G-Free Good Habits, Unsafe Products & More

bowl of basil

It’s that time of year where when resolutions start falling off. We want 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, and unless there’s a very strong motivation, it’s difficult to keep those changes. As a nutritionist and coach, 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” or “I know I really should” or “It would make XXX happy” 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 the old fashioned way with 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.


Take a look at those two pictures. Which has more food? Actually, it’s the very same food, photographed on a 11 inch plate on the left and a 9 inch plate on the right. Research shows we eat about 30% on the bigger plate. Amazing how much of a difference small choices in our environment can make! 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.   How mindful are you?

Most of us live pretty distracted lives–and places like buffets and restaurants make it worse. Seinfeld actually had a funny monologue on it last week!

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.   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. Likewise, it’s easier to eat well with support than constantly seeing tempting foods that are off-limits. It’s critical to build in support in person or online for a sense of accountability.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. How are you managing work/life balance and stress?

The Washington Post did featured some of my eating tips in an article on reducing stress for the holidays. The tips do apply for any and every season, though, and most of us need some fine-tuning with the juggling.


Warning: Aldi’s not very”gluten-free” bars

Aldi’s has some gluten-free bars available, which should, in theory, be a good thing. I mean, having more availability of gluten-free products is certainly a plus. The problem is, they contain malt (barley malt) and so the bars are not actually gluten-free and are incorrectly labeled.

More details are here from Gluten-Free Watchdog, and many thanks to GFW for investigating this.

It is sad how often this happens…and even sadder that this product actually had one of the gluten-free seals through GFCP on it, and it STILL isn’t a safe product. Given how poorly GFCP is vetting manufacturers and is doing so little to address this, I’d encourage people to look for products certified through GIG and CSA instead.


New Live Webinar on Jan 21st, 2016 2pm-4pm EST

Join me for a 2 hour webinar on “Celiac Disease: What Every RD Should Know” through Dietitian Central.

Upon successful completion of this 2 hour course, the participant should be able to:

  • Understand the biology behind Celiac disease
  • Recognize our changing understanding of the symptoms of Celiac, prevalence, etc.
  • Describe which testing methods are scientifically valid
  • Understand what gluten is and where it is found
  • Find gluten on labels in live examples with labels
  • Discuss the regulations that changed in 2014 and how they affect gluten-free client
  • Describe current 2016 controversies around fermented foods, oats, alcohol and more
  • List foods at high risk of cross-contamination
  • Identify the best resources for RDs and clients

This course is designed for nutritionists, but will apply to any health professionals…and I’ve had clients get a lot out of previous versions, too. To register, see Dietitian Central’s site.

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.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, see www.harriswholehealth.com

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