Tag Archives: health

National Nutrition Month – Slow Down and Be Mindful

Nutrition Month

Photo courtesy of http://www.notyourstandard.com

It’s National Nutrition Month and March 9 is National Dietitians’ Day!

This year’s theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is simple: ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.’ In order words, each time you eat, truly focus on enjoying each bite. Appreciate the flavors, colors, aromas, textures and social experiences associated with eating your favorite foods. Too often we eat rushed, while doing tasks, and miss out on the enjoyment that food is meant to have. This can lead to over-eating. Sit down. Slow down. Enjoy. You will eat better and enjoy it more.

This month, create healthful meals with your favorite foods, to achieve your health and wellness goals. Inspired by the latest changes to the federal Dietary Guidelines released a month ago, here are some steps to take:

Cut added sugar

If you are like most people, you are probably eating and drinking more sugar than you are aware of. Added sugar is found in surprising places like salad dressings and sauces. Your goal? No more than 150 calories for women and 200 calories for men of added sugars. Read food labels and know what you are eating. “Added sugars” are listed in grams. For women, aim for 35 grams of sugar at most daily. Men, aim for no more than 50 grams of sugar.

  • What you can do: Reach for protein-rich nuts or seeds, fresh fruit or veggies, like baby carrots, cucumber or red bell peppers with hummus, or edamames. Try fresh sliced fruit served with Greek yogurt or Siggi’s thick Icelandic yogurt (both have less or no sugar). Make your own trail mix with wholegrain cereals, raisins and nuts. Enjoy crunchy whole wheat crackers with a soft cheese slice and zippy tomato juice.

Limit saturated fats

Eating too much saturated fat can increase risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Did you know the majority of saturated fat we eat is NOT in red meat and cheese, but rather in commercially prepared snack foods with “partially hydrogenated oils” such as in biscuits, cinnamon rolls, cookies, popcorn, cupcakes, cakes, frosting, French fries and many commercial snacks?

  • What you can do: Make any of the above foods at home with healthy oils and ingredients. Or choose fruit, beans, veggies, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, homemade snacks to avoid hydrogenated (factory-made) oils. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy foods, lean beef trimmed of fat, skinned poultry and seafood that is not fried. Avoid frying anything. Keep meat to 5-6 oz daily. Use oil in cooking rather than butter. And check food labels. You want no more than 13-16 grams of saturated fat a day.

Reduce sodium

The new federal dietary guidelines call for cutting back sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less each day for those ages 14-50 and 1,500 milligrams daily for those older than 50 or African-American. Begin by cutting 1000 mg sodium daily….substitute ingredients and put the salt shaker away.

  • What you can do: It’s more than just stopping table salt or cooking salt. The bigger culprit is sodium packed in processed foods, such as condiments, pizza, sauces, soups, packaged snack foods, cold cuts, sausage, hot dogs and meals out. Read nutrition labels! Look for no more than 800 mg sodium in a frozen dinner, soup meal or entire dinner. Buy lower-sodium canned beans, soups and tomato or spaghetti sauces. Go fresh as often as possible. Nature does not put salt in fruit, fresh vegetables, potatoes, corn, dried beans and peas, etc. Be aware of the sodium in your bread. Often, a slice of bread contains 150-200 mg sodium, which is almost 10 percent of your day’s total.

Slow down and enjoy

Take time to enjoy mealtime. Food is more than nourishment and fuel for your body. Meals nourish our entire being, providing pleasure, relaxation and socialization. Sit down for meals. Be mindful of what you are eating. Stop. Take time between bites. Take smaller bites. Put away that cell phone. Don’t multitask while eating. Take a break from what you are doing to savor everything about the meal – the place, people, type food, time of day, etc. Savor each bite. Starting today, make the most out of every eating experience, and Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.

For more ideas on healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.


This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.


The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the websites or any association with their operators.

Four Color Stir-Fry

  • 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons grape seed oil (divided use)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup onion, sliced into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, strings removed
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Asian stir-fry sauce, such as Kikkoman
  • Brown rice


Dissolve chicken bouillon cube in water for 30 seconds on High (100 percent power) in the microwave. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil and heat over high heat.

Brown chicken quickly, stirring constantly until cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In the skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and all the vegetables. Cook over high heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the bouillon water, then the chicken, peanuts and seasonings. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stir-fry sauce.

Serve over brown rice.

Makes 4 servings.

PER SERVING: Calories 348 (47% fat), Fat 18 g (3 g sat), Cholesterol 63 mg, Sodium 529 mg, Fiber 5 g, Carbohydrates 19 g, Protein 30 g

For more ideas on healthy eating and quick meals, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009) or contact me for individual counseling.  My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs. 

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Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 3 of 3)

Count Your Portions before they Count You

The key to losing weight and keeping it off is portions! Many people eat nutritiously, but without portion control, too much of even the right food can make you gain weight.

Try these portion control ideas from my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution (2009):

1. Use the plate rule. Reserve ¼th of the plate for the protein or entrée, and ¾th of the plate for plant foods (vegetables, grains, fruit).

2. Measure easy-to-overdo foods. Cheese, 1 oz.; meat, 3 oz.; starches, ½ to 1 c.; nuts, 1-2 Tbsp.; juice, 4-6 oz. (½ to ¾ c.); salad dressing, mayonnaise, margarine, peanut butter, 1 Tbsp.

3. Measure your glass sizes at home. Is your juice glass 4 oz., 6 oz., or 8 oz.?

4. Make it easy. Have deli cheeses and lunch meats cut in 1 oz. slices (8 slices = 8 oz.)

5. Use your fist or a tennis ball as a measure of 1 c. of pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit, etc.

6. Eat baby-bites. Cut food into smaller pieces and eat one bite at a time. You chew more and the meal lasts longer.

7. Split an entrée when eating out. Most are 6-8 oz., and you need only 3-4 oz.

8. Leave some behind. Break away from the “clean plate syndrome,” the compulsion to eat everything on the plate. Save half for tomorrow’s lunch.

9. Use smaller dinner plates or bowls. Satisfy your psychological need to see a full plate. Spread food to cover the plate. Use a small dish for cereal.

10. Avoid seconds. Relax and think. Let 20 minutes pass before going for the second helping. Chances are you won’t want seconds!

Remember, portion control is weight control. Enjoy and savor the results. Thank you for reading my three-part series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Here’s to healthy eating all year long!

For more healthy portion control ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.