help you maintain muscle, but resistance training is what really helps you build muscle? Stimulating the right muscles, over several repetitions, helps you build muscle mass over time. In addition, eating lean protein within 30 minutes after resistance training helps builds muscle more effectively. 

Exercise Variety Leads to Optimal Benefits

Enjoy changing up your routine with these exercises. And, remember to set goals that are appropriate to your age group and ability to get the most out of all of your efforts.

  • Aerobic (heart, lungs, weight, stamina, balance)
  • Flexibility/stretching (joints, range-of-motion)
  • Strength (bones, muscles, core)
  • Balance (reduces falls, hip & spine fractures; adds stability, coordination, functional fitness)
  • All-in-one (yoga, pilates, aqua exercise, Zumba, bar/ballet classes, functional fitness, bands with cardio, circuit classes)

Sample Weekly Workout Plan/Goals*

  • Cardio – moderate intensity, 30 minutes, 5 times/week OR vigorous intensity, 20 minutes, 3 times/week
  • Strength – 8-10 exercises, 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 times/week
  • Balance/Core – 3 or more times weekly
  • Stretching – 5-10 sets per day

*Note: these particular sample exercise goals are intended for adults over the age of 65. See a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

In summary, you can age gracefully. Achieve optimal health as you get older with 1) 3-4 oz. lean protein with each meal daily along with other nutrient-rich foods, and 2) exercise for cardio, strength, balance, and flexibility weekly. Become proactive and live a healthy, active lifestyle starting today.

Remember to sign up for my blog, so you don’t miss out of part 2 and 3 of Protein series. You can also follow my updates on Facebook.com/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and Twitter @GeorgiaKostas. For more nutrition and wellness tips, recipes, handouts, and to get a copy of my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009), visit my website www.georgiakostas.com.

Renew Your Health in the New Year!

If you are committing to “eat better” in 2012, and want to reap the greatest benefit with the least amount of change, where will you begin? Most health experts agree:  “eat more fruit and vegetables”!  Here are four good reasons why:

  • their unique nutrients help reduce chronic disease – heart, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity
  • their low-calorie, high fiber, and water content will help you lose weight faster, while feeling “full”  
  • their potassium, magnesium, and fiber content counters common nutrient shortfalls
  • their nutrition impact trumps genetics in reducing genetic-related heart disease

Not convinced?  The Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which followed the diets and health of 110,000 men and women for 14 years, found that eating more fruit and vegetables helped people lose weight faster and more easily, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%. Those averaging 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily had the greatest reduction in cardiovascular risk.  Although all fruits and vegetables likely contributed to this benefit, the greatest impact seemed to come from green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices).

Beyond the cholesterol-lowering benefits of fresh produce, their anti-oxidant content improves artery health. A Swedish study released in December 2010 quantified the antioxidant value of diets in over 35,000 older women. Those who ate the most fruit, vegetables, and whole grains had the greatest anti-oxidant intake and greatest reduction in stroke risk.

Anti-oxidants have many beneficial qualities, including: 1) block cholesterol-plaque build-up and hardening in our arteries, keeping artery walls (muscle) pliable and healthy for better blood flow, and 2) lessen plaque-related inflammation in artery walls, leading to blood clots. Stiff, plaque-narrowed arteries and clots lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Supplemental anti-oxidants have proven unhelpful, and in some cases, even dangerous.  Nature provides the right form and balance of anti-oxidants in foods, conferring health benefits, as well as the right mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phyto-nutrients, and phytosterols, which most likely are at the heart of the benefits.

Another interesting study reported in 2011 found that adding fresh produce and other heart-protective foods to one’s diet reduced the risk of heart attacks more powerfully than merely subtracting the “bad” stuff – saturated fat, sugar, trans fats, salt.

I love this finding because I have long been an advocate of adding quality foods rather than merely subtracting foods when helping my clients to eat better, lose weight, or lower cholesterol or blood pressure.  My clients tell me they prefer this positive approach and are more successful with their health and weight results.

So, if you make one change this year, begin by adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals daily! You may start with just one extra fruit and one vegetable today. Or, follow the recommendations of the 2011 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans:   fill “half your plate with fruit and vegetables and lunch and dinner”.

Need more ideas?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website http://georgiakostas.com. Let the New Year begin with renewed health and zest!

Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

“Tis the season to be jolly! A season filled with festivities, friends, family, fellowship…and yes, food!

How can you enjoy the season and not give yourself the typical 2- 8 lbs at Christmas that may linger all year? Here are a few top survival tips:

  1.  Focus on the people and conversation everywhere you go — let food be a secondary joy.
  2. Arrive at events satisfied, not starving. 
  3. Drink 2 glasses of water before walking in the door, and drink 2 glasses of water for every higher calorie beverage.
  4. Fill up first on veggie and fruit options (easy on the dips, dressings, sauces).
  5. Go lean with protein, such as turkey, meatballs, ham, roasted chicken, beef tenderloin slices.
  6. Pay attention to liquid calories, such as holiday punch, soda, beer, wine, eggnog, which pack hundreds of extra calories…and pounds. 
  7. Use small plates, which lends to smaller portions. Imagine each bite providing 50 calories…100 bites = 5000 calories (= 1.5 lbs of weight gain per party!)
  8. Think small and special, so skip “usual” foods like chips and dips, and head to seasonal favorites.
  9. Cut portions into smaller bites than usual.  More bites = more chews = more filling.
  10. Offer to bring a dish, such as a fruit trays, vegetable tray, coleslaw, pico de gallo, Heavenly Seven-Layer Dip (recipe below), turkey slices, vegetable wraps, popcorn, chex mix with added popped cereals (rice, oats, wheat, etc).
  11. Keep moving –walk the mall or walk your neighborhood! Every step helps.
  12. Remember that eating scheduled meals and exercising at scheduled times will help you survive the stress of the season, so you can enjoy the holidays even more.

For easy tips, meal plans, recipes and more, check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009). Or, send me an email at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com, for a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  I want you to be at your healthiest and happiest this holiday season, and carry that well into the New Year!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Healthy Seven-Layer Dip

Guacamole (buy at grocery store or make homemade below). Set aside.

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh or bottled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons salsa or fresh chopped tomato
Garlic powder or garlic salt to taste (optional)
Black pepper to taste

Dip layers   Prepare and set aside each item below.

8 ounces fat-free or light sour cream
1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
15-ounce can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend (i.e. Jack and cheddar)
2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small bowl, blend sour cream with taco seasoning.
  2. Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate or glass pan (you can warm the beans up in the microwave briefly to make them more spreadable.)
  3. Top the beans with the sour cream mixture; then top each layer as follows: guacamole, tomatoes, green onions, shredded cheese, black olives.

Serve with reduced-fat tortilla chips or reduced-fat crackers or baby carrots, jicama sticks, red bell pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower pieces,

Makes 16 appetizer servings.

Per serving (dip only): 85 calories, 5.2 grams protein, 6.4 grams carbohydrate, 4.4 grams fat (1.9 grams saturated fat, 1.9 grams monounsaturated, .3 grams polyunsaturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, .7 grams fiber, 258 milligrams sodium. Calories from fat: 46%.

Family Mealtimes: Making an Impact

A tradition that’s been passed down from generation to generation is family mealtime. But, does your time spent together as a family at the dinner table seem different than the generation before? It probably does.

With dual careers, busy schedules and the temptation of fast food drive-thru, family mealtimes often suffer. Intentions are there, but it’s simply not happening. Recent surveys show that 80% of families value mealtime together, but 33% actually achieve it. Family mealtime is important. There are too many positive health benefits that our children get out of it to be ignored.

Importance of Family Mealtimes

A growing body of research shows positive implications of family mealtimes on children. Here are my top five:

1. Better grades — Studies show kids who eat with their families perform better in school and have a broader vocabulary. Family meals offer an opportunity for conversations where kids learn vocabulary-building words to help them read and communicate better.

2. Learned skills — Family mealtime helps in the development of adult-child communication skills. It offers a time for togetherness, which helps children develop a sense of belonging, trust and better self-esteem. In addition, parents can serve as positive role models and help their children learn important skills, such as meal planning, grocery shopping, setting the table, preparing the meal, serving the meal, polite table manners and enjoying nutritious food choices.

3. Consume more nutritious foods — A Harvard study found that families who eat together are twice as likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day as families who don’t eat together. Finally, children who regularly eat with family have diets higher in fiber, calcium, iron, folate and vitamins B6, B12, C and E.

4. Healthier weight — Children who eat meals with their families are less likely to be obese than those who eat alone. That’s because children consume less fried food, added sugar, and soda when they eat together. When there are no TV, computer, and phone distractions, children also eat better foods and are less likely to overeat. They eat more slowly (learning to detect true hunger), and talk more. The talking is as important as the food itself.

5. Less behavior problems – Family meals are positively associated with reducing risk-taking behaviors among children. Teens are less likely to use tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, and get pregnant, due to the increased family connection and communication at mealtimes.

Although 5 family mealtimes a week are optimal, research shows that family meals even 3 times a week makes a HUGE difference in the health of family members – emotionally, physically, nutritionally, psychologically, academically, and behaviorally. Isn’t it great to know that one simple behavior, that both parents and children report loving, can nourish one’s total well-being and make a lifelong impact, beyond the table? Think of mealtime as Family Time!

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Resources to Help Make an Impact

Making family mealtime a reality is about routine. What 3 nights a week can you make family mealtime become a reality? Do you need to eat on the bleachers or around a park table to make mealtime a reality? Do you need to cook ahead on a weekend, pick up foods to take on a picnic, have sandwiches for dinner, or let every family member pitch in, just to make it happen? Here are several resources I recommend to help bring back the tradition of family mealtime and making it last:

• National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Enriching Family Mealtimes toolkit — helps busy families enjoy more mealtimes together – see “how-to” tips, advice, tasty quick recipes, menus, shopping lists, conversation starters, menu planning forms, plus many other resources.

• Purdue University’s Promoting Family Meals project  — lists books, research, studies and articles on family mealtimes- a comprehensive reference.

• National Restaurant Association’s Kids Live Well initiative  — lists healthful Kids LiveWell options that many of the nation’s leading restaurant companies are offering for kids.

Personal Note: Thank you, Florida Dietetic Association, for inviting me to speak on the topic of the Importance of Family Mealtimes to your talented group of registered dietitians on July 19, 2011. I would also like to thank NCBA for sponsoring the session, and for creating the amazing toolkit, Enriching Family Mealtimes, which will be a valuable resource for RD’s, teachers, and parents, in helping to secure the tradition. Family mealtime can help families eat better, maintain healthy weights, and prevent weight gain.

For more resources and tips, visit my website Georgia Kostas Nutrition. Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my professional Facebook page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition. Check out my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate, where you’ll find balanced no-fuss meals, quick recipes, snack ideas and more.