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Today I made a trip to Ohio for work and I was tested with some of my own food tips. I did a bad no-no by being unprepared and not taking food with me. I ate breakfast, drove 2 hours there, and I was caught without a snack or lunch until after I left, which ended up being another 4 hours or so. By the time I left I was starving and I was ready to eat the first fast food place I came by. I ended up eating lunch at Arby’s where I discovered that a roast turkey & Swiss wrap without mayo is 390 calories and a regular roast beef sandwich with only 1 bun is 245 calories. So lesson learned. For future road trips, bring a snack in my purse so that I can munch on it before going food crazed.

Anyway, last night I discovered something spectacular while I was playing on my Ipad. I found an app called “My Fitness Pal.” I recognized the name because my boyfriend’s cousin is using this app and she has lost 50 pounds (AWESOME JOB). This app is similar to the Weight Watchers app I detailed before, but it tracks your calories. There are a few pretty amazing things that caught my attention and convinced me to give this a try.

First, when you add food you eat in a “diary” it separates the food by breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. It also tracks your exercise and separates your exercise into cardio and strength. I haven’t seen another app yet to separate strength by itself and I really like that. It also tracks your water.

When you add food, it lists everything you previously entered so you don’t have to search again for the regular foods you eat. It also allows you to do a search for food. I played with this all night last night looking up foods and the calories. No matter what I searched, I did not find one food to not be in it, including fast food. I used this app today to help me figure out what to eat at Arby’s so it has already been useful.

It has an option to add friends. This will help with weight loss as it provides added support and in a way makes you liable. Do you really want to go for that big meal if your friends will see you slipped? At the same time, if you are private you can keep your diary private so only you can view it.

And finally, what I love most about this app is the nutrition summary that is provided from your diary food list. Check out this picture:

How awesome is this? This app provides your total for all of the above, the goal because how many of us really know how many fats we are supposed to be eating a day? I know I don’t. And then as if that’s not already helpful enough it also calculates the numbers so we know what we have left or what we went over.

Lately I have really been trying to educate myself on the nutrition guide and what I need to look in my food besides points. And after I entered my food for the last few days it made me wonder at things I was going over or under and how I can fix it. For example, I want to know what else I need to eat that would increase my potassium. So when I found this nutrition summary within this app I figured this is as good opportunity as any and I might as well share it here too. I hope you find it useful too, but please remember I’m learning just like you, or maybe some of you. If I make a mistake here, feel free to let me know.

So here is what I found out:

Fat

* Polyunsaturated – considered healthy fat, but in excess may contribute to cancer risk – found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. It improves blood cholesterol levels which can decrease cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.

Examples: Omega 3s found in fatty fish (trout, herring, salmon), soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed.

* Monounsaturated – healthy in moderation – improves blood cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease, and may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control which especially comes into play if you have type 2 diabetes.

Examples: Nuts, vegetable oils, canola oil, olive oil, high oleic safflower oil, sunflower oil, avocado, peanut butter.

* Saturated – harmful – comes from animal sources of food. It raises blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein levels that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Examples: Meat and dairy, such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat, lard, butter, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or reduced fat (2%) milk. Also, many baked goods (cakes, cookies, etc), food made with butter, margarine or shortening, and also fried foods.

* Trans – harmful – most are made during food processing through process called hydrogenation, which creates fats that are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil. In a nutshell, the process increases the shelf life of a food. It also can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and raise cholesterol.

Examples: Processed foods, snack foods, chips, crackers, cookies, margarine, salad dressings, cake mix, bisquick mix, soups, and fast food.

Cholesterol – The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily cholesterol intake of 300 MG per day. If you have high cholesterol already, stay below 200 MG.

Foods to AVOID or LIMIT: Shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels), Processed meat (sausage, lamb, duck, pork), cheese, fast food, shrimp, butter, liver, pate, caviar, egg yolk.

Just for an example, a Big Mac has 85 MG of cholesterol and a Wendy’s classic double with everything has 175 MG. Try ordering a plain burger.

Foods that help LOWER cholesterol: Monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, peanuts, olives, avocadoes), bran (oats and rice), flax seeds, garlic, almonds, tomatoes, watermelon, walnuts, pistachios, whole barley, dark chocolate, green tea.

Sodium

Foods to AVOID or LIMIT: meat pizza, white bread, processed cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti, ham, ketchup, cooked rice, white roll, flour tortilla, salty snacks (chips, corn chips), noodle soups, eggs, mac and cheese, 2% milk, creamy salad dressings

Potassium – it is essential to balance in body. Deficiency causes fatigue, irritability, hypertension (increased blood pressure).

A few examples: avocados, apricots, bran wheat, raisins, figs, mixed nuts, roasted potatoes, bran flakes, veal, whole grain pasta, banana, kiwi, melon, cantaloupe, orange, watermelon, sweet potatoes

Carbs

Good: Food in natural state and have not been processed or altered by machines. Foods are generally high in fiber which will give energy over longer periods of time, provides a full feeling, and generally have a low glycemic index that will not cause a spike in blood sugar.

Examples: Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grain (bread, cereal, pasta).

Bad: Foods that have been refined or processed. The nutritional value has been removed and they are loaded with additives like coloring, flavoring or preservatives. Most are not easily digested and can spike an individual’s blood glucose level.

Examples: Candy, baked goods with refined white flour, white pasta, white potatoes, white rice, chips, sugar, and soda.

Dietary fiber

High fiber prevents or relieves constipation, lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease, lowers blood cholesterol level, helps blood sugar levels, aids in weight loss (Hey!), and makes you feel fuller longer.

Examples: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, beans.

Sugar

I was going to skip this one but figured I had better not. Excessive sugar leads to obesity, which causes diabetes. It causes heart diseases. Overall, we know we don’t need a lot of it but it tastes or darn good! As with all things… moderation. Sugar is also in a lot of fruit, but the sugar to be careful of is the white kind in cakes, desserts, etc.

Protein – it helps the body repair and maintain itself. Every cell in our body contains proteins (skin, muscles, organs, etc.). It is also found in body fluid, except bile and urine. We need protein in our diet to help our body repair cells and make new ones.

The bad, a high diet of meat can contribute to high cholesterol and can put a strain on our kidneys.

Solution: balanced diet through which we eat 2 to 3 services of protein daily. The recommended serving sizes are:

  • 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
  • 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans
  • 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of butter, or 1 ounce of cheese

Good choices: turkey, chicken with the skin removed, bison, lean cuts of beef or pork, top sirloin, tenderloin, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, tofu, low-fat dairy products.

Vitamin A – supports vision, immune function, cell growth, and is essential for reproductive processes in men and women.

Examples: sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, squash, mustard greens, romaine lettuce

Vitamin C – helps the body maintain healthy tissues and strong immune system, aids in absorption of iron, helps when you have a cold, counteracts lead poisoning.

Examples:Oranges, guava, red and green sweet peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries,Brusselssprouts, cantaloupe.

Calcium – helps maintain healthy and strong bones and supports functioning of nerves and muscles

Examples: Yogurt, milk, cheese, milk shakes, eggnog, salmon, tofu, sardines, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, okra, white beans, baked beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sesame seeds, almonds.

Iron – it is essential because it performs the function of carrying oxygen molecules through our blood which further allows all body organs to perform their respective functions. Once the required amount of iron in the blood is provided through our diet, it gives us energy, stronger muscles, and a healthier immune system.

Examples: Liver, lean red meat (beef, pork, lamb), seafood (oysters, clams, tuna, salmon, shrimp), beans (kidney, lima, navy, black, pinto, soy beans), whole grains (pasta, cereal, bread, rice), greens (collard, kale, mustard greens, spinach), tofu, vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, parsley, watercress, Brussels sprouts), chicken, turkey, nuts, egg yolks, dried fruit (raisins, prunes, apricots).

For anyone who wants to take a look at the My Fitness Pal information, check out their website too. You can use the information through your phone, the website, and for those who don’t have the ability to use their phone for this information you can still do so online.

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