Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

Veggies galore!

For many people, getting in more veggies is a big plus for good health. If it’s been a struggle, you may want to dress up your options, and/or head to a local farmers’ market for inspiration. It can also be fun to stop at a local community garden. I know I’ve got a bunch of beautiful things growing in my garden!

Here are some easy, quick, veggie-rich trades for traditional carby sides:

 

Cauliflower rice: You can buy bags of pre-chopped little pieces of cauliflower that are the consistency of rice, but with a ton more nutrients. It has a pretty neutral flavor, and takes on the taste of the rest of the dish. Bonus–it only takes 15 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

Zoodles (AKA zucchini noodles)—or similar carrot, sweet potato or beet noodles. You can buy them at many stores, or make them yourself with a spiralizer. These make a great swap for pasta noodles, and can be fun to make, too. Dress them up the “noodles” with herbs & you’re good to go.

 

Collard (or Swiss chard) wraps–upgrade your wrap; consider using a collard leaf.

 

Spaghetti squash:

Quick, simple, delicious. Cut it in half, rub with olive oil, roast. Done. Then you can scrape up the “noodles” and enjoy as a side to your favorite dish.

 

Jicama: ever had jicama? More on how to peel and cut them here. This crisp root veggie has all sorts of health prebiotics, and more nutrients than a bowl of tortilla chips. It’s a great swap for dipping your salsa or guac.

 

 

Or portabella pizzas:

Take a portabella mushroom, top with sauce & cheese & you’ve got a mini pizza right there!

 

Cauliflower pizza crust:

I’ve only heard good things about this new crust from Trader Joe’s–and you can easily top with your favorites to suit you taste.

 

For those of you with tummy troubles who are getting indigestion just looking at these veggie recipes, spaghetti squash and carrot noodles are good options. Also, I just posted an updated list of low FODMAP shopping guide.

I’m sure I’m missing some of your favorites. Feel free to leave me a comment on this post.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

 

 

Low FODMAP tips & more

Heard about low FODMAP and wondering if it makes sense for you? A low FODMAP diet is a specific elimination diet designed to help with tummy troubles–gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea and constipation. There’s a growing amount of research supporting it for people with tummy troubles of all sorts, especially IBS or IBD (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis) and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Reducing these FODMAPs help about 75% of people with IBS problems. Obviously, this is a big deal for many people who experience ongoing gastrointestinal distress.

What is a FODMAP, anyhow? FODMAP is an acronym for classes of carbohydrates that are poorly digested, which is why they can cause obnoxious symptoms. But for most people, the problem isn’t ALL classes of FODMAPs, just some.

So if you do suspect you may have a FODMAP problem, the general protocol is first an elimination diet, which is generally 2-4 weeks, then followed by a structured re-introduction to ID the problematic foods. I’d strongly suggest finding a nutrition professional to pair with. It makes the process a lot easier and simpler, because most of the info online gets outdated quickly as newer testing info is available. For example, Monash just retested bananas and found that ripe (browning) ones are much higher in FODMAPs than the yellow ones.

The goal isn’t to just eliminate FODMAPs and then go forth and be low FODMAP. The goal is to reintroduce as many foods as possible to eat as varied and as balanced (and yummy) diet as possible without discomfort.

I just put together a BIG list of low FODMAP friendly foods packaged foods that are suitable for the elimination phase. It’s not every food out there, of course, but the most common products that clients ask about.

However, low FODMAP isn’t a healthier diet, or an ideal diet for long-term health, it’s a diet for management of digestive symptoms. I have posted on it a few times for my gluten-free newsletter because so many people with Celiac and gluten sensitivity do have ongoing digestive distress–and low FODMAP was initially designed at Monash University for people with Celiac who were gluten-free and didn’t feel better. But to be clear, if you don’t have digestive problems, this diet isn’t a good choice for you—it excludes a lot of tasty foods that provide great nutrients!

Cookbook review:
While we’re on the topic of FODMAPs, I wanted to give a big thumb’s up to Patsy Catsos‘ new book, The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook. It has the most up-to-date lists of low FODMAP foods, and a great explanation of both the elimination and reintroduction. Of course, there are wonderful recipes, too. In fact, I’m so tempted to make the Raspberry Lime Ice Pops tonight, which look perfect for the warmer weather.

Kitchen tip:
If you’ve learned that garlic and onions are not friendly to your tummy, this is your time of year! It’s pretty easy to find garlic scapes at the Farmers’ Market (as you can see above), and also spring onions with the greens on them. The green shoots seem to be FODMAP friendly, the same way that chives and scallion greens are. You can get a bunch, puree the greens (not the white part!) and freeze them in an ice cube tray. Then, when you need a little of that flavor, pop a cube in whatever you’re making.

News:

Have a great summer!
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive distress, food allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free News

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness month! There’s been a lot of research in the gluten-free world lately, and so here’s an update.

Did you see the headlines on heart disease and a gluten-free diet? This May 2017 study followed a large sample of health professionals, and estimated the amount of gluten they ate and tracked their risk of cardiovascular disease. What they found was no significant relationship, although there was a trend towards more heart disease in people eating less gluten. The authors guessed this trend was due to the lack of whole grains.However, there are a few big caveats about this study. It didn’t look at people with Celiac disease, nor did it even look at people following a gluten-free diet per se—it just compared people eating the most and least gluten. I’d also be curious if there were other differences in the diets of these people that might have been the cause.

  • Main take home—don’t follow a gluten-free diet primarily to improve heart health.

This article was more concerning. It looked at people around the U.S. following a gluten-free diet, and compared blood and urine samples. People following a gluten-free diet had much higher levels of  mercury, and almost double the amount of arsenic. Yikes.

I’ve written about arsenic risk here and in Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. Essentially, the problem is that rice fields were sprayed with pesticides containing arsenic years ago, and people on a gluten-free diet tend to eat much more rice than average.

  • The simplest answer is to vary starches rather than overdoing rice. That could be sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, beans or lentils, and the range of gluten-free grains, like GF oatmeal, wild rice, corn, millet, teff, sorghum, amaranth, etc. There’s always zoodles, cauliflower rice and other starch alternatives, too.
  • Consider checking in with a nutrition pro to make sure your diet is balanced.

Why did I get Celiac? And why now? While 30% of the population has the genes for Celiac, only 1% of the population has it, and there’s tremendous speculation on why and how we go from the potential to have Celiac to actually having it. We may be one baby step closer to an answer. A new study found a link between a common virus and the development of a Celiac-like condition in mice. Surely much more to come!

Another recent study found that the risk of anorexia is higher in women with Celiac disease. Women with Celiac disease were twice as likely to be later diagnosed with anorexia—and women diagnosed with anorexia were more likely to later be diagnosed with Celiac, too. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that Celiac causes anorexia, but it’s just one more reason to emphasize good emotional health for people with Celiac disease.

Speaking of a center that does a great job with addressing the emotional health side of Celiac, Children’s Celiac Disease program is having their annual Washington DC Gluten-Free Expo on June 11th, 2017 in Bethesda. It’s always a lot of fun and a lot of good food, and supports a wonderful cause—gluten-free children! I really appreciate the great work CNMC does.   Register at http://www.dcglutenfreeexpo.com/ and there’s a 10% discount code, HarrisHealth.

Last but not least–it’s Farmers’ Market season! Find one near you.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

Something Yummy in Season

The Farmers’ Market season has begun! Some, like Burke, opened this weekend, and I got asparagus, apples, sweet potatoes and a bunch of plants.

I love gardening, and also buying from local farmers when possible. It was a rude awakening, moving from sunny California for grad school to Northern Virginia fourteen years ago….there were farm stands everywhere, and I was totally accustomed to easy access to fresh, beautiful food. So I’ve been gardening since to fill some of the blanks.

Since we’ve moved to a more wooded area a few years ago, my garden has largely been a buffet for the deer and groundhogs. Sometimes I get a nice harvest; other times, I’m feeding the wildlife. So far, I’ve got broccoli, garlic, onions, herbs, strawberries, carrots, and green beans and I just put in fennel, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Thai peppers, basil and stevia.  The kale plants are late… I have starts growing in my Aerogarden  at my Fairfax office, and  I’ll put them in soon anyway and hope for the best.We also have a blackberry and blueberry plant. The blackberry has a ton of flowers this year (right), which hopefully means there’s lots of fruit coming my way!

Even if the critters get my veggies, there are a bunch of Farmers’ Markets and locally grown resources to give more options, and the number of markets has only grown for the last decade. We’ve got a bunch of markets nearby, and they’re about to open or just opened.

Why go to a Farmer’s Market?

  • They’re terrific for encouraging people to branch out and try new foods. There are generally a lot of samples, and everything looks so good. Works well for kids, too!
  • Fresh produce and meat. Most fruits and vegetables are picked that day. Seasonal food is generally going to be more nutritionally  dense than something shipped around the globe.
  • Support for local farmers and the local economy.
  • Few or fewer pesticides on fruits and vegetables. A plum shipped from Chile need a lot of pesticides to keep it lovely even after traveling thousands of miles.
  • Greater variety. While Whole Foods or Wegmans may have 5 kinds of apples, it’s common to have a choice of 10+ varieties and discover new flavors that you enjoy.
  • Better taste! There’s nothing that compares to the taste of a freshly picked tomato, peach, or apple.
  • The “manufacturer” is usually right in front of you, so if you have questions about how something is made or grown, just ask!

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I’d be willing to bet there’s a market near you.

Here’s a listing of Farmer’s Markets

Also, another great option are CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). If that’s more your scene, there’s a nice list here.

Whether you have a nice big garden or even just an available window, it’s a great time to get growing. Even a sunny window should work for herbs like basil.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

Spring cleaning

Foods to avoid

Mindful eating class

Low FODMAP products

It’s almost Spring, which is a great time to clean out the old…and bring in the new.

A few things to purge:

Anything (everything) with trans fats. This includes Girl Scout cookies, like Thin mints and Tagalongs. Due to evidence of effect on mood, heart health and even memory, trans fats will be restricted as of 2018, but they’re still on the shelves now. Yes, the label says 0 grams of trans fats, but that’s because it contains less than .5 grams, and they’re rounding down to zero. So if anything you see says “partially hydrogenated xyz”, just put it down.  Normally, I advocate for moderation, but not here. Even small amounts can have a physical impact. So if you want to support Girl scouts, just donate.

Other products with trans fats: a range of crackers, cookies, and snack foods.

Artificial sweeteners: Diet coke drinkers, I’m looking at you. For years, diet drinks were pushed as a way to have your cake and eat it, too. But there are a range of concerns. Studies indicate that artificial sweeteners may affect gut health because they may alter the kind of bacteria in the gut. They’re linked to thyroid dysfunction—including Splenda, BTW. Additionally some studies have linked diet sodas with increased cardiovascular health risk.

Need an extra reason? The strangest study I think I’ve ever read was one where rats were given the option of saccharine or cocaine. They chose the saccharine. Ever heard someone say diet drinks feel like an addiction? It raises some questions, for sure.

BPA, and the replacements: BPA (short for Bisphenol A) is everywhere, and if you’re not going out of your way to avoid it, it’s most likely in your diet.  It’s found in can liners, which includes canned vegetable, soup, or soda and more. It is in many plastic or polyurethane containers, water bottles and even on cash register tape. (Whole foods and Mom’s use BPA free receipts). The hypothesis is that the chemical mimics estrogen, and can affect hormonal systems in the body.

There’s growing evidence that BPA is problematic.  A study came out from JAMA showing that BPA seems to be linked to obesity in children. Moms with more BPA in their urine during pregnancy seem to have children with more emotional issues at the age of 3. Certainly there is considerable speculation that it may be linked to cancer, too. Also, for reasons that are not clear, women with PCOS (a common endocrine disorder) seem to be more sensitive to BPA and have higher levels, and there is some speculation that BPA may even cause PCOS.

But are the replacements actually better? There’s growing concern that the BPA free bottles may be just as bad, or even worse.

My vote? Get a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead. We know those are  non-reactive, and the stainless steel ones are light weight and sturdy. Ball jars like the ones pictured are a great replacement for Tupperware. You can buy them easily locally, especially during the summer, and crafts stores and Wegmans’ generally carry them. If that’s not logistically possible, you can store your food in plastic, and reheat on paper or glass.

Mindful eating workshop: Looking for new good habits? Join me for a workshop on Mindful eating this Saturday, March 25th at Empower Fitness in Fairfax, which is just across the parking lot from my Fairfax office. As some of you know, I’ve been practicing and teaching on mindfulness for over a dozen years. We’ll be talking about practical tips to incorporate mindful eating into your life. Sign up here: http://www.harriswholehealth.com/classes

Also, for those of you on a low FODMAP diet. As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free Beer & more

Gluten-free beer
Mindful eating class
New low FODMAP products at Wegmans!

Happy sort-of-Springtime! In honor of St. Paddy’s day, let’s chat about gluten-free beers.

There have been gluten-free beers on the market for quite a few years, and they’re made from non-gluten containing grains like sorghum or rice. But there was a huge fuss and a lot of excitement when manufacturers announced that they had figured out how to make a beer with barley, and then go through a special process to remove the gluten fragments in order to make it safe for people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. They even tested these special “gluten-removed” beers with state-of-the art testing equipment, and they came up clean.

Sounds spiffy, but here’s where it gets fuzzy, even if you haven’t had a few. The normal tests for gluten are generally not designed for fermented foods like beer. During fermentation, some of the strands of protein are broken down into their parts, also known as amino acids. The ultimate goal here is to figure out if the amino acid sequences that are toxic to people with Celiac are still present in the beer. The essence of the debate is not if the tests give the answer of zero, but whether the tests are actually looking at something meaningful, and can accurately assess the presence of these harmful fragments.

A new small 2017 study done by the Gluten Intolerance Group showed that 1/3 of the blood samples of people with Celiac disease may still bind inappropriately to the protein fragments to the barley fragments.

The powers that be in the U.S. and Canada still have doubts on the safety of these gluten-removed beers. The U.S. head honchos in charge of booze, also known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, have required disclaimers such as: “Product fermented from grains containing gluten and [processed or treated or crafted] to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten;” or “This product was distilled from grains containing gluten, which removed some or all of the gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.” They released a statement in that specifically states the beers can’t currently be labeled gluten-free without the disclaimers, because it’s confusing and misleading to consumers.

So … I know many people see these beers and assume they’re safe. Until or unless we find out otherwise, I do encourage my gluten-free clients to steer clear of the “gluten-removed” beers, and instead choose other alcohol or beer from non-gluten containing grains. There are a bunch of truly, 100 percent gluten-free beers on the market, including Redbridge, Bard, New Grist, Green’s, New Planet and more. Locally, Total Wine seems to be the best spot to get a good selection.

And stay tuned! Studies are ongoing.

Mindful eating class:
Want to see how eating mindfully can help your health? Join me March 25th @11am for an hour-long workshop in Fairfax, an learn some simple strategies to get started. Register here.

Calling all nutrition pros: I’m teaching on Food Allergies & the new 2017 guidelines for food introduction on March 14th from 3:30-5pm. More info here, and to sign up see Dietitian Central.

Are you on a low FODMAP diet? As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free Winter Tips

I recognize it’s been a mild winter, and boy am I grateful, especially when I think back to last year! I realized I haven’t done a newsletter on winter weather/emergency preparedness in 5 years, so it’s about time.

It’s always a good idea to make sure you have week’s supply of gluten-free food for emergencies. The time to get ready isn’t the few days before when everyone and their mother is at the grocery store and the stores are a zoo. And, of course, in the case of a natural disaster or weather issue, it will likely be difficult to find gluten-free options at shelters or from food banks, like we saw with Hurricane Sandy years back.

Do you have a 3-5 day day food supply as FEMA recommends? And what if you had to make it 2 weeks? I’d have enough food for 5 days because I have latent squirrel genes, but 2 weeks would be pushing it.

So here are some ideas. Some require hot water or a manual can opener.

Ready to go meals: (all are available online and locally, too)

These require heating:

Gluten-free meal-ish replacements:

  • Canned beans Eden Foods Beans
    Eden is tested for gluten and BPA free, too)
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned salmon (bonus for ones with a pull top lid! Trader Joe’s has easy open ones, too)
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned soups and stews (a few brands that label as gluten-free are options from Progresso labeled g-free, Amy’s Soup labeled g-free, Pacific foods, Dinty Moore Beef Stew or
    select Dinty Moore microwavable cups etc.)
  • Dr. Mc Dougall’s has some “just add water” gf soups
  • Canned veggies: canned tomatoes, corn, green beans.
  • Jarred veggies: roasted red peppers, pickled veggies including pickles
  • Condiments, ideally in little packages of mustard, mayo, etc.
  • Jerky bars like Epic (complete disclosure–I really enjoy the turkey bars, but some of the other flavors…not so much)
  • UHT (shelf stable) milk
    or milk alternatives
  • Nut Butters or squeeze packs

Starches:

  • Cold cereal—So many to choose from!
  • Just hot add water G-free oatmeal packs
  • Ready to eat rice, wild rice and quinoa packets, such as Trader Joe’s, etc. Caution on Uncle Ben’s—some contain wheat.

Snacks: I’ve got a gluten-free snack list with bars here, with other “snacky stuff”

Sanity savers:

DOUBLE CHECK THAT EVERYTHING IS GLUTEN-FREE!

It’s also worthwhile to think about

  • water
  • medications
  • food for your furry, feathered or finned friends
  • other necessities.

A camp stove, matches, a sterno, generator, etc. will come in handy, too. For other, more general preparedness resources please see the FEMA website.

I also keep an “emergency pack” of Larabars, Epic bars and nut butters in the trunk of my car for when I’ve forgotten or dropped my lunch. It’s rarely needed, but comes in handy for sure!

News & Recipes:

Did I miss one of your favorites? Email me. I love how many more options we’ve got now.

Wishing you a safe and warm Wintertime!

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

Happy, Healthy New Year ’17

It’s that time of year where we resolve to start exercising, eating right, drinking more water and using more recycled bags to the store. I’m sure many of you have set resolutions or even goals. But it’s also the time of year where we start to realize making changes is easier than finding a way to make those changes stick. As a nutritionist and coach, I’ve seen such a range of experiences in my clients, and here are a few things I’d encourage you to consider.

1. Why is this super-wonderful new habit really important to you now?

Knowing your motivation is a powerful thing, and can help you build in structure to stay focused on what you value most. When I see clients, one my first questions is what they’re hoping to accomplish. When the answer is “Because Dr. So and so says so” it’s a big red flag and we have to dig deeper and develop personally meaningful goals.

2. What is your baseline?

Often we don’t have a good sense of our current habits. Many people report eating veggies every day or only occasionally going on a Starbucks run, but when they record their food for a few weeks, it becomes clear that the reality is quite a bit different. I definitely recommend keeping track of food, exercise or other habits, either on pen and paper, on a website like www.sparkpeople.com or www.nutritiondata.com or on an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose it. In fact, tracking your food is one of the top recommendations from the National Weight Control registry.

3. How much are you eating?

We live in a super-sized culture, and almost all of us fall prey to the ginormous sizes we see all around us. Studies show that everything from portion sizes to plates to colors or even names of food dramatically change our intake, and often small tweaks can significantly change our behaviors. If you haven’t read Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, it’s a fantastic read with a nice mix of research and easy tools to incorporate in your daily routine

4. Are you paying attention when you eat?

I know it may sound silly, but most of us live pretty distracted lives. If we’re not paying attention to our life, we’re missing out on the fun! It’s easy to eat while checking email, watching TV, or even driving, and that cuts down on our awareness of portion and on our enjoyment of food. When we’re eating mindfully, we’re much more aware of hunger and fullness, and it’s much easier to stop eating because we’re full than because we’re only allowed a certain amount. Additionally, mindfulness has a huge range of health benefits, from improving depression, to blood pressure, to immunity to diabetes and much more. I’ve got a lot of the research on the benefits of mindful eating here.

5. How’s your stress level?

It’s rare I find that people start craving cauliflower under stress. Yes, some people lose weight when they’re stressed, both most people gain. More importantly most of us have a harder time keeping healthy habits together when stressed. Maybe that’s not getting enough sleep, eating too much sugar, too much alcohol, working too hard…the list goes on. Make sure to plan in enough movement, adequate sleep, hydration, stress management, connection, sunshine (even if that’s just through a light box) , sources of fun and joy into your life. Fortunately, I have a furry friend who reminds me when I’m working too hard.

6. Do you have support? Generally, healthy habits take a village. It’s easier to get up on those cold, dark mornings when you’re meeting a friend or you’ve got a four-legged friend who wants to go for a run. It’s critical to build support for yourself, either in person or online for a sense of accountability.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year,

Cheryl

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.

G-free Holiday Favorites

Wow, December is flying by at warp speed. It’s so easy to get swept away sometimes in the holiday swirl.

For many people, the holiday season is one of the most challenging times to be gluten-free. Food is everywhere, and there’s lots of temptation. And, of course, it’s necessary to reinvent lots of old family traditions.I’ve highlighted some of my favorite tips for staying SANE and gluten-free here from Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. 

So…onto the food, right? Some of us aren’t all about mixing 5 different gluten-free flours and whipping out the xantham gum. I’ve collected a list of NATURALLY gluten-free desserts over the years—tried and true recipes that aren’t specialty cooking, but just happen to be marvelously gluten-free.

Remember, these foods are only GF if you use GF ingredients. And as always, check labels to avoid surprises. A surprising number of chocolates contain traces of gluten, including Lindt, Ghiradelli, Godiva and many of the Trader Joe’s options. I’ve got lists of chocolates listed gluten-free here and here.

There’s a range of allergy-friendly, grain-free, low sugar and completely decadent options, but there are enough options to choose from that you can surely find something that works for your lifestyle/food restrictions that you and your family can enjoy together.

dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), NF (nut free) *=check labels

Not that these are healthy by any stretch of the imagination, BUT Martha Stewart has a slideshow and recipes of 40 holiday candies, all of which (at a quick glance) are GF. Of course, you need tocheryl's pralines make sure the chocolate is GF, be mindful of cross contamination, etc. but this is an easy way to keep traditions without venturing into specialty flours and unfamiliar territory.

My personal favorites? My Bittersweet Chestnut Fudge and my Vegan Pralines.

Oh, right, and there’s holiday food, too. I’ve got a G-Free Turkey and Ham list.

More recipes from around the web:

Wishing you a peaceful season!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.

Happy & Healthy Holidays

We are just about to hit the holiday eating season! Some days, it seems like the main form of exercise is usually moving the fork from the plate to our mouths. Here are some ways to enjoy the spirit of the season and favorite holiday foods, while staying healthy, too.

Enjoy seasonal healthy foods.  Clementines, pomegranates, pineapples, mangoes, oranges, localfoodsgrapefruits and apples are wonderful this time of year.  Keep them on the counter or in the front of the fridge where you can see them! Some Farmer’s Markets are still open, and apples are amazing this time of year. And, if you’re an apple fiend like I am, one of my favorite local farms has bi-weekly apple deliveries in the NoVA/DC area. Their Goldrush apples are amazing.

Move the goodies out of sight:  One of the biggest challenges of the season is a see-food diet, otherwise known as “if I see it, I eat it”. Studies show that when people keep food out of sight, they eat smaller amounts. Put the candy out of reach and move the cookies where you won’t have constant temptation.

Balance: if you are going to a holiday party in the evening, make an extra effort to eat well on other days.  Add in more vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, etc. and move more, too!  A piece of pie or one big holiday meal won’t make or break a diet, but daily treats do add up.

Choose what you’ll most enjoy: It’s a given that you’re going to have some special foods this holiday season. Can’t live without Aunt Margaret’s apple pie? Then plan to have some. Scope out your options before you dig in, and CHOOSE things you enjoy most. Skip on the foods you can get any day.

Savor your favorites:  When you eat, really eat!   When we are really tasting our food (rather than inhaling something while talking and multitasking) food tastes much better, we’re more satisfied and full quicker.baked bananas

Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes: Have your holiday meals feature seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, collards, green beans, or even sauteed celery in chestnut sauce! How about Fresh Cranberry relish vs the stuff in the can? Add in bean or veggie soups.  Make roasted chestnuts as a snack. Have a fruit inspired dessert, like baked apples, poached pears, sautéed or baked bananas, etc.

Skip the alcohol, or limit it to a drink or two. You can have wine or cocktails any day.  Not only does alcohol have a lot of calories, but once you’ve had a few, it’s easier to indulge on other foods.

It’s not all about the food… Honest! How else can you treat yourself? A massage? A hot bath? 15 minutes of quiet time with a good book? Having tea with an old friend? Plan in a variety of ways to relax

Get moving! Exercise is a great way to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and burn calories, too.  Head out at lunchtime for a short walk, check out the holiday lights in the evening, start a new family tradition and do something active at family events, dance at party functions, or make a habit of hitting the gym.  You don’t have to wait until January for healthy resolutions.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, digestive disorders, food allergies, , vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742.