Too Much Sugar is Not So Sweet for Your Health

sugarA teaspoon of sugar may help your medicine go down, but high intakes often lead to obesity, tooth decay, inflammation, heart disease and unhealthy eating habits. The average American eats about 30 teaspoons of sugar per day which is over half a cup of sugar. This consumption rate adds up to individuals eating 96 pounds of sugar per year. Americans are consuming about 480 calories worth of sugar per day putting sugar consumption at an all-time high. Picture it: 19, 5-pound bags of sugar may match your annual sugar consumption.

Obviously, this is way more sugar than our bodies need. The American Heart Association (AHA )recommends  limiting your added sugars to 6 teaspoons (100 calories) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) per day for men. Added sugars is a form that our bodies don’t need to function properly. Naturally occurring sugars are those found in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) that provide several healthy nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, in addition to the sweetness. Added sugars offer loads of empty calories and zero nutrients. Most added sugars come from sugary soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, pie, fruit drinks, ice-cream and non-nutritious grains.

sodaLook how fast your sugar intake can add up:

  • 6 ounces of non-fat yogurt – 2.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread – 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of Honey Nut Cheerios – 3 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 chocolate chip cookie – 4-5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream – 3.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 10 ounces of soda – 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 4 chocolate Hershey Kisses – 2.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 slice of cake – 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 glazed donut – 3 teaspoon of sugar
  • 8 ounces of orange juice – 5.5 teaspoons of sugar

To calculate the teaspoons of sugar in a product look at the nutrition facts label and identify the grams of sugar per serving. Divide the grams of sugar by four (4) for your answer. One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams and 16 calories. The label will include natural as well as added sugars. Look at the ingredient list to find added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, and sugar syrup.

chocolate chip cookiesSugar makes taste buds happy and often leaves us craving more sugary goodness. It’s important to keep our sugar intake in check to keep our waistline from expanding and our health from deteriorating. Studies have shown that diets high in sugar are often low in important nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, iron, zinc and fiber. Choose to consume sugar wisely, in moderation and in combination with otherwise nutrient-rich foods.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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10 Must-Grow Spring Vegetables

gardening31. Tomatoes

Best Time to Plant: March-April (transplant)
Tomatoes are one of the most popular home gardening crops. They are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Slicing tomatoes, also known as beefsteak tomatoes, produce medium to large fruits that are great for burgers and sandwiches. Bite-size tomatoes are packed with flavor and available in a variety of shades from red to yellow. A $2 tomato plant can grow 10 pounds worth of produce!

2. Sweet Peppers

Best Time to Plant: March-May (transplant)
Peppers prefer a long, warm growing season. Peppers will start out green and change color as they ripen. As peppers change from green to yellow, orange, or red, both their flavor and their vitamin content improves significantly. Fully ripened, garden-grown peppers will tempt the taste buds of almost anyone. Peppers are great as a snack or can be grilled, stuffed or baked to accompany a variety of meals.

3. Hot Peppers

Best Time to Plant: March-May (transplant)
Hot peppers are great for bringing bold bursts of flavor to dishes and for making fresh salsa with your home-grown tomatoes. Chili peppers offer a numerous range of varieties that range from mild to fiery hot and ripen through a wide range of colors from yellow, orange, purple and even brown. One plant produces several peppers during a growing season, so it is best to plant transplants instead of seeds.

4.  Cucumbers

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Cucumbers are very easy to grow from seed and can be eaten fresh or preserved as pickles. Even though long, dark green, smooth-skinned cucumbers are most familiar, cucumbers actually come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. There are white, yellow, and even orange-colored varieties that may be short, slightly oval, or even round in shape while the skin can smooth or rough. To keep the trailing cucumber vines from sprawling across the garden provide a sturdy trellis. Cucumbers mature quickly, so be sure to pick cucumbers before they turn yellow and over ripen.

gardening25. Carrots

Best Time to Plant: February-March
Carrots are an excellent source for vitamin A and make a great snack for both adults and kids and add color to your meals. They will grow in small gardens and even flower beds and are able to tolerate a little bit of shade as well. One foot row of seeds will produce about one pound of carrots. Try to avoid skinning carrots to preserve all the nutrients.

6. Squash

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Squash is a popular warm-season vegetable that grows well in most areas and offers several different varieties, including yellow squash, scallop, zucchini, acorn, and butternut. Summer squash offers delicate flavors, soft shells and creamy white flesh that is a perfect addition to any summer meal. Summer squash is more fragile than winter squash and must be frozen if not eaten soon after harvesting. Winter squash is a rich source of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients. Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food (similar to pumpkin seeds).

7. Beans

Best Time to Plant: March-April
From bush and snap beans to edamame, these are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. Beans germinate quickly and produce bountiful amounts of tasty delights. Choose between a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Some bean plants produce pods, seeds and colorful flowers.

gardening48. Eggplant

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Eggplants are great baked, grilled, roasted, stewed, or stuffed to provide excellent source of fiber along with a fair amount of iron, potassium, and protein. The traditional “black bell” eggplant can produce four to six large fruits. To determine ripeness, remember that skin color and tone (glossy versus dull) is more important than size.

9. Broccoli

Best Time to Plant: February-March
This vitamin rich crop is an ideal choice for your home garden since it produces quickly and can be harvested several times. Broccoli is considered a nutritional superfood that will boost your immune system, help maintain strong bone, and protect against cancer and heart disease. Broccoli is delicious raw or steamed. The stems are also edible. Try peeling away the chewy outer skin, slicing them and then cooking the stems along with the florets. Garden fresh broccoli is very tender, so be careful not to overcook it.

10. Sweet Potatoes

Best Time to Plant: April-May
Make sure to plant in a warm environment with plenty of sun to develop the maximum flavor and sweetness. These flavorful tubers also produce colorful flowers, as well as sprawling vines often used as groundcover. Orange-flesh sweet potatoes aren’t the only variety available. White-fleshed varieties are good sources of B vitamins and minerals, while purple sweet potatoes are fully loaded with antioxidants. Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or stir-fried and can be enhanced with a wide range of spices and seasonings.

Several YMCA’s in the Greater Houston area are home to gardens. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at one of our community gardens, please contact the D. Bradley McWilliams Family YMCA, Trotter Family YMCAT.W. Davis Family YMCA or Vic Coppinger Family YMCA.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Fast Food No-No’s

fast-foodFast food menus are full of unnecessary calories, artery-clogging fats and blood pressure rising sodium. Here are some of the worst choices and some better options when eating fast food:

WORST: Burrito with your choice of meat, white rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, tomatillo salsa and guacamole over 1200 calories
60.5 grams Total Fat (18. 5g Saturated Fat)
2740 mg Sodium
114 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: Burrito Bowl or Salad with your choice of meat, black beans, fajita vegetables and fresh tomato salsa (minus the rice, sour cream, cheese and guacamole)
under 400 calories
approx. 8 grams Total Fat (2 g Saturated Fat)
960 mg Sodium
25.5 grams Total Carbohydrates

WORST: Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich with a medium order of waffle fries and large lemonade
1240 Calories
44 grams Total Fat (10g  Saturated Fat)
1835 mg Sodium
181 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: Grilled Chicken Sandwich, fruit cup and large diet lemonade
400 Calories
5 grams Total Fat (2g Saturated Fat)
815 mg Sodium
62 grams Total Carbohydrates

WORST: Bacon Double Cheeseburger with mayo
1240 Calories
87 grams Total Fat (35g Saturated Fat)
1690 mg Sodium
44 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: Jr. Deluxe Burger (no mayo)
330 Calories
17 grams Total Fat (6 g Saturated Fat)
480 mg Sodium
30 grams Total Carbohydrates

Taco Bell
WORST: Fiesta Taco Salad – Beef
780 Calories
42 grams Total Fat (10g Saturated Fat)
1590 mg Sodium
74 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: 2 Chicken Soft Tacos
320 Calories
10 grams Total Fat (5 g Saturated Fat)
960 mg Sodium
32 grams Total Carbohydrates

WORST: Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
1090 Calories
56 grams Total Fat (19 g Saturated Fat)
111 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
150 Calories
2 grams Total Fat (1g Saturated Fat)
30 grams Total Carbohydrates

Panda Express
WORST: Orange Chicken with Fried Rice and a Chicken Egg Roll
1150 Calories
44 grams Total Fat (8.5g Saturated Fat)
1750 mg Sodium
147 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: Broccoli Beef with Mixed Veggies and Hot & Sour Soup
290 Calories
14 grams Total Fat (2 g Saturated Fat)
2080 mg Sodium
42 grams Total Carbohydrates

WORST: 3-pc Extra Crispy Chicken, Coleslaw and Biscuit
1420 Calories
88 grams Total Fat (19 g Saturated Fat)
3090 mg Sodium
85 grams Total Carbohydrates

BETTER: 6-pc Original Recipe Chicken Bites, Corn on the Cob and Green Beans
295 Calories
9.5 grams Total Fat (1.5 g Saturated Fat)
920 mg Sodium
27 grams Total Carbohydrates

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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28 Tips To Prevent Heart Disease

Heart_smallerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, which is about one in every four deaths. It is believed the number of cardiovascular disease deaths, mainly from heart disease and stroke, will increase to more than 23 million by the year 2030. The numbers truly make you stop and think. Building heart-healthy behaviors into your daily routine can extend your life and improve your quality of life. Staying healthy begins with knowing your risk and taking measures to protect yourself from heart disease. Here are 28 tips to improve your heart health and lower your risk for heart disease.

  1. Eat at least two servings of baked or grilled fish per week, especially oily fish like salmon and sardines.
  2. Exercise, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol can help lower your blood pressure.
  3. Check your family history. If a close relative is at risk or has developed heart disease, you may be at risk, too.
  4. The color of your veggies is important. The more colorful, the more likely a veggie has heart-protective antioxidants.
  5. Keep a food journal. You might be surprised at how much you’re eating in a day.
  6. Although red wine may raise HDL (good) cholesterol, don’t overdo it. One glass a day for women, two for men is all you need to reap the benefits.
  7. Lift weights. Strength training lowers blood pressure and helps your heart beat more efficiently.
  8. Green tea can help prevent plaque buildup and relax blood vessels.
  9. Laugh more. Research shows laughing improves circulation.
  10. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and can help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
  11. Get a cholesterol screening. After age 20, it’s important to get your levels tested every 5 years.
  12. Follow Popeye’s lead and opt for spinach. Just ½ cup a day may protect your heart.
  13. Looking for heart-healthy veggies? Broccoli and cauliflower are great because of their fiber content.
  14. Eat dark chocolate, which contains catechins, a potent antioxidant.
  15. Meditate. A calm state helps de-stress and gives your brain a much-needed rest
  16. Vitamins C, E and B-complex as well as folic acid may prevent heart disease. Make sure to get plenty in your diet.
  17. Avoid frying foods. Always bake, broil, grill or steam.
  18. Make half your plate fruit and vegetables.
  19. Drink water instead of a sugary drink.
  20. Avoid trans fats. A high intake of them increases the risk of heart disease.
  21. Use herbs and spices to cut down on sodium intake.
  22. If you smoke, make a plan to stop. Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar.
  23. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk for heart disease.
  24. Instead of sitting at your computer during your lunch break, get outside and go for a walk.
  25. Know the early signs of coronary heart disease, such as tightness or discomfort in the chest.
  26. Wear a pedometer, like a Fitbit, and aim for 10,000 steps a day.
  27. Don’t neglect your sleep — 6-8 hours a night will help protect your heart.
  28. Need a snack? Opt for nuts. Most of the fat is the healthy kind.

To learn more about heart and vascular services offered at Houston Methodist or to schedule an appointment, visit or call 713-790-3333.  

Information provided by Houston Methodist Hospital.

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Protein Power: How Much is too Much?

How Much Protein Do I Need?

BCA1D9Protein is an important macronutrient that our bodies need to function properly, but our bodies don’t need quite as much protein as people tend to think. Protein is different from the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat, in that the body is unable to store it for later, making it an essential part of one’s daily diet. Protein plays an important role in every cell of the body and is the building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.

It’s recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein, which equals about 46 grams of protein for the “average” woman and 56 grams of protein for the “average” man. However, most people don’t fit exactly into the average category, so let’s get even more specific. The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight per day, this equates to approximately 1g of protein per 3 pounds of body weight. Athletes need more protein to repair and strengthen muscle that is broken down during exercise. Endurance athletes need about 1.2 to 1.4 grams/kilogram a day (0.55-0.64 g/lb of body weight), while strength training athletes need 1.2 to 1.7 grams/kilogram a day (0.55-0.77 g/lb of body weight).

proteinThe United States Department of Agriculture recommends the daily amount of protein in one ounce equivalents. Generally, one ounce equivalent amounts to 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish, 1/4 cup beans, 1 egg, or 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds. USDA recommends 2 ounce equivalents daily for children 2-3 years old and 4 ounce equivalents daily for children 4-8 years of age. Older children, women and men sufficiently meet their protein needs with 5-6.5 ounces of protein equivalents each day. These amounts are most appropriate for people who exercise less than 30 minutes per day. More active individuals will have higher protein equivalent needs.

What are Good Sources of Protein?

  • Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
  • Chicken breast, 3.5 oz – 30 grams protein
  • Fish fillets or steaks, 1 oz – 6 grams protein
  • Tuna, 6 oz can – 40 grams of protein
  • Pork chop, average – 22 grams protein
  • Egg, large – 6 grams protein
  • Milk, 1 cup – 8 grams
  • Cottage cheese, ½ cup – 15 grams
  • Yogurt, 1 cup – usually 8-12 grams, check label
  • Cheese, 1 oz – 6  to 10 grams
  • Tofu, 1/2 cup  –  20 grams protein
  • Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc), 1/2 cup cooked  – 7-10 grams
  • Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – 8 grams protein
  • Almonds, 1/4 cup – 8 grams
  • Peanuts, 1/4 cup – 9 grams
  • Sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup – 6 grams
  • Flax seeds, 1/4 cup – 8 grams

Are Protein Powders and Supplements Needed?

It is very easy to meet your daily protein needs by diet alone. The use of supplements and protein powders is not necessary, even for elite athletes. Protein supplements are often used for their convenience even though whole foods high in protein are the superior option.  Sometimes it is more realistic to grab a protein shake after a workout instead of grilling up a chicken breast. Only use protein powders, bars and supplements for what they are intended – convenience. Focus primarily on eating nutritious whole foods.

How Much Protein is too Much?

protein3Though high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are often effective for weight management, at least in the short-term, too much protein can cause negative side effects. Keep in mind that there is no Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for protein. High protein eating plans usually help dieters fill fuller longer and delay hunger so that they can easily eat less throughout the day. If more protein and calories is consumed than your body needs, then the body finds a way to store excess protein as body fat. If excess protein is consumed from high-fat sources, then LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels may rise, increasing one’s risk for cardiovascular diseases. People with diabetes and kidney problems need to limit their protein intake to the daily recommended amounts or less since high amounts of protein places more strain on the kidneys.

To have your individual protein needs assessed, speak to a registered dietitian in your area:

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Easy, Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Healthy cooking can be easy and delicious! Try these simple substitutions to turn your favorite recipes into healthy foods your whole family will love (and likely not notice any difference!).

1. Black beans subbed for flour
Substitute equal amounts of white flour for cooked black beans that have been rinsed, drained and pureed. This will save you a bunch of calories while giving you an extra boost of protein and fiber to make your recipe more satisfying. This recipe substitution works particularly well in brownies.

Wheat-Flour2. Whole wheat flour subbed for white flour
There is no nutritional purpose for white flour besides providing empty carbohydrates. Whole wheat flour offers more fiber and protein compared to all-purpose flour but can make your baked foods denser and heavier. Try these tricks to become a whole wheat fan:

  • Use 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour to replace 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Reduce the butter by one-fifth when making cookies with whole wheat flour
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of liquid when baking a cake with wheat flour
  • Add 1/4 cup of liquid to prepare whole wheat bread
  • Try white whole wheat flour to add fiber and maintain a similar texture to all-purpose flour

3. Unsweetened applesauce subbed for butter or oil
It is often best to combine applesauce with buttermilk to replace oil. Substitute 1/2 cup of vegetable oil with 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 buttermilk for the perfect consistency. This is an excellent way to add moisture and flavor to baked goods while decreasing the calories and fat!

mashed bananas

4. Mashed bananas subbed for fat
Swap out 1 cup of oil or butter for 1 cup of creamy, mashed bananas. This consistency is spot-on and provides your recipes with some thickening power and added nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamin B6.

5. Vanilla subbed for sugar
Most baking recipes are not hindered by cutting the sugar in half. Using 1/2 cup sugar instead of 1 cup will save your waistline 400 calories. If you’re worried about the taste suffering a tad from the sugar shortage, then add a teaspoon of vanilla to bring back some flavor without the calorie cost. Try other flavor enhancers like cinnamon or nutmeg.

greek yogurt6. Greek yogurt subbed for sour cream or mayonnaise
The consistency of nonfat Greek yogurt compared to sour cream or mayonnaise is practically the same. Use this substitute in baking recipes and start using Greek yogurt on top of baked potatoes, soups and in dips. Swap out the mayonnaise in salads like tuna, potato and chicken salad for the much healthier and equally creamy Greek yogurt. Nonfat Greek yogurt will save you from those unwanted calories and grams of saturated fat while providing some extra protein, calcium and probiotics!

7. Pureed Prunes or fruit puree subbed for fats
Replace butter, oil or margarine with pureed prunes to turn batter into a dark chocolate shade with less calories and more fiber. This ingredient swap works best in dark quick breads and brownies. Prunes will make your baked product more dense and moist. Try replacing only half of the oil with pureed prunes and then work your way up to get accustomed to the flavor.

chia seeds

8. Chia seeds subbed for butter OR eggs
It’s easy to make some recipes vegan by substituting the eggs with chia seeds. For a 1-to-1 egg substitute try combining 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of water and let it sit for 15 minutes to reach the perfect consistency. It is also possible to substitute half of the fat in a recipe with chia seeds by mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 9 tablespoons of water. This mixture forms the perfect gel in about 15 minutes that can easily replace half of the fat. For optimal results, don’t substitute BOTH eggs and butter for chia seeds in the same recipe!

9. Flax meal subbed for eggs
A tried-and-true vegan trick is to whisk together 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before adding it your recipe in place of one egg. Add more flax meal and water according to the number of eggs in the recipe.

10. Brown sugar blend subbed for brown sugar
Cut your calories and carbohydrates in half by swapping regular brown sugar with Splenda’s brown sugar blend. Your oatmeal and cookies won’t notice the difference. This brown sugar blend provides the same browning, rising, chewiness and molasses-like flavor as brown sugar but with half the calories and carbohydrates. Just use 1/2 cup of the brown sugar blend to replace one cup of regular brown sugar.


11. Stevia subbed for sugar
This no-calorie sweetener can be used in beverages, baked goods and other recipes to add sweetness without the guilt. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than regular sugar and doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels. However, this marvelous sweetener may induce sticker-shock since it often costs up to five times more than other sugar substitutes (look for coupons!). Luckily it can last for months, and it’s sweeter than sugar so you don’t have to use quite as much.

mini chocolate chips

12. Mini chocolate chips subbed for chocolate chunks or chips
Using smaller chips allows you to cut the amount in half while still tasting the sweet chocolaty flavor in every bite. Choose dark chocolate chips (with at 70% cocoa) to add in some antioxidant-rich flavonoids to your recipe.

13. Marshmallow crème subbed for butter
Switch out the butter in a frosting recipe for marshmallow crème. Two tablespoons of marshmallow crème has no fat or cholesterol and only 40 calories, while the same amount of butter provides over 200 calories and 23 grams of total fat.

14. Oatmeal or crushed cereal instead of breadcrumbs
Bread crumbs are often used as coatings for fish, chicken and casserole dishes. Substituting breadcrumbs for oatmeal or crushed cereal will give you a crunchier coating with fewer calories and more fiber. Bran flakes or shredded wheat are perfect cereals to crush and coat.

15. Fat-free evaporated milk subbed for heavy cream
Canned unsweetened skim milk provides a similar consistency to heavy cream but with 620 less calories and 88 grams less fat per cup – definitely a no-brainer substitute. This is best used in desserts and custard recipes. Do not use this recipe substitute for whipped dessert toppings since evaporated milk doesn’t double in size compared to cream.

skim milk

16. Skim milk subbed for whole milk
Skim off 70 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat by switching from whole milk to nonfat milk. Your taste buds are less likely to notice the difference when making this switch in recipes despite the noticeable difference of these two types of milk when drinking it straight from the carton. Though this swap may slightly affect the richness of your recipe, the skim milk substitute will give you a little more protein and calcium for less calories.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Tips for Staying on Track for Weight Loss

weight loss scale1. Focus on Your Reasons for Losing Weight
Initially, your motivation for losing weight may begin with an upcoming vacation, high school reunion, or swimsuit season, but your primary focus should be directed toward what will keep you inspired for the long haul. Remind yourself why it’s important to stay on track by keeping a running list of reasons of why you want to reach a healthier weight. This detailed list may include motives that revolve around feeling healthier, living longer, increasing energy, improving mood, boosting your self-esteem, setting a good example for your kids or being able to reach a goal on your bucket list like mountain climbing or running a half marathon. Keep your list of motives in a place that will remind you daily of what you’re working toward.

2. Aim for Goals beyond the Limits of the Scale
Too much attention to the number on the scale can zap your weight loss motivation pretty quickly. The scale isn’t always the most accurate measure of your progress. When those numbers don’t want to budge, start evaluating your success in other ways. In addition to losing weight, what else are you striving to obtain? Other health goals may include being able to run a 5 or 10K or being able to master a two-minute plank. Achievements can be measured in the number of fruits and vegetables you consume each day or in lowering your cholesterol levels. The changes you make not only affect your weight but can also reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and increase your chances at living a longer, more fulfilling life. Success is not measured by our waistline or our body weight, it is measured in the steps we take to become a healthier version of ourselves.

weight loss journal3. Write “IT” Down
What exactly does “it” refer to? Everything related to weight loss! “It” includes yours goals, reasons to lose weight, exercise log, food journal and frequent weigh-ins. People who are successful at weight loss are also successful at self-monitoring. Keep a written or online food diary to help pinpoint your nutritional deficiencies and recognize any emotional or environmental triggers affecting your weight loss efforts. Invest in a pedometer and track your daily steps to closely monitor your activity level. Your weight loss journal will help keep you accountable and on track.

4. Make it Fun
Yes, losing weight is hard. No, it is not fun ditching the bowl of ice cream for a handful of carrots, but that doesn’t mean that the entire weight loss journey has to be continuously dull and excruciating. Find ways to spice up your boring meal plan by trying new healthy recipes, shopping at local farmer’s market for fresh produce you’ve never tried and by making sure you don’t eat the same thing week to week. Stuck in an exercise rut? Change it up by experimenting with different work out machines, sampling new exercise classes, finding an fitness buddy or by relocating your usual three-mile walk to a new location or path. Variety adds flavor to your recipe for weight loss.

weight loss living healthier5. Silence the All-or-Nothing Approach
How many times have you told yourself that the whole day is ruined due to one minor slip-up? One cookie sneaks in then the rest of the day is downhill! Or how many times did you avoid the gym because you couldn’t put in a full 60 minutes or not join a new exercise class because you might not last the entire duration? Our minds often cling to this idea of perfection and quickly give up when the slightest fault occurs. Weight loss is not like sobriety – you don’t fall off the wagon after eating one cookie. One slight fumble doesn’t destroy your weight loss plan but being inflexible and accepting no less than 110 percent of your efforts will backfire. Losing weight is not about being perfect, it is about being and feeling healthier. Don’t be too hard on yourself – give yourself credit for making each day the healthiest you can. There will be days that feel like you’ve “fallen of the wagon”, but only you can determine how far you fall. Keep in mind … the farther the fall, the harder it is to get back on track.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Healthy Food Options at Holiday Parties

Stay on Santa’s nice list by choosing these healthy options at holiday celebrations:

  • shrimp platterSalsa – This super low-calorie snack is packed with lycopene, vitamin A and fiber. Go easy on the chips and use this dip to add a kick to a variety of other foods.
  • Shrimp Cocktail – Keep your hunger in check by focusing on high protein foods at parties. Each jumbo shrimp provides 2.5 grams of protein with only 14 calories. Dip shrimp in salsa instead of cocktail sauce to save yourself from empty sugar calories.
  • Guacamole – Avocados play the main role in this yummy dip by contributing heart healthy fats.  Use this nutritious and calorie-dense food sparingly to add monounsaturated fat and fiber to your holiday diet. A quarter of a cup provides 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 9 grams of fat (but only 1 gram is saturated fat).
  • Kabobs – Another easy way to slip in some vegetables and lean protein at holiday parties is through tasty kabobs. Choose kabobs that have grilled low-fat meats like chicken, shrimp and lean beef with lots of vegetables skewered on.
  • sushiSushi – Pull out your chopsticks to snatch some omega-3s. Salmon and tuna sushi options are low in calories (one piece is less than 50 calories, not including rice), high in protein and offer a good dose of vitamin D. Steer clear of the tempura (fried) versions and those loaded with mayonnaise and cream cheese.
  • Red Wine – Skip the sugar-loaded cocktails and sip on a glass of red wine. Red wine appears to have more heart healthy benefits than other alcoholic beverages. Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in the skin of red grapes, has a number of beneficial effects, such as reducing inflammation, preventing blood clots and lowering cholesterol. Track your liquid calories by counting each ounce of red wine at 25 calories (typical 5 oz. glass equals 125 calories).
  • Vegetables & Dip – It’s always easier to eat your vegetables if someone else has washed and chopped them for you, so take advantage of the vegetable platter when offered at parties. Choose salsa, guacamole and yogurt-based dips or cut down on the calories in
    creamy dressings by avoiding the tempting double dip.
  • olive-tray-for-webOlives – A super low-calorie party snack that is packed full of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. Each olive provides only 4 calories. The nutrients in olives help fight against cancer, inflammation, coronary artery disease and degenerative nerve diseases.
  • Fruit – Satisfy your holiday sweet tooth by loading up on fruit. Fruits are low in fat but high in nutrients and deliciousness. Fruits, though good for us, are still high in sugar so balance out fruit with a lean piece of protein or handful of nuts.
  • 1142701_South_4151Mixed Nuts – This crunchy snack is another excellent source for protein, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Skip the honey-roasted and sugar-coated varieties and stick to the simpler versions that are low in sugar and salt. Don’t mindlessly munch on this healthy, calorie-dense snack since a quarter of a cup may deliver over 200 calories.
  • Soft cheeses – Goat, Brie, Feta, Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses are slightly lower in fat and calories compared to hard cheeses, like Cheddar or Gruyère, but hard cheeses do offer a bigger dose of bone-building calcium. So plan your cheese choices accordingly while keeping your serving to smaller than the size of four dice.
  • Gingerbread Cookies – All cookies are pretty much considered unhealthy options but gingerbread cookies are typically made with less butter. To save a few extra calories and artery-clogging fat, always choose the smallest cookie at the party or the gingerbread variety.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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25 Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

The holiday season is a challenging time for everyone’s waistline. Most people gain one to two pounds during the holidays and those who are already overweight may gain five oholiday weight gainr more pounds. We all know those pesky pounds don’t disappear along with the holiday decorations, but it is possible to enjoy the holidays without throwing your healthy habits out the window. You can indulge in your favorite holiday foods and still make it to the New Year wearing the same size (or smaller!). Follow these simple tips to keep your calories and weight in check during the holiday season.

  1. Prioritize your favorite holiday foods to eat in moderation – don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat at any time during the year.
  2. Focus on foods loaded with protein and healthy fat first before turning toward carbohydrates.
  3. Be the last in line at party buffets – food will look less enticing after it’s been picked over.
  4. holiday-weight-gainWear tighter clothes to holiday parties to discourage you from overeating.
  5. Always eat from the salad plate to make it easy to select smaller portions, but don’t test your architecture skills by building a food tower.
  6. Savor your food by chewing slowly.
  7. Concentrate on socializing instead of snacking – there’s more to the holidays than just food!
  8. Learn to say “no” to seconds and unwanted food; don’t accept food to only please the host.
  9. Chew gum to keep your mouth busy and to decrease your cravings for sweet and salty treats.
  10. Don’t deprive yourself – forbidding yourself from certain foods will only make them more attractive.
  11. Eat healthy foods first.
  12. Don’t leave tempting treats on your kitchen counter – out of sight, out of mind!
  13. Sign-up for a fun holiday 5 or 10K race. (Sign up for the Total Jingle Bell Run here.)
  14. Pace yourself by not eating the first half hour of a party.
  15. Eat beforehand – munch on some string cheese, peanut butter crackers or fruit to keep yourself from going to a party in a state of starvation.
  16. Limit alcohol to keep your liquid calories and your food intake in control.
  17. Bring your own low-calorie treats to parties.
  18. Drink water before, during and after  parties and meals  to help you feel fuller
  19. Sleep eight hours per night – sleep deprivation enhances your appetite and sweet tooth cravings while zapping your energy for exercise.
  20. ?????????????Avoid eating while standing – it’s more difficult to keep track of how much you’ve eaten when you’re on your feet and moving around.
  21. Only eat foods you really like – why waste calories on foods you could care less about?
  22. Get moving – walk away from the food and jog into some exercise. Don’t let your busy holiday schedule deter you from regular physical activity.
  23. Weigh yourself at least twice per week.
  24. Keep your food tastings to a minimum when cooking – avoid licking the cake batter spoon!
  25. Brew some peppermint tea.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Diabetes Awareness Month: Derrell D. Down Pounds and Diabetes Free

When Derrell D. walked through the doors of the D. Bradley McWilliams YMCA at Cypress Creek, he was 340 pounds, diabetic and suffering from high blood pressure.

A fall left him with torn quadriceps tendons, and he relied on a wheelchair and a walker before re-learning to walk after tendon surgery.

derrell-dunn-maria-mcnabb-web.jpgThe accident was a wake up call. After struggling with his weight his entire life, Derrell knew it was time to listen to his doctor and finally take his health seriously. He had his daughters to think about. They were the inspiration he needed to change his life.

Derrell began working out and losing some weight, but he soon hit a weight loss plateau. To overcome it, he enlisted the help of YMCA trainer Maria McNabb who helped him kick-start a new routine. She also gave him advice on healthy eating habits and alternative exercises to keep his workouts interesting. The weight melted off.

Derrell now weighs 220 pounds and he’s no longer diabetic. He works out almost daily and has become an inspiration to his doctors and his family. “The YMCA saved my life,” he said. Derrell’s weight loss has also inspired his daughter, Danielle, to lose weight. “I am so proud of my father and thank God every day for what the Y has done and continues to do for my father and for us,” said Danielle.

For more information on the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, click here.

For more information on Personal Training, click here.

To read more stories like Derrell’s, click here.

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