Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Nutrition Groups Starting April 12th!

I wanted to take the opportunity this week to introduce two nutrition groups that will be starting Thursday, April 12th at my Lakeview office at The Awakening Center (northwest downtown Chicago). Should you be interested in participating, please contact me at (773) 929-6262 x 24 or email me at to learn more. Have a great week!

Mindful Eating: A Group for Meal Support, Thursdays 6-7:15pm
Eating regular and healthy meals can be very difficult for those who struggle with issues such as Anorexia, Bulimia, or Emotional Binge Eating. The Mindful Eating Group is a safe place to be with others who share similar struggles with food. The group provides a supportive accepting atmosphere to explore ways to cope with life’s stresses and traumas without resorting to abusing food, as well as ways to change one’s relationship with food.

During the group, participants will learn to eat mindfully, increase awareness of bodily and emotional signals, become more present while eating, listen to the “underlying lesson” below every struggle, while also learning beneficial ways to cope with the stresses in everyday situations. Mindfulness exercises and group activities will be included along with sharing a meal together. Participants will also set their own goals and will progress at their own pace. They will bring their own food based on their goals and level of comfort.

Nutrition Counseling Group; Thursdays 7:30-8:45pm
This group is for individuals to struggle to develop and maintain a healthy relationship with food. In a safe and supportive environment, discuss your nutrition questions and concerns, begin to challenge your food thoughts, beliefs and fears, and gain an understanding of how to meet your nutrition needs each day.

Each meeting will have a specific focus, and members are encourage to ask questions and explore their feelings surrounding food and nourishing their bodies.

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Top 5 Nutrition & Training Tips as the Weather Warms

Unseasonably warm weather in many parts of the country are throwing many athletes' bodies into a state of confusion. From complaints of unexpected fatigue to headaches to sinus flare-ups, unexpected weather extremes take a toll on the training body.  So what can you do as the weather warms to help your body adjust?

1. Hydrate
Hydration doesn't start one hour before your starts as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning. Drink 2 cups of water as soon as you get out of bed - even before breakfast. This will help kick-start the rehydration process. During your workout, take on a bit more fluid than normal until your body adjusts to the warmer temperatures.

2. Mind your electrolytes
One of the reasons sports drinks are better than plain water for training athletes is because your body loses more than water when you also lose electrolytes (mainly sodium). Also, electrolytes are imperative to muscle contraction during exercise. Taking in electrolytes with fluid helps your body hold on to more of that fluid. This means you hydrate your body better and visit the bathroom less frequently. During your workout, consider drinking a sports drink as the weather warms to help your body hydrate better. One cause of muscle cramping during or after exercise is an imbalance of electrolytes; this is prevented by appropriate hydration with sports drinks.

3. Wear breathable clothing
Breathable clothing is expensive and popular for a reason - it works! Clothes with this type of fabric wick moisture away from your skin, which helps your body be more efficient at cooling itself. Since there is an indirect relationship between body temperature and performance, staying cool is key. Note there is both warm weather and cold weather breathable clothing, so pay attention to what you are buying. Shell out the extra bucks - these clothes are worth it!

4. Look for fluid on your plate
In addition to hydrating with fluids, choose foods with a high-water content, such as WATERmelon, tomatoes, lettuce, and melons. This will add to your daily fluid intake while also providing vitamins and minerals that athletes need for proper recovery.

5. Take it easy
No athlete responds well to those words. However, believe me when I say that decreasing intensity for a day or two is better than recovering for several days from heat stroke. If you find that your heart rate is skyrocketing, you are dizzy, or that you are experiencing chills or nausea, you need to find some shade, take a break, and hydrate. Force yourself to drink, even if you are feeling nauseous. Assess your hydration tactics and increase your efforts before you continue exercise in the heat.

Remember that it takes approximately 7-14 days on average for your body to acclimate to exercise in the heat. So be patient if you're not hitting your goal splits or heart rate ranges for a few days. Using these 5 tactics, you'll soon be back to your normal intensity.

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"MyPlate" for Athletes

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year's theme is "Shape Up Your Plate" in honor of the new MyPlate graphic released by the USDA as a replacement for the good old Food Guide Pyramid. As a dietitian, this was a welcome change because - lets be honest - how many average consumers actually knew how to interpret the Food Guide Pyramid anyhow? As a sports dietitian, I had been using the plate method for quite some time already because of the simplicity and ease of teaching. However, athletes have very specific needs, so does MyPlate as it is really cater to the needs of athletes? Should the distribution of food groups ever change to better fuel the performing athlete? First, lets break down MyPlate in the context of the sports nutrition world:
MyPlate displays 5 different foods groups - sound familiar? - that are distributed across a plate and either a cup or side dish.

First, why is it important for an athlete to get each of these food groups at every meal?

Grains- This group includes all foods made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and other whole grains (i.e. pasta, bread, cereal, crackers, tortillas, etc.). Athletes should aim for at least half of their grains to be whole grain (i.e. 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain versions of the first list). Grains provide mainly carbohydrate, which is the body's main source of fuel during exercise, particularly as intensity increases.  Skimping on carbs leads to a break-down of muscle for energy (note: that's a bad thing).

Protein- This includes lean meat, poultry, fish, and eggs as well as nuts and nut butters, beans, legumes, tofu and other soy foods. Among MANY functions, protein is imperative for muscle re-synthesis and re-building (but must be combined with carb for best results).

Fruits- This group includes all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit as well as ONLY 100% fruit juice. Fruits provide that all-important carb, but also vitamins and minerals essential for proper recovery of trained muscles and prevention of illness.

Vegetables- Also includes all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried vegetables as well as vegetable juices. Vegetables provide only a small amount of carb, but - like fruit - are a great source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Fiber provides "staying power", leading to sustained energy during activity.

Dairy- Includes all fluid milk products as well as foods made from milk such as yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese. Choosing low-fat dairy products is a great way to take on more protein and carb, as well bone-strengthening calcium and Vitamin D - two components important for protection from injury.

While the MyPlate graphic is a great visual to use on a daily basis to meet your macro- and micro-nutrient needs, when might an athlete need to modify this basic plate?
  • Endurance athletes prepping for a big race: Keep all food groups, but increase grains and fruit in the days leading up to competition. One day before, omit fresh fruit (canned, frozen, dried okay) and high-fiber grains (yep - choose white bread) from your diet to assure you fully digest all energy by race day.
  • Anaerobic athletes after a lift-heavy workout: Keep all food groups, but slightly increase protein at the next meal following your workout. Don't go overboard here, as most of us get too much protein and the key is really the combination of carb and protein. Extra protein doesn't automatically equal more muscle.
  • Athletes recovering from injury: Keep all food groups, but slightly increase protein and slightly decrease grains. You need more protein to repair what has been injured and likely you won't be working out how you were, so you'll need less energy from grains.
  • Athletes fighting illness: Keep all food groups, but slightly increase fruits and vegetables. That is where you'll get those antioxidants, which are the power-house for fighting illness in the body.
Remember: What YOU need for YOUR level of activity in YOUR position for YOUR sport is completely individual. For the best performance results, meet with a RD who is Board Certified as Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Can't come to me in the Chicago-area? Find a CSSD RD here.

Oh and in case you didn't hear, today is the 5th Annual National Registered Dietitian Day! Have you hugged an RD today?

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Exercising the Body by Motivating the Mind

This week's blog was written by a guest blogger: Allison Brooks. On her down time between travels, she enjoys writing guest articles about the things she's passionate about, such as natural and nutritional therapies for everyday ailments. Enjoy!

Good health may be the most important thing but a traditional understanding of medicine and diet may often lead to more harm than good. Natural remedies for health are safer, cheaper and more effective. Natural health has a lot of options but some neglect the simple importance of exercising the mind and body.

Physical exercise is not just a way to lose weight, but the quickest way of achieving overall well-being. Many hospitals and rehab facilities promote the use of exercise, physically and mentally, to expedite healing and reduce stress. Since many cancers have harsh treatments, exercise, or other mind-body therapies are great ways to balance the body. Many patients have said they feel better about treatments when combined with exercise. Doctors hope the use of physical and mental exercise can prolong the survivability of cancers like pancreatic, mesothelioma, and late-stage breast cancers.
But as you know exercise should not be limited to the hospitals or people trying to get their high-school body back. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, improve mood and overall well-being. However, before even moving the body, a lot of people need help getting their minds on board with physical exercise. Organized planning and daily task checking can help keep people active and lead them to accomplishing their goals.

When presented with the health benefits of exercise, motivation sets in. But sometimes after a day or a week the motivation dies down. Other daily chores and work issues can get in the way of exercise, which often mistakenly falls under the free-time category. By rearranging priorities people can ensure they fulfill their obligation to their mind and body by getting exercise, which in turn helps keep them
active and motivated to complete their other tasks for the week.

A feeling of accomplishment will not only help with the current day’s motivation but will feed into the next. Keeping a calendar that is marked off for each day a goal is met will manifest patterns in the mind. If a big check mark is made in marker on a large calendar placed in a highly visible location, the mind will notice when a whole series of checks occurs and feel a great sense of achievement. Visual reminders like a calendar can help lead to re-prioritizing goals and ensuring that they are met.

Physical achievements can also help keep the mind motivated. Being able to increase the length of a run without getting winded or the amount of weights lifted in a set can fuel the drive needed to maintain a desire to exercise. Most importantly, the body when consistently exercised will feel healthier, more upbeat and recognize the changes. This can lead people to start changing other areas of their health, enjoying the benefits of natural remedies.

Thanks Allison!

Be Extraordinary,


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Role of the RD in Eating Disorder Treatment

February 26th-March 3rd is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. At least 13.5 million Americans meet criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. When polled, 4 out of 10 Americans state that they either currently have or know someone who has an eating disorder. As I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago, eating disorders are particularly prominent within the world of sports - especially in those sports which place an emphasis on appearance and weight, such as gymnastics, wrestling, figure skating, dancing and diving.

The Registered Dietitian (RD) is often part of a multidisciplinary eating disorder treatment team, including doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists. Clients sometimes have the misconception that the only thing an RD will provide during treatment is a meal plan. However, the role of an RD in the treatment of eating disorders involves addressing much more. This role also includes discussing eating behaviors and beliefs in the context of the eating disorder. This is why working with an RD in addition to a therapist or doctor is so important.

Are you thinking about seeing an RD for disordered eating or eating disorder behavior? Here are a few topics you can expect an RD to address throughout the counseling process:

1. Adequacy: Is the amount of energy taken in during the day adequate to support daily activities - from taking a shower to visiting the gym?

2. Balance: Does intake include every food group in a sufficient amount?

3. Variety: Does intake cover every food in way that vitamin and mineral needs are being met?

4. Autonomy: Is intake based on personal preferences or the expectations of others?

5. Confidence: Is intake based on internal cues or a fixed schedule? Is there ever regret surrounding food choices made? Are daily activities chosen based on what type of food will be available?

6. Legalization: Are there foods that are believed to be "bad" or "good"? What would it take to decriminalize foods so they are no longer in these categories, but instead seen as "supportive to my recovery" or "fueling/energizing for my body"?

7. Affect: Are beliefs about food and nutrition affecting physical and mental health or medication needs?

8. Rules: What misconceptions, harmful rules, or harmful beliefs exist about food and eating?

9. Sensory: How well does the client experience the sensory side of eating - the tastes, smells, and sounds?

10. Support: What activities can be provided to assist with the recovery process, such as cooking classes, therapeutic meal classes, or grocery shopping trips?

As you can see, the RD does much more than serve as the "food police". The RD's role in treating eating disorders and disordered eating cannot by filled by any other discipline, as the RD is truly the expert. If you or someone you know is struggling, encourage them to have the courage to find help. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association's website for more information and resources.

Be Extraordinary,


Source: Setnick, J.ADA Pocket Guide to Eating Disorders.2011: p12,149-151.