9 Everyday Tips for Healthy Bag Lunches & Snacks

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

Guidelines for Healthy Eating and Snacking on a Daily Basis

Whether the kids are headed off to school or you are brown bagging it to work, many of us prepare and pack our own snacks and lunches every day. Use the tips below to help you be mindful of your food choices not just during lunch, but all day long!

  1. Not all foods are created equal! Pick out foods that are best for your normal day, every day.
  2. Plan to emphasize what is most important in your diet. For example, high quality protein, fiber, and fulfilling daily fruit/vegetable requirements.
  3. Make a schedule for yourself and include times, places, and content of what you will be eating for the day to hold yourself accountable.
    • 10:00am Snack: Fruit
    • Noon Lunch: Entree, salad, milk (school lunch)
    • 3:00pm Snack: Popcorn
    • Also have an idea of what your night time dinner will be like and what time you plan to eat (so the whole family can attend & you can give yourself enough time to prepare)
  4. Drink plenty of fluids, including water throughout the day.
  5. Be aware of the salt content of most snack foods.
  6. Make comparisons of packaged food items–making sure you have selected the best in terms of calories, salt, and fats.
  7. Remember, too many calories and fats can lead to feeling sluggish and tired in the afternoon.
  8. Keep your eye on the caffeine in beverages–too much soda or caffeinated beverages cause you to feel jittery later in the day and actually take away from your energy base.
  9. Choose foods that provide the most energy throughout the day.
    • Whole Wheat Toast vs. Sweet Roll
    • Baked Potato vs. French Fries
    • Fruited Yogurt vs. Chocolate Cake

Try including the following recipe in your next bag lunch as a snack with tortilla chips or compliment to your entree (such as a chicken breast or fish).

Quick Easy Black Bean Salsa

Quick & Easy Black Bean Salsa

1-15oz. can Black Beans
1-11oz. can Shoepeg Corn
1-16oz. jar Salsa with Cilantro
1 medium Red Pepper, chopped
1 bunch Green Scallions, chopped
Lemon juice, cumin, and minced garlic to taste.

Mix all ingredients. Best if prepared the day before.

1/3 cup = 75 calories

Looking for more nutrition advice or other snack and lunch recipe ideas? We offer plenty of ongoing group & private programs with Elite’s own Registered Dietitian. Just let us know a little about yourself and your goals to get started!

Member Stories: Maria Pascente, “I am in control!”

We’re extremely proud of our members. Over the years their work out agendas and sporting endeavors serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be Elite, and how exercise not only adds years to your life, but life to your years! Today we’d like to highlight another member’s accomplishments:

Losing weight, ugh! For those of us who struggle with this, those two words are highly offensive curses. I am Maria Pascente and I have struggled with obesity my entire life.

It started in about second grade when I had to get the “girls plus” first communion dress and it has been “plus size” ever since. While I have lost hundreds of pounds in my life I have always managed to find them again. Joining West Brookfield Elite in 2007 was my first step in the right direction. I have had my fits and starts with exercise since joining the club but have always been encouraged by the staff to keep working at it.

After a series of rather stressful events in my life, I got back to the gym with a passion in December of 2010 and that started my road to success. I began with H20 Blast three times a week at Brookfield Elite and added from there as I became more fit. After losing close to 50 lbs with exercise and some food modifications, I found myself at a plateau that I could not seem to overcome. I was becoming discouraged and knew I needed to get some extra help.

I decided to turn to the club and through some inquiry I hooked up with Rita Larsen, RD. After meeting with her one-on-one for a while I started to see some success. Her practice style of what I will call “tough love with a smile” is what I needed. You see, what you put in your body is your choice, every carrot stick or cookie is 100% under my control. When you have struggled to control your weight your whole life, recognizing that you alone actually have the power to control it is a monumental task.

In January of this year I was a charter member in Rita’s “Lose It Now” program. I needed to really challenge myself and shake things up to a level that I had not achieved in many years. I lost 30 lbs in 13 weeks. I feel so much better about myself, I have more energy and I think I am finally learning how to maintain weight loss and keep it off for good. So, overall this program was successful for me and working with Rita works.

Last summer and fall I had another period of stressful events and I am happy to report that I was able to maintain my weight loss through it this time. I kept my 4-5 times a week workout schedule of Body Pump, Cardio and Pilates going as best I could, which is key. My ability to choose wisely and remember that I am in control, helped me succeed when in the past I would have gained it all back by now. My goal is to lose 50 more pounds and I intend to do it with Rita and Elite in 2013.

We are so proud of Maria! She is so positive about her weight loss journey and can truly be an example for us all! Submit your own “Elite” story! Or tweet us your workout wins (and woes) @MyEliteStory!

Do you feel like you are “in control” of your weight? It’s a tough question, but can be telling of your situation and motivation. Tell us about a time you felt in (or out of) control in the comments.

What Can a Registered Dietitian Do for You?

If you have been following our blog for awhile, you have probably noticed the weekly posts from Elite Sports Clubs’ Registered Dietitian, Rita. However, many of you may not really know what exactly a RD does or how one could help you reach your health and weight loss goals. Check out the article below from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to learn more about what a Registered Dietitian can do for you!

By Karen Ansel, MS, RD

Between what you hear on TV and read in the news, eating right can seem like a real challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. “Whether you want to slim down, lower your cholesterol or simply eat better, a registered dietitian [or registered dietitian nutritionist] can help you weed through the murky waters of nutrition misinformation and provide sound, easy-to-follow nutrition advice,” says Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Here are just a few of the benefits of working with a registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist:

The highest level of nutrition counseling: Anyone can call him- or herself a nutritionist, but only a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) has completed multiple layers of education and training established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, an RD or RDN must fulfill a specially designed, accredited nutrition curriculum, pass a rigorous registration exam, and complete an extensive supervised program of practice at a health care facility, foodservice organization or community agency. What’s more, roughly half of all RDs and RDNs hold graduate degrees and many have certifications in specialized fields such as sports, pediatric, renal, oncology or gerontological nutrition.

Personally tailored advice: When you see an RD or RDN, the last thing you’ll get is one-size-fits-all diet advice. “A dietitian is like an investigator seeking to learn about your current and desired state of health,” says McDaniel. “At your initial visit, expect to do a lot of talking while the dietitian does a lot of listening.” After learning about your health history, favorite foods, eating and exercise habits, an RD or RDN will help you set goals and prioritize. Follow-up visits will focus on maintenance and monitoring your progress.

Help managing chronic diseases: If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer it can be hard to know what to eat. “An RD [or RDN] can review your lab results with you, help you understand your condition and provide education about the nutrients that affect it,” says Angela Ginn, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then, he or she will help you create an eating plan that includes all the important nutrients that can help you manage your condition.”

Guidance navigating food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances: When you suffer from conditions like celiac disease, food allergies or lactose intolerance, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by what you think you can’t eat. That can translate into a boring diet and may even lead to nutrient deficiencies. An RD or RDN can teach you how to read food labels so you’ll know which ingredients to avoid and a help you find substitutions to keep your diet balanced and tasty, too.

A weight-loss program that really works: Fad diets may sound like the quick ticket to weight loss but they rarely work for very long. A registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist will partner with you to develop a safe, effective weight-loss plan that you can stick with for the long haul. To guide and motivate you, an RD or RDN will use creative and out-of-the-box strategies to help with meal planning, grocery shopping, food journaling and mindful eating.

Now, that’s a recipe for success.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Logo

 

Original article from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Contact Elite Sports Clubs’ Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor: Rita Larsen, RDCD

Rita Larsen has a bachelors degree from Kansas State University, a masters in Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania and a dietetic internship from Indiana University Medical Center. Rita is a Certified Dietitian, Registered Dietitian, member of the Milwaukee Nutrition Council and American Dietetic Association, certified in Adult Weight Loss, Childhood Nutrition, and Diabetic Management. She has worked many years in the field serving families and those interested in improving their health through optimum nutrition. This includes providing dietary information of new food products, creating a better food plan to match individual fitness, and weight loss management. Rita enjoys discussing with families ways to create interest in family time together and preparing good foods while learning more about what foods are best for children of all ages. She finds it interesting to search for ways of cutting food costs, while still providing optimum nutrition through easy quick meal planning.

10 Facts About Stress and Diet

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

  1. Everyone handles stress differently. Some people will eat less during that time, and others will eat more. Although there is no way to avoid stress and strain, there are ways to minimize the effects these pressures have on your mental and physical health. You can adjust your dietary habits to help you cope better.
  2. Some stress is good for us. It is what gets us up in the morning and on to doing productive things, especially if we have a good attitude about the things we are about to do. Some stress frequently comes cloaked in worry, anger, frustration, and fear; and it is these stresses, called distress, that are the most harmful to your health. The physical responses to stress causes our heart to race, our blood pressure to go up, and our stress hormones adrenalin and corticosteroids to flood our system in response to modern day “threats”.
  3. In today’s world, we often do not have physical methods to relieve this pressure. We create the stress level we are in, and then we “stew” in it. Many experts feel that long-term ongoing stress can be dangerous. Stress hormones can linger in the bloodstream, blood cholesterol and sugar levels stay high, and nerve chemicals circulate in record numbers. Such prolonged stress can lead to cardiovascular problems, peptic ulcers, asthma, and a variety of cancers. It can also put a strain on the immune system, further reducing resistance to colds, infections, and disease.
  4. Stress and diet are closely interrelated. A deficiency in any nutrient can cause a strain on all the metabolic processes dependent on that nutrient. Small amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C weaken the body’s antioxidant defenses, exposing the tissues to increased risk of damage and disease. In addition, how well your body is nourished prior to and during a stress response affects how well you handle the stress. A well-nourished person copes better than a poorly nourished one.
  5. For many people, eating habits are at their worst during periods of high stress. They can either forget to eat, or overload with an abundance of food. Consequently, a person can be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies during periods of stress than any other time in their lives.
  6. Mental and emotional stresses will affect the body in very similar ways. The immune system is the body’s main defense system against foreign bodies or abnormal growth cells, such as cancer cells. In a healthy state, people are able to count on the functioning of their immune system and protection against any further disease process. Optimum nutrition and low stress levels can provide years of good health, happiness, and a longer life free of disease.
  7. Research studies by the USDA found the effect of work-related stress on mineral status was greatly compromised during periods of stress by as much as a 33% reduction. These studies were especially true of the nutrients, potassium, magnesium, B vitamin complexes, and antioxidants of vitamin A, C, and E. Associated nutrients also compromised by stress responses are zinc, chromium, copper, and iron. In addition, these levels will quickly return to normal levels with vitamin-mineral supplementation and by eating foods high in these nutrients.
  8. Carbohydrates, protein, and caloric needs do increase the metabolic rate during a stressful event by as much as 13%.
  9. Stress will release the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol turns on the release in the brain for high carbohydrate or sugary-type foods, especially sweets. It will be important to have protein based foods on these days to avoid the “sugar response” to stress. Milk-based foods will allow the body to release calming levels of the body hormone, serotonin.
    Stress Eating
  10. Suggestions for healthy de-stressing habits include:
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Sleep at least seven hours a night
  • Work fewer than ten hours a day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, and just eat a nutrient-packed, low fat diet overall
  • Cope effectively with stress
  • Positive beliefs, attitudes, and expectations, including hope, trust, love, faith, and laughter turn otherwise stressful events into more pleasurable ones and greatly reduces the risk of suppressing the immune system. In fact, these positive emotions can actually enhance immunity!

For more information or coaching on how to manage your stress & diet, contact Rita Larsen. If you’re just interested in the types of health & nutrition programs we offer at Elite Sports Clubs, check out our website.

Do your eating patterns change when you are stressed? Do you eat more or less, and does the quality (healthiness) of the food differ? Tell us in the comments!

 

Youth Fitness & Nutrition: Country Fruit Stand Salad Recipe

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

Country Fruit Stand Salad
Country Fruit Stand Salad, MrFood.com

This week we had a great opportunity to make a nutritious fruit salad with a tasty dressing for our students in the Scamp (Summer Day Camp) Kids Exercise & Nutrition ProgramChildren learned about the benefits of eating fruits high in antioxidants, especially berries of all varieties, such as, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. In addition, they learned how to make a tasty fruit-based dressing with orange juice and honey. The topping was an excellent cinnamon granola mixture. The children enjoyed the entire salad and helped me prepare the final mixture for tasting by the group.


Country Fruit Stand Salad

(Original Recipe)

Country Fruit Stand Salad gets its sparkling taste from a marinade of a combo of ginger ale, orange juice and honey. This unbeatable trio of flavors turns an ordinary fruit salad recipe into something special.

Serves: 10

Preparation Time: 35 min

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 medium to large cantaloupe, cut in half, seeds and rind removed
  • 1 medium to large honeydew melon, cut in half, seeds and rind removed
  • 1 medium to large pineapple, top removed, sliced into quarters, rind and core removed
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and hulled (tops removed)
  • 3/4 cup ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup granola

What To Do:

  1. Cut cantaloupe, honeydew, and pineapple into bite-sized pieces; place in a large  bowl.
  2. Cut strawberries in half (or in quarters, if they’re large); add to other fruit.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ginger ale, orange juice, and honey; mix well. Add to fruit; mix well.
  4. Allow fruit to “marry” for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to use.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle each serving with a bit of granola.

Note

The number of servings this makes will depend upon the size of the fruit you use.


We often send home recipes for children to try at home with their parents. Of course, the supervision will come from the parents; but we do often like to have the children do some assembly work and to actually be able to touch and feel the food.

If you and your children would like to discuss further healthy foods to prepare, family eating schedules and planning, please contact Rita Larsen for a family discussion of “HELP,” Healthy Eating for Life Program. This can be arranged by appointment at a convenient time and location for your entire family.

Have a good rest of the summer and enjoy these summer nights with a delicious healthy meal your whole family will enjoy having, time after time!