Monday, December 27, 2010

Eat More in 2011! Hungry to Learn How?'ll have to choose a lean hot dog and a whole grain bun but......

When it comes to weight control, calories still count, but the new PointsPlus program recently introduced by Weight Watchers International considers that some calories count more than others. For instance, foods higher in protein and fiber are assigned lower PointsPlus values because the body has to work harder to process them, essentially burning calories to convert protein and fiber into energy. Conversely, foods higher in fat and carbohydrate are assigned higher points values because the body more easily processes them and stores them as body fat. Atlanta dietitian, Marie Spano says, “Weight Watchers takes into account the principle that our body spends more energy processing protein and fiber whereas we spend little energy on carbs and fat.”

So, a calorie consumed really isn’t always a calorie in the human body.
The new PointsPlus approach is a big change for Weight Watchers, a diet program with a fifty year history. “A lot has changed in the science of nutrition since the original points system was developed,” explains registered dietitian Stephanie Rost, Director of Program Development for Weight Watchers International, “So it’s important to us looking at 2011 and beyond that our program reflects the latest research and that’s the main impetus for the completely new system.” Also part of the new math, taking into consideration the impact foods have on satiety. Lean protein foods, including non fat dairy products, and whole grain foods high in fiber, help dieters feel fuller longer so meals are more satisfying even if total calories in the meal is less.
Here’s an example comparing two breakfast meals each containing 270 calories.
A medium croissant with a pat of butter.
1 poached egg, 1 slice of light whole-wheat toast with pat of light butter and 3 ounces of Canadian bacon.
The croissant is assigned a 7 PointsPlus value.
The ham and eggs breakfast is assigned only a 6 PointsPlus value; because it’s higher in protein and fiber. Spano likes the new plan, “One thing I saw on the old program is that people would eat their points in processed carbs to stay within the limits and then they’d be hungry and overeat and their diet was unbalanced. This new plan seems more balanced and I’m thrilled to see that they are taking protein into account now.”
Fruits and Vegetables Go Free
Another big shift in Weight Watchers’ diet advice is that now most fruits and vegetables, including fresh, canned or frozen, have zero PointsPlus values. Rost explains that it’s a powerful incentive to improve diet quality. She says in the past for instance, a banana was 2 points and so was a 100 calorie snack pack, so members would skip the fruit to eat cookies, “It’s fun to see what you can add with zero points and amazing to being able to shift behavior to make healthier choices.” Spano points out that you still have to count points for some produce, “Certain veggies, especially the starchy ones such as corn, potatoes and peas do have higher PointsPlus values. 1 cup of corn kernels has 4 PointsPlus and corn on the cob has 2 PointsPlus. And that fast food baked potato with veggies and cheese – it will cost 11 PointsPlus while 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes has 3 PointsPlus.” Of course, any added butter or salad dressing will rack up additional PointsPlus; even when the veggie is a freebie. In the fruit category, grapes and oranges may have 0 PointsPlus, but turn them into juice and you’ll count 2 points per ½ cup. Dried fruit and fruits canned in syrup all have PointPlus values, too.
Even if you’re not a member of Weight Watchers International there are valuable lessons to learn from their time tested approach. What remains the same in the world of Weight Watchers is the focus on four pillars for weight loss success: diet, activity, behavior change and group support. But, now the fruit salad is free.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hot Tips for Eating to Beat Winter Cold Season

Craft Atlanta's Woodfire Oven Welcomes with Smokey Aromas & Cozy Feel

The holiday season is upon us and along with the festive lights and music we look forward to each year; we often encounter the not so welcome sounds of coughing and sneezing. Winter colds and flu, unfortunately for some, are part of the holiday happenings. Health officials advise the two most important things you can do to ward off a winter ills is to wash your hands and try to steer clear of folks who have a cold. But, what you eat and drink can make a difference too. Good nutrition plays a starring role in keeping your immune system in high gear. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to mega dose on certain vitamins or stock up on foods claiming to be “immune boosters”. It turns out there are no super foods to help you battle bacteria and viruses. However, a short fall in the consumption of certain key nutrients can weaken your immune system so you’re more vulnerable to germs. What do immune cells need to be their fighting best? Registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, editor of Environmental Nutrition newsletter says research points to well balanced diet including foods sources of the mineral zinc and vitamin such as C, E and D as well as probiotics in yogurts, “It’s important to keep in mind that foods contain a synergy of nutrients that work in unison to provide health benefits versus supplements which only provide one or two nutrients. Here’s more reason to make every bite count, with delicious, whole foods bursting with nutrients.” Turns out the time tested advice to ‘eat your vegetables’ is the foundation for firming up immune function, too. The generous roasted root vegetable side dish served at Craft Atlanta offers a delicious solution for healthy dining out this winter. Chef Kevin Maxey oven roasts a mix of parsnips, golden beets, rutabaga, winter squash and baby carrots tossed in olive oil and a little sherry vinegar.

Diet to Dodge the Sniffles, at Least Shorten Duration
Vitamin C: Increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells and antibodies to create protective coating on cell surfaces. The latest research, according to The National Institutes of Health, does little to support the belief that vitamin C’s a sure thing to prevent a cold, but it plays a key role in speeding up recovery. Vitamin C rich foods: orange juice, grapefruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries and bell peppers. Flying this holiday season? Order a hydrating and healthy mix of half orange juice and half sparkling water from the in-flight drink cart.
Vitamin E: Found to reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections such as the common cold. One of the most important antioxidant vitamins it stimulates the production of natural killer cells that seek and destroy invading germs. Vitamin E rich foods: nuts, olives, olive oil and leafy greens. Attention holiday party goers: people who don’t exercise, consume a lot of alcoholic beverages and smoke need even more vitamin E to support the immune system.
Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” so called because our skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight is emerging as a big player in the immune system. Hmmm, could it be a coincidence that the incidence of cold and flu is up when we spend more time inside during the winter? Go out for a walk in the winter sun and enjoy vitamin D containing foods such as salmon, sardines and fortified milk products.
Zinc: The body uses the mineral zinc to build infection fighting T-cells. The elderly are often deficient in zinc, so it’s an important nutrient to prioritize as we age. Many studies show zinc’s the thing to help shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc foods: red meat, poultry, seafood (notably oysters), beans and nuts.
Probiotics: Live cultures in yogurts increase populations of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which is the front line defense of our immune system. Palmer says, “It is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25 percent of immune cells.”
Beta Carotene: Found in orange colored foods such as carrots, butter nut squash, sweet potatoes and mangos, this powerful plant antioxidant becomes immune-boosting vitamin A in the body.
Mushrooms: Palmer’s focus on immune research for Environmental Nutrition, found that mushrooms are capturing scientists’ attention. A 2007 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that a powder made of white button mushrooms significantly increased killer cell activity when fed to laboratory mice. More palatable is the array of wild and foraged mushrooms consistently featured on Craft Atlanta’s menu. Feed your immune system and appetite for flavorful foods by ordering Maxey’s Winter Greens Salad with Roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Pumpkin Seed brittle.