Nutrition, Uncategorized

Serving Up Satiety

By Elizabeth Daly
Dietetic Intern

In today’s society, we are constantly tempted by food. Whether we are commuting to work, out with friends or watching TV at home, we are influenced by messages encouraging us to eat more. Living in an environment surrounded by food can make it challenging for people to make healthy choices, lose weight and manage their diabetes. There are many different weight-loss diets advertised in the media, but dieting often leaves us feeling hungry, deprived and ultimately defeated. How can we better control our intake without feeling the need to eat all the time?

Satiety is the feeling of fullness that comes after eating. If we feel satiated after a meal, we are less likely to snack between meals or eat large portions the next time we sit down to eat.  Learning how to feel more satiated after a meal may help us better control how much we eat, aid in weight loss and better control blood sugar levels.

Feeling satiated takes time, often up to 20 minutes after eating a meal. It is controlled by a number of factors that begin once we take our first bite of food. When we eat, our stomach expands, we begin absorbing and digesting nutrients and the brain receives signals that lead to feelings of being full.

Not all foods produce the same level of satiety. Here are a few tips to help you feel fit and full:

  1. Add lean protein to meals and snacks

Adding protein to meals or snacks helps keep you full for longer and control blood sugar levels. Meals that only contain simple carbohydrates are digested quickly, spike blood sugar, and make you feel hungry again soon after.

~Ex.  1 oz low fat cheese or ¼ cup hummus or 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter or 1 oz nuts

  1. Add fruit and vegetables to meals

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water.  Both of these help you feel full. They are also good sources of important nutrients and contribute to overall good health.

~Ex. Add a side salad with meals, add berries to cereal or yogurt, add vegetables in soup

  1. Limit sugary beverages

Sweetened beverages are high in sugar and calories but low in nutrients. They do not cause your body to feel as full as solid foods do, and can lead to spikes in blood sugar and weight gain.

~Try swapping sugar sweetened beverages with water at meals to curb your hunger!

 Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE
Guest Post, Heart Health, Nutrition

Spotlight on the Mediterranean Diet

By Emma Louise Toolson
Dietetic Intern

Med Diet Pyramid 2

Earlier this year, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a study linking the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  Quite simply, the Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is based on the traditional foods and cooking styles of countries along the Mediterranean Sea. The general eating pattern while following a Mediterranean diet includes:

  • Several servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • Focus on healthy fats like olive oil and canola oil
  • Consuming fish and poultry at least two times per week
  • Limiting dairy products, red meat, processed meats and sweets
  • Use of herbs and spices to flavor foods in place of salt
  • Red wine, in moderation (if appropriate)

While the Mediterranean diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, a typical Western diet, in contrast, contains more processed foods, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat. Another key feature of the Mediterranean diet is the inclusion of regular physical activity — the Western diet, meanwhile, tends to be more sedentary.

The NEJM study followed 7447 participants over 6 years. Two groups of participants were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet pattern, while a third followed a low-fat diet which acted as a control. The two groups following the Mediterranean eating plan were given either olive oil or mixed nuts to provide the monounsaturated (healthy) fats. Restricting calories was not advised for either group.  The study observed a Mediterranean diet, in which extra-virgin olive oil or nuts were the main source of fat, resulted in a significant reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals. This led researchers to conclude that following a Mediterranean diet may prevent cardiovascular disease, particularly in those that are already at risk.

Guest Post

A Home Gardening Experiment: Harvest

By Chrisanne Sikora
Social Media Coordinator

Let me get this out of the way first:  I have tomatoes!!!

Tomato plants (give or take an oak tree)Okay, now I’ll back up a bit.  Last time I checked in, I’d just transplanted my seedlings from the kitchen greenhouse to the backyard.  That was back in early June, and almost immediately afterward we had a little cold spell.  My tomato seedlings went into shock and of the ten that were planted only about three looked like they were going to make it.  Though that was a little disappointing, there wasn’t much I could do about it – can’t control the weather after all.  What I did do was spread some mulch over the garden bed to protect the roots, and watered.  Every day.  If I’ve learned one thing it’s that tomatoes are thirsty little things.

Delicate yellow flowers

As it turns out, most of the seedlings recovered from the cold snap and I soon had about a half dozen thriving tomato plants (and one oak tree trying to pass itself off as one.  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see it hiding in the middle of the pack).  Right before I went on vacation in July, I noticed a few little yellow flowers popping up on some of the vines – a good sign that tomatoes were not far behind.

Young green tomatoesSure enough when I got back home there were still a few yellow flowers here and there, and a number of little green tomatoes.  The vines had also grown another several inches while I was away and they’re now peeking up over the bottom of the deck.  Amazing how they went from scrawny not-sure-they’re-going-to-make-it seedlings to a mini jungle in about a month and a half.

So after a few false starts, I’d say my home gardening experiment was ultimately a success.  A few tomatoes have already started turning orange, and there’s enough young fruit that I expect to have home grown tomatoes in my salad for the rest of summer and into the fall.  Hmm, what should I try growing next year?

Tomato harvestGot any good tips for a newbie gardener, or a suggestion for my next gardening  adventure?  Leave me a comment below.


Eat the Five Color Groups

Photo Credit: Gabriel Del castilloSummer is almost here, bringing an abundance of colorful fruits and veggies to your local grocery store and farmer’s market.  The USDA recommends eating a variety of fruits and vegetables; variety usually refers to the types of fruits and veggies you eat, but you can also think of it as different colors.   Fruits and vegetables are good sources of a number of vitamins and minerals, as well as compounds called “phytochemicals” that can help protect against things like heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.  Filling your plate with a variety of colors is the best way to get a wide range of range of these nutrients in your diet.  Here’s a quick snapshot of the phytochemicals and health benefits of each color group:  

Red—The tomato’s bright red color comes from lycopene, an antioxidant that may help promote heart health and protect against some cancers (watermelon and grapefruit also good sources of lycopene).  Red fruits and veggies like raspberries, cranberries, red peppers and beets are good sources of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that may also help protect against cancer as well as maintain healthy vision. 

Orange/Yellow— Vitamin A is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy skin and eyes, and fighting infection.  Fruits and vegetables in this group get their bright color from beta-carotene, a nutrient the body uses to make Vitamin A.  Carrots are great sources of beta-carotene, as are apricots, sweet potatoes, mangos and squash. 

Green—These fruits and veggies are good sources of lutein, an antioxidant that promotes healthy vision and may help protect against cardiovascular disease.  Broccoli, kiwi, avocados and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are good choices from this group. 

Blue/Purple—Also good sources of anthocyanins, fruits and veggies in this group may help with memory and protect against cancer.  Look for blueberries, blackberries, raisins and eggplant. 

White/Brown—Members of this color group, especially onions and garlic, contain properties that may help lower blood pressure and protect against cancer.  Some other good choices from this group include cauliflower, mushrooms and bananas.

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo Credit: Gabriel Del castillo)

Blood Pressure, Heart Health, Nutrition

Ready . . . Set . . . DASH!

Apples and pears. Photo Credit Zsuzsanna Kilian

It seems every day we’re hearing about some new product that promises to do  amazing things like save you time and/or money on household chores or eliminate fat from certain parts of the body.  Sometimes these gadgets and gizmos work, and sometimes they . . . well . . . don’t. 

 The same is true for a number of popular (some may say “fad”) diet programs on the market:  some are more successful at helping people develop healthy eating habits and maintain a healthy weight than others.  Earlier this year, U. S. News & World Report investigated and ranked 20 popular diet plans based on their effectiveness at promoting weight loss (both short and long term), ease of use, nutritional content and other criteria.  The DASH diet, an eating plan recognized for its effectiveness at lowering high blood pressure, was ranked number one in two categories.

 DASH (which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed through research by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute on the effect of diet on blood pressure.  Study participants following the DASH eating plan—which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy, as well lean protein and nuts (which are all naturally low in sodium and saturated fat)—saw a significant decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol.  Not only that, following the DASH diet can help avoid heart attack and stroke and can prevent the development of hypertension among people with normal blood pressure.  Thanks to its proven cardiovascular benefits, the DASH diet has been endorsed by the American Heart Association  

DASH is lower in fat and sodium and higher in several key nutrients believed to help lower blood pressure (including magnesium, calcium and potassium) than a typical American diet.  And, because of its focus on nutrient-rich whole foods (especially fruits, vegetables and whole grains), DASH may also help prevent the development of osteoporosis and some cancers

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo Credit Zsuzsanna Kilian)

Fitness, Health

Health, Wellness and Community

By Monica

I’m an outdoor person.  When I have time off, I don’t want to be inside—I’d rather be out doing something like tending my garden or going for a walk.  Even when I was younger, I spent a lot of time playing outside and climbing trees.  People often think it’s hard to do things outside in a city with all the buildings, but there’s so much to see and do in the area!  

I go to many of the events offered by the Boston Natural Areas Network.  They do a lot of different things like walks and bike rides through community gardens, canoe and fishing trips on the NeponsetRiver, and classes where you can learn how to grow and tend a garden in a small space—all for free.  Many of the community garden events will also let you bring fruits and vegetables home:  there’s one festival coming up in the fall where you can bring extra plants or vegetables to swap with other people.  Some even come just to give away extra vegetables they know they can’t use.  

Programs like these are great because the activities are not only fun, they’re a way to maintain a good level of exercise to help minimize or prevent high blood glucose.  And, when you can get vegetables for free or learn how to grow your own you don’t have to stop eating them because they’re too expensive.  The best part, though, is getting to meet a diverse group of people.  At one event I met people who came all the way to Dorchester from Newton; at another I met a couple who moved here from India.  My son participates in some of the youth activities and he’s met a lot of kids he probably wouldn’t have if not for this program (and he’s outside rather than in the house playing video games or watching TV, which I really like). 

There’s something for everyone at community programs, you just need to know what’s available.  But because they’re funded by a grant they need people to come out and participate, otherwise the money and the program go away.  So come out and do something great for yourself and the community.